No place like home

When I was growing up, at some point my parents were able to buy a house. We had a yard, a driveway, enough bedrooms, and even an attic where we could hide in the dark and tell ghost stories. When I had to sell my childhood home, it hurt. But no one took it from me, my own government did not give in to the order to have my home destroyed — knowing it would benefit no one.

Tonight I had the (honor? merit? certainly not pleasure) to be part of a gathering of thousands (I don’t have exact numbers, that is what it looked like) of people from all over Israel who came to show support for 15 families who will be thrown out of their homes tomorrow morning, homes which will then be destroyed a few days later.

If you have not heard of this and are still among those saying “What? Why?”, you can read Broken Promises and the posts attached to that, or Josh Hasten, or others. The current reality is that we fought and we won some concessions such as the destruction being postponed three months, as well as the families being given a place to go with (for the first time that I know of when homes are destroyed — Amona, Ofra) alternative living areas (caravans) being prepared in advance, instead of the families being moved indefinitely into a youth hostel with families of eight in one small room. But in the end, we have accepted that our Jewish Supreme Court would rather destroy a whole house over one meter of possibly disputed land than allow “settlers” to live in peace. The Court considers this justice, although in their skewed scales this somehow outweighs any need to see the homes of murdering terrorists destroyed, because why should their families suffer.

At tonight’s event, more a gathering than a protest, these things were mentioned, but the focus was more on the positive, on the talk of rebuilding, as Caroline Glick spoke of using our pain and anger and strengthening ourselves to continue fighting to be able to live in our own country. There were speeches and singing, and the feeling was one of love and support as the families wanted. They plan to leave quietly tomorrow (in only a few short hours), so as to minimize to the extent possible the emotional damage their children have already been through. When I mentioned to my sister in the US that I was at a protest, she told me to be careful. I answered that this protest, unlike others that have been going on for months, was ACTUALLY peaceful. She said well, of course. Of course because it is us, the nation that goes above and beyond what any other country would do to protect the people who are trying to break down our borders and “eat our hearts.” We know that they have been brainwashed and incited to kill themselves if it means murdering the ‘enemy’, to use themselves as shields, to pretend their children were victims of the tear gas used everywhere as a humane way to disperse rioters (and let’s not ask WHY there was a baby at the riots), to pretend their nurses are not also throwing grenades or firebombs at us.

These events are tied up in my mind because I could not help but think the same as Rav Drachtman mentioned tonight, that this past week’s parsha about the spies we sent in was a story of how we rejected the land that Hashem promised, and in return we were rejected. Rav Drachtman said that Bagatz, our Supreme Court, stands for Beit Din Tzedek (Judgement in Righteousness), but they are not doing right by our people.

The sign on this house slated for destruction says “Judge Righteously”

Peace Never is again to be laughed at, as more Arab farmland was cleared to make way for the destruction — land that does seem to have a claim (unlike the ‘disputed meters’ over which the 15 homes are going to be destroyed). And Pieces for Everyone but Us seems to care more about anyone and everyone other than (technically, although I would like to dispute this relationship) their own people. And while I do actually care that there are people suffering not far from here in Gaza, I am not going to say Kaddish for the would-be murderers of my people.

Of course, the main point that ties these together is our giving up land for supposed peace, so let’s take a look at how well that worked in Gaza. They wanted us out, we got out. Their leadership took over, as the world wanted. But then the leaders did and are doing their best to keep the people ground down, and then tell them that this is Israel’s fault. Don’t tell me to go fly a kite, I’m serious. I do not accept the world’s claim/blame that we are responsible. Although you can read this for a proposed solution that might mean our young men and women in green could come home and not have to say “Mom, I caught a kite today,” and hear their mothers gasp.

Israel drops leaflets telling the misguided protesters to back away, Israel sends people to disaster sights around the world  [Zaka search and Rescue teams are in Guatemala right now ], Israel works on cures and high tech upgrades that will improve the quality of life for everyone. But we are called “settlers,” instead of being recognized as the returning indigenous population, and we are told that Palestine is the name of the country that was here before us, (see this about the Arab “Map of Palestine”) and doesn’t belong to Jews, despite the fact that in 1948, The Palestine Post was a Jewish newspaper.

And still, we keep going. One of the reasons I went to Netiv Ha’avot tonight was to see my co-teacher, Shlomit, who is the owner of one of the 15 homes. Although they have accepted the inevitable and are doing their best to keep up a brave front, the pain in her eyes as she rocked her infant in the stroller was obvious, even as she offered me a drink. The families are finding places for all the youth who are crowding the hill top (even that word has become associated with illegal activities, disgusting) to sleep tonight.

The sign on Shlomit’s house reads “Don’t use harsh sentencing”

In Shlomit’s yard, children were playing ball, like it is a normal June evening. But it is cold for June, and rain is predicted for tomorrow, something that does not happen here. It makes me think of Shema, and “rain in its proper time”. Maybe we do not deserve those blessings now, if we can let one Jew destroy another’s home. Because I can understand the people of Gaza, where all the money being sent from the world is diverted (perverted) for terrorist activities, weapons and terror tunnels, where humanitarian kites to cheer up the children are being loaded with firebombs and used to destroy acres of Israeli forest preserves and farmland. I understand how they can be blinded and misled until they think we, who provide water and electricity, are the “bad guys,” rather than their own leaders who send rockets to Israel which blow up those pipelines, their lifelines. The people of Gaza, the Arab population who now call themselves Palestinian, don’t really have a chance when they are led by monsters who only want to see a body count, ours or their own people, it doesn’t matter to Hamas. And still I understand these people.

It is my own people who astonish me in their willingness to blind themselves to their own people, to look for ways (as Arab leadership seems to) to hurt us in the name of “what’s right,” at least in their minds. But they won’t win, in the end. It is my tikvah, my hope, that as Rav Drachtman said, we will build and rebuild.

One of the songs sung tonight was “Al Kol Eleh,” “On All These Things.” The words ask God to Please grant Your protection over all this, all the little that I have. To watch over the honey and the thorn, the bitter and the sweet…over the man who returns home from distant places. It reminds us that life has both struggle and joy, sweetness and sorrow. It asks Do not uproot that which has been planted, but then follows with Do not forget the great hope; Bring me back and I will return to the good Land. Grant your protection, O Lord, over this house, this wall, this garden. Protect us from grief, from fear, from war. I don’t have to explain how appropriate this song is for this situation, for the families who will lose their homes in the morning.

Tomorrow (already today, now) is June 12th. It is the English date on which, four years ago, our country lost three boys who pulled us together as a nation. It is the saddest date on which we have to see our own leadership let us be pulled apart by not protecting our own citizens from losing their houses, their homes.

David Denheijer, whose house will be destroyed over one disputed meter, can see the construction in my town from his front door.

One meter for no one
construction across from destruction

David reminded us tonight that they are moving, but they will be back. I hope to see construction across the hillside as soon as possible. I hope many will be there to welcome the families back to their homes.

Kol shenivakesh, Lu yehi

About the Author
Mori Sokal is an ELEVEN year veteran of Aliyah, mother of three wonderful children (with her wonderful husband) and is an English teacher in both elementary and high school in the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem area. She has a Masters’ degree in teaching, and has published articles in Building Blocks, the Jewish Press magazine.
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