by Rachel Saperstein
May 29, 2005
Several nights ago I attended a Town Meeting in the large hall under our synagogue complex. The residents of Neve Dekalim gathered to listen, confer and speak their piece.
The mayor of Neve Dekalim, Mr. Lior Kalfa, asked the people to sign a document with the purpose of alleviating their concerns regarding ‘the day after’.
The document ‘ as of now over a thousand residents have signed ‘ declared ‘One for All and All for One’. It is part of a program called AMANA created to unite the people of Gush Katif.
Mr. Kalfa explained ‘We are acting together to remind the government that we are continuing the battle against our expulsion. We want to ensure that if our battle is unsuccessful we will go as a Gush, a bloc. We will all move together, live together, care for each other and function as one unit. We are acting to forestall groups doing their own negotiating and for the individual to know he is not alone.’
The following morning Israel’s dailies purposely distorted the event, declaring that 1000 families had signed away their homes and were ready to leave Gush Katif. After our forceful protests, including the threat of legal action, corrections were printed.
At the meeting we were reminded that government bodies dealing with our expulsion were working without direction or information. Not a single committee, not a kibbutz or city planner, not one builder had been issued permits, finances or clear instructions. The army and police remain unable to deal with mass evacuation. In short, there is no disengagement ‘plan’.
It is all merely a ruse to convince Jews to leave their homes and begin life elsewhere, without hope of remaining united as a Gush. The government hopes that after years of living separated from each other we will be forgotten by the media and the public and, in despair, will give up the determination to remain as a group. Gush Katif will disappear forever.
And, as Vice Premier Shimon Peres told journalists in an interview printed this morning, other ‘disengagements’ will follow one after another.
A town meeting means people spoke. And our people spoke from their hearts. One resident told of a friend who said ‘I just lost my job and was worried. Then I realized I still have a home, my children still have a school, my wife still has her job, I can still pray with my neighbors in our local synagogue. I appreciated that we are not threatened like the Gush Katif people, to be thrown out with nothing at all.’
Other residents told of strangers calling and writing from every part of the world, each with the same message ‘ Keep Strong! Don’t evict yourselves! We are with you and will be out on the streets fighting for you! Just hold on!
Others spoke about the panic that the government is experiencing: disputes among ministers, officials under investigation or already under indictment. Chaos!
For many in the hall even talking about ‘the day after’ was viewed as a hillul Hashem, a desecration of G-d’s name. For these people there is no ‘day after’, only the battle to be continued with a firm belief that the Almighty would see us victorious.
With these words of faith and strength the Town Meeting was adjourned.