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A Visit To Israel And Its Despairing Patriots

By:Helen Freedman Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On a recent visit to the threatened communities of Israel, we saw continuing evidence of the Weisglas/Sharon/Olmert policy of preventing natural expansion and development of land by Jews in Israel.

As we visited communities in Judea, Samaria, Hebron, S’derot, east Jerusalem, and the Negev, we saw the obstacles the Olmert government places before them as a means of advancing its stated determination to give away precious Jewish land and create a Palestinian state, with our beloved Jerusalem as its capital.

In S’derot, just northeast of the demolished Gush Katif communities, we met with Batsheva Levy. She tearfully told us of the impossible life she and her family have been leading for the past four years, as Kassam rockets land every day in her city. Four thousand residents have evacuated their homes, leaving 20,000 under a daily barrage of attack.

While Batsheva’s life crumbles around her, Alon Davidi, another resident, whose wife and five children also live in fear, is determined to fight the government for every bit of protection and security possible. He emphasizes the fact that S’derot is inside Israel – not in “occupied territory” and still it has been abandoned by an Israeli government more concerned with appeasing the enemy than with protecting its citizens.

In Yad Binyamin we met Ariel Dubrowin, a Job Katif representative who is struggling, with Rav Rimon of Alon Shvut, to arrange for the re-training of the refugees from the former Gush Katif.

In Ashkelon, we were greeted by our friends Dror Vanunu and Anita Tucker, both Gush Katif evacuees. They took us to a sun-drenched stretch of dry, bare sand in Ashkelon – which will be the building site of Nissanit. Although the infrastructure is supposed to be ready in April, all we saw was one bulldozer and a few exposed pipes.

Dror and Anita told us about the Kfar Darom families who had been moved into apartments in Ashkelon and then into tiny caravans, (plasterboard portable homes) in Shomriya. They are finding it too difficult to stay together as a unit, and the families are now dispersing. What the Arab terror threat was unable to do, the deliberate negligence of the Olmert government has succeeded in accomplishing.

From Ashkelon we could easily see the Rotenberg electricity power station, which provides Israel with one-third of its electrical power. It is now clearly vulnerable to rocket attacks.

In Nitzan, the caravan community that houses 500 former GK families, we met with our good friends Rachel and Moshe Saperstein. Rachel runs the Operation Dignity fund which helps individuals with critical but often overlooked personal issues.

The New Nitzan, located between Ashkelon and Ashdod, is planned for 500 former GK families to build their permanent homes. The infrastructure is in place, and the lotteries have been drawn for the individual family lots. Individual homes must be built from compensation monies, but the government is only paying partially for the public buildings – schools, youth centers, medical facilities, synagogues, recreational halls, and all the components that make up a community.

Under the guidance of Izzy Danziger, head of Mishmeret Yesha, Israel’s independent first response program, we began our tour of the Shomron. We visited the outpost community of Chavat Ya’ir and saw the beautiful home built by Doron Ben Tzvi, along with a restaurant that provided breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. There are 40 targeted communities on the Olmert government’s hit list, and Chavat Ya’ir is one of them.

In Nofim, another beautiful mountain spot, we met Alex. He showed us the land he leased from the government and fenced off. The Arabs steal the fencing and use his land to graze their flocks. He seems to have no recourse.

We returned to Gilad Farm, where we had been on previous trips. The government attempted to destroy it many times but was always unsuccessful, largely because of the spirit of the people, who are determined to hold on to their land.

At Har Greezim we once again looked down at the sprawling Arab city of Shechem, with its shopping center and 16-story high-rises. The refugee camp was still there, crowded into a corner of the city. It was clear that if there were any interest in eliminating the camp and absorbing the refugees into the city, it could be done very easily. But that obviously doesn’t serve the Palestinians’ public relations purposes.

We drove through the much-terrorized community of Itamar, where 15 Jews had been murdered in June 2006, and arrived at Givat Olam, an organic chicken and dairy farm. It is also on the list of 40 to be destroyed.

