Tuesday, August 23, 2005

On The Surface

As you drive into Nitzanim you notice nice cute houses. The houses are yellow with red roofs. As you reach the beautiful green traffic circle with pretty flowers planted you can follow the signs to the area office. In the office you can get a nice map of the area with each house plotted out. You can drive through the neighborhood and see b'nei akiva madrichim in their laced up shirts running activites for young kids. You will see people carrying boxes into their little cute houses. You will be greeted by smiles, and people asking you if you need any help. If you walk into the houses, you will be greeted with a smile. They will ask you where you are from. They will be terribly insulted if you don't sit for a minute and eat or drink something. If you left right then you'd leave feeling that everything is going great. If you stay, and talk to people you'll find a different story. You'll find the story of the 11 year old girl who does not know how to get in touch with her friends, or where they are. You'll find the story of the 15 year old boy who does not know which school to choose, or how to go about choosing one. You'll find the story of the 2 year old girl who cries herself to sleep at night because she wants to home. You'll find the story of the 28 year old father who can't fathom how others can put up flags already. You'll find the 19 year old boy who needed to just get away from this fake life, he borrowed his parents car and went to Kfar Saba. You'll meet the mother of 7 who feels like a prisoner because she can't take her hat off in her own home, because she is now so close to the neighbors. You'll meet the 3 girls who are jump-roping who tell you their home is in Neve Dekalim and they're just here בינתים. You'll hear about all the stuff from a 400 sq meter house that didn't fit into a 90 sq meter caravilla. You'll hear an 18 year old girl who can't describe her house to her friend looking for it, becuase it looks like all the others. You'll have parents cry on your sholders because they don't know what else to do. You'll be able to pass tissues to your new friends who are crying as they watch on TV neighbors being pulled out of their homes, and from their shul. You can go for a walk with a mother of 5 who asks how to explain it all to her kids. You can sit with some of the evacuees who try to come to terms with what happened. You can listen to adults ask about faith, as they had prayed and believed that this would not come to be. You can try and comfort two young siblings who are scared now of new people, because they might try and take away this house from them too. You can talk to a young grandmother who speaks with love of what they built and cries as she tries to come to terms with the facts that she can't go back. You can help paint a young boy's room orange, because he doesn't want to go to sleep and forget. Mostly, if you stayed long enough, you leave with a heavy heart. Because you would know that in this quaint cute yellow/red house community there is so much pain, and while you were able to put on a bandaide to their wound, it was like throwing a stick into running water to start a dam.

Monday, August 22, 2005


I most definitely have not fully recovered from being in Netzanim, and being thrust back (by my own will) into "real life" here in Jerusalem. Emotions are too high to really trust myself to write something understandable, meaningful, and descriptive without going on for hours and pages. At this point, before I collapse into a deep sleep, I just want to say it's nothing like I imagined. I can't wait to go back. I now understand the feelings behind those who leave their homes, families and comforts to work for years in villages in far away countries - just trying to help people.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


As the destruction of Israeli cities and morale gets underway, the question for many of us anti-distruction wonder what can we do. We tried to stop, stall, and block. We tried tefillah and letters. We tried protests, rallies, and marches. What more? Block Kissufim? Sneak into Gush Katif? I hate to admit it, but I think at most it will just push off the eventuality by a day or two. At this point Sharon is not going to change his mind, be overthrown, have his government fall, or quit. So what can I, little me, do now? Do I just cash in my chips, say I marched, sang, cried, laughed, traveled, wore orange, bought orange, spoke to people, and now I'm done. I'm going to live out the rest of the destruction away from it all in Jerusalem, where I can pretend life is normal and soldiers, parents, children, residents, visiting protesters, and police a few km away are each making decisions that will haunt them for the rest of their lives? I have thought about all the different options I have at this point. My decision: I'm going to Nitznim. Nitzanim is the area most of the K'T ers are going to be sent to. I am going with friends to help make the move/transition/expulsion/destruction just a tad bit smoother. We're bringing candies and bubbles for the kids, we're ready to listen to the teens, and help the adults. I'm passing the word around, that I think this is the most constructive place those who truly want to help can be.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Please Try Your Call Later

While in Ofakim I was given a number of someone who can get people into Gush Katif. He said if you want to get in, he can help. Call soon, because before too long even he won't be able to help. My friend called the number today to see about getting in. The voicemail on the cell phone was as follows (in Hebrew):
Dear Special Jew,
Thank you for calling about getting into Gush Katif. Unfortionately at this time I am unable to help you sneak in. Please use other creative methods of entering the area. It may be that after some time I will be able to help you again enter Gush Katif, so please call back.
Thank you.
I thought that was funny.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


See, with a little help from your friends anything is possible. Sure he waited until the last moment, and is worried about his political future. This is his job on the line. This was not an easy decision. I applaud him. See, there is positive peer pressure. This is what the demonstrations have been about. Lets see who else we can take off the wall and put the Sharon plan to rest once and for all.

