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June 13, 2003 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-06-13

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Waiting Game

Jewish settlers prepare for the bulldozers.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Tel Aviv
This is the real war," said Itai Zar,
the founder and spiritual leader of
Gilad's Farm, a settlement outpost just
over the hill from Nablus in the West
It was 4 a.m. on June 10. An orange
half moon had dropped behind the Tel
Aviv skyline to the west and a dense
fog blanketed the hill.
The flesh on Zar's cherubic face
sagged; It was partly from defeat —
10 outposts had been dismantled by
Israeli soldiers on June 8, and five
more were slated to be torn down —
and partly from a keen sense of betray-
al that weighed on the young leader.
Referring to Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon's decision to begin the immedi-
ate evacuation of 94 settlement out-
posts, most of them unpopulated, Zar
pledged that settlers would pour all
their resources into preventing "this
betrayal of the land."
"Unfortunately," one of Zar's
cohorts said, Sharon "is more afraid of
President Bush than of God Almighty,
and that is a problem."
The man was speaking in the
cramped tent that serves as the Zar
family home. Outside, dozens of
young men, some swaddled in Jewish
prayer shawls against the cold, waited.
They pulled out their guitars, sleeping
bags and prayer books and prepared to
"guard the community."
Gilad's Farm, named after Zar's
brother Gilad, who was shot dead by
Palestinian terrorists in an ambush not
far from the outpost two years ago, is
the center of the settlers' feverish cam-
paign to thwart the evacuation,
planned for this week, of four populat-
ed outposts and one abandoned one.
Some zealous youths hitchhiked to
the outpost's lonely hilltop. Others
drove dented sedans plastered with
bumper stickers reading "No Arabs,
no terror" into the encampment,
which was eerily lit by floodlights and
campfires obscured by fog.
On June 10, Israeli Supreme Court
justices met to deliberate on the dem-
olition of Gilad's Farm. The petition
presented to the court includes docu-
jN ments attempting to prove that mem-



hers of the Zar family legally own the
land and live there under official
authorization. In response, the state
claimed that the family does not own
the land.

Ready For Battle

Across the northern West Bank, hun-
dreds of settlers converged on outposts
to block the army from demolishing
them. The evacuation effort, dubbed
Operation Naked Hilltop, could last
for days. The evacuations were hailed
by Washington, which has demanded
that Israel demolish the outposts
under the road map peace plan.
But Palestinian officials greeted the
step with derision. "This is a theatrical
and insignificant step," said Nabil Abu
Rudeineh, a top aide to Palestinian
Authority President Yasