Monday, October 31, 2005


Arlene Kushner: From Israel: An inside picture of how spin works

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October 31, 2005

Today I attended a press conference run by The Israel Project, a non-profit which is headquartered in Washington but has offices in Jerusalem. The subject of the press conference was a brand new poll done by the prestigious Stanley Greenberg on attitudes towards Israel in the U.S.

Israeli office director, Calev Ben-David, explained that The Israel Project is "non-partisan," providing objective information for the media and interested parties.

But then he elaborated: "We are just like AIPAC. We work with whatever gov't is in power." Well... This is not exactly the same as "non-partisan," not in my book. The organization takes its marching orders from the Sharon gov't. As to "whatever gov't is in power," it hasn't been in existence long enough to work with anyone but Sharon. I doubt, I seriously seriously doubt, that this "objective non-partisan" organization has provided information on the suffering of the evacuees from Gush Katif, for example. (And for those of you who did not realize that AIPIC takes its marching orders from the Israeli gov't, now you do.)

The press conference was run by Stan Greenberg, who announced that he was about to report on "a very encouraging poll." The essence of it, with graphs and charts and numbers, is that the approval rating for Israel went up after the "disengagement." How about that! Not only that, but the people polled were "more hopeful," "more optimistic about the chances for peace."

But wait, this poll wasn't taken among average Americans, but rather an elite: people who are highly educated, have high incomes, and stay well informed on Near East issues, via, explained Greenberg, media sources such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN. He SELECTED poll participants partly on this basis.

The media sources he mentioned are all left-wing, biased in a particular direction. The information received by people relying on these media as their sources would thus have the potential to be biased in that same direction. It is likely that The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN have not had an enormous focus on the suffering of the evacuees, either. I heard nary a word from Greenberg about polling people who rely on The Washington Times, or or Fox News (all more right-wing sources of information) for their news. Beginning to get the picture? The nature of the responses received in a poll will depend on who is polled, won't it?

That well-educated, presumably well-informed people should feel more hopeful about prospects for peace since the "disengagement" struck me as strange, considering that:

[] Al Qaida has established a presence in Gaza.

[] Huge amounts of weaponry (including sophisticated pieces) have been smuggled into Gaza.

[] The number of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, and inside the Green Line, has increased, in accordance with the stated policy of terrorist groups. We're talking, among other incidents, about Kassam attacks, a suicide bombing and a drive-by shooting.

[] The Palestinians seem incapable at present of establishing a civil society: They were supposed to be given Greenhouses left behind in Gush Katif, so that they could establish their own agricultural ventures, but derived great pleasure out of destroying them instead, just as they viciously destroyed synagogues.

[] In fact, the PA is not in control, as people (including police) run riot, and Hamas wields a significant challenge. The Palestinian Authority is on the verge of chaos.

So, the question is, what are these "well-informed" people being told? What occurs to me is that an enormous amount of work must be done to help people understand what is truly going on. Too many presumably well-informed people just don't know.

Then there is yet another issue: The conflation of approval of our actions by people in the U.S. with the issue of whether this was really good for our country. People like us when we're surrendering our rights and giving something away. Makes us nice guys. International opinion is toughest on us when we're standing up for ourselves. Were we to give away half of Jerusalem I'm willing to bet that our approval rating would soar amongst that "elite," being informed by The New York Times. But, as we say here, "Az ma?" -- so what? Giving away half of Jerusalem would be a disaster. Yet this press conference lends the impression that because our approval ratings have gone up, we've done good. "Ain't necessarily so."


From Israel, Arlene Kushner, October 30, 2005

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October 30, 2005

[] An addendum: I had reason this evening to check the website for The Israel Project. This is how they describe themselves:

"...a new, international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace. It was begun by three mothers concerned that negative images about Israel in the media were endangering the future of children who want to live in a world free of the anti-Semitism faced by generations before them. The Israel Project provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel."

There is here a serious failure to do full disclosure. One would have no notion whatsoever from the above paragraph that the organization, according to a public statement by its Israeli office director, works directly with the Israeli government, representing its official position.

A signal lesson here -- regarding the way in which the current gov't of Israel works. Do not journalists, leaders and opinion-makers (as well as the rest of us) need to know, when information is offered as being "accurate," that it represents the official gov't position?

[] Friday's Jerusalem Post Magazine ran an article of mine, entitled "The First Word: Why does UNRWA exist?" A condensation of my larger article on UNRWA in Azure magazine, it can be found at:


Arlene Kushner's October 31, 2005 Report on The Evacuees from Gush Katif

From Israel: The on-going plight of the evacuees from Gush Katif

by Arlene Kushner, October 31, 2005
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It has been a while since I have discussed the evacuees here in any detail, but they are not forgotten and this posting will be devoted to them.

The Land of Israel Legal Forum, which has over 50 lawyers working either pro bono or for token pay on behalf of the evacuees recently submitted its second report to the Comptroller, describing problems the people are facing. It is based on "written and oral testimonies of residents, correspondence between settlement leadership and the various government ministries and documents in the name of Forum lawyers and others."

I attempted to, but have not been able to secure the original report. What I am relying on here for information is a major article on the report, which ran recently in Arutz Sheva, as well information from Toby Greenwald, who took some of the testimony of residents. (Toby has filed extensive independent reports, which now total about 60 pages and can be found at

A summary of available information with some commentary and additions from first hand knowledge follow. Even this is lengthy -- but well worth the read if you care about understanding this situation. I encourage you to go as far as the description of the various communities for a sense of what they're going through.

I urge people to distribute this information because there is so much disinformation regarding large sums the people have received and how well they are doing. Hopefully more will follow...

Many are still in the hotels. Conditions are bleak and overcrowding is common. In some instances adult brothers and sisters must share a room -- something that runs contrary to the beliefs and life style of religious persons. Hygiene in the hotels is not always the best (we are not looking at four and five star hotels in the main.)

The residents have a sense of being embarrassed and demeaned because they have no way to adquately receive guests who come to see them and end up sitting crowded on the beds. This is more of a problem when there is a family simcha such as a brit milah. A hall sometimes must be rented at cost that can be ill-afforded, because there is no home into which the guests might come. All of this severely affects morale.

As for food, there are issues of level of kashrut and quantity. In one hotel in Jerusalem in which evacuees were housed, the Health Ministry found the food sub-standard.

Phone lines are inadequate for the number of persons in the hotels. This has caused the necessity of relying on cell phones, which are expensive. In most of the hotels there is no access to the Internet, which badly interfers with the ability of people to execute work that requires Internet connection.

Before the onset of the holidays some hotels informed the evacuees that they would have to leave for other hotels because there were previous reservations for this time. This was enormously unsettling to the evacuees, who had done such things as organize kindergartens and classes in the hotels. Most significantly it undercut the sense of community cohesiveness and whatever meager sense of stability they were able to achieve.

Evacuees are now required to pay for their hotel stays -- this money will come out of compensation packages. People are not staying in the hotels for the joy of it, but because there is no alternative until more permanent solutions can be arranged.


Nitzan site:
In Nitzan, which is on the coast to the south, 400 caravans (euphemistically called caravillas) have been constructed to provide temporary housing solutions. There are serious deficiencies and problems with them: numerous water shortages, electricity failures, holes in the ground, no sidewalks, dirt mounds the children play in, bulldozers moving around inhabited houses, no grocery store, a very small synagogue, no meeting room for the residents, no convenient transportation out of the site.
Temporary Houses Unprotected:
Some temporary housing site have been set up in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip but they are not being provided with sufficient security. Some members of Elei Sinai inhabit temporary houses in Kibbutz Carmia, which is in range of Kassam rockets and at risk for terrorist infiltration; two weeks ago five terrorists penetrated the kibbutz area. The temporary houses have no sheltered spaces and there are no public shelters in the kibbutz; there is no guard for the kindergarten. The kibbutz houses are made of stone and thus resist fire; the temporary houses are made of flammable material and might burst into flames if hit with a Kassam.