In my self-debate about whether or not to go to Gush Katif I found this article:
Showdown In Kfar Darom

Saturday, August 06, 2005


After A LOT of sleep I've had time to think about the past week and the anti-disengagement protests. I went down south to Sderot Tuesday with my younger sister (who was not at risk to get trampled on by any riot horses!!!). There was a huge legal rally there where many Parlimentary members, rabbis, and activists spoke. After the rally we boarded on busses and headed to Ofakim where we slept in the JNF Park right outside the town. The next morning was Park Ofakim was transformed. If you didn't know you were part of a protest rally, you'd think you were at a fair. There were different food and drink stands, and cotton candy, Ofakim's bakery had a stand. Communities that had come together put up signs and sectioned off parts of the Park to be their area. (My friends' and I joined Ramat Hagolan.) Kids had to choose from snacks, arts and crafts (put together by the student organazation, Ta Katom ), and bouncy jumpy moonwalks. Adults had their choice of speakers, (both Torah and political orientated), walk around the fair, meet new people, check out the city of Ofakim, or just play cards... My group decided to check out the city of Ofakim. In the city we had the chance to meet the "natives". The pizza lady, Mina, was wearing an orange shirt and was very excited to be getting the business and to hear about the protest. Sami wanted to know where we had come from, and was amazed to meet new olim who knew about and cared about the situation in Gush Katif. Shimon loved that we were buying bubbles. Nonshop owners were also very excited to speak with us. Without going into too many details, and making this as long as the Kfar Maimon post...
After another rally that night, we marched out to the street towards Gush Katif, where my friends and I handed out candies to the soldiers and police blocking our way, we blew bubbles around them, and tried - sometimes successfully - to engage them in conversation. When we got to the point where the security forces would let us go no further, we pulled out our sleeping bags and went to sleep right there on the street. The next morning we woke up, and headed back to our base - Ofakim Park, for another day of fair. We spent more time meeting people, this time other protesters. One of my friends and I grabbed garbage bags and started to help the cleanup process. Around 1 PM we left Ofakim and headed towards Jerusalem. I needed to be back in time to go up north with my family for Shabbat.
As I stated earlier...I had A LOT of sleep... I was supposed to meet my bro and sis-in-law Friday morning at 12:00 at the bus station...I woke up at 5 PM and spent Shabbat in Jerusalem, but more about that later.
Back to my thought...why do we need a protest to go into random cities and just meet people? The protest organizers tried starting a new program to fight "disengagement". It is called פנים אל פנים - Face To Face. Purpose, to meet new people, and fight "disengagement" thoughtout the country, by "engaging" with random people.
My walk back to my apartment includes going through Gan Sacher, a major Jerusalem park. I was stopped by a number of people who wanted to hear "word from the front" how was the rally? why did I come back? Are people staying for Shabbat? How many people are there? Do I think it will help? Etc...
I think people just want to talk. About anything. Every day.
Go out and engage.

Friday, August 05, 2005


I have recently returned from the "shetach" of Ofakim. While I signed online to post something about the past few days I saw online there was a shooting near Chaifa. I followed the story a bit, checked the major Israeli sites, and CNN, BBC, & Yahoo. I am sick from this news. I am too exhausted and filled with too much shock to write anything comprehesive about this shooting.
For those who have not heard, a Jewish soldier went AWOL a few weeks ago. Today he boarded a bus in uniform heading from Chaifa to a an Israeli Arab city. He then opened fire on the bus murdering 4 people. He was beaten to death by a mob that got on the bus before police could arrest him. The Israeli government and Yesha have both condemned the shooting. The two big questions on my mind now are Why? What now?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Southern Front

Today we do it all over again. My sister and I are heading down south to Sderot with a few friends and thousands of future friends to protest the "situation". So far, everything is going according to schedule. The busses have been okay'ed, the rally has been mostly legalized, even the march to Ofakim is a go-ahead.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Little I Know

Today I went with my parents to the Menachem Begin Memorial. Whenever I go to a new place in this country I am surprised by two things. 1. How much I knew. 2. How little I knew. I knew most of the stories that were told, I just did not know who played what role in each story. The funny thing abut Israeli history is how few main characters there are.
There have only been 11 Prime Ministers. They have always been from either Labor or Likud (in the very beginning Labor was called Mapai). Most of them are interconnected. I put together a very brief write-up on them. Some served for 2 terms, but this the "order of their appearance".

