Commissioned by Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research
*”Let my People Sue” – class action suit
*Where are the evicted today?
*Unemployment and reestablishment of businesses
*Library saved; school equipment lost
*Update on daycare situation for Moshav Katif in Ashkelon
*Mass arrests of uprooted soldiers who didn’t report for reserve duty
*Unprecedented prison sentence for anti-disengagement activist
*The Center’s corrections to report distributed at the GA
*Press conference with Zeev Bielski
*Hebrew U. Conference on Disengagement
*Bar Mitzva for 100 boys
CLASS ACTION SUIT – LET MY PEOPLE SUE
The Center for Near East Policy is at the forefront of the organization of a class action suit for the evictees from Gaza and the Shomron.
WHERE ARE THE EVICTED TODAY?
Sources: Information on the Gazan communities is from Moti Sender, editor of Katif.net and resident of Ganei Tal/Yad Binyamin, who based some of his information on an Arutz 7 report, and supplemented that from his extensive personal contacts within the Gush Katif communities. The Center also consulted additional sources within the communities, and a volunteer who works with the communities. Information from the Shomron communities is from Menora Hazani, community leader and documentary film maker, and Yaakov Shalev, regional director in the Shomron.
The Sela (Disengagement) Authority uses the categories “immediate”, meaning where the communities have been since the week of August 15, or some time afterwards, as some communities have been moved from place to place, and “Temporary” – meaning if they are in a location where they will be for the next two years.
With the exception of families from Ganim and Kadim, from the northern Shomron, most of whom bought houses in the moshavim in the Afula area, no permanent housing solution has been enabled yet for any of the evictees.
Approximately 490 families are still living in tent camps, hotels, dormitories, third-rate caravans, i.e., in what the Disengagement Authority defines as “immediate” locations, before the “temporary”, where they will live for the next two years while awaiting a permanent housing solution. At an average of more than six people to a family, that means that at least 3,000 people are still homeless. The pending agreements with Shomria (re: Ir Haemuna) and the beginning, this week, of “caravillas” in Ein Tzurim, will still take several months to be ready.
The hotel-dwellers were notified that they will all be transferred to one of the hotels in Jerusalem, while they are waiting for their “caravillas”, which could take at least another month. It is not yet clear how this will affect the school changes.
The numbers below are approximate and correct on the day of the report.
Gush Katif: Neve Dekalim: Immediate (60 families by the end of this week): The Jerusalem hotels Regency (Hyatt), Caesar, Gold, Shaarei Yerushalayim, Shalom. The King Saul Hotel in Ashkelon (26 families), Kfar Hanofesh (75 families), Hafetz Haim (9 families). Temporary: Nitzan, Taanachim, Kibbutz Yavne, Yad Binyamin, Moshav Yated in the Negev. Bdoloch: Temporary: Nitzan Gadid: Immediate (26 families): Hafetz Haim; Temporary: Nitzan, Gan Or: Immediate (4 families): Hafetz Haim guest house. Temporary: Nitzan and Kibbutz Yavna. Peat Sadeh: Temporary: Moshav Mavki’im (near Ashkelon) Rafiah Yam: Temporary: Moshav Mavki’im, Oshra, and Amuka Netzer Hazani: Immediate (26 families): Hispin (Golan Heights). Immediate (26 still in “immediate” caravans): Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, scattered. Morag: Temporary: Nitzan, Tenna-Omarim (15 families) (southern Hebron hills) Moshav Katif: Immediate (35 families): King Saul Hotel (Ashkelon), Hafetz Haim guest house (8 families), Ir Haemuna Tel Katifa: Immediate/temporary: Even Shmuel Shirat Hayam: Immediate (13 families): Alon Shvut, Kibbutz Sa’ad Netzarim: Immediate (22 families): Karnei Shomron (waiting to move to Ariel), Temporary: Yivul (Negev – 47 families) Kfar Darom: Immediate (58 families): Paradise Hotel (Beer Sheva), Omarim, and hopefully, soon, in a high rise apartment building in Ashkelon. (Temporary) Atzmona and Slav: Immediate (57 families) at Ir Haemuna (near Netivot), supposedly moving out in about three weeks, Hafetz Haim guest house. Temporary: Yated (Negev – 30+), Shaarei Avraham. Ganei Tal: Temporary: Yad Binyamin
Northern Gaza: Elei Sinai: Immediate (57 families): The tent city at the crossroads of Yad Mordecai. Temporary: Nitzan, Kibbutz Carmia (56 families, including some from Nisanit), Or Haner. Nisanit: Temporary: Nitzan, Bustan Hagalil (13 families), Kibbutz Carmia, scattered apartments in Ashkelon. Dugit: Temporary: Bustan Hagalil
Northern Shomron (Samaria): Homesh: Immediate (7 families): Shavei Shomron. Menora Hazani, community leader, says, “We’re waiting for a ‘long term temporary’ solution, in Shavei Shomron; but the government isn’t willing for us to live in Yesha.” Yaakov Shalev (057-7218991), regional director, says, “The settlement division of the Jewish Agency [headed by Avraham Duvdevani – TKG] agrees that we should use the pre-fab homes that we transferred from Homesh and Sanur, for the uprooted families, but the government is not allowing it, because they want to transfer the pre-fabs to the Negev.” Temporary: Yad Hana, scattered (Netanya, Golan, Gedera, etc.) Yoav Ariel – menahel hahevel; Bentzi Lieberman – politically; Uri Ariel Sanur: Immediate (7 families): Shavei Shomron, scattered (Yitzhar, Kedumim, etc.) They have the same request as Homesh. Ganim and Kadim: These scattered among the moshavim in the Afula area, most bought houses, some are still scattered and/or renting.
UNEMPLOYMENT AND ATTEMPTED REESTABLISHMENT OF BUSINESSES
According to David Porat, who operates the website www.jobkatif.org.il that was created by Rav Yosef Rimon of Alon Shvut, there are still almost 2,000 people from the uprooted communities who are unemployed; roughly 80% of the uprooted population. This statistic includes both men and women. Rav Rimon is also organizing retraining programs.
In some cases, these are farmers for whom the government has not yet provided appropriate land alternatives. Among the farmer-exporters are those who grew chives, organic cucumbers, pineapple, cherry tomatoes, bug-less greens, chili peppers, regular peppers and other produce.
In addition, there are no unemployment benefits offered the self-employed; their only remedy is to hire an attorney, at their own expense, and go to court to try to achieve compensation for their destroyed businesses.
Those who were self-employed who wished to reestablish their businesses in Nitzan, where they now live, have run up against a brick wall of government refusal.
Sample cases: A former vegetable store owner from Gan Or and a pizzeria owner from Neve Dekalim are just two examples. When they asked to reestablish their stores in Nitzan, they were told by the Housing Authority that the government had decided to open up only a 200 square meter supermarket, instead, even though there are 500 families living in Nitzan, so they will not be able, even at their own expense, to reestablish their successful Gush Katif businesses. They attempted to explain that the Gush Katif people have their own style and needs, regarding, for example, the types of kashrut approvals they accept, etc. In addition, the significance of a pizzeria in a small town with no other outlet for the teenagers, is “not just about food”. (The teenagers also have no basketball or socket court, even though this is one of the ways that boys, especially, deal with their frustrations and boredom.) The spokesman for the Housing Authority, who was asked for an explanation in two phone calls and one e-mail, said two weeks before the date on this report that he would get back to us but never did.
Salaried Workers In other cases, people lost their jobs when the schools, social services and other offices were closed.
Sample cases: Chana Z., a single mother of six from Neve Dekalim, still living in the (Hyatt) Regency Hotel in Jerusalem, says that she worked for the Police Department. They have offered her a job in Ashdod, but she obviously cannot take it till her “caravilla” is ready in Nitzan, which may take another month, at least.
Tami and Shlomo Aricha of Neve Dekalim, currently living in the Regency Hotel in Jerusalem, were asked to bring their children’s kindergarten-graduation certificates to prove how long the family had lived in Gush Katif. She is a pre-school teacher, unemployed. Shlomo, a scribe, was lucky – Rav Yosef Rimon (www.jobkatif.org.il ), found him a part time job with the Beit El Tefilin Company. They will eventually move to Nitzan which will make it easier on their son, who currently has to travel 45 minutes each way to school in Yad Binyamin, but more difficult for Shlomo to travel to his job.