When the evictions were done, residents of Gush Katif were able to take very little with. They were supposed to return to their homes and pack up containers in the days following. In a joint meeting of the Kesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Commitee and the Constitution Committee, Defense Minister Mofaz, according to the Forum report, explicitly promised that property not collected by its owners would be collected by the army, and that there would be accessibility to the containers. These promises have not been honored. In some cases the army failed to provided required protection and looting was done before packing was accomplished. In some cases, when houses were destroyed belongings were destroyed along with them.
What is little known is that the evacuees are charged for opening the containers in which their property is stored and that this is permitted only once. Thus in some instances evacuees have bought duplicates of belongings in their containers; in some cases, equipment needed for work, or for the beginning of the school year, was inaccessible.
Residents who did open their containers reported damaged property. The containers not arranged for privately, but via the gov't, are in Kastina, sitting in sun and heat. The heat is so intense in the desert that some property is permanently damaged.
A host of education problems exist that will only be touched upon here but which are causing trauma to the students who came out of the schools of Gush Katif. In some instances there are severe transportation difficulties, as schools are a distance from where families have been temporarily located. In some instances there have been attempts to re-establish schools that operated in Gush Katif, but this has been a struggle, as the teachers have been scattered and are not all accessible, facilities are not available, etc.
Since there is no permanent solution for the communities, and families are being shifted from place to place, there is no permancy in the educational lives of the youngsters. Already traumatized by the loss of their homes, this is for some more than they are able to cope with. Many may lose a year of schooling, and parents, strapped for cash, may need to hire tutors or repeat a year's tuition.
This too is an overwhelming problem that can only be alluded to in general terms here:
“Many residents have lost their means of support as a result of the eviction. This creates horrible economic distress for these families, who have contributed to the general society throughout their life and are now dependent on the kindness of strangers.”
People whose jobs still exist often find themselves places far away from these places of employment -- which are all in the south. Someone living in the Golan or Jerusalem may have hours of commute, which is draining and expensive.
Some who were self-employed (e.g., caretakers) have lost their jobs completely; others who had businesses that could be moved received no compensation for the expense of moving them.
There are farmers who did not receive alternative plots suitable for their needs. Some received less land than they had, some were located to areas so different from Gush Katif that they must learn new cultivation techniques; some farmers received no land. According to the Forum report:
“the farmers’ request to relocate their greenhouses also fell on deaf ears, and they were slandered and portrayed falsely in the media.”
In some instances large numbers of volunteers spent long grueling hours moving growing plants and equipment from greenhouses in Gush Katif to greenhouses located elsewhere. Because of the deadline set by the gov't for doing this however -- and in spite of appeals for extensions -- the work could not be completed and plants were lost.

In reading this section, please note:
[] the failure to keep communities together -- which is what the people want
[] the use of other temporary quarters not mentioned above, such as tents, for the most part initiated privately
[] the wanton disregard for the psychological state of the people and the instability that has been created -- the shameful lack of planning and organization, the confusion, the politicking -- the attempts to place people in one place until something temporary but more stable comes available and then to a final place later.

Neve Dekalim:
The Disengagement Authority sent them to 13 different places, especially to hotels scattered around Jerusalem and Ashkelon. They don’t know where they will be in the long run, only that they asked for a place in which they could be together as a community.
The Prime Minister’s Office, working with the full cooperation of the Jewish Agency proposed Ibim, a student village near Sderot, as a temporary three-month solution, until caravans could be set up to house them until a permanent solution would be found. After packing their belongings, they were told they could not go. The plan had been for the students who were supposed to live in the village to be temporarily transferred to new apartments in Sderot and to receive additional stipends. However, head of Sha’ar HaNegev Council, objected publicly and turned to the media, claiming that this plan was unfair to the students. His objections were reinforced by the Jewish Agency Treasurer -- a close friend of PM Sharon -- who had previously supported the plan. The decision has been reversed and the people of Katif have nowhere to go.
Kfar Darom:
The residents are at the Paradise Hotel in Beer-Sheva and will soon be transferred to an apartment building in Ashkelon, where they are meant to stay for a year or two. Although this situation is very different from their lifestyle, it was the only solution that made it possible for them to stay together and to maintain their educational institutions. Their long-range plan is to rebuild Kfar Darom in the Negev.
This 35-family community asked to stay together but they are dispersed. Some are staying in hotels in the Dead Sea area, others in Ashkelon and still others in Nitzan. Eighteen families have been taken into the Ulpana (school) of Ofra. In three weeks, they will move to Tene, a settlement in South Mount Hebron. This was organized privately and not via the gov't or the Disengagement Authority. From there, they will search for a permanent solution, perhaps near Netivot (Ir HaEmunah -- the "city of faith" tent city -- is in this area.)
Shirat HaYam:
This settlement numbered 33 families who wished to remain together. Of them, 21 families stayed together and 12 were dispersed. On the first night, they were taken to the Neot Midbar Hotel in Beer Sheva, where they stayed for one night, before being transferred to Ulpanat Lehavim in Kedumim. When the Ulpana students returned, the people of Shirat HaYam were moved to the Yeshiva dormitory of Alon Shevut, where they will stay until after the holidays. They are looking for a small community settlement until a permanent solution is found for them. This means that they will have had to move five times.
Immediately after the Disengagement, half of Atzmona’s residents established Ir HaEmunah near Netivot, where they live in tents, with outside bathrooms and showers. There are solid reports that the area in which Atzmona built its tent city had been abandoned for about ten years. However, the gov't has now begun searching for industrialists who would seek use of this area. According to the Atzmona secretary, the gov't sent them old, substandard caravans, without bathrooms or water -- which they declined to use. The people have been doing everything on their own -- without help form the gov't. They rebuilt their two well-known elementary schools, eight classes for boys and eight classes for girls. With contributions from the outside, they will now acquire better caravans, where they hope to live for the next two years. Their long-term plan is to live in the Negev in a large bloc of settlements.
The rest of the Atzmona families were invited by the residents of Sha’alvim/Nof Ayalon to join them, and they have been staying in the Yeshiva’s small dormitory rooms. Ultimately they intend to move to Ir HaEmunah, so that all 50 families will be together. The residents of Sha’alvim have been most gracious to them: having them paired off with Sha’alvim families for laundry and other purposes, providing babysitting services, playground facilities and special programs.
Tel Katifa:
They are staying in the Even Shmuel Ulpana (school) and are planning their short-term future. One option is Beer Sheva, although they don’t like the idea that their children will live in a city, very foreign to their lifestyle. Another is to move to empty apartments in Kibbutz Mefalsim, affiliated with the secular, communist HaShomer HaTzair movement, very alien to them in other ways. Or, they will stay in the Ulpana for three to four months, until they receive caravans.
Elei Sinai:
Some 50 families from this community are now living in a tent city, in Kibbutz Yad Mordechai. Among them, several have illnesses such as asthma, and sleep in a hotel at night, and spend their days together with the others. They were not permitted to dig in the ground to build even the most basic infrastructure -- were even prohibited from setting up showers.
There has been in this community a very strong desire to stay together as a community. The only solution offered to them was to merge with existing settlements or a neighborhood in Ashkelon -- all of which was unacceptable to them. Before evacuation, they knew they would be placed in hotels, and they resisted. As one leader explained: "...psychologically, it’s easier to help people if they are all together and not spread out at different hotels." Individuals within the community on their own initiative tried to negotiate with the gov't for the entire community, but eventually became angry as nothing viable was offered as a solutin for them. They are at present receiving no help from the gov't.
Ganei Tal:
The 80 families of Ganei Tal made their own arrangements; most are now staying at the guesthouse of Kibbutz Hafetz Haim, crowded into small rooms.
Very soon they expect to caravans, where they will live for about two years, until new homes are built for them in a new, independent neighborhood, which will be an extension of Kibbutz Hafetz Haim.
They have been staying in the dormitories of the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, which invited them to come; and live as a settlement, amongst themselves. They are impressed that the residents of Ariel were able to organize arrangements for them in a way in which the gov't seemed incapable of doing.
They are considering several long-term plans, not necessarily something offered by the Government. Now that the holidays are over, the students will be coming to the dormitories, but the people of Ariel are willing to maintain the students in hotels for an interim, until the people of Netzarim decide where they can go.
The families from Gadid wanted to stay together but currently there are 26 families in Nitzan, and 17 in the Neve Ilan Hotel. Apparently there are difficulties regarding the number of families eligible for caravans and eventual rental payments.
This community numbers 38 families who chose to stay together. There is an average of 7-8 people in every family. They were sent to a hotel at the Dead Sea for Shabbat and Sunday and were then told that they must leave the hotel on Sunday morning. Some of the people left for Nitzan and entered the caravillas (a fancy name for caravans), which still weren’t ready (burst water pipes and other problems); some of them left for the Paradise Hotel in Beer Sheva and others went to the Shirat HaYam youth hostel in Ashkelon. Their long-range plan is to become a part of the Nitzanim settlement.
Pe’at Sadeh:
The people of this traditional Moshav wanted to stay together. They were sent to a hotel in the Dead Sea for two weeks, since the caravillas in Nitzan were not ready, although they had previously spoken with the Government. Some were thrown from one hotel to another. Some are staying in the Ashkelon vacation village.
They were the only community that turned to the Disengagement Authority during Succot of last year. They wanted to move as one community to Mavki’im, situated between Ashkelon and Yad Mordechai. However, they are still living in caravillas.
Netzer Hazani:
The people of Nezter Hazani were in touch with the Prime Minister's office before the evacuation, and expressed a strong desire to stay together as a community. No solution was offered them except for the temporary option of going to the Dead Sea and Eilat. This was unacceptable and when they were expelled they declared that they had no solution and thus would set up tents in the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza. On their arrival at the Kotel, they were greeted by thousands come to welcome them at midnight and then slept at the Yishvat HaKotel. From there they were sent to the Golan Heights and moved from one locale to another, back and forth -- from the Midrasha in Hispin, to the yeshiva high school, where conditions were unsatisfactory, and now then back to the Midrasha, where they currently are. The northern locale is difficult for some, who have jobs in the south. For a period of time, one part of the group set up a tent city in Tel Aviv.
Kibbutz Ein Tzurim offered to take them, providing them with an area where they could be together, but caravans had to first be constructed for them. A deal was supposed to have been made for them to stay in the hotel in Shoresh, in the Jerusalem Corridor, for a period of three months until the caravans were constructed; but that deal fell through and when they realized they could stay for only three weeks and then would have to move again, they opted to stay for the time in the Golan Heights. They expect Ein Tzurim to provide their temporary housing solution, where they will stay for some years.


