Photo Credit: courtesy

This morning, I did something I do often. I prepared a cup of coffee, two spoons of sugar and some milk, and took a bottle of cold water outside. I gave it to the Arab man who works for my city. He sweeps the street with pride, and I thank him and give him coffee if I happen to see him – which I often do.

We spoke for a minute. He explained that he’s working harder today because he had a holiday and so only worked 3 hours a day. I told him the street looks great and thanked him again.

Ancient (and modern) land of Israel

And that’s the first lie – all people who live where I live, in the province of Yehuda (or Shomron) hate Arabs or Muslims or Palestinians or Gazans. I live in Yehuda, in the beautiful city of Maale Adumim.

The second lie is the name of the place where I live. The media and some use the term “west bank” – as if we define our existence based on the other side of “their” river. It is a name the world likes instead of the proper name given to this land thousands of years ago. The term was applied by the Jordanians after they lost the war they started in 1967. Imagine renaming Michigan “South Canada” or London “South Ireland”.

Calling it Yehuda, Judea, is uncomfortable for a world trying to deny our claims to this land and so they perpetuate the lie. We are not the west bank, any more than Jordan is the east bank.

If they are allowed to use their name, so must we be allowed. The name Yehuda comes from the tribe of Yehuda, which lived and loved on this land more than 3,000 years ago and it kills the world that Yehuda’s descendants have reclaimed what was always ours.

I was reminded of these truth this morning as I walked up the stairs to bring Mahmoud his coffee. There was no hate in my actions, no hate in his accepting it. The only hate, it seems, are among those who want to see hate where there is none and those who truthfully find it uncomfortable to admit the truth the faces them boldly and proudly.

We are the descendants of those who walked this land thousands of years ago. In my case, this is not theoretical. My father loved researching and to our intense dismay spend endless time and money putting together a family “tree” that dates back over 52 generations. He traces directly, through both his parents to a city in the Ukraine, to a Rabbi who lived in Vilna, to a King of Israel. From the King, we can literally trace ourselves back to Abraham.

When the lies threaten to undermine who you are, it’s time to expose them. I am of Yehuda, I am a Yehudi. I am a Jew. And this morning, I made coffee and had a pleasant conversation with Mahmoud. There was no hate, at least on my side.

And since it seems to be a common assumption that the hate is coming from both sides, allow me to explain that Mahmoud took a sip of his coffee, smiled and said, “walla, it’s good.” I wished him a good day and as he began to sweep, I thanked him again for sweeping the landing where my steps begin, and he thanked me for a cup of coffee.

Maybe the truth is in that coffee and maybe it’s time to stop the lies. We, those people the world calls “settlers” are not filled with hate. We, those people whose home you wish to deny, do acts of kindness all the time because what we are, have been, and always will be, are human beings.

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Paula R. Stern is the co-founder of Retraining4Israel (, a new organization working to help olim make aliyah successful. Paula made aliyah over 30 years ago with her husband and their three children. She lives in Maale Adumim and is often referred to as “A Soldier’s Mother”. She is now a happy wife, mother of five (including two sabras), and grandmother, happily sharing her voice and opinions with others. She is also a senior tech writer and lead training instructor at WritePoint Ltd. ( Please visit her new website: