Sukkoth is also the festival of the ushpizin, the traditional biblical guests. And because every Sukkoth is a sukkoth of peace, and because there is no Jew who doesn't want peace - as we all know - there are many potential guests.


A very long line is forming this year at the invitations counter of the Shomron Council. When the council understood that neither the seven traditional ushpizin - those great leaders of ancient Israel had succeeded in implanting the settlers into people's hearts, it decided to think out of the box and invite the new shapers of public opinion, mainly journalists from Israel and from among the 350 foreign journalists stationed in Israel.


Until recently, settler leaders considered journalists the representatives of a hostile media. But now they have discovered among them inquisitive types with open minds. Only donkeys will not change their opinions, and opinionated journalists are the opposite of donkeys.


Operation "Get to know the other" has been crowned a success: Senior journalists have been invited and accepted, to  become acquainted with the revivers of Zionism and their enterprises - after all, seeing is believing - and left their moods and their prejudices for once on stand-by mode.


These are guests who are invited as "objective journalists" who for the most part are not quick to ostracize brothers only because a Jew is also a settler. They are presented with personal acquaintances and heart-to-heart talks with settler leaders, settlers making organic yogurts, settlers fermenting world-class wines and pressing olive oil, settlers who make an honest living and raise their children to live and love Eretz Yisrael, without apologizing.   


How did they fail to think of this earlier? How did both sides waste decades in vain arguments, as if Judea and Samaria had not always been here, as though it would disappear soon? Why did the journalists become enemies when it's so simple to connect to them as friends, brothers and sisters, to "open a window" letting them in and put aside  grudges and stereotypes ?


The visitors return home from their visit full of good impressions. Suddenly, the cataracts have been removed: The settlers don't have horns, they look like human beings. They speak in the language of human beings, milk and honey on their tongues. They have cute children who behave like children. Their wives are as attractive as their homes. They are broad-minded. All of a sudden settlers have to fix leaks in the kitchen faucet, they pay income taxes, they pay municipal taxes, they have to tune-up their cars and do a yearly road test. They have been transformed into human beings. Something very very similar if not identical to Jews living in Ramat Aviv


Suddenly the natural inclination to report on the settlers through the prism of politics exclusively becomes uncomfortable after seeing that the reality is much more complex, when the reality is so very different than what has been reported, so very different from  what they had believed in prior to participating in this eye-opening and mind-opening experience.


 The panoramic view of Tel-Aviv, and Netanya, and Ashdod from the hills of Judea and Shomron is beautiful, there is a pleasant breeze. They are given a birds eye view and explanation of the strategic significance of these hills for the center of Israel. They are reminded that in the event of a mass evacuation of the greater Tel-Aviv area, they the residents of the center of Israel will be brought to a safe-haven in Judea and Samaria. They are shown factories in which thousands of Palestinian Arabs are happily employed enjoying the same benefits as all workers within the green line. So why report everything through the prism of politics when they can exchange shared experiences from their military service, or common experiences from the world of high-tech. What seemed an impossible reality for Jews living beyond the green line is in actuality not so different from the towns that they themselves live in, for once they feel more common denominators transcending differences previously assumed. 


So as we in Israel celebrate the holiday of Sukkoth, we can rejoice together with our brothers and sisters who make it their business to “report” on the settlers, hoping that their experience in meeting real settlers and not the demonized settlers that are portrayed in the broadcasted and printed media.


I’ll tell you friends, I remain optimistic, even Fidel Castro, the longtime president and leftist icon who stepped aside during a health crisis but still leads the Cuban Communist Party, only recently stated publicly that he believes that <a href=",7340,L-3284752,00