Efforts towards Saving King David's Tomb & Jerusalem from Vatican Scam

I'm posting a report on the activities to halt the proposed deal with the Vatican, which would, G-d forbid, evict the Diaspora Yeshiva from its building on Mt. Zion, among other damage to Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem. Mt. Zion, King David's Tomb is in the very center of Jerusalem, next to the Old city walls, Zion Gate, not far at all from Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount and the Kotel. Rabbi Goldstein was already there when we arrived in the Old City as new immigrants in 1970. Many good Jews were introduced to Yiddishkeit, Torah observance, through Rabbi Goldstein's devoted and inspired work. The legendary Diaspora Yeshiva Band was composed of his brilliantly talented students.

Below are some of the efforts being taken towards saving King David's Tomb, surrounding land and buildings, and center of Jerusalem, from Vatican Scam. The Sanhedrin and Pikuach Nefesh support will be helpful and appreciated.
The Vatican should be demanded to apologize for seeking to take our land, and reminded that their "holy city" is Vatican City, Rome. That they would mention a Crusades era "claim" to our land should be robustly challenged.
I find it especially outrageous that the Vatican could loan us our own possessions, demand them be returned, and act as though they are doing us a favor!
Further, we should be demanding that the Maimonides Manuscripts stay in Israel, under Jewish control.
The links from and to the primaries openly declare the intent to seize all of Jerusalem - G-d forbid - and espouse Replacement Theology at its worst.
In Faith, Elisheva Rubin
Cleveland Ohio
1. My letter to the primary perpetrators / middle men:
2. This site has great pictures of the site, including photos showing that the room the Vatican claims is not old.
3. List serve, information and website dedicated to this:
Recent Newsletter
For updated information on actions and activities, please pay regular visits to
There you will find letters, articles, photos, maps, updated information on protest activities, and other relevant content.If you have any feedback on the site, or information and content which you feel should be added, please contact Shelomo at

Sharon Katz, editor of Voices Magazine, will be covering this story in the upcoming issue of Voices.

Articles and Letters to the Editor of the Jerusalem Post and other publications are being sent out. Let's do our best to get this issue in the mainstream Hebrew and English Press (both religious and secular in Israel), and the Jewish community papers in America and the rest of the Diaspora.

Several very prominent rabbis will be meeting this evening (Sunday) to review the situation and to determine a course of action. (stay tuned for an update...)

I've heard from someone who wrote to President Katsav, that he claims he has no intention of signing anything over to the Vatican. But that same individual was unsettled with the response he received and encourages us to keep after President Katsav. We must remember that this month (October) alone, news of an upcoming deal was reported in the following Catholic,Jewish and international media oultlets:The Catholic News Radio Times of London,,173-1823149,00.htmlThe Vatican Newspaper (print publication) El Messagero Telegraphic Agency

There will be a vigil held each Friday in front of President Katsav's home. These democratic and peaceful gatherings will be held at 3 Hanassi Street Jerusalem, 92188 Israel. The first one will be Friday, Nov. 4th, at 11:00 AM.We need people to commit to participation in this ongoing effort. Please respond if you are willing to participate or help organize. Also, please continue to make phone calls and send letters, emails and faxes to President Katsav.Address: 3 Hanassi Street, Jerusalem, 92188 IsraelTelephone: +972-2-6707211Answering service weekdays 8:00-19:00Fax: +972-2-5611033
Inquiries and Requests by the PublicTel: +972-2-6520524Fax: +972-2-6527897

--- PAVE THE WAY TAKES THE WRONG TURN:This is all you need to fully comprehend the dangers inherent in the direction of "The Pave the Way Foundation".Whether you approach President Katsav, or are trying to secure a halachic ruling or firm moral stance from rabbinic authorities, on the issue of giving control of Mt. Zion property to the Roman Catholic Church, please refer them to the following:

The homepage at a picture of the room on Mt. Zion which the Vatican wants control of (the Cenacle Shrine) to an article at
The article clearly states the following:
The jewish temple of Sion had passed away but the new Christian Sion had arisen.(fifth paragraph)The whole area of Christian Sion has been in the hands of the jewish authorities since 1948 and all around the Christian monuments has been taken up by jewish Torah Schools, and nothwitstanding the "empty crusaders' cenotaph" made it a national pilgrimage site for the jewish people in memory of King David. (concluding paragraph) (note: Funny that for some reason the writer of the article has difficulty using a capital J for the word Jewish) ------

Remember: Rabbi Benjamin Blech of Yeshiva University sits on the Pave the Way Foundation's Board of Advisors
These Rabbis have also been involved with the Pave the Way Foundation'sefforts on past projects and should contacted :Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, IsraelRabbi Adam Mintz, president of the New York Board of RabbisRabbi Shmuel Rene Sirot, Past Chief Rabbi of Europe and FranceRabbi David Lincoln, Chief Rabbi of the Park Avenue Synagogue, New York;Rabbi Joseph Arbib of the Great Synagogue in Rome

A: We are not, G-d forbid, trying destroy or speak lashon about these rabbis, as I'm sure their intentions were and are good. But we are trying to persuade the rabbis, who have been involved with the Pave the Way Foundation's efforts, to take a stance, as they have a special responsibility (and the clout) to correct this situation. Would any Torah observant rabbi want his name and praise on a website which connects itself (literally via homepage link) to "The jewish temple of Sion had passed away but the new Christian Sion had arisen."?

NOTE B: Our intent is not to attack the Catholic church or the Vatican. Our focus should be on contacting President Katsav, The Government of Israel, and those involved with the Pave the Way Foundation in order to avert any negotiations or deals in process which would relinquish control of land, property. or holy sites in Eretz Yisrael.In order to be effective, any correspondence should be focused, consise and dignified.
To contact Pave the Way Foundation, see the following:Pave the WayFoundation, IncThe Empire State Buildingsuite 3805 350 Fifth AvenueNew York, NY 10118Tel.: + (212) 629-0046 Fax: + (516) 432-7561Email: pavetheway@optionline.netFounder/President, Gary Krupp

would help boost our cause if we could have names of organizations, rabbis, educators, etc... to publicly declare their support for our efforts.

Please contact Shelomo at
Remember: It's Holy Jerusalem. Not Holy Toledo!


Child Welfare Update

Here's my original Child Welfare article about the teenaged girl still jailed for anti-Disengagement protest. I received this update.


Between early Friday morning Israel time and now, early Sunday morning over 1000 people have signed our on-line petition on behalf of Tziviya Sariel. The President will receive all of those emails again today in hard copy, when we deliver them to his office in Jerusalem. Tziviya's trial has been brought forward to Monday at 8:30 AM in Kfar Saba and we hope you will be able to attend the protest outside, starting at 8:00 AM.

Please forward this message to anyone you think might be able to attend. It is obvious that our publicity of this injustice has embarrassed the courts and that there is a better chance than ever to secure her release tomorrow. For this reason we implore you to circulate and forward the email urging people to sign the petition demanding her release.

Tziviya, is a 16 year-old girl who is being persecuted and prosecuted for her political and religious beliefs. It is outrageous to hold a minor for months in jail, without bail for minor offences such as protesting against the disengagement.

It is absolutely obscene that the courts have sent her for psychological evaluation because "she insists upon a trial before a rabbinic court." While we are glad that we have raised our first 1000 signatures on Tziviya's behalf - we would love to return to the Presidents house this afternoon with boxes containing an additional 10,000 signatures.

Please forward and circulate this email to every and any forum, friend and family member who you think might sign our petition.Additionally, the posters, petitions and demonstration all cost money that we don't have. Every time "Mishalot Yisrael" embarks upon a campaign on behalf of prisoners such as Shimshon Cytryn, Tziviya Sariel or the other minors who have been wrongfully imprisoned, with G-d's help we have made tremendous impact. However, the printing bills and other expenses pile up. On the one hand, we can't say no to the parents of these courageous kids, while on the other hand we need to turn to you and others to help us help them. And so we call upon you to help us circulate the online petition and to send a generous contribution to help us defray the costs of this vital campaign.

To view an article on Tziviya you can visit
To sign the petition demanding Tziviya's release visit
To contribute funds to "Mishalot Yisrael": Donations can be made directly to our account: Mishalot Yisrael - Yerushalayim at Bank Hapoalim, Branch 698, account number: 676769 Checks can be sent to: Mishalot Yisrael , POBox 6592 Jerusalem , Israel Bank transfers/wires can be sent to: Mishalot Yisrael - Yerushalayim, Bank Hapoalim - Jaffa Rd.- Branch 698 - AC # 676769, Swift Code: Poalilit

Sunday, October 30, 2005


the latest Havel Havelim

...and here it is!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


From Israel Arlene Kushner October 27, 2005

To subscribe contact: Arlene Kushner

October 27, 2005

One gets an enormous feeling of deja vu when reviewing recent happenings: the more things seem to change, the more they are the same...

The great imponderable is why western officials haven't learned from the past, why they continue to delude themselves over and over. Isn't a mark of intelligence the ability to learn from experience? The resistance to that learning is fueled by motivations that are enormously complex; they include economic factors (read oil), a desire to believe that things can be better, a longing to be noted in history as someone able to achieve peace, and a great deal more.

