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Unsettling the Settlement: The Ideology of Israel's Hilltop Youth

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Title: Unsettling the Settlement: The Ideology of Israel's Hilltop Youth
Author: Carton, Emily
Advisor: Koltun-Fromm, Naomi
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Religion
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2011
Abstract: This thesis examines the political, social and theological heritage of the Hilltop Youth, a group of radical, anti-establishment young settlers in Israel's West Bank. In the past few years the media has picked up on the Hilltop Youths' violent tendencies, focusing on the political ramifications of their anti-Palestinian and anti-state actions. However, the main question the following paper addresses is not "what are the consequences of the youths' actions?" but rather "why do the youth act as they do?" Such it question can only be answered using a multidisciplinary approach; this thesis investigates not simply the social and political realities these youth have faced, but also how those realities have influenced the development of their unique theology. There currently exists very little accessible information detailing the Hilltop Youths' beliefs. Using media reports (news articles, videos and photos), I attempt to reconstruct their ideology within the context of Israeli politics and Jewish theological history. I compare the youth with the Gush Emunim--the well-known religious Zionist settler group from which the Hilltop Youth has emerged--so as to determine which aspects of the youths' philosophy are truly innovative. I conclude that the youth, unlike their parent generation, are seeking a present, physical redemption on the land. Upon closer investigation, it becomes clear that their "radical" beliefs are actually the logical extension of ancient Jewish messianic ideas. Moreover, certain secular events have been crucial to the development of the religious Zionist tradition to which the Hilltop Youth belong; had the youth grown up in different socio-political circumstances but with the same theological training, it is unlikely that they would have radicalized to the same extent.
Subject: Jewish radicals -- West Bank
Subject: Israel -- Social conditions -- 21st century
Subject: Arab-Israeli conflict -- 1993-
Subject: Gush emunim (Israel)
Subject: Hilltop Youth (Organization : Israel)
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Carton, Emily. "Unsettling the Settlement: The Ideology of Israel's Hilltop Youth". 2011. Available electronically from

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