Baruch and Dina Julie, from Nisanit, gave in all their required paperwork to the Disengagement Authority by April 20, and they have not yet received compensation. They and their neighbors, the Hadad’s (who gave in their paperwork August 10), say they were told that it is because they asked for a private assessment of their home, and the Prime Minister’s advisor, Ilan Cohen, reportedly told them a week ago, “Perhaps another week.” Baruch is retired, but Nahum, who owned the supermarket in Nisanit, is unemployed and the Housing Authority has not said when or if they’ll let him reestablish himself in Nitzan.
Teachers: Although there is an official directive within the Ministry of Education to give preference to hiring teachers from the evicted communities, it is difficult to determine if this is implemented in practice.
Sample case: A teacher with excellent qualifications and experience, from Gush Katif, applied to a school in Ramle. In Gush Katif he had taught in the Katif High School Yeshiva, which was disbanded with the Disengagement. The other school he taught at is now in Ir Haemuna, which is far away from where he is living, since the Disengagement. In spite of the directive to give preference to teachers from Gush Katif, someone else was hired in his place. Shoshi Gutman, the Ministry of Education supervisor responsible for placing teachers, who was asked to comment, said she was told that there were only four hours available, whereas the prospective teacher had been told by the school official who interviewed him that he would be hired for a minimum of preparing two classes for matriculation exams (which would be at least eight hours).
Gutman also said, by way of general comment, that one of the supervisors working with her pointed out that the directive was only regarding teachers from Gush Katif who had been paid by the Ministry (i.e., elementary school teachers) and didn’t apply to high school teachers, though she had taken it upon herself to extend her help to high school teachers as well. In any case, it is a moot point for those Katif teachers who still live far away from the schools in which they taught before.
Amutot: People who were employed by non-profit organizations (“amutot”) dealing with health, education and welfare, such as those who worked for the local community center of Gush Katif, received no unemployment benefits.
A small ray of good news is that this week the Intel and Dan companies announced they would be providing jobs, including retraining, for some of the uprooted. Intel will take on 50 employees and Dan is offering jobs for 100 drivers. The Ministry of Tourism will reportedly be offering courses to the uprooted as tour leaders. The Intel and Dan initiative, according to Globes, was by the Investment Promotion Center of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
While this initiative is welcomed, the question remains: Why did it take three months, whereas even a volunteer grassroots job-hunt group such as that run by Rav Yosef Rimon was up and running within days?
The Sela Authority claimed that they give between $350-650 per family for rent, depending on the family, with the average being $450. According to the Legal Forum, it is not know about families that are receiving the $650. The Evacuation-Compensation Law stretches from NIS 21,000 per family per year [$367.00 a month at today’s dollar exchange] for 3 people, to NIS 27,000 per year [$475.00 a month] for six people or more. Many families in Gush Katif and the Shomron have from 8-12 people, which means that even a 12-person family will have to find somewhere to rent for $475.00 a month.
According to Nili Tabachnik of Remax Realty, the following apartments can be rented for approximately $450: A five room apartment in western Afula, a four room apartment in Be’er Sheva, a three room apartment in a non-upscale neighborhood in Ashdod and a two room apartment in a better neighborhood in Ashdod, a four or five room apartment in Ashkelon, a four room apartment in the old sections of Beit Shemesh and a three room apartment in Ramat Beit Shemesh, a two or three room apartment in Gedara, and a three room apartment in moshavim near Ashkelon.
A quick sample taken from another source indicated that if an evictee family wanted to rent in Jerusalem, with $450 they would be able to rent two rooms in Givat Mordecai or the Katamonim (a more “modest” neighborhood than its sister, nearby Katamon).
The people living in Nitzan and Yad Binyamin are having the $450 housing allowance deducted, by the Disengagement Authority, automatically. The same size caravans, in locations over the green line but close to large cities, cost only NIS 400-800 ($85-170), the difference being that the “caravillas” have red roofs.
Regarding the quality of housing in the caravan camps, some of the families living in Nitzan and Yad Binyamin have reported, after the first heavy rain this week, leaking into their “caravillas”. It was also reported that the sidewalks are sinking and breaking up at the caravan camps, following the rain, and are creating an environmental danger.
