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I Detest My Sister's West Bank Settlement. That's Why I'm Going to Live There

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My sister Maniou, eight years older than me, moved to Israel from Amsterdam, where we both were born, in 1982. I was 11 at the time. She studied psychology at Bar-Ilan University, got married, changed her name to Ma’anit, moved from Ramat Gan first to the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret, then to Kfar Darom (a settlement in Gaza that was evacuated in 2005) and then to Dolev, a religious settlement in the West Bank.

When our father passed away in 1991, my sister was eight months pregnant with her fourth child and she was living in Kfar Darom, where I had visited her several times. She was not allowed to fly anymore, which is why my father was buried in Jerusalem. Our mother wanted to be buried next to him, so both our parents are buried in Jerusalem, even though they never moved to Israel. (She passed away in 2015.)

My sister has seven children and, by now, I believe 12 grandchildren - I lost count.

Although we both grew up fairly traditional (kosher food, going to synagogue on Saturday and Jewish holidays), my sister became more and more religious, and I less and less. She had always been an ardent member of the religious youth movement Bnei Akiva; I was sent there as well, but I was too much of a loner to feel at ease among those youth movement enthusiasts.

As a child we were quite close, but we grew apart the moment I lost interest in Judaism and Zionism. My sister keeps begging me to come and visit her, but I have tried my best to avoid visiting her in Dolev as much as I could.

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Since she moved there in the late 1990’s, I have visited her on family occasions, such as the bar mitzvahs of my nephews. In 2001, visiting for one such bar mitzvah, my non-Jewish girlfriend wasn’t allowed to........

© Haaretz