[] Last week PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Bush. While there was private dissension regarding inclusion of Hamas in the political process, publicly Bush praised Abbas -- apparently in an attempt to bolster his position before the PA elections. The president declared himself a "heck of a lot more confident" of peace prospects with Abbas in charge. The question is, why? There is no solid evidence for such a statement.

Actually, Bush went even further, calling Abbas "a man of peace."

In his commentary -- -- Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA put it well:

"To Mahmoud Abbas' credit, from the very first day he recognized that when it comes to the Palestinians, the Bush team isn't really serious about security compliance. That the White House is more interested in the melody than the lyrics.
"That's why Abbas can consistently say flat out that he has no intention to confront the illegal armed militias and it doesn't matter.
"That's why Abbas could make it perfectly clear - as he stood next to President Bush in the White House today - that he has no intention to collect weapons before the elections.
"And that's why Abbas can repeatedly explain that, at best, his idea of 'one gun' is that ultimately all the terrorists generously agree to be on the PA's payroll.
"Sure, Mr. Bush talks the talk about the need for the Palestinians to fight terror - but his carefully crafted remarks, wrapped in praise for Abbas, are bereft of any clear timetable or measurable standards for action."
It should be noted that, according to WorldNetDaily, during his private meeting with Bush, Abbas asked him to put pressure on Israel to release Marwan Barghouti, founder of Al Aksa Brigades, who is serving several life sentences for his involvement in killing of Israelis. Securing the release of Barghouti would earn Abbas considerable points on the Palestinian street.

[] On Monday of this week, the headline at the top of The Jerusalem Post read: "PA says it plans to disarms Aksa Martyrs Brigades."
The line below this explained: "Gunmen to be incorporated into security forces."
Rather takes the breath away. Already there is considerable difficulty with "security forces" who shoot it up when discontented (remember the police who recently entered the PA Legislative Chambers shooting because of anger about something), or cooperate with terrorists. Putting Al Aksa gunmen into PA security forces doesn't disarm them! It simply puts different, more official guns into their hands. Yet according to the Post report, PA officials said that Abbas had presented this plan to Bush last week and that the president had approved: "The president welcomed the security plan." "Security plan"?
This is what Aaron Lerner was referring to when he wrote of a situation in which "ultimately all the terrorists generously agree to be on the PA's payroll..." Lerner has a way with words.

[] Lest there still be doubt about PA intentions, we have this news as well: The Palestinian Authority, in the face of a severe financial crisis, has announced that Yasser Arafat's tomb in the Mukata (presidential headquarters) in Ramallah will be completely redone. There will be a mausoleum, a monument, a mosque and a museum, which will house such revered artifacts as Arafat's keffiyeh (that head scarf he always wore in public) and pistol. All will be developed magnificently, with a large garden surrounding the area. The cost: Estimated at $1 million. I'm certain that hungry Palestinians won't mind this expenditure, as long as they can now go visit Arafat's keffiyeh.
Beyond the matter of horrendous financial misjudgement, there is another issue not to be missed here: The PA is choosing to venerate arch-terrorist Arafat rather than diminish his memory and educate the populace to focus in other directions. This speaks volumes about PA intentions regarding continuity of Arafat's goals. Aren't there numerable instances in modern history of new more enlightened regimes coming into power and knocking down statues of tyrants of an earlier time? Not the case, here. There IS no new regime.
Can Bush and company truly have missed all of this, or do they simply pretend to?

[] In a public statement yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to ease conditions at border crossings at the Gaza Strip and lift restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank.
Considering recent evidence of terrorist activity -- smuggling of weapons and personnel -- when borders are opened, and the drive-by shooting of three young Israeli innocents by Palestinians in West Bank when a checkpoint was removed, I can only say she has some nerve. The message, as I read it, is that a few more Israeli lives here and there are of no great consequence, as long as, in Rice's words, "the kind of economic program we all want to see in the Palestinian territories" can proceed.
Rice's statement preceeded a meeting in Cairo between Israeli officials and Egyptian President Mubarak.
Now today the news is that Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz and Mubarak have agreed that the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt will be opened in a month. Apparently this will be done with a third party monitoring, details still to be worked out.

Mofaz said that "I definitely see a change in Egyptian actions for the better, a move that will influence future security cooperations." Remember that Egypt turned a blind eye in all the years that arms were smuggled from Egypt into Gaza, and that 750 Egyptian border police stood by and did nothing as chaos ensued at the crossing after Israel pulled out. But, rest assured, Mofaz says Egypt is now going to take a stronger stand against smugglers.

Reportedly, the easing of border restrictions was agreed to by both sides in order to strengthen Abbas's position before the election.



more on Ir HaEmunah

My friend's report on her visit to Ir HaEmunah was also sent out to her own friends and family. Following is an excerpt from a letter she received and her reply:

Hi --,

I received your email regarding your childrens' living conditions. I'm so sorry that this has to happen to you and your family. It sounds like whatthe hurricane evacuees here are experiencing....and no human beings should be made to exist under those conditions. I think they will always have todeal with the lasting effects of this situation.

Hi, Lynn (not her real name)

The point is, it’s really not a matter of me and my family. This is 60 large families (average family size probably 6 or 7 kids) we’re talking about, who are one tiny part of the 10,000 (more or less) that have been torn from their homes.

It’s an outrage! Can you imagine Washington DC singling out a group of communities—the northwest suburbs of Chicago, say—saying the government has changed their minds about allowing them to live where they’re living (and as a reward for terrorism, yet!), wresting them from their homes, planning their futures for them or lying to them or forgetting about them, I’m not sure which, and then leaving them to rot in hotels and dormitories and transit camps? And Americans sitting still for it? Thinking, well, as long as no one I know is affected?

Lynn, these are Jews! We’re kin, all of us!

I’m sorry I’m spilling all of this on your head—for Pete’s sake, you’re the only one who’s even written me back, and here I am, giving you this splat between the eyes. But I think, or at least I hope, that if I were still living in the States, I would feel a stronger kinship, a stronger tug, toward the Jews in Ir Ha’Emuna or in Kfar Pines or at the Shirat HaYam Hotel in Ashkelon or the Shalom Hotel in Jerusalem, or, or, or (we’ve been scattered to all points of the compass) than I would toward the hurricane victims, with all respect to them and their suffering. Katrina, Rita, and Wilma can’t be seen as singling out any group because of their politics, making sure they know who’s boss, and punishing them because they’ve been difficult. Ariel Sharon and his lackeys can, and have.

My daughter and her family are one tiny segment of an opposition that her government and my government have set their sights on squashing. I want to grab all of American Jewry by the shoulders and shake them and shake them and say, “Don’t you see??!!”, and it’s frustrating that I can’t.

I think you, and all American Jews, have to figure out who you feel closer to, homeless American hurricane victims or dispossessed Israeli Jews. Who should you be caring about primarily? Who needs the caring and is more deserving of the caring, when you consider that there aren’t exactly gazillions of Jews clamoring to rise to the challenge, like there are Christians for Christians, and Moslems for Moslems?

I hope what I’ve written isn’t offensive to you. I love you, and wouldn’t say anything to hurt you.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005


HH, send your links in now!

Havel Havelim, the Jewish-Israeli blogging carnival

Post-Holiday edition

Please hurry!
Try to get your suggested links to
shilohmuse at yahoo dot com
before Shabbat



Open Letter from Disengagement Victim

As a 13 year resident of Gush Katif and current resident, with my family, of a “Caravilla” in Nitzan I am writing an open letter to the heads of Judea and Samaria communities and moetzas. Many of us are not satisfied with building permanent homes and establishing our communities in the Nitzan coastal area between Ashkelon and Ashdod. This area does not satisfy our Zionist ideology as it is well secure in the national consensus and has no Arabs in the area. There is a lack of religious-zionist schools in the area and certainly not many employment opportunities. It does, however, offer growth in value of real estate – not why I made Aliyah!.

Residents of Gush Katif are well split as to future plans. We need permanent housing solutions (assuming temporary solutions will soon be solved). We are not being well served by our former mazkiruts or moetza as there is no planning or communication within or between many communities.

There has been a deafening silence from YESH. Judea and Samaria communities that can offer a Zionist solution have been strangely silent. Such communities can offer: housing, stronger religious-zionist education, ideological and communal support. We can offer YESH communities demographic and ideological strengthening in the face of imminent land give-aways. I appeal to those communities that have building projects of 5, 10, 50 or more houses to come to places where Gush Katif residents are temporarily residing (Nitzan, Yad Benyamin, tent encampments, hotels, etc) and sell us on your community. You must bypass our former mazkiruts – they have their own interests and have not served us well before, during and after the pinui.

Fulfilling this request is not insurmountable. Let me describe my personal needs as an example: A 150-180 meter home on a third or half dunum plot (approximately $ 150,000) in a religious-zionist community over the “green line” with available services (schools, macolet, health clinic, public transportation) that needs strengthening. Yad Benyamin, Nitzan, Shafir, Lachish, do not need more Jews, the communities of YESH do – we can help each other in strengthening our hold on Eretz Yisrael.

