Saturday, September 02, 2006

 

Chomesh Re-visited Elul 5766 by Sarah Feld

Shalom,
Just wanted to share this article with you all.
with prayers for geula shleima,
Sarah

Chomesh Re-visited Elul 5766

I was not quite sure why I agreed to visit Chomesh,
one of four settlements in the northern Shomron that
was decimated in last year’s purge of Jews from that
area. My daughter, Rivki was able to explain her need
to go. ‘It’s an attempt to perceive something that’s
impossible to grasp.’ My thoughts raced to those who
set out on pilgrimages to the disappearing vestiges of
European ghettos and camps. They would be
eye-witnesses to the historic crime.

Rivki and I were driving in the northern Shomron when
we came to the familiar turn off to Chomesh located
just outside of a neighboring community Shavei
Shomron. We had both repeatedly visited the area last
year, before its destruction. Some of my other kids
had lived here for months until the expulsion of Jews.
They had called or sent daily messages informing us of
their activities with the children, the wonderful
people and the beautiful homes. Then they and all who
were willing to offer passive resistance were brutally
removed by the Yasamnikim, black clad special police
force.

Chomesh, together with Gush Katif, has become a part
of our vocabulary and a part of our lives which we
refuse to ignore. Together with Amona, these modern
day sites of expulsions of Jews, cannot be allowed to
fade from memory.

I called my son to let him know our plans just as we
turned into a traffic jam of green licensed cars
(Palestinian Authority). They were being held up by a
single army jeep and several IDF soldiers inspecting
their documents. This might have appeared daunting had
we not lived in areas where army roadblocks are
regularly backed up with Arab taxis, cars and trucks
whose credentials must be checked to weed out
terrorists. Israelis traveling on these roads
generally bypass those cars and the soldiers slowly so
that the latter can see the car’s occupants. We sat a
few minutes, getting some odd looks from the locals,
before deciding to follow the usual routine. Passing
the jeep with no difficulty, we started up the long,
twisting road to Chomesh. In one area, it was
partially blocked by some spikes, but there was enough
room for the car to pass.

We were now outside the walls of Shavei Shomron on the
winding road which appeared not to have been damaged
as we had thought it might have been. Passing another
army jeep, a few Arab cars, tractors and donkey drawn
carts we gaped at the unobstructed, magnificent view
of the major cities at the center of Israel - Netanya,
Kfar Saba and others. We turned in where the
community’s gates had once stood. Passing a group of
Arab men picnicking, we continued driving with a
heightened sense of caution. As we stopped in an area
that had so recently been occupied with beautiful
homes and gardens, an aching sense of emptiness
emerged.

A once vibrant community was a ghost town. Remaining
stairs – led nowhere. Paths could be followed – to no
place. The beautiful homes and community center were
gone. It seemed, that other than some trees and
withering plants, life had evaporated. Even the ruins
of the buildings had vanished. If a place can be
alive, then this place had died. My daughter would
later compare it to a mass grave bespeaking
inconceivable horrors, with grass covering it, as if
to camouflage the disappearance of life.

There was nothing to replace what had existed here. An
army base had not occupied these strategic heights.
Arabs had not moved in. Nothing had been gained while
a beautiful community and its families had been
shattered. Was it then destroyed just to ensure yet
another area in the Jewish Homeland would be forbidden
to the Jews?

We took some pictures, but mostly needed to make some
sense of what we were witnessing. It was as though
time had slipped back 30 years, before all the
sacrifice, the building, the sights and sounds of a
vibrant community life.

After about 15 minutes, an army jeep raced over to us.
The commander jumped out yelling, ‘What are you doing
here? This is a closed military zone. You don’t want
me to touch you, so just get in your car’. Without
hesitating to catch his breath, or allow us to catch
ours, he threatened ‘if you don’t want to get hit, get
into the car.’ We started moving to the car with the
uneasy sense that threatening empty handed, passive
Jewish women rolled off his lips too easily. Having
been present in Gush Katif’s expulsion and having
participated in the passive resistance that resulted
in the pogrom in Amona I knew that his intimidation
might be real.

Later, my daughter and I shared that as the scenario
was playing itself out, we weren’t afraid of the
soldiers - or the Arabs. We were angry that Israel’s
Jewish Defense Forces could condone raising a finger
against its citizens. And the reason that Chomesh had
been destroyed, that the community was dispersed, that
it was considered perilous for us to be there today
was precisely because the IDF, following political
policy, had lifted it’s hands against the nation
instead of combating the people’s enemies.

As we drove down the twisting road, we called the
Chonenu Civil Rights organization to learn what might
happen next. The administrative director Ariel Gruner
had not yet been freed from administrative detention
(he was being held without charges for three months).
Someone else described briefly that if arrested, we
should call them for a representative.

The police repeated what the soldiers had told us.
This was an Area A zone and Jews were forbidden to
enter. ‘Then why’, we asked, ‘had the army jeeps had
not stopped us and why was no sign to that affect? Why
was the roadway so passable and why were we able to
get to the top with the army arriving only 15 minutes
later? How were we supposed to know that the law
regarded this unmarked road a prohibited area?’ In the
Shomron, we often drive past or through unfriendly
Arab villages. Some roads are marked with signs
reading that Israelis (Jews) are prohibited from
traveling there. There was no regulation posted here
at all. The Arab Israeli police officer suggested we
fill out the deposition on the spot rather that at the
local police station, where it would take hours. Eager
to return to our homes, we each signed a statement
that if we return to this restricted area, we risk a
1000 shekel fine.

My thoughts kept returning to the political elite that
ordered the Israeli Defense Force to destroy Jewish
homes, creating a refugee population of 10,000 Jews.
The government policy allowed our southern border,
until Ashkelon to be attacked daily with no serious
military responses. These signal of weakness and
vulnerability emboldened our enemies to launch a war
which damaged Jewish communities in the north,
creating a staggering 1,000,000 refugees.

It also distorted military values. The adversary
became whoever the left wing political camp labeled
the ‘enemy’. These include the heroically patriotic
‘salt of the earth’ citizens of Gush Katif, religious
idealistic youth, settlers and all those whose love of
Zion remains strong.

Perhaps you’re thinking it was foolish of us to go to
Chomesh.

I’m thinking that if the Jewish People - and our loyal
supporters - doesn’t awaken to fight the enemy, first
within and then without, by every means possible -
repentance, prayer, acts of lovingkindness, education
and all manner of heroic acts – we will all be feeling
worse than idiotic.

Perhaps we didn’t expect that the government of Israel
would evolve into the vilest anti-Semites. Perhaps we
just didn’t believe that they would open the gates to
our worst enemies. But it has come to pass.

Will Jews again stand silent and afraid as this time
around it is Israel’s leadership enabling Muslim
terrorism to continue Hitler’s objective?

Some of us would rather look foolish.

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