Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zionism and Pioneering on the Hills of Judea and Samaria

by Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover

"Lofty spirits," "elation," "joy," "inspiration," and "strengthening" were only some of the words used by the participants in the chizuk tour to bring support and encouragement to the outposts in Benjamin and Samaria - to describe their feelings at the end of a full and emotional day organized by Women in Green.

A hundred people came to take part in the tour, from the Jerusalem area, Gush Etzion, Kiryat Arba-Hebron, and even from Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Shoval in the Negev. One bus was for Hebrew speakers, and a second bus, for the English speakers. The outstanding guide Aryeh Klein from Hebron left us all the wiser with the amazing information he gave us, as if he were a walking encyclopedia.

The first stop was at Bnei Adam, an outpost some 4 kilometers from the community of Adam in the desolate Benjamin hills, between Nahal Prat and Nahal Michmash, that looks out at Maaleh Edumim, to the south, and to all of Samaria, to the north. Young couples who live under harsh conditions (in tents, karavanim [mobile housing units], and even in a bus) joyfully received us, and gave us all an instructive lesson in pioneering and the love of Eretz Israel. The destruction of three caravans about a month ago by the government of Israel, with the cooperation of Amanah, did not weaken them. Two families remained at the site, and are organizing to rebuild their homes. The third family will come back soon.

From there we traveled north on Route 60. At Har Bracha we turned right, passed by the Samaritans, and arrived at Mitzpeh Yosef, an outlook with a view of the entire city of Shechem, and a clear view of Joseph's Tomb. Words cannot describe the emotions we all felt. To see the place where Abraham heard from the Holy One, blessed be He, (in Genesis 13:15): "for I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever"; to feel the thousands of years of Jewish history at that very place; to be angry at its temporary occupation by the Arabs; and to gain strength from Joseph, who - despite being alone among the Arab enemy - broadcasts determination, power, and tremendous devotion to Eretz Israel. This was simply an experience of exalted spirits fitting for the Ten Days of Repentance, that just strengthened our understanding that we must greatly intensify the struggle for the Land.

At Mitzpeh Yosef we met Hayyim Parag, who showed us plans for the construction of a magnificent tourism observation point at the site, for the thousands of tourists who, with G-d's help, will come to gaze upon Joseph's Tomb, until the day will come when, with G-d's help, we will be able to return to Shechem itself.

We stopped for lunch at the Ronen Farm, at the foot of Har Brachah.

On the way to the settlement of Haresha in the Talmonim bloc we stopped at the Gilad Farm. The Gilad Farm was established in response to the murder of Gilad Zer, may G-d avenge him. At present, tens of families live there. This Rosh Hashanah, Arabs threw Molotov cocktails at the settlement. The fire spread rapidly, and two caravans caught fire. One caravan burned to the ground, and the family couldn't save anything. Everything was burnt - clothes, photo albums, books, everything. The second caravan was severely damaged, and is no longer fit for habitation. This event can definitely be called a pogrom. But this Arab attack did not make the headlines in any of the press, except for our national right wing newspapers.The Israeli media reported a single laconic sentence: "Arabs set fire to fields in the Samaria area, there were no casualties." Once again we see how the lives of Jews in Judea and Samaria are free for the taking. But, with G-d's help, the inhabitants of the Gilad Farm are strong. The community immediately organized, and with the help of friends and the Samaria Regional Council, funds are being raised to build new homes for the two families.

The high point of the tour was the community of Haresha, in western Benjamin. Haresha is located on a hilltop that affords a view of the entire coastal plain. Haderah, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, and Ashkelon are in the palm of one's hand, within reach. Anyone who still does not understand why it is forbidden to establish a Palestinian state, and for whom an ideological argument is not sufficient, has only to stand in Haresha in order to understand what would happen to all Gush Dan if, Heaven forbid, such a Palestinian state were to arise.

A fateful struggle is being waged now in Haresha. This battle gets no state media exposure, in the hope that Peace Now will succeed in carrying out its machinations. The community was established ten years ago, on state land, with government funding and encouragement. About forty families live there now. In 2005 the Peace Now extreme left wing movement filed an appeal against eight stone structures in Haresha (and, likewise, against the settlement of Hayovel, near Eli). The left claimed that these structures are "illegal," but it is known that this is not true. The structures received all the permits, except for the final signature by the Defense Minister, who, for political reasons, refuses to sign any permit for any place in Judea and Samaria. The case has been dragging on for four years in the court, until three months ago, when the High Court of Justice decided to put an end to the matter. The High Court of Justice gave the state four months to give a precise date for the destruction of the structures. That is to say, within a month the bulldozers might come to raze the structures.

Our hearts were filled with pride, and we breathed a sigh of relief, when the representatives of the Haresha residents who spoke with us, made it clear that they were setting out on a stubborn and uncompromising struggle against the destruction decrees, without any political deals. They explained that they understand that the struggle is not over their private homes, but for the entire settlement enterprise in all of Judea and Samaria. Haresha is the first domino that Peace Now hopes to push down, with the help of the High Court of Justice and the silent consent of the government. We must stop the madness in Haresha. Their struggle is in conjunction with the struggle by the Regavim organization against Arab illegal construction, as they highlight the discrimination against Jews.

If, Heaven forbid, all these struggles are not successful in the political sphere, the inhabitants of Haresha promise to conduct a much more determined struggle than that in Amona, and they call upon the entire people of Israel to aid them. (A full report on Haresha and how to help them will be posted on our email list after Yom Kippur please G-d).

Without doubt, this was a full day in which we came to encourage, and came back encouraged.

We met the best of the proud Jews who, with their own hands, are continuing pioneering and Zionism, totally devoted to Eretz Israel.

In each place we distributed to the inhabitants the wall carpet designed by Ruth Matar with the verse from Isaiah 62:1: "For the sake of Zion I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still." And in truth, it is these Jews, who live under harsh conditions in the outposts, who are the defenders of Jerusalem, and of Zion, i.e. of all Eretz Israel.

We want to thank Elisheva Ginsberg and Michal Melamed for their assistance in organizing the tour.

Thank you to the guide Aryeh Klein for his excellent explanations. Last but not least, thank you to Gemma Blech for her help in guiding the English bus and for taking such wonderful pictures that can be seen by clicking on the following link:

Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380

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