Easy riding settlers go West Bank to West Coast

By Nathan Jeffay, July 21, 2011
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Settlers Adam Halley (also left) and son Boaz, who are preparing to promote their cause across the USA

Settlers Adam Halley (also left) and son Boaz, who are preparing to promote their cause across the USA

It is Easy Rider, settler-style. In the classic 1960s film, two bikers travel through America looking to find themselves; next month two West Bank residents will embark on a similar trip, trying to rev up support for their ideology.

Adam Halley and his son Boaz from Ginot Shomron will buy used bikes on America's East Coast on August 1, head to the West Coast and then back to their starting point, speaking to whoever will listen along the way.

They already have dates with Jewish groups, biking enthusiasts and Baptist organisations. There is only one limitation - they "don't roll on Shabbos" as they are both Orthodox.

"People have stereotypes about who a settler is, influenced by what they read in newspapers and see on TV. But when people meet two settlers who speak perfect English and roll motorbikes, we're going to change perceptions," said Mr Halley senior. "I'm happy to move my yarmulke aside and show people that I don't have horns."

Both men are as passionate about settlements as they are about bikes. Boaz, an 18-year-old high school graduate calls the West Bank the "heartland of Israel". His father runs Amitz, an organisation that provides settlement security teams with equipment and offers rescue services in the case of an attack or other emergencies, and will appeal to audiences for donations.

Most of their talks will focus on the issue of settlers' civilian security needs. "We have to take care of ourselves a lot," said Boaz, saying that he believes that hearing about threats facing settlers and the constant worry about self-defence will change people's views about them.

His father views the trip as a chance to bring the debate back to basics. The West Bank - or as he calls it "Judea and Samaria" - has become "unfortunately politicised", and he wants to return the discussion to the lives of "normal people".

He also hopes to draw on the positive association of the word "settlers" to America's founders.

"I'll say that just as the American settlers came to Pennsylvania and New York and moved out West, the Jews have come back to settle our land," said the elder Mr Halley.

The ideological duo have even given their trip a nationalistic name. As Mr Halley senior, 45, has just retired as an Israel Defence Forces reservist, and as his son is just about to start his compulsory army services, they are calling the trip "the IDF Legacy Tour".

But it is not all about making a statement - they are also looking forward to the open road and some father-and-son bonding. "We have been dreaming about a trip like this for a long time - it's going to be amazing fun," said Boaz.

    Last updated: 2:46pm, July 21 2011