Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From Neve Dekalim to Nitzan: An Interview

By Shifra Shomron
ז אדר א תשס"ח
13 February 2008

Recently I interviewed a former (anonymous) resident and expellee of Neve Dekalim. He lived in several different locations in Israel prior to finding his niche in Neve Dekalim Gush Katif. He is now living at the Nitzan caravilla site which contains the largest number of former Gush Katifers.

How did you and your family handle life under Arab terror with Arabs targeting your community with mortars, kassam rockets…?

Arab terror was always a threat especially on the roads leading to Gush Katif and of course mortars and rockets landed in our community. Several mortars did land close to our house, within 20-30 meters. Arab bullets from kalishnakov rifles were found throughout Neve Dekalim. I heard the "zing" of a flying mortar/rocket once and we heard every mortar and rocket that exploded in our small town of Neve Dekalim. There were people who had been injured by shrapnel and one resident was killed by a mortar while sitting in her house. There was also the fear of Arab infiltration into the community.

The children were not afraid generally. The boys collected ammunition and traded it like I traded baseball cards as a kid. We limited our travel on the roads, but otherwise, conducted our lives normally in the town. People are adaptable and we "got use" to the threats, even the "booms" from mortars and rocket bombs.

Do you think anything could have stopped Disengagement?

"Reasonably" the only way I could see that Disengagement could be stopped was either a massive refusal of soldiers to obey orders, or some 300,000 plus citizens blocking roads, surrounding the Knesset or some other form of civil disobedience that would prevent vast sections of Israeli society from functioning normally. The numbers of refusing soldiers or citizens participating in resistance were much, much smaller than needed.

What is the general mood at the Nitzan caravilla site where you live?

It is difficult to describe the general mood. It's very individual; better for those people who are adaptable, better for those who found new employment or kept their previous jobs from before the expulsion. Unemployment is high. One suffers the personal loss of losing your community and job and one suffers the loss of a portion of Eretz Yisroel.

How long are you able to stay in the caravilla?

According to the Israeli Supreme Court, we've been given a second two years in which to inhabit the caravilla. I think 90% of the expellees will still be in the caravilla, even after 4 years. I expect the court will extend the period accordingly. I would like to leave the caravilla yesterday and move into a permanent home. I don't know where.

Are you working now?

I'm currently employed – it took me 2 years to find employment. I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm working in a similar capacity to what I had before the expulsion at a comparable salary. Unfortunately many people don't have jobs and are living off their compensation monies.

Is it true that the Israeli government offered former Gush Katif residents retraining programs?

The government did offer retraining courses. Most were unsuitable to both the expellees (given their age and experience) and the current job market.
50 year old plus farmers who ran their own farm with dozens of employees are not going to pick weeds, learn to weld, garden, carpentry, or drive a truck – for minimum wage. Those were the retraining courses offered.

The government promised an affirmative action type plan to hire expellees in government companies. I know of no one who was hired in this manner. I suspect it was wishful thinking at best, probably disinformation to the media.

Has Disengagement affected your faith in G-d?

No, not in the slightest.

Do you feel less Zionistic since Disengagement?

I don't feel less Zionistic after Disengagement. Zionist ideology is the correct path for the Jew regardless of government mistakes.

Do you think less of the State of Israel now?

Governments of Israel have been good and bad for the last 60 years. Disengagement was one of the many bad decisions.

How do you view the Israel Defense Force after Disengagement?

I still believe in the importance of the IDF and still encourage my sons (not daughters) to serve. Disengagement was a political decision, not an IDF decision. That more soldiers did not refuse orders is a reflection on our lack of Torah – Zionist education in our school system. The IDF is a tool. I do not blame the tool, but rather the policy makers in the political eschelon.

Do you encourage others to make aliyah?

I encourage all Jews to make aliyah today just as I did before Disengagement.

Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

B'ezrat HaShem I see myself still in Eretz Yisroel in 10 years.

Shifra Shomron is a Gush Katif resident/expellee and is the author of the novel, Grains Of Sand: The Fall Of Neve Dekalim (Mazo Publishers, 2007).

"Travel beyond time and beyond location – into my Gush Katif."

Visit Shifra's website: www.geocities.com/nevedekalim


Anonymous said...

We need to keep to Torah, treat each other with love and respect, and G-d will follow through on His promise and redeem the land for us.

Those of you who lived in Gush Katif gave twice. First by protecting us with your bodies while living there, and now by continuing to remain here in Israel to support and protect her.

Shifra said...

Indeed, only by returning to the Torah path will we be able to truly unite our nation and our land.

abigail said...

The courage of "Anonymous," and his unshakable faith,are truly admirable. I don't think I would be as magnanimous as he seems to be.