Tuesday, September 7, 2004

To Feel The Earth Under Our Feet

Musings #67
September 5, 2004

To Feel The Earth, Ha'Aretz Under Our Feet

Just a year ago, after our neighbor, Avihu Keinan, was killed in a badly planned army action, his father, Moshe, vowed to march to the Israeli President, Moshe Katzav in Jerusalem, and he did. Less than three weeks after Avihu was buried in the Shiloh Cemetery, Moshe, accompanied by hundreds of others, walked from Shiloh to The President’s Residence and set up a succah there. During Chol Hamoed Succot, many, many more people, ordinary Israelis, tourists and other bereaved parents came to encourage him and support his struggle to change the perverse morality that is endangering us all.

Avihu was killed, because the military operation was planned with priority on protecting Arab civilians, rather than enable our soldiers to fight the terrorists in the most effective ways possible. Avihu was an expert in hand-to-hand combat, but he wasn’t given a chance. A couple of weeks ago as I watched Israeli Judoist Arik Ze’evi use his superior physical and mental strength against his opponent, I couldn’t stop thinking of Avihu. Arik Ze’evi won a medal, because he was allowed to fight fairly. The perverse morality pervading our politicians and military prevented Avihu Keinan from fighting, from killing the terrorists, from staying alive.

Last year all who marched with Moshe agreed on one thing; we must make this march an annual event. The “Od Avihu Chai March on Jerusalem” will, G-d willing, take place on Tuesday, Chol Hamoed Succot, the 20th of Tishrei, 5-10-04, 8am from Shiloh.

In order to truly possess our land, we must walk it, feel it beneath our feet. Last year’s march was indescribably exhilarating, even for those who were only able to walk a small portion of the route, even for those who were busy setting up the water and nosh tables on the way and for those who stood on the roadside and sidewalks cheering and encouraging.

For the past few years “security considerations” have been keeping us in our ghettos and protected vehicles. Twenty years ago, we thought nothing of taking young children on hikes and marches throughout YESHA. It was safe; we felt comfortable and secure wherever we went. Today we’re always warning our children to stay inside the fences, and as a result we are losing our Land.

I remember the afternoon less than ten years ago, as my neighbors and I were turning into Beit El to go to the gas station. We saw some Israeli teenage boys on the main road waiting for rides. I was tempted to have the car stopped and yell at them to get into Beit El, which was safer. Minutes later, terrorists shot at them and one, David Boim, HaYa”D, was murdered. I was so upset with myself, why hadn’t I told them to get back in? They shouldn’t have been so “irresponsible.”

A few hours later, when the army finally allowed us to continue our journey home to Shiloh, I noticed a group of teenage boys playing soccer just outside of Beit El. They were Arab boys, the same ages as the Jewish ones who had just been shot at while innocently waiting for rides. Suddenly it hit me. Our boys, the Jewish ones, weren’t “bad” waiting out there on the road. We are the bad ones, so easily and quickly abandoning our Land.

There are people who claim that there’s apartheid here in Israel, that the Arabs suffer severe restrictions. They are half right. There is apartheid, but it’s the Jews who are discriminated against. We are the ones whose movements are restricted. Every time I go to Kever Rachel I’m especially reminded of it. Arabs, Moslems, Christians walk into Beit Lechem freely, and we sit imprisoned in an armored bus, waiting for a soldier weighted in bullet-proof apparel to escort us the few meters to the tomb. We are not “free in our own Land.” “…lihiyot chofshi b’artzeinu.”

Last year, when I was marching with Moshe, I had a taste of that freedom. I’m looking forward to doing it again, though I have no idea of how much of the route I’ll actually do by foot. I highly recommend that everyone join, even if it’s for a short distance, or helping set up rest stops, or just cheering on the roadside, or sponsoring the “rest stops.” For more information call the Shiloh office 02-940-1111 or 0545-649-140.

Batya Medad, Shiloh

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