With Love of Israel
Yossi Shomron


State of Gush Katif, Northern Gaza and Northern Shomron Communities Report #12, October 24, 2005

State of Gush Katif, Northern Gaza and Northern Shomron Communities Report #12, October 24, 2005
Submitted by Toby Klein Greenwald
Commissioned by Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research
[All previous reports available through the search engine]

No Treatment for Special Needs Children

There are three families currently living in Ir Haemuna who have young children who have special needs, and who received regular treatments, paid for by National Insurance, in Neve Dekalim, the “capital” of Gush Katif, before the disengagement. One of the children, a 5-year-old boy, is recognized as a victim of terror, and receives treatments as a result of a mortar injury he suffered when he was only a year old. Since the families did not know how long they would be in Ir Haemuna, they began to arrange for the children to receive treatment shortly before Rosh Hashana. According to one mother, they were told by the supervisor of the local treatment center five minutes away that she was given an instruction by the Prime Minister’s office to not give treatment to any children from Ir Haemuna. A more senior supervisor, who was also the supervisor of Special Education facilities in Gush Katif before the disengagement, stepped into the picture and met with the families on the eve of Succot, and said she would attempt to solve the problem. The Prime Minister’s office did not respond to our question about the incident. More on Ir Haemuna below.

Moshav Katif
The members of Moshav Katif have been staying in the Ulpana in Kfar Pines since the disengagement. Dvir Cohen, spokesman for Moshav Katif, says that the possible deal with Kibbutz Hafetz Haim fell through because the Disengagement Authority was not willing to pay for meals and the families of Moshav Katif, none of whom, to the best of his knowledge, have received compensation yet, do not have the funds to pay for food, nor do they have the facilities in the small guest house rooms to cook for themselves. The day after Succot, the Katif community will be moving to the King Saul Hotel in Ashkelon (which means that the elementary school children will have to change schools again). The long term plan is to end up in the Lachish area, but it is not clear where they will be between a short stay about a month in the hotel and when they go to Lachish. Among the possibilities being discussed are being in a high-rise apartment building in Ashkelon, being in the Nechusha area in the Negev. There were originally almost 60 families in Moshav Katif. There are currently about 45 left in the Ulpana. The others have scattered to Ir Haemunah, to parents or friends or other private arrangements. This is one more example of a community that is slowly being broken up.

Seven sites of the Gush Katif community were visited over the Succot holiday.

Ganei Tal - Yad Binyamin 1 [Photos available]
The people from Ganei Tal are still living in cramped conditions in Kibbutz Hafetz Haim, although they are complimentary about how the kibbutz and its guest house has received them. They still have only two washing machines for more than 60 families, and have grown used to taking their laundry with them to family and friends when they go to visit. The caravan site, to which they are due to move some time soon after the Succot holiday, is in the process of being completed. People from Ganei Tal have testified that there were homes that were tested for water-proofedness and found faulty. A “tour” of several of these houses confirmed what has been said about the small sizes of the rooms, and the fact that the living-dining-kitchen area is small and not sufficient for a regular sized family, including their kitchen appliances, and normal sized dining and living room furniture. There were no security rooms in the houses, as is required in new buildings by Israeli law. An outside glance at some of the houses revealed crooked “trisim” (closing blinds), which raises the question if those are freak occurrences or an indication of the general quality of the building materials and/or process. The homes are set very close together and the windows face each other so there is no semblance of privacy. One Ganei Tal resident who toured a sample house, said about it, “Aside from the fact that it’s made out of cardboard, it’s not bad.”

Residents here are from Neve Dekalim and a number of other Gush Katif communities [Photos available] It had rained for approximately fifteen minutes in Nitzan that day, and there were some streets that were filled with water, where the drainage was faulty, and many muddy areas. MK Uzi Landau visited Nitzan that day, met with local residents and then toured one of the homes. At the same time there was a visit by Nobel Prize winner Professor Yisrael (Robert) Aumann and the head of World Mizrachi, Mr. Kurt Rothschild, who said that World Mizrachi had donated succot to Nitzan and elsewhere. The residents spoke with MK Landau about the debilitating issue of unemployment. Aaron Hazut, who had been the head of the secretariat of the Gan Or community before the disengagement, who is himself a victim of terror, led the discussion from the side of the residents. There are currently 270 families living in Nitzan. Hazut says, “We were not among those who said, ‘It won’t happen’. We didn’t think it would ‘weaken anyone to plan in advance; we wanted to find a solution.” He then went on to describe to MK Landau the problems that they’ve encountered, in spite of their decision to plan.

The main issue raised was unemployment. Hazut said, “The government built a local employment office but the ‘solutions’ they’re suggesting are putting salt in the wounds. There is a real feeling of unkept promises. The homes don’t have the proper infrastructure or security. The employment office doesn’t offer any real solutions. We’re trying to create the solutions ourselves.” According to Hazut, there were originally 420 farmers in Gush Katif, of which 200 actually worked the land themselves. Most of those ended up in Nitzan. He said that 520 families would be located in Nitzan in the end, including others from Neve Dekalim. The farmers claimed that the land they were offered was not developed; they were told to use their compensation money to develop it but then there would have left them nothing to build their businesses with afterwards. They say that the compensation is based on what things were worth six years ago, but everything has gone up since then - the raw materials, gas, solar, etc. They valued their worth according to the old prices but they will have to pay the new prices. (This and other issues were raised before the disengagement by attorneys who brought petitions to the High Court of Justice, but ten out of eleven judges found, in most instances, against the people to be disengaged.) Personal comments by farmers: o
So we sat [with the Disengagement Authority] before the disengagement, and what
good came of it? Only bad - the entire Gush fell apart. You [politicians] also
only worked on how to prevent it. Even during that period, those MK’s who
considered themselves the “rebels”, should have worried about the “day after”.
Personal comment: “They wouldn’t tell someone who lived on a kibbutz for 20 years, ‘Go rent an apartment on the third floor in a city...’”
Another Farmer:
We have to fight for everything. o I was a
person who was active, busy, doing business, now is doing nothing. We still have
to pay our everyday supplies, but there are some people who have no income since
June! o We have to buy storage sheds,
different furniture…The ministry of agriculture didn’t find solutions for us. My
equipment is thrown in Masuot Yitzhak, and parts of it are always being stolen.
o They give us 90 meter homes in these kinds
of conditions, and then we have to spend tens of thousands of shekels on
storage. I look at the newspapers nothing appears there about this. We
expect the people “in charge” to help take care of these things, to have a
heart. o We brought millions of dollars into
the state of Israel through our exports. This [disengagement] is a national
crime. And we’re a society who are law-abiding…
o There aren’t closets in the homes, someone
had to spend NIS 40,000 just on all new closets. We’re still paying mortgages,
and being charged $450 for rent. o

We, who were super-farmers, are now super-unemployed. I grew 90 dunams of
tomatoes, exported tons to Europe, employed 60 workers a
typical Gush
Katif farmer. When I signed up for unemployment, they wanted me
to take a job in
a carton factory, folding cartons at minimum wage. Some of
my Thai workers, that
are working somewhere else, hopefully temporarily, are
receiving NIS 5,000 a
month. I would have received NIS 3,000 a month. We
need something to get up for
in the morning.
o At the most, we’ll receive
60% of what
our real worth is, and that’s the best case scenario. They’re
compensation that will be able to bring us, at best, to 50% of the
output we
had before. There is no possibility that we’ll reach what we reached
We’ve already lost one season. Even if I started building right now, I
be able to get it off the ground till September, 2006.
o The day before the disengagement we
with the Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and he said, “I’ll do
thus and
thus…”A month later, when we sat with him, we saw there are no
solutions. They
offer land far away, or inappropriate…The Minister of
Agriculture doesn’t relate
to us, or his deputy minister.
o They
offered us land that is not
sandy, not appropriate to our organic produce for
which we developed an
expertise. We can’t use up all our compensation on
developing land. But we
can’t just sit at home doing nothing, either.
o It takes an average of three years
just to
“learn” the agricultural land area. They say that it took the
farmers from Yamit
five years before they were able to produce effectively
again [and they had
three years in advance to prepare, and much higher level
of compensation
TKG]. o We had special terms with Agrexco
and others; one has to work hard to be accepted
into that “club”; now we have to start from scratch.
o At first, they came to us with the
of going to Kibbutz Nahal Oz, to give us 2,000 dunams there.
The government was to take care of the infrastructure. The only problem was that
the kibbutz didn’t give the land in the end.

A visit was made to several families who live in Nitzan.

They were obviously trying to make the most of the situation by arranging the homes nicely, but they all commented that they had to spend money on storage sheds, new closets or furniture that fit the small rooms, and other items, such as trisim (blinds). Unlike the caravans in Yad Binyamin, the homes in Nitzan all come without blinds, even though the homes look into each other. One family the Farjun’s - estimated that they had to spend between NIS 25,000 and NIS 30,000 on items that they would not have had to buy, had they stayed in Gush Katif, and that will not be covered by any compensation.

