Chaim Silberstein insists on showing me Jacob’s Stone. It lies in Beit El – “The House of God” – which is the name of the colony of 7,000 Jews just outside Ramallah. Right here was where the ancient Jewish patriarch lay down on his stone, so it is written, and dreamed of the ladder to heaven upon which angels ascended and descended. It was the 25th anniversary of the broken Oslo agreement, a strange day upon which to remember all those winged creatures – rather earlier in history – plodding up and down. But I have to admit that God’s message to Jacob all those thousands of years ago was a bit less prosaic and certainly more long term. “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.”
So much for Oslo, then, and all those withdrawal agreements and the Palestinian State-that-isn’t, although, not far from a 1,000-year-old wormwood tree, Silberstein becomes a little lyrical – ever so cautiously, mind you – about the modern-day descendants of Jacob and the Americans who are trying to make God’s dream come true. It’s odd to hear the name of Trump up here, within the walls of Beit El and guarded by the guns of Israel’s settlers. Silberstein carries a hefty firearm himself, although I suspect his ambitions are a good deal more powerful than bullets.