David Ben-Gurion - Moved to Israel when he was 20, was expelled - went to the States, and returned when the British took over after WW1. Held office for 2 terms. Before Statehood was the head of the haganah (which became the IDF) He ordered the Irgun's weapon Ship Altalena (which Menachem Begin was on) shot upon.
Moshe Sharett - Was only in office for under two years, sandwhiched by David Ben-Gurion. He ran the Jewish Agency after, until 1960.
Levi Eshkol - Came to Israel when he was 19. Was a member of the Haganah. Prime Minister during the 6 day war. Died of a heart attack in office after 6 years.
Golda Meir - Moved to Israel at 23 from the States, married. She had spent years in the states hosting Palestine speakers. When Israel became a state, she was the first Israeli to receive a passport, she went to the States to raise money. She has some great quotes, including:
"How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to." March 8, 1969.
"This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by God Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy." 15 October 1971.
"We can forgive you for killing our sons. But we will never forgive you for making us kill yours."— to Anwar Sadat just before the peace talks.
"Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us."
"Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no oil!"
"Don't be so humble, you're not that great."
Yitzhak Rabin - Famous for being killed by a Jew while in office, He was the first Prime Minister born on Israeli soil. He was a member of the Haganah (Palmach division). He accepted Ben-Gurion's orders to shoot down the Altalena, after other Haganah members refused. He created the Palestinian Authority, and signed the Oslo Death Treaty.
Menachem Begin - Came to Israel at 30 with the Free Polish Army (who were going to be trained by the British) after spending years in a Russian prison for supporting Zionism. He joined the Irgun and facilitated the bombings of the King David Hotel & Acco Prison. In trying to englarge the IDF, he brought close to 1000 European Jews to Israel on the Altalena with arms, but it was shot down by Yitzchak Rabin on command from David Ben-Gurion. He created the Cherut party, and later joined forces with Ariel Sharon in Likud. He signed the peace treaty with Sadat that got him (Sadat) killed, and gave him back the Sinai. (He offered him the Gaza strip, but the Egyptians did not want it) He also ordered the destruction of the Iraqi Nuclear Plant, and invaded Lebanon creating the buffer zone. Great quote, "The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized .... Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for ever. "
Yitzhak Shamir - Came to Israel when he was 20, and joined the Irgun, and later the Stern Gang. He ordered Operation Solomon (the Ethiopian Exodus), and he had Israel sit in silence during the Gulf War as per America's request. He is still alive today, at 90 y/o. He is very critical of Netanyahu's inaction, and is against the disengagement.
Shimon Peres - Oh, what to say... he came to Israel with his family when he was only 11. When he was 24 he was drafted into the haganah...did not volunteer like the rest. He was a mess of a politician, he tried to gain control of the party with Golda Meir's resignation, only gaining control of the party when Rabin resigned. He has stood in everyone's shadows hoping to be noticed, and has flip flopped on every major issue. He is the author of 10 books.
Benjamin Netanyahu -Was born in Israel, grew up in Pennsylvania, Bibi is the genius no one will ever understand. He is on his 3rd wife... He has degrees from MIT and Harvard. He was meant to be the savior of Israel, and stop playing nice with the murderous Arabs who were perpetration suicide bombings during Peres' flop of a government. Although he did quiet the suicide bombings he went back on his entire platform. He crushed my naviette about politicians, when I thought I found one the people could trust. The people were so distraught by his failures, the governement went back to Labor.
Ehud Barak - Born in Israel on a Kibbutz, he joined politics after a distinguishing military career. He should've stayed where he was. Most of his accomplishments while being Prime Minister for two years are controversial. His failures led to special elections, and Ariel Sharon's rise to power.
Ariel Sharon - Our current Prime Minister. Was also born on Israeli soil. Starting from the age of 14 Ariel was involved in the military. First Gadna (paramilitary) then the Haganah, He fought at Latrun where he was injured. He was asked to create and lead Unit 101 which was formed on David Ben-Gurion's orders to retaliate against Arab attacks. Some say they went overboard and attacked civilians, some say they were ordered to attack civilians... The unit was disbanded. His military career left people wondering if he had any regard for human life. Most of Sharon's history makes us wonder how he has led us to today's predicament, with his ruthless right wing views. To his credit, he has created the strongest govenment Israel has seen yet, and it is only because of this reason that he has not been overthrown.