Where is Shilo?

I was disheartened to read in your article “Reedies Reunite in Israel” the dismayingly disingenuous statement identifying Shilo as a place “where Jews lived for the first 300 years after leaving Egypt.” Choosing to reference Shilo as a place where Jews lived for 300 years after they left Egypt cloaks—or even falsifies—the identity of Shilo. Shilo is not even in Israel—it’s in the West Bank. Shilo was established in 1978 as a Jewish-only settlement under international law. (It was even given as an example of an area to be returned to Palestinians by the Israelis negotiating the Oslo Peace Accords, due to its location in the midst of many Palestinian villages.) It is undisputed that Shilo is one of many new communities established in the West Bank by and solely for Jews since 1967. Israelis say that the land where Shilo is built is land that “reverted” to the state of Israel, or became the possession of the state of Israel, at the time of the 1967 war. Palestinians and the Israeli organization Peace Now, which monitors settlement activity, say that many of the people residing in Shilo live on land privately owned by Palestinians. I realize that the point of this piece for the magazine was to highlight the fact that far-flung Reedies can get together for “emotional reunion(s)” around a common language. However, it seemed to me that the editor of a Reed magazine would be aware that the specifics of the piece exist in a context: visitors to Shilo “tour” an illegal settlement on disputed land enabled by military occupation—no Palestinian Reedie would be allowed on that tour except via subterfuge. And no Reedie from a Palestinian village in the West Bank would ever be allowed to settle in Israel, even if his or her family had lived in what is now Israel for not 300 but for 1,000 years. And, because Israel regularly denies entry to Palestinians, it is unlikely that a Palestinian Reedie would be able to “reunite in Israel” at all. Note: Is there such a thing as a Palestinian Reedie? Perhaps not. Among other hurdles for a prospective student, Israel controls all movement by Palestinians and has denied students visas even when they have been admitted to foreign universities. I hope that you can clarify the identity of present-day Shilo in the next issue.

—Bethany Weidner ’69

Olympia, Washington