The United States government has issued a proclamation this morning, that it will grant humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of Israeli refugees who have been flooding the country during the last several weeks. The U.S. has also requested that the Palestine government practice a policy of restraint regarding those Israelis still living in Israel. The Jewish organizations of Bnei-Brith and the Joint have expressed their satisfaction regarding this proclamation, and have promised to continue doing everything in their ability to help the Israeli refugees. "However," the Joint spokesman hastened to add, "it should be remembered that among the Israeli refugees are also Muslims and Christians, and we are also providing them with proper food, dwelling and prayer services."
What is the current situation in Israel? Those living in the cities were among the first to flee, and understandably so, after the Palestine Prime Minister announced that he was aiming his country's biological weapons at the large Jewish population centers in Israel. Some in the religious-Zionist community have also left the country, encouraged by their rabbis. "In Jewish Halacha (law) there is a principle that one violates one Sabbath in order to observe many Sabbath's in the future. Such is the situation today - we are leaving Israel temporarily so that we will be able to return and observe many mitzvoth in the future," explained Rabbi Sarah Ofek. However, most of the settlers have chosen to remain in their homes in Israel. "My mother was expelled from her house when she was twenty, it took ten years until the government built her a permanent home and a new community. Until the day that she died she continued believing that one day she would return and rebuild her house. We were raised determined that we would never be expelled from our houses no matter what!" said the daughter of a mother expelled from Itamar (a religious community in the Shomron).
What will you do when the Palestinian army arrives? she was asked. "For thirty years now we have braved mortars, rockets, road side bombs and more. We've lost precious people, and we won't let it be said that they died in vain. For fifty something years now, since the establishment of the State of Palestine, people have been afraid of the Palestinian army. Nonsense! The I.D.F. is strong and capable!"However, the situation in the I.D.F. looks grave. "We don't have a large number of soldiers. Most of the reserve units have already fled abroad with their families. In the last twenty years, ever since army service became voluntary, the percentage of enlistees has dropped substantially. The Atudah units and the religious combat units, and if we manage to convince the courts to release the Nahal Hareidi - those are primarily the units we have to work with. But don't be discouraged: we're talking about a very motivated bunch, a group that is instilled with a strong fighting spir- sorry, I mean with a purely defensive spirit, whose high moral behavior is first nature to them," reported the Israeli Chief of Staff in a special interview yesterday.
The extreme Hareidis in Beit Shemesh, Ma'ah She'arim and several additional locations have decided to remain in Israel. Of their Rabbis, who asked to remain anonymous during the interview, tried to explain the logic of their decision: "Try to understand: during most of our existence, the Jewish nation has been under gentile rule. Nu, one manages. The Will of Heaven. But you secular, you apikorsim, wanted a State. And oy, what a State you created! Not only did you 'force the end' but you established a State of varmints, of public desecration of the Shabbas, of no modesty, of..."
Still, the State of Israel has dealt well by you... "And the State of Palestine will also deal well by us! We will continue living in our areas. They will allow us easy access to the Western Wall and some of our ancestors' graves. What do we care what they do in the rest of the country?"Yet the more moderate Hareidis have already left the land or are in the stages of leaving. "Look, it's a big merit to live in the Holy Land. But when one can't, one can't. There are large Hareidi communities outside of Israel, everything there is Kosher by mehadrein status, and we'll move there," said A.S. (38) who plans on moving with his wife and eight children to Boro-Park in two days.
The SELI (Hebrew acronym for the government Aid to Israeli Refugees committee) administration wishes to remind the public that according to the Evacuation Compensation Law 2068, clause 46 (c), in order to begin the process of compensation, one needs to first fill out the documents on their website. Copies of Identity Cards; children's school report cards; receipts for water, phone and electric bills during the past five years; private assessment for the house and property, and all the other required documents (complete list available on website) must be sent to their Manhattan address by registered mail. Expect an answer within ninety days from sending. The first two thousand applicants will win a free participation in a retraining course (gardening or tour guide. If there is a large demand, it will be possible to open a course for hydro-growing in Mexico or Nevada).
Shifra Shomron (21) is a former Gush Katif resident-expellee and the author of 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