On a very troublesome note: They told MK Landau that three teenagers have been hospitalized in the psychiatric ward in Beer Sheva. “It’s a human tragedy,” said one resident. “There is no treatment for the problems of the teenagers. Not to mention how they feel, when they come home and ask, ‘Abba, what did you do all day?’ And these are youth who, before the disengagement, when professionals were sent to study them, were considered psychologically the strongest among youth.” MK Landau promised to pursue solutions for the various issues. Gan Or - Kibbutz Yavne [Photo of Dorit and Tzvika available] There are five families from the community of Gan Or who have been absorbed into Kibbutz Yavne on the basis of residents, not members, for the next two years. One family we visited, Dorit and Tzvika Fixler, had settled into a little kibbutz home that was 30% the size of their home in Gan Or. Dorit, who worked full time as an art teacher in Gush Katif, had not yet started working, as there already are art teachers in the kibbutz. Tzvika, who, with Dorit, owned a highly successful bio strawberry growing farm that exported extensively to Europe, is now working as a salaried employee for an irrigation company. They do not know what their long term plan will be and, like the other Gan Or people, are exploring a number of possibilities.

The families in Kibbutz Yavne from Gan Or, mostly from the field of agriculture, made arrangements in advance, but because there was not a location that could take all of them, Gan Or was one of the communities that did not succeed in remaining together following the disengagement.

Elei Sinai Tent City [Photos available]

According to spokesperson Edi Amit, families left in the tent city of Elei Sinai are waiting for the government to make them an offer of a communal settlement. The large Bedouin carpets meant to give a “feel of home” were sunk into the mud, as it had rained that day. A sign facing the highway says, “59 days without a home” (on October 19) and another sign, on a makeshift clinic tent, reads, “We treat people with sensitivity and determination”, a reference to the instructions given to the soldiers who removed people from their homes.

Shirat Hayam Hotel in Ashkelon

Residents from Bdoloch, Morag, Elei Sinai and elsewhere. [Photos available] There are about 40 families left in this hotel. The hotel, at the instructions of the Disengagement Authority, has allowed the people to remain in the hotel rooms but has closed the dining room. We found them, at dinnertime on chol hamoed Succot, sitting around a little table in the lobby, eating meals out of airline-type packets, that have been donated. For the most part, they buy their own food now. Most of them have not yet received any compensation and are unemployed. Other families from those settlements, who had desperately wanted to stay together as communities, are scattered around the country. Rabbi Yishai Bar-Hen, who had been the rabbi of the secular, northern Gazan communities, gave us a tour, and was astounded to discover, in the process, that the hotel had dismantled the synagogue room. He expressed bitterness and anger about what he called “a lack of basic humanity” being shown the Gazan Jews. Another member of the Elei Sinai community fumed as she showed us the what she referred to as a “one-sided” contract that they had been offered by Kibbutz Carmia [contract available in Hebrew], where there already is an area with caravans for the disengaged, and more are due to be built. “The caravans aren’t ready yet,” she says, “but the Disengagement Authority wants us to move anyway.” She pointed out a clause stating that that they could not have “invited guests” in their homes, without permission of the kibbutz, only guests who “happen by”. [We have a copy of the contract.] They will be charged rent (deducted from their compensation, while they are still paying mortgages), almost $500 including expenses as of August 15, even though they will be moving in some time, they hope, in November. The payment is supposed to come from the Disengagement Authority, but the contract states that they will be required to pay, themselves, if the Authority does not. Also, the evacuees, not the Disengagement Authority, are required to have two guarantors sign the contract. The secular Gazans said they were sorry that, whereas religious settlers were given succot as gifts, they were not offered to most of the secular. When asked if it was common practice for secular Jews in Israel to build succot, they replied, “We all did in Gaza.” Atzmona Ir Haemunah (near Netivot) [Photos available] Atmona’s tent city, called in Hebrew “Ir Haemunah” The City of Faith is located on the outskirts of Netivot, a city in the Negev. It is in an abandoned factory compound. There is a reconstructed temporary playground in an empty area across the road, for Atzmona’s many children. Large industrial tents have been set up and separated by plyboard and various materials into separate living quarters. Concrete and rubber sheeting have supplanted the pastoral community of grass and palm trees. Atzmona was the “holy” settlement in Gush Katif, unique in its combination of deeply committed, religious people who were also welcoming and tolerant to outsiders. They allowed no televisions or secular newspapers into the community, and many of the adults were involved in the study or teaching of Torah; others were farmers who ran the largest plant nursery in the Middle East. It also boasted one of Israel’s most famous pre-army study (“mechina”) programs, headed by a rabbi who had been a pilot in the air force. That program has relocated to Yated, a community in the Negev, close to the Egyptian border and within the range of mortars from Gaza, where about 20 of Atzmona’s families including many farmers and the mechina teachers - went after the disengagement. Most of the others about 57 families - have remained here, while they await a community solution. They are not interested in apartments scattered in various cities, or in what they consider the large, impersonal, Nitzan development, which are the only options they’ve been offered so far by the Disengagement Authority. A handful of families have arranged for other living quarters, for now. There are areas in the compound set aside for study, for prayer, and the second floor of the factory has the school. The Ministry of Education refuses to finance either the school or the pre-schools. Bathrooms and showers for the community are metal stalls standing in a row at one end. A slice of life: The “rabbanit” of Atzmona, Meira Netanel, welcomes us in their tent and explains that, “It’s been a hard day. The concrete is not level, and all the rain flowed down to our side and flooded the tents here.” She spent the day picking items up off the wet floor and trying to push the water out of the tent. Two of her daughters were sitting on a small couch, using plastic chairs as desks. There were crayons, books, and a Hebrew version of Monopoly on nearby stools. Shabbat candlesticks stood on a small white tablecloth on a well-worn wooden bureau, and a bamboo bookshelf held food supplies. Meira said they were about to leave for a funeral near Yated. The 83-year-old man known as “Saba (Grandfather) Tzadok” Raab (brother of the Israeli poet Esther Raab), who became a media star during the disengagement, had passed away that afternoon. He was the oldest person to be expelled from Gush Katif, and was a favorite with the young people of Atzmona. “Saba Tzadok” was shown on Israeli TV when he spoke with the soldiers and officers who came to remove him from his home in Atzmona. He tried to return a medal to an IDF officer, a medal he received from the State of Israel for his personal war efforts against the Nazi’s, who destroyed his first home in Czechoslovakia. He also lived and fought in Kfar Etzion, that fell in the War of Independence in 1948, with the rest of Gush Etzion, and he sat in a Jordanian prisoners of war camp after that for a year. He lived for 18 years near his son in Atzmona, since the death of his wife, and worked in the Atzmona plant nursery. During the disengagement, he no longer wanted an Israeli medal, hence his attempt to return it. Meira told us that her husband, the rabbi, had visited Saba Tzadok just before Rosh Hashana, and Saba had told him of his joy to at least be living in a new settlement in the Negev, where he would be able to bring a little bit of “tikun”, repair, to the world, following the disengagement. He worked a little bit every day, in spite of his age. When asked what their future plans are, Meira said, “The government is offering us something in the Lachish area [where some other Gush Katif communities would also be] but nothing is finalized yet. There is a secular kibbutz there, with eleven families, of the Hashomer Hatzair [Communist] movement. We’d be perfectly happy for them to stay in the area, but they apparently would want to move, and have asked the government for compensation that it is not willing to pay. So I don’t know how long it will take. We may be here [in the tent city] for months.” Interim possibilities? “Yes, in apartments scattered in various cities. But we want to remain a community.” Her words are confirmed by Yonatan Rom, a member of the Atzmona secretariat, and he adds, “If the government wanted to help us relocate now with the same determination that they expelled us, we’d no longer be living in this tent city.”

There is a sign hanging from the “school” balcony, a sheet painted with the words, “It is impossible to stop this faith.”

For more information: Toby Klein Greenwald

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Carnival of Liberty #17

There are some great posts on Carnival of Liberty, including one from our very own. Take a gander!


Ir HaEmuna Update

A few weeks ago I posted a very uplifting report from a friend who had been in the Ir HaEmunah Refugee Camp. Here's her latest report, which tells of a very different situation. You may distribute this; just please attribute.

Dear Everyone,

After the first couple of e-mails I sent out about the Jews fromGush Katif whose homes were taken from them and about the Atzmona transitcamp at Ir HaEmuna, I felt an update was in order, so here it is.

Not Such Good News

Over a month ago, I wrote to many of my friends in Israel and the US about the Ir HaEmuna (near Netivot) transit camp for those whose Gush Katif homes were taken from them and destroyed. My daughter and her family and friends from the late lamented Atzmona live there. No, make that “exist” there. I returned from my second visit to the camp a couple of weeks later depressed. The upbeat feeling I had after my first visit was gone, and I felt I had to send another mass e-mail and correct the erroneous impression I may have given. But I didn’t write, both because of the hopelessness I now found, and because I felt I needed to spend a longer timethere and speak to more people.

I’ve now spent more time at Ir HaEmuna, but probably still can’tgive as panoramic a description as I’d like to, the needs of children and grandchildren being what they are. But I’ll try. It would be wonderful if some of you could pay a visit yourselves and add to these impressions of mine…or better yet, show them to be unnecessarily bleak.

* The uncertainty that people feel is a killer. Is their government for them or against them, or simply indifferent? Will the lives and the homes they lost, or an approximation thereof, ever be restored to them? When, and where, and with whom? At a cost they can allow themselves? How well will they and their children recover from the terrible psychological scarring inflicted on them?

