Elchanan Poupko

My family Built Metula, Netanyahu Destroyed It

A picture taken during a media tour organized by the Alma Research and Education Centre shows a dog walking past a destroyed car in the deserted northern Israeli town of Metula, near the border with Lebanon, on March 19, 2024. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

One day, I will have a conversation with my daughter about a beautiful city in northern Israel that her family helped build, and then I will share with her the sad story of how it was destroyed. The city of Metula was established in 1886 by devoted farmers who wanted to farm the land of Israel. My family, the Lishansky family, arrived in Israel in 1891, with some of its members moving to the city of Metula. As a child, I remember visiting my cousin, the mayor of Metula Yossi Goldberg, going ice skating in the Canada Center Ice Hockey rink, and visiting my cousin’s hotel, the historical Lishansky house. Thanks to the leadership of Netanyahu and his antizionist government, my children will not be able to visit that same city. 

Since October 7th, residents of Metula have been evacuated for the first time since 1920. Right over the fence in Lebanon, as UNIFIL international soldiers stand by, Hezbullah terrorists shoot one empty home after the other with RPGs and anti-tank missiles. The smell of apple groves and beautiful trees has now been substituted with the smell of smoke and war. 

Every business in the city has been closed down with no forecast of when or if they will be able to return, the schools are empty, synagogues are amassing dusk, and any plans for the future are not known to anyone. 

While some would call the builders of this town “zionists”, the truth is many of them predated the first Zionist congress in Basel. Like my family, many came out of a deep love for the land of Israel. Making sure the land and soil bloomed and produced were their top priority. They worked the land, planted vineyards, and built houses with their own hands. Like my great grandfather Yisrael Lishansky who served as a veterinarian in the early farming town of Petach Tikva, the highest priority of those who came was the idal of “Yishuv Eretz Yisrael”, one of the most important values in Jewish tradition. 

While observing the Sabbath is one of the highest values in Judaism, the rabbis made several leniencies when it comes to the mitzvah of “Yishuv Eretz Yisrael”, making the land of Israel inhabitable. Whether it has to do with planting trees, building homes, or buying lands, 1900 years ago, the rabbis of the Mishna and the Talmud went out of their way to encourage the beautification and construction of the land of Israel. This was the strongest driving force behind those who built the town of Metula. 

A plaque in the cemetary in the northern city of Yavne’el where Chaya Lishnasky (later Sachin) and her daughter Atarah Abramowitz lived and were buried detailing the family history. (copyright free. taken by author)

And build they did. 

Despite being Israel’s most northern city, bordering Lebanon, Metula thrived and grew. Most famous for its high-quality fruit, farming, and Canada Center sports complex, the city symbolized tranquility and joy. 

Yet, like its neighboring city of Kiryat Shmona and many cities in Israel’s north, Metula has been evacuated since October. For the first time in its history, under the Netanyahu-Ben Gvir coalition, Israel’s north is decimated and desolate. Are there major security challenges that have led the Netanyahu government to make these decisions? Sure. But a dozen other governments, including the British mandate, were able to handle Metula’s peace and safety better. 

The very fact that an entire region in Israel is evacuated and its residents are made into refugees overnight, is not the result of a single security threat, it is the result of over a decade, Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon were allowed to become a powerful force, evan more lethal than some organized armies. Like Hamas in Gaza, this was a threat Netanyahu was well aware of. In his fourteen years as Israeli president, Netanyahu should have done more to prevent that. He didn’t. 


A day will come when Netanyahu and his failed antizionist coalition will no longer rule Israel. That day will come. When that day comes, and Israel does everything it needs to do to secure its borders, my extended family, myself, and friends of Israel from all over Israel and the world must do everything to rebuild Metula. We must promise the continuity of a century and a half of a labor of love and help those rebuilding the city of Metula and Israel’s north. I dream of a day when zionists around the world will help rehabilitate this most beautiful region of Israel, the cradle of hands-on Zionism, and once again fulfill the promise of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, making this beautiful region shine again. 

Monument honoring Metula Meyor Yossi Goldberg (taken by author, copyright free)
About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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