September 7, 2016

Those of faith; those of fate

Posted in Judea & Samaria, revenant, Yesha tagged , , , , , at 10:03 pm by yisraelmedad

Those of faith; those of fate
By YISRAEL MEDAD
09/07/2016
I am not an anthropologist but will admit that the sense of participating in a “rite of passage” was unmistakable in this and other marches toward a location to be redeemed and populated by Jews.
Forty years older, veterans of the campaign to establish a Jewish community in Samaria convened last week in a festive gathering to mark Kedumim’s success in receiving government permission to set up camp at the Kadum army base. Wisely, they chose a late summer day rather than the wintry, rainy days they camped out, on the eighth attempt, in December 1975 at Masudiah, the old Turkish railway station near the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Israel, now called Sebastia.

I was there just prior to Tisha Be’av 1974, when that site was first selected by Gush Emunim, mainly because it provided a natural “fort” for protection against the expected army and police evictions. We reached it by car and then on foot, avoiding roadblocks and being chased by security forces. It was the second attempt of the Elon Moreh resettlement group, which wanted a site as close to Nablus as possible. In fact, not too long after Kedumim was eventually set up, the group split, with about half going eastward of Nablus to the current location of Elon Moreh on Mount Kabir, near the original location they sought.

I am not an anthropologist but will admit that the sense of participating in a certain “rite of passage” was unmistakable in this and other marches toward a location to be redeemed and populated by Jews.

Living in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vegan neighborhood at the time, the word went out in synagogues, youth movement clubhouses and grocery stores to get ready. Almost as in a drill, those who mobilized prepared sleeping bags, a change of clothes, or at least underwear and socks, and some sandwiches. Good walking shoes were located deep in a closet and friends were contacted for rides. And then came the notice of the day, hour and destination.

Samaria was empty of Jews at that time. The family of Moshe Sharret had lived in the Arab village of Ein Sinya, north of Ramallah, but had left after two years. The ferocious Arab violence assured that the few Jews who had been living in Nablus could no longer do so. The JNF’s Yosef Weitz had purchased land around Tulkarm in the 1930s and 1940s and in the Jiftlik area in the Lower Jordan Valley. But it was in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, in the heart of Judea, that modern Zionist settlement efforts were directed in the Mandate days, and where a Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz, Revadim, was established on former lands of Nahlin village, in addition to the two moshavim north of the city, Atarot and Neveh Yaakov. All were overrun in the 1948 war the Arabs launched in their attempt to eradicate the nascent State of Israel, as were the Shimon Hatzaddik neighborhood near the American Colony Hotel and the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City.

The post-1967 resettlement efforts of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were assisted by a major realigning of Zionism’s left-of-center camp and not solely due some sort of a religious messianic enthusiasm. The Land of Israel Movement founding members, who signed its manifesto, included two sons of Yitzhak Tabenkin, Rachel Yanait Ben-Tzvi, Antek Zuckerman and Eliezer Livneh as well as Natan Alterman, Haim Guri, Yehuda Burla and Haim Hazaz, all luminaries of Mapai, Kibbutz Meuchad and the Palmach. If there was an “intoxication of the senses,” as Gadi Yatziv phrased it, the attachment to the regions of the Jewish homeland that fell outside Israel’s reach in 1948 bestirred deep if inchoate feelings that the State of Israel and the land of Israel were to become one.

Kfar Etzion was reestablished in September 1967 and Kiryat Arba, on Hebron’s outskirts, was inaugurated after the Passover 1968 renting of a downtown hotel by rabbis Moshe Levinger and Eliezer Waldman. Two of their yeshiva students, Benny Katzover and Menachem Felix, launched the Elon Moreh nucleus already in 1973. The grassroots movement of Gush Emunim only appeared in early 1974, following the nadir of national sentiment in the wake of the Yom Kippur political debacle.

I watched as Yitzhak Rabin flew over our encampment at the Sebastia railway station and read in the next day’s press that he had muttered “porshim,” the derogatory term meaning “dissidents” applied by the official Yishuv leadership to the Irgun and Lehi underground fighters. But it was Shimon Peres – who described in his autobiography how he slept close by David Ben-Gurion, with his rifle under the cot to protect Israel’s first prime minister during the Altalena arms ship episode when Ben-Gurion sought to quash the dissident camp once and for all – who, as defense minister in 1975, arranged the Kedumim compromise which allowed for the Elon Moreh group to stay at Kadum.

From several hundred “beyond the Green Line” residents, the past four decades have resulted in 460,000 Jews living, planting, constructing and producing throughout Judea and Samaria, despite the withdrawal from Sinai and the disengagement from Gaza. Since the UN, US President Barack Obama and several others view Jerusalem’s post-67 neighborhoods as “settlements,” another 210,000 Jews need be added to the population demographic. That represents some 15 percent of the total population of the area known as the Palestinian Authority.

Indeed, four decades ago, the men and the women of faith altered Israel’s political, social and cultural landscape. In the wake of the December 8, 1975, compromise signed by Peres, they became the men and women of fate, of Zionism’s future.

For the 19 years between the War of Independence and the Six Day War, Jews could not live in the areas where Jewish nationalism was fostered. Israelis were prohibited from visiting the Western Wall, where previous generations of Jews prayed. The land was occupied, illegally, by Jordan, but no one was disturbed by a breach of the armistice agreements the United Nations oversaw between Israel and the Arabs states which sought to destroy it. Those were also 19 years of Fedayeen and then PLO terrorist attacks.

All that was swept away in 1967, and in its wake, those of faith, and not solely those who were religiously observant, rallied to assure the future fate of Israel, the state, the land and the people.

The author resides in Shiloh and is a pro-Land of Israel Jewish residency activist.

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November 23, 2006

The Grounding of Judea and Samaria

Posted in Israel/Zionism, Judea & Samaria, revenant, Uncategorized, Yesha at 1:12 am by yisraelmedad

The grounding of Judea and Samaria



A few months after my family and I moved to Shiloh in 1981, I witnessed a microcosm of the land problem between Jews and Arabs. A section of land was to be put aside for security purposes and, as the legal procedure dictated, the mukhtars of nearby villages were informed and asked to make sure that any resident claiming private ownership rights should show up on a certain day to stake his claim.Sure enough, at the appointed hour, seven Arabs walked onto the area and then were asked to stand on what each claimed as his private plot. Within minutes a difficult situation developed when two villagers stood on the same fertile section, insisting that each owned it. A minute later and they were throwing stones at each other.

We, the residents of Shiloh, the IDF officers and legal officials all stood around amazed. In the end, with no documents, no tax receipts, no maps nor any other reliable proof of ownership, the land was confirmed as “state land” and assigned to its new use.

The new Peace Now report, “Breaking the Law in the West Bank,” besides making the front page of The New York Times, has generated local headlines as well. Claiming access to leaked “precise” information regarding the legal status of the land upon which Jewish revenant communities have been established, the group asserts that a “direct violation of Israeli law” has been done by “the state itself.”

This arguably illegal circumvention of the system, presumably by a Peace Now sympathizer within the civil service, was done to gain a few days advantage over the settlement movement. It’s obviously impossible to respond to the report in all its details with just a few hours notice.

It’s nevertheless not too difficult to point to several shortcomings and misleading information.

In the first instance, Hebron doesn’t appear as a “settlement.” Not at all. One could presume that the purchase of the Machpela Cave by Abraham some 3,000 years before a so-called Palestinian people came into being would indicate that perhaps Jews do have a place in the territory disputed between Jews and Arabs.

For what the Peace Now report does is, in sleight-of-word fashion, ignore the issue of state lands. The three sole classifications of “land area” in the report are private land, survey land and land owned by Jews.

UNTIL 1979, the State of Israel regularly appropriated private land. Karmiel was built this way and even the Ein Kerem neighborhood of Jerusalem benefited from such classifications.

Since, then, however, no Arab private land has been used for the Jewish communities. State (mirie) land is a different matter and, therefore, ignored in the report’s charts. To include it would injure the Peace Now case. The report, it appears, also resurrects the concept of ardh as-sahil – the lands of the fields – which were somehow termed as collectively owned.

As the League of Nations Mandate makes clear, in Article 6, “the Administration of Palestine… shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency… close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands and waste lands not acquired for public purposes.”

State lands make up the vast majority of the area in Judea and Samaria. Land disputes began with the Turkish Ottoman administration and continued throughout the British Mandate period. At the base of the Peace Now approach is the rehashing of many Arab propaganda claims, now being given legitimization by sympathetic Jews.

As Arabs have asserted, they supposedly owned 93 percent of the land which came to be known as the State of Israel, of which 43% was privately owned and the rest was identified at that time as the Sultan’s Land. Jews owned but 7%. This five-decades old myth is now being resurrected by Peace Now, which is largely funded by foreign sources.

THERE ARE other concerns, such as questionable data. For example, at Karnei Shomron, only 1.47% of the land is noted as Jewish-owned. In fact, almost all the area of the community is Jewish-owned and the same for the Etz Efraim community.

Peace Now doesn’t recognize, it would seem, Jewish land purchases. It would be interesting to learn whether the concern of Peace Now for private land extends to Jews who own property in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, either from pre-state days or afterward, and cannot realize the land’s potential due to Israeli government policy or Arab terrorism, such as at Havat Gilad.

There is also the matter of Arabs who have sold land but then claim otherwise in fear of extra-legal punishment – in other words, they don’t want to be murdered for selling land to Jews.

In addition, the pictures of the land supposedly owned by “West Bank” Jewish communities on the Peace Now Web site are misleading. There is a vast difference between the area displayed and the actual area zoned at various government ministries and civilian administration offices. The boundaries are arbitrary, usually delineated by patrol roads which do not reflect on the actual property definitions.

THERE IS, it need be admitted, a very fundamental chasm between Peace Now and the reality on the ground. Property disputes have always existed, especially since the first land registration –Tabu – law was promulgated from the days of the Turks only in 1858.

But we should not lose sight of the major issue and that is that this conflict is not about private property but one between two nations claiming the same land.

Even if 51% of the land in question was owned by Jews as private property, Peace Now would oppose a Jewish presence in the area. Shiloh, Hebron and Beit El are place names that simply do not resonate with these concessionists. Their goal is simple: to get the Jews out of the territory they want for a future Palestinian state. To this end, even a juggling of terms and data is permissible.

The writer, a volunteer spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, comments on political, cultural and media affairs at http://www.myrightword.blogspot.com