* The living conditions are impossible. Basically, there are 3 types of dwellings at Ir HaEmuna.

First, there are individual family tents within an enormous cement-floored and partially-roofed industrial space. It turns out these tents are enormously expensive, so most of them have been dismantledand the families relocated to….

Second, the caravans surrounding the original space. (These cost little or nothing, because they’re in such bad repair that they’re everybody else’s rejects.) My daughter, her husband and threechildren are considered a small family, so they’ve been allotted half acaravan. They have two tiny rooms with a toilet, a shower, and a kitchenette with a sink. They’re lucky, because there’s also….

Third, the“meguronim”. These are basically four-walled caravans that can be turnedinto as many “rooms” as the family can come up with drapes to divide them. No toilet, no shower, no water. There are public toilets and showers, most of whose doors haven’t broken yet, but it’s quite a distance to walk to these, and if it’s in the middle of the night, it’s cold. My niece’sdaughter yanked on a window curtain and part of the ceiling fell down. This after heavy rains a couple of days ago, when a couple of the dwellings facing the wrong direction got soaked through, with much damage caused.

A word about privacy: especially in the individual family tents, there is none. People have to develop the skills of a cat burglar and the speech habits of a spy to keep private things private and to avoid disturbing neighbors.

Oh yes, and food: mass-produced food is not to everyone’staste. One woman I spoke with said she and her family have been a lot happier since they decided “only Ima’s home cooking from now on.” Another woman, who made no such decision, is afraid she’s forgetting how to cook. Needless to say, both kids and grown-ups are going to town on carbs and fats. Diet clubs should be picking up lots of new clients.

* A month ago one woman said something that’s been haunting me. Referring to the children, she used the word “hefker”. She called out to one group of kids to get down off the roof, and they ignored her. A couple of minutes later, she warned a group of toddlers to come away from the road. No sooner did she round two up than two others appeared in harm’s way a few meters further down. These children, whom I’d always known to be obedient and respectful, saw their parents, rabbis, and teachers rendered impotent when they were torn from their homes. Why should they acknowledge their authority now? My own three little grandchildren look to me like little wild animals. When their lives return to normal—whenever?—can this damagebe undone?

* I have a personal serious objection to something I only suspect but am not certain of. I’m afraid of paternalism. Even among the dispossessed themselves—do their leaders and functionaries communicate “Relax, we’ll takecare of everything” to them? If they are, I can only hope the people are miserable being patronized, because they could very easily grow to like it.I want them to be in contact with each other, to empower each other. I want their representatives and leaders to know they’re being overseen and held to account. I’m unhappy whenever a DP says of any leader that he promised such-and-such would or wouldn’t happen. Our reliance can only be on G-d, remember I spent Shabbat Hol Hamoed Succot at Ir HaEmuna with my daughter. Some families have their succot right outside their caravans; others have theirs in groups with some of their neighbors’ succot some distance from theird wellings. I was deeply moved, walking from my daughter’s to my niece’s to another friend’s succa, hearing divrei Torah, blessings, and singing from a pot-pourri of ethnic melodies and styles, no Dolby necessary. The feeling was similar to what I felt many years ago when the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires was bombed by terrorists just before Purim, and I was filled with love and admiration for my friends who were able to rise above their pain and sadness to rejoice on Purim because a Jew rejoices on Purim.

Maybe the queasiness I’ve been feeling is only because of the extreme discomfort my people are coping with—not badly—at the moment. After all, as wandering from one succa to another and enjoying the harmony and people’s cleaving to what’s eternal brought home to me this past Shabbat, thevitality of this people and this Torah is something neither bulldozers nor bureaucrats can beat down.

Chag Simchat Torah Sameach.

Monday, October 24, 2005


No Jews Allowed

Yesterday, while marching from Shiloh to the Kotel Hama'arvi, Western Wall that remains from the Holy Temple Compound in Jerusalem, our one-hundred strong Shiloh contingent was stopped by the police as we approached Sha'ar Shechem, the Damascus Gate. While hostile glares of the Arabs in the street didn't dampen our enthusiasm, the police insisted that since it was Rammadan, they had given exclusive rights to Moslems.

Of course it was also the Jewish Holiday of Succot, but Jews are second class citizens. Our Holidays aren't honored over Islam, not even given equal standing. So we had to turn right and gingerly walk over a dirty lot and enter via "the New Gate."

We waved our Shiloh flags and sang as we walked through the narrow and winding Arab market until we finally made it to the very full kotel plaza, where we danced and sang.

More to be written, and it will appear, either before or after Simchat Torah, on Shiloh Musings.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Join the march in Jerusalem!

G-d willing tomorrow morning we're marching from the Shiloh Cemetery to Har HaZaytim, where most of the bodies that had been buried in the Gush Katif Cemetery are now buried.

The Od Avihu Chai march is in memory of my neighbor, Avihu Keinan, who was killed in a badly planned army action just over two years ago. More information here and here.

We should, G-d willing, be arriving in Jerusalem early afternoon. Join us for the final part of the march.

For information call 0545-649-140 or 0545-321-136.

cross-posted on my other blogs


from the other side

If you're anything like me and don't have the stomach to read what the enemies write, then you'll appreciate that my husband does. Yes, click that in the previous sentence to find out what they're writing about.


A Little "Freedom of Religion"

Israel is supposed to be a "western, liberal, modern democracy," so I'd expect and the law claims that there's freedom of religion.

The main religion is obviously Judaism, since it's official the one and this is the only Jewish State. According to some people, the world "allowed us" a state as compensation for the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Actually, the Zionist movement predated the Nazis, and the Jewish People, including thousands of years as a people--nation--in our Homeland, predated the European countries and the discovery of America. Don't for get that Jesus was a Jew, and Mohamed's aim was to convert all the Jews to his new religion.

And all the three main western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are found in Israel. All of Judaism's holiest places and Biblical landmarks are all in the Holy Land. Islamic holiest spot is Mecca, and Christians have some holy and significant landmarks here.

Israel bends over backwards to accommodate Moslems, especially when there's a conflict between Jewish religious needs and Moslem.

The Bible tells of Abraham's buying of a piece of Land in Hebron to bury his wife Sarah. Tradition has it that Adam and Eve were buried there. Later Abraham was and later Jacob and Leah. It has been a holy place for Jews ever since Abraham, the first Jew bought it. The Moslems adopted it, and for many years they didn't allow Jews to enter it at all. Finally in 1967, after Israel's victory in the Six Days War, Jews were allowed to enter and pray there. Of course, Moslems still do, too, and tourists of any religion can always enter. The inspections at the gate are just for weapons. But on certain Moslem Holidays the Israeli government closes it to Jews.

Another piece of land bought by Jews, as recorded in the Bible, was in Shechem. In 1967, Israelis joyfully returned and opened a yeshiva at Joseph's Tomb there. The government never allowed Jews to live in the city, and a few years ago, the government handed it over to the Arabs who promptly destroyed everything the Jews had put there. And Jews are forbidden to go there to pray, study or live.

The third piece of land bought by Jews, as recorded in the Bible was in Jerusalem. The Holy Temples were built there. Today it's known as Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount. It is the HOLIEST PLACE IN THE WORLD ACCORDING TO JUDAISM. Moslems built mosques there, and Jews are not allowed up there at all. The Israeli government decided to ban Jews as soon as it was liberated in the Six Days War. They didn't want to confront the Arabs.

For Moslems, the Temple Mount is the third holiest place in the world. For Jews it is the holiest place. According to Moslem tradition, Mohammed tied his donkey up there. And it's Jewish, so they want it. For Jews to get permission to go up, even on holidays, there must be court orders, from the High Court. And even then, prayer is restricted.

Unfortunately, there isn't freedom of religion in Israel for Jews.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


March to Jerusalem!

G-d willing, this coming Sunday, Chol Hamoed Succot, the 23rd of October, we will be marching from Shiloh to Jerusalem.

There will be three stages of marching.
  1. From Shiloh Center to the Shiloh Cemetery, Avihu Keinan, HaYa"D's, grave.
  2. From Waadi Charamiya (just north of Ofra) to Givat Assaf, the Beit El Junction
  3. From French Hill to Har HaZaytim, the Mount of Olives, the cemetery where the bodies from the Gush Katif Cemetery have been re-buried.

Please join us! We should be reaching Jerusalem sometime in the afternoon.

These are the contact numbers for more information. This number should be called also if you're marching from Shiloh, Waadi Charamiya or Ofra and to check during the afternoon when and where to join us in Jerusalem: 0545-649-140, and this just for updates during the march itself: 0545-321-136.

Yes, I took the photo last year, as we were crossing the road at French Hill, Jerusalem.

This will be cross-posted on my other blogs.


American Pressure on Israel

We all know about the "double standards." Yes, in plural. U.S. President Bush screams "zero tolerance for terrorism" when the U.S. is even vaguely threatened. Let me correct that. It's not the United States' existence that's threatened, just lives and ego. But when Israel is endangered, attacked, and its citizens suffer sometimes daily from Arab terrorism, Israel is instructed, as if it's just an American possession to desist from any defensive moves. The world's nations are doing everything they can to support the floundering terrorist state. It's floundering, because it's not viable in any sense of the world. There was never a Palestinian nation, nor people. It was invented by the British in order to find an excuse not to give the Mandate to the Jewish People. The only thing those Arabs have in common is a blood-thirsty aim to murder Jews and destroy the State of Israel.