The Legal Forum working for the evictees reports that the apartments that had been rented in advance for the evictees in various cities are of poor quality and widely scattered; also that various agreements with the Disengagement Authority had been broken, such as the ones that would enable the Gadid community to reestablish itself in Masuot Yitzhak, and the Kfar Darom community to rent, as a group, one large building in Ashkelon.
The latest word (Katif.net) on the Kfar Darom community is that they will be considering moving to another border, into Kibbutz Cramim, in Lachish, which at the moment is occupied by five families, who hope to receive the same hefty compensation that the 11 families of Kibbutz Shomria are receiving from the government to vacate their kibbutz in the Lachish area for the Atzmona community. (The families of Kibbutz Shomria were promised $400,000 each, plus whatever benefits the uprooted of Gush Katif received.)
This week, those members of the Gush Katif communities who were “only” renters, including some who had rented for 15-20 years in Gush Katif, were sent letters by the Disengagement Authority stating that they have a week to leave the hotels, as they are not deserving of compensation. This only applies to those who were renting privately. Those who were renting from a government authority reportedly will be receiving a form of compensation.
According to volunteers working with the uprooted, much of the property in the containers has been destroyed, including electrical appliances, closets and books. A number of evictees who were questioned regarding whether they knew about insurance, or compensation for destroyed possessions, did not think that suing would bring relief, as their trust in the Disengagement Authority and the government is totally eroded. They are clearly in need of legal and other counseling to acquire the energy needed for a legal battle.
Community organizing and atmosphere have been severely challenged. The communities are trying to “keep it together”, but in some cases a new community chairman had to be elected, as people are scattered, and many of the communities have split up in one way or another. Analysis regarding this issue: The Jewish population of Gaza and the Shomron is not monolithic, so one could make a case that it is not necessarily a bad thing that people who, out of inertia, stayed in their original communities before the Disengagement, should choose a different style of community after. The problem is that these decisions cannot be made by the families merely on the basis of “community style”, as the factors that have to be taken into account are: Employment for the husband, employment for the wife, schools for the children of different ages, social needs, etc. What is involved here is not merely a “shuffling” of the families within one united bloc, that would enable, for instance, a family to move to a different style community but the parents could still maintain their places of work, and the children their schools. In this case, due to the large geographical area over which the communities are now spread, a total move entails “buying” the whole package of that new location, or having one or more member of the family travel long distances. This travel time and expense does not appear in any element of compensation.
LIBRARY SAVED; SCHOOL EQUIPMENT LOST
The Gush Katif library has been reestablished in Yad Binyamin, with the help of the former librarian and volunteers. On the other hand, even though the teachers in the schools pleaded with the moetza of Gush Katif to allow them to remove valuable equipment and supplies, in order to reestablish their schools at the new locations, they were refused by the moetza, who may have been under orders of the receiver appointed by the government. The result was wide-spread looting and theft, and now the fledging schools are struggling with sorely inadequate equipment and supplies.
Last week the parents of children studying in the reestablished Gush Katif school in Mercaz Shapira went on strike due to the lack of equipment, psychological help, etc., and only during the strike did the Director General of the Ministry of Education, Ronit Tirosh, come to Nitzan to meet with the parents and look into solving the problems.
UPDATE ON DAYCARE SITUATION
Gila Yekutieli, the southern supervisor of daycare centers, under the auspices of the Minister of Trade, replied to our question regarding the babies from Moshav Katif whose parents, mostly unemployed and staying in the King Saul Hotel in Ashkelon, were asked to pay NIS 800 a month to put their children in the local Emunah daycare center. (Emunah was owed approximately NIS 270,000 by the same ministry for having operated daycare centers, free of charge, for all the babies in the hotels where the evicted were living. Emunah told us that the price of NIS 800 in Ashkelon was set by the Ministry.) Yekutieli said that the person to speak to is Tamar Almog, who is the overall supervisor of the country’s daycare centers, as the price is a matter of principle. Yekutieli could not understand why the Moshav Katif people could not just pay from their compensation, until we explained that none of them had, to date, received compensation, and 80% of the mothers were still unemployed.