We arrived at Elon Moreh, and were met by our good friends Rabbi Felix, Pinchas Fuchs and Zev Feldman. Pinchas took us to the Scali farm, the latest outpost of Elon Moreh. From there we had a fabulous view of Shechem and Kever Yosef, destroyed by the Arabs when Joseph’s Tomb was given to the Arabs for “safekeeping” by the Israeli government.

At Tapuach junction we drove to the hilltop to visit one of our favorite places, Kfar Tapuach, where we met with old friends David Ha’Ivri and Moshe Hertzlich. Lenny Goldberg, another dear friend, was in Ariel that afternoon, just down the road, so we missed seeing him. It is interesting to note that Ariel will be on the “good” side of the fence, while Tapuach will be excluded. They are just meters away from each other, but one is targeted for extinction while the other will be allowed to flourish.

We arrived at the Shilo block, including Shvut Rachel, Achiya Kayda, Eish Kodesh and Adei Ad. We saw fabulous plantings of vineyards on the hilltops. Water lines were brought in. All of this occurred before the shmitta year began. Hundreds of Jewish workers toiled in the remarkable preparation of these lands. Would the government allow them to stay in Jewish hands? Despite the uncertainty, they knew they had to continue moving forward.

Our meeting and discussion in Shilo with Batya Medad and Chaya and Moshe Belogorodsky confirmed the belief that the Israeli government is acting worse than any external enemy, threatening Jews by curtailing their ability to live.

A visit to Amona, site of the infamous attack on Jews by Israeli police and soldiers, where nine permanent homes were destroyed, showed us that nothing has changed. The nine destroyed homes are nine mounds of rubble flying Israeli flags. The residents who remain there are permitted to live only in temporary caravans. The threats continue.

We drove through N’ve Daniel, a beautiful, thriving community which is the highest point in eastern Gush Etzion. We reached S’de Boaz, another caravan community with nine families, slated to be destroyed by the Olmert government. We saw that three permanent homes were in the process of hurriedly being built because of the stop-work orders that have already been issued on the buildings. The community has been struggling to survive for five years, with the army going through every day, inciting confrontations.

And then there is Hebron. What can one say about this amazing community that survives continuous harassment from the Olmert government? Twenty thousand people arrived in Hebron for Shabbat Chaye Sarah. We were among them. The joy of praying in the Ma’arat HaMachpela, the resting place of our matriarchs and patriarchs, is indescribable. We celebrated an Oneg Shabbat at the home of our friends, Yifat and Shalom Akobi and their six children. They live in the threatened Beit HaShalom, purchased by Jews several months ago in a transaction that is constantly being challenged.

Winter is coming and the residents are denied permission to put windows on the building or to repair the leaking roof. The Israeli government is indifferent to the rights of the Jewish men, women and children living in the building. Just a few months ago they sent 3,000 troops to destroy a dozen Jewish homes in the Jewish-owned Shalhevet area. This is the area in Hebron named after the infant Shalhevet Pass who was killed by Arab snipers. Our talk with David Wilder later that evening underscored the daily battle with the government endured by the Hebron Jews.

Meeting with Arieh King in Jerusalem, I was once more informed about the Jewish National Fraud that has been perpetrated on the Jewish people by the Fund supposedly dedicated to preserving Jewish land. Arieh is planning a Zionist alternative to the JNF.

There was a November 4 demonstration in Jerusalem outside the American Consulate on Agron Street to protest the planned Annapolis summit. Condoleezza Rice was in town, meeting with Tzipi Livni, and Olmert was speaking at the King David hotel. An hour before the scheduled demonstration, I was appalled to see the black uniformed Yassamnakim, or special forces, on horseback and on their black motorcycles, with hundreds of soldiers arriving for crowd control.

Areas were cordoned off and the crowd of demonstrators was not allowed to get near the hotel where the march was to have ended. Instead, they were herded into a narrow street nearby where a spirited rally took place, unheard and unseen by Jerusalemites. What a tragedy when Jews are perceived as the enemy by their own government.

Our visit made it obvious to us that the Olmert government does not represent the Jews of Israel and that political power must be restored to the people in order to overcome the government’s perfidy.

Helen Freedman, former executive director of Americans For a Safe Israel ( co-hosts the weekly cable TV program “Israel Update.” She can be contacted at

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