Despite this, Arab terror leaders are welcomed in the White House. Just looking at the bare statistics of "Islamic Terror Attacks of the past 12 Months," I'd be pretty wary of getting so friendly with the Arabs, no matter what gifts they're bearing.

Israel is also chastised by the U.S. for normal development, for building homes for its citizens.

We must not be silent. Following is a letter a friend wrote to U.S. Bush. I suggest that more letters with the same message are written.

Dear President Bush,

Today the leader of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, accused Israel of responsibility for the attack on young Israelis waiting at a bus stop - 3 deaths and 5 wounded. Another Israeli was wounded in a second attack.

I, an American citizen who voted for you twice and trusted your words am simply OUTRAGED!!!! You say one thing about fighting terrorism without compromise - wherever it is - yet you mean it for every other nation but Israel which has been at the receiving end of Muslim terror for most of the last century. Are you not aware of the fact that 85% of the Palestinian Arabs want to annihilate Israel and world Jewry? How can your conscience permit you to think of pressuring the only
democracy and loyal friend in a region that reeks of the treachery of lynchings and beheadings of human beings?!!!

The evil murderer, Abbas/ Abu Mazen, excuses his killers by claiming not enough concessions from Israel and you support his criminal rage and want to give him a terrorist state! Your need to appease the corrupt Muslim world is appalling; those who attacked and murdered Americans on our own soil were cheered by those whom you would reward with a state from which to carry on more such evil!

It is time for you to stop pressuring Israel and confront the real danger to Western civilization; it is the Islamicist movement that is threatening not only Israel's existence but also that of Europe and every other democratic country - including the United States.





Wednesday, October 19, 2005


State of Gush Katif, Northern Gaza and Northern Shomron Communities Report #11, October 17, 2005

State of Gush Katif, Northern Gaza and Northern Shomron Communities
Report #11, October 17, 2005

Submitted by Toby Klein Greenwald
Commissioned by Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research

All previous reports are to be found through the search engine at:

A personal holiday note from the researcher: These reports have been sent to the State Comptroller, to selected members of the Knesset and other public figures, to organizational heads and to the media in North America and Israel. While the feedback we are receiving from all ends of the political spectrum, both in Israel and abroad, is gratifying, we would be appreciative if you let the editors in your own cities know that you appreciate this material and think it should reach a wider public. - TKG

Update on the 30,000 shekel burial for Netzer Hazani victim
As a result of this report, and the fact that the researcher contacted the office of Minister of Science and Technology Matan Vilnai, the matter was dealt with by his office and they contacted us yesterday (Sunday) to report that all the money would be returned to Hezi Hazani’s family and that, as a result of this terrible story, the situation won’t repeat itself. Vilnai’s staff is eager to let the public know that if, G-d forbid, another evacuee dies, his family will not have to pay to have their loved one buried. (Explanation for those who missed the previous report: Every citizen of Israel has the right to be buried free of charge in his home town, but the Netezer Hanazi heart attack victim’s family was asked to pay to bury him in Rishon Ltzion, since it’s not his “home town”. He had no current home town, since his home is rubble in Gaza.)

Moshav Katif
According to the internal Gush Katif website,, the community of Moshav Katif, that has been living in very difficult dorm conditions since the disengagement, thought they would finally achieve a modicum of peace of mind when they move to the guest house of Hafetz Haim, after it is vacated by the people of Ganei Tal, who are due to move into their caravans in Yad Binyamin (which, the people of Ganei Tal say, are not yet ready, and in livable condition). The Katif people, however, had a rude awakening this week when their representatives were told that the Disengagement Authority was willing to pay the hotel only 10% of the cost of the rooms. The hotel had been willing to give a 20% discount, but the Authority reportedly wanted a 90% discount. It also insisted that the hotel provide only one hot meal a day, and that the evacuees would have to manage in their rooms for the other two meals. Having visited the Ganei Tal community in Hafetz Haim, we can report that the rooms are very small, about 60% the size of a regular hotel room, and there are no cooking facilities. Nevertheless, the Moshav Katif people were willing to live in those conditions, but the deal fell through, according to them, due to the demands of the Disengagement Authority. The Authority was contacted for a response but there is only a recorded message that the spokesman will be back after the 19th.

The community of Bdoloch staying in the Shirat Hayam Hotel has been told that the hotel will be closed, and it should stop providing food and other services. We spoke with Uri Mensharf, the Disengagement Authority contact at the hotel, who refused to give details without permission of the Authority spokesman, but he’s abroad on vacation and won’t be back till the end of the week. According to Adi, a volunteer at the hotel, there are three families there with no where to go; the others are making do at the homes of friends and families. Some families have moved into caravans in Nitzan.

Aaron Farjun, spokesman for Gadid, who moved into a caravan in Nitzan several weeks ago, said they are very poor quality and when asked about the fire-proofedness of them, he laughed and said, “First ask if they’re waterproof!” since there have been problems with water pipes leaking, bursting, and some of the waterproofing tests done in recent days proved that some of the caravans (the percentage is not clear) will not withstand the winter.

Gadid Shoshi Journeau of the Gadid community staying in the Neve Ilan Hotel, said that some of the families are, for the Succot holiday, back in the same decrepit hotel in Tiberias where they were for Rosh Hashana (as Neve Ilan once again needed their rooms for regular tourists), but the hotel supposedly put in the effort to have cleaned up its act. “There is a little bit of improvement,” says Shoshi, “but we’ve stopped complaining because it doesn’t help much, one can’t ask them for too much.”

Yesterday (Sunday) representatives from Gadid went to see the apartment hotel rooms that the Disengagement Authority had offered them in Ashkelon for the next four months. “There are very tiny rooms, one small burner per family, very uncomfortable. It appears they didn’t even check the place before they sent us to see it,” says Shoshi. “The main thing is they say, ‘We offered the settlers and they refused.’ They also offered larger apartments, that were empty, but for that we’d have to empty all our containers, to get to the furniture we’d need, and we’re afraid that if we leave the hotel for something temporary, that isn’t really a solution, no one will take a second look at us. Now the ball is in their court. For Simhat Tora we were invited to the settlement of Dolev.” What about the problem with no proper laundry arrangements? “The laundry problem was partially solved. We try to solve our problems through friends, but it’s frustrating.”

Kerem Atzmona
The containers of Kerem Atzmona, which were packed by the sub-contractors of the Ministry of Defense of Israel, were delivered to their homes in Nitzan this week, and the community’s people were shocked to discover that refrigerators, washing machines, stoves, bookshelves, closets and other furniture had been broken. Other objects were missing.
Not all the boxes even made it into the containers, because, they were told by the packers who were also the unpackers, “There wasn’t room.”
Asaf Shariv, media advisory for PM Ariel Sharon, had told this researcher several weeks before the disengagement, when asked if the contents of the containers would be insured, that “the settlers will not bear the financial burden of anything that is broken or missing”.

In general, said Avia Halevi, our contact in Kerem Atzmona, originally from Toronto, “The attitude to us during the disengagement was terrible. It took seven hours to go by bus from Kerem Atzmona to Sderot, a 30-minute trip. First we sat on the bus for three hours, and they wouldn’t even let pregnant women who need the bathroom to get off. Finally they let them go to the bathroom at Kissufim, after a four-hour wait.” They are currently in Karmia and Nitzan, neither of which encampment has security rooms in the homes or nearby bomb shelters.

Karmia and Nitzan
According to Yossi Ben Baruch, the project director of the building in Karmia and Nitzan, they are “in the process” of building security rooms in Karmia. “We are waiting for money from the Ministry of Defense; it is now being negotiated between the owner of Evelon Technologies, and the Ministry of Defense.” There have already been attempts of infiltrations by terrorists into Karmia. Ben Baruch said that there are currently 56 buildings in Karmia, of which 46 have been occupied. The remaining 10 are all 90 square meters. He said that there are no security rooms being built now at Nitzan and regarding bomb shelters, “It is in the hands of the Ministry of Defense and other ministries.”
When he was asked if the caravans were fire-proof, he said, “We build according to the Institute of Standards,” but he would not provide documentation proving this. Aaron Farjun, a spokesperson for Bdoloch currently living at Nitzan, laughed when asked if they’re fireproof. “Ask if they’re waterproof! They’re substandard. There are all kinds of problems with them. They’re made of a little bit of cement wiped over a piece of netting…” According to Ben Baruch, Evelon is a private company owned by Ofer and Tali Asher.

Help for Gush Katif College Students
There is an effort underway to help finance college students from Gush Katif who will have a more difficult time meeting their tuition and living demands this year. Since college starts in Israel after the holidays, which this year end toward the end of October. In most years, college students work during the summer and early autumn to help pay their tuition and dorm fees. This year the Gush Katif students were involved in the Disengagement and, later, in helping their families settle into their temporary quarters, so they could not work as usual.

For questions or comments, contact: Toby Klein Greenwald

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