We spoke with Tamar Almog, who said that the decision could only be changed by speaking with the PM’s office. Meanwhile, some of the mothers had set up their own internal daycare center in the hotel, even though the conditions are not right for it, as they cannot afford the daycare center.
UPROOTED RESERVE SOLDIERS ARRESTED FOR NOT DOING RESERVE DUTY
The Maariv site, NRG (http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/007/998.html ), reported that during the night between November 14-15, military policemen arrested ten men, from among 170 altogether, who did not do reserve duty during the expulsion, some of whom discussed it in advance with their commanders and who were given to understand that there would not be repercussions. One of those was Avia Greenblatt, 28, married and a father of three, who was born and lived his whole life in Neve Dekalim. His father, Mordecai, told Maariv, “We were shocked to hear this…he didn’t even know he was considered AWOL, as he had spoken with his commander in advance, and explained that he wanted to remain with his family during the disengagement; his commander had been understanding.”
Another example is that of Shomi Brown, father of five and wife pregnant with a sixth, who was expelled from Homesh in the Shomron, and therefore did not report for reserve duty, which fell exactly during the days of the Disengagement. He was arrested for 48 hours and sentenced to 14 days in prison. After approaches were made to the head commander in charge of reserve duty, requesting that he be released, the release was granted but it was then delayed and he was in prison for five days.
According to Katif.net (http://www.katif.net/ro_new.php?id=9435 ), some of the other soldiers arrested were not residents of Gush Katif but soldiers from elsewhere who also told their commanders that they did not want to take part in the Disengagement. (Note: At the time of the Disengagement, some observers claimed that the IDF underreported the number of soldiers refusing to participate. These numbers seem to indicate that they’re “catching up” now.) In the wake of the wave of arrests, the legal advisors of the “Headquarters for Eretz Yisrael” (Mateh lma’an Eretz Yisrael) had advised all soldiers who did not show up for reserve duty, even for one day, to report to their unit’s office so as to not be arrested.
The reply of the IDF spokesman to the Center’s request for confirmation of the story was: “These sort of operations are carried out by the military police every few months and there is no connection to the disengagement. In the operation of capturing defectors (sic), by the military police, that began last Sunday, so far 300 soldiers from regular and reserve duty have been arrested for being absent from duty.”
The Center further asked:
Why did the authorities who arrested the soldiers not take into account a) the fact that some of them had “cleared” it with their commanders in advance, and b) the fact that some of them had not shown up for miluim [reserve duty] because they were being evicted at that time from their homes and they wanted to stay with their families.
The IDF spokesman replied: I am working on it. I’ll talk to you when i get the answers. (sic)
UNPRECEDENTED SENTENCE FOR ANTI-DISENGAGEMENT ACTIVIST
Ynetnews.com (Yediot Aharonot) reports that: “The Tel Aviv District Court sentenced 21-year-old Avraham Levkovich on Sunday to two years in prison and one year probation for planning to block the Ayalon Highway in protest of the disengagement.” (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3171951,00.html ) Later on in the article it reports that: “The judge wrote in the verdict, “…such behavior reflects a violent and anti-democratic attitude seeking to undermine the government’s procedures and disrupt them with violence. Society requires protection from possible future actions, motivated by an ideal without considering the principles of democracy and the need to abide by the law,” the verdict said. [The Hebrew Ynet version, translated, reads: “The seed of calamity has not been totally uprooted. The fears for the future have not been calmed. Society needs today, also, defending against possible future actions, that are motivated by a concept or an idea, without considering the democratic principles and the need to uphold the law.” – TKG]
[Ynet] Levkovich’s attorney Yossi Zilberberg said he would appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court. “The court did not properly consider the fact that society’s cracks must be patched following pullout,” he said. “Furthermore, we are speaking about someone with no prior criminal record who cooperated with the police; he is the salt of the earth and was supposed to start medical school this year.” [End of quotes from Ynetnews.com]
An angry editorial on the Katif.net site points out that, the same week, accused rapist Hanan Goldblatt had his case postponed for a year due to a “heavy case load in the courts”.
There are several other court cases regarding young people who were convicted for planning whose sentencing will be announced next week.
