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Why one Israeli settler invites tour groups over for tea

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Christa Case Bryant/The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Ardie Geldman (c.), a resident of the Israeli settlement of Efrat, hosts a group of Canadian visitors in his home on Nov. 14.

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When Ardie Geldman and his wife bought a car in Bethlehem, back when Israelis still flocked there to shop at lower prices, they struck up a friendship with the Palestinian car salesman that lasted a decade.

When the couple took their car back to service it, the salesman would return it to their home in the nearby settlement of Efrat – sometimes with a bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Geldman.

While such relationships have largely been suspended due to the Palestinian uprisings and Israel’s heightened restrictions on Palestinian movement, many Israeli settlers still interact with Palestinians who work on their homes or at supermarkets like the Rami Levi down the road. That may come as a surprise to foreigners who come to see the towering cement walls, covered in Palestinian graffiti about apartheid and oppression, that form part of the separation wall Israel built after the second Intifada began.


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