Skip to main content

The Legacy of the Ariel Settlement

The storm over recognition of the West Bank college of Ariel as a university put a dent in the life work of Ron Nachman, the legendary mayor of Ariel who sought to turn the secular settlement into an Israeli town.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (R) listens to Mayor Ron Nachman (L) during his visit to the West Bank settlement of Ariel July 21, 2005 in this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office. Sharon's deputy raised the prospect on Thursday of bringing forward the start of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza to prevent opponents of the pullout from carrying out threats to disrupt it. ISRAEL OUT  REUTERS/Moshe Milner/GPO/Handout - RTRI949

Back in 1978, when he climbed onto an empty rocky hill in the middle of Samaria, along with several friends, to establish a settlement on the site, the founder and lifelong mayor of Ariel, Ron Nachman, already knew that the settlement would survive only if it were portrayed to the public as a “normal” town in all respects. Just like the cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa or Raanana. Since that time he has worked tirelessly to gain a place for Ariel in the national consensus.

He was not deterred by the fact that Ariel was built in the very heart of the Occupied Territories. Whenever anyone described him as head of the settlement of Ariel, or the media dared combine the words “Ariel” and “settlement,” the hot-blooded mayor would rush to defend his protégée and rage against its detractors. Nachman was willing to go to any lengths to gain recognition for his town as a town like any other, rather than part of the settlement enterprise.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.