Settler semantics

A friend emailed me these two letters published in the London Review of Books:

Unfair to Revenants


From Yisrael Medad


Virginia Tilley (LRB, 6 November 2003) wrote of 'settlers in "Judea and Samaria" who are indeed gun-toting religious zealots (mostly from the US)'. In the same article, she also presumed that Ariel Sharon would not support the dismantling of Jewish communities in the disputed territories.


As a resident of Shiloh, a Jewish community pejoratively called a 'settlement' populated by 'settlers', and a member of the communities' representative body, the Yesha Council, I can tell Tilley that the people here, and more properly they should be referred to as revenants, persons who have returned after a long hiatus to their ancestral homes, who number more than 250,000 (and more than 400,000 if eastern Jerusalem is included), are secular in the main. The number of Americans who live beyond the Green Line armistice demarcation boundary does not exceed 20 per cent of that population.


Yisrael Medad

Shiloh, Samaria


Unfair to Revenants

From Nicholas Blanton


Yisrael Medad asks that we call the Jewish settlers in the West Bank revenants, as befits 'persons who have returned after a long hiatus to their ancestral homes' (Letters, 6 May). I know just how he feels. My family lost everything in the North of England in 1070, when William the Conqueror ethnically cleansed the landowners, and it's been annoying us ever since. If Medad would meet me next Thursday in Barnard Castle, with a few hundred of his armed friends, we could finally see justice done. It's tough perhaps to the non-revenants, who've been there for only 934 years, but we won't charge them back rent and there are plenty of people who speak their language next door. I'm sure they'll adjust and find other places to live, among their own kind.


Nicholas Blanton

Shepherdstown, West Virginia


I think I also have a pretty strong claim to Moorish Spain, from where my ancestors were driven in 1492 by those brutish Franks.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.