DISINFORMATION AT GA
The Disengagement was arguably the most traumatic event in Israel’s history, the more so as it was in effect an act of war not by an outsider, but from within. Yet, there was not one session at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities, held in Toronto on November 13-16, devoted to the event itself, only to the aftermath, called “Defining Ourselves After Disengagement”.
Every one of the session’s panelists were pro-disengagement, or connected in some way to PM Ariel Sharon or his government. They included MK and Deputy Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, Avi Naor, the Israel Chair of the 2004 GA and member of the JAFI Board of Governors, and Dr. Liora Meridor, chair of Bezeq International, who, according to a pre-Rosh Hashana article in the Jerusalem Post, “was touted by Vice Premier, Acting Treasurer, and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Ehud Olmert as the next director-general of the Antitrust Authority”.
The fourth panelist was Ari Shavit, columnist for the left-wing Haaretz newspaper, who was pro-disengagement, though he exhibited sympathy for the evicted. In an Haaretz column titled, “Israel Must Sit Shiva”, Shavit wrote, “The hard-heartedness of the intellectual and legal elites in the face of the catastrophe that befell the residents of Gush Katif will not be forgotten. It will seep into the groundwater of our shared lives and pollute it. The Gush Katif residents were not fanatics; they were not the fascist enemy; they were believers… if the entire public does not know how to mourn the death of Gush Katif, its death will poison our lives.” (Full article at: http://www.haaretz.com ) The moderater was Jerusalem Post Editor-in-chief David Horovitz.
The UJC distributed a brochure at the GA on the Disengagement. The brochure was filled with inaccuracies and distortions, to which a response was written by this researcher. The GA brochure and the responses can be found at: http://ibn.worldmedianetworks.com/library/pdfs/FactSheetAndResponses.pdf. This response relates to the conditions of the temporary housing, the state of schoolchildren and students, employment issues, (lack of) compensation, and more.
In an earlier letter that had sent by senior UJC officials, following a board meeting in Chicago, they wrote:
“At our recent meetings in Chicago, the UJC Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees deliberated over the issue of Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza and a portion of northern Samaria. The Executive Committee, which convened in person in Chicago on September 11, heard a report from Nachman Shai, UJC Senior Vice President and Director General of UJC Israel, as well as comments from Steve Nasatir (President, Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metro Chicago), Zeev Bielski (Chairman of the Executive, JAFI) and Professor Yossi Tamir (JDC Israel)…
“The entire issue of the disengagement, as expected, is now drawing less attention in general; political and security issues are now taking over the headlines.
* The Disengagement Authority is not providing comprehensive information on the current situation, and there’s no other single authority to do that. [This is true. – TKG]
* 500 families are still not negotiating with the Government. Some of them are people who recently lived in Gush Katif, but are not entitled to the financial compensation legalized by the law. The main opponents remain the former settlers from Neve Dekalim. [This number is wildly overblown, based on the statistics of the Legal Forum, that has been helping the evictees. – TKG]
PRESS CONFERENCE WITH JAFI HEAD ZEEV BIELSKI
Jewish Agency head Zeev Bielski held a press conference recently for the North American Jewish media. When asked what the Jewish Agency is doing to uphold the decision of its board of governors of June 23, 2004, to rebuild the communities of Gush Katif, he said that the Agency is doing a lot, and gave the example of the Yad Binyamin caravan site that was, he said, set up a “few days after the Disengagement”. When he was corrected – that the people of Ganei Tal were only able to move into Yad Binyamin two months after the disengagement, he replied, “But we gave the land a few days after the Disengagement.” He also quoted the so-called “Eibim solution”, but when he was reminded that it was the Jewish Agency that had specifically shot down the Eibim solution (according to which, the Moshav Katif people would have moved to the immigrant student village Eibim for three months, while awaiting caravans somewhere, and the students would have temporarily relocated to apartment blocs five minutes away from their college, and received extra financial compensation for their trouble), he replied that it was “still being discussed”. Meanwhile, the Moshav Katif people are living in despicable conditions in the King Saul Hotel in Ashkelon. Beilski said that the JA, together with the JDC and the PM’s office, were working to find long term solutions for the evicted in various areas, but that they couldn’t accommodate them “if they wanted to live in Raanana.” He was politely reminded that none of the evictees had expressed a desire to live “in Raanana”, only to stay together as communities.
