Rachel Blaisdell used to be enchanted by the winding drive through the ancient West Bank hills to her home in a Jewish settlement.
Now she wears a helmet to protect her head from stones hurled by Palestinian youths who are part of an uprising against Israeli occupation."Because we can't afford special (shatterproof) glass, I wear a helmet. I wear a football helmet, and my husband wears a motorcycle helmet," said Blaisdell, a native of Minnesota. "I think, `Is this really happening to me?"'
Jewish settlers, who believe the West Bank and Gaza Strip are theirs on historic and religious grounds, have been on the frontline facing the hostility of the 1.75 million Arabs in whose midst they live. About 80,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Almost every settler family has seen its car windows smashed, and several settlers have been seriously injured by rocks, cinderblocks or Molotov cocktails hurled inside their vehicles. A mother and her three children were killed by a gasoline bomb.
Although settlers present a united front in their determination to remain on what they call Greater Israel, their words and actions indicate the Palestinian uprising has had a greater impact on their lives and outlook than they admit openly.