HEBREW UNIVERSITY MINI-CONFERENCE ON THE DISENGAGEMENT
In what appears to be an attempt to put an academic spin on the Disengagement, the Hebrew University held a mini-conference at which Dr. Arnon Golan lectured on “The Changing of Borders and Exchanging of Populations in the First Half of the Twentieth Century.” He spoke about the exchange of populations between the Greeks and the Turks, “even though it may have caused some distress at the time”, that was something “bad” whose outcome was “good”. He did not relate to the fact that the Disengagement was a one-sided “exchange”.
Following him, Dr. Gabi Golan, who works for the Prime Minister’s office but who was at the conference in an academic role, spoke on “The Community Relocating in the Framework of the Disengagement Plan: The Government Intention as opposed to Independent Solutions.” He gave a rundown on where some of the disengaged were presently relocating, including referring to Palmahim as the future location for the community of Elei Sinai, who are still in a tent camp at the crossroads of Yad Mordecai, because the government has not agreed to let them move to Palmahim. Golan said it was in the works; however, a woman interviewed the next day from Elei Sinai insisted that the government was still not forthcoming.
There were comments exchanged between Golan and the conference moderator, Professor Eran Feitelson, about the fact that some of the evictees were going to out of the way places such as Lachish and the Negev, whereas some were going to places whose “real estate value” was higher (referring, supposedly, to the Palmahim area). Anlyasis: Like the comment by Zeev Bielski about “Raanana”, it appears that there is a subtle campaign to present some of the uprooted’s housing requests as if what interests them is expensive real estate, the five years of their withstanding mortar fire without leaving Gaza notwithstanding.
After a long silence on the part of the media, in the last few weeks there has been somewhat of an awakening to the plight of the evicted. There have been several items on the news and feature programs on both Channels One and Two, and Channel Ten featured a comprehensive program on the plight of the youth, including stories about girls suffering emotional stress, and some boys who have fallen into the drug scene. The program also highlighted, through the eyes of the reporter, the frustration at being sent from office to office, from one official to another, in an attempt to receive answers.
In what seemed like an attempt to stem a flow of empathetic reporting, Maariv published an article this week which was an interview with one man, formerly of Nisanit, who complained that the evictees are “wasting their compensation”, quoting sensationalist stories about people buying expensive jeeps, ‘trackterons’ for their children, and gambling in Bulgaria. The situation is described by an unnamed source in the Disengagement Authority as a “catastrophe”, and he says that the Authority is “very worried”, and that the evictees will not have money left to buy homes at the end of two years, and will end up staying in Nitzan, which is meant to be temporary.
There was no reaction brought from others in Nisanit in the article, but Nahum Hadad, interviewed by the Center (see also under Unemployment, above), says in reaction to the Maariv article, “There are exceptions, of course, but most people are behaving logically. It is very far from a ‘catastrophe’. There are people who are not working, and who have received no compensation. Yesterday I met some [evictees] renting in Ashkelon. They certainly aren’t buying ‘trackterons’, rather they are living off of their compensation to buy food. It’s true that Nitzan is temporary, but what will they do for two years with no work? These are people who were always giving, who established their own interest-free loan funds to help others (g’machim), and most of them have received no compensation. Some of those who are not working may be climbing the four walls in their small caravan. We even have to travel 15 kilometers to the closest place to buy bread and milk.”
BAR MITZVA FOR 100 BOYS
Rav Yosef Elnekave of Neve Dekalim, the regional rabbi of Gush Katif, organized a bar mitzva for 100 boys in Jerusalem this week, with the help of private donations. (A later event will follow for the girls.) It was filmed and reported on Channel One news. All the boys had been evicted from their homes during the Disengagement and many of them are now in separate schools. The boys gathered eagerly around the tables, meeting their friends from whom they had been cut off. MK Rav Beni Elon, was also present and brought his blessings. No other politician showed up. The families came from Nitzan, the hotels and elsewhere.
Rav Moti Elon, brother of MK Beni Elon, gave a Dvar Tora to the gathering, in which he spoke about the upcoming Tora portion, Chayei Sara, and about the importance of love – love of family, love of Tora, love of the land of Israel.
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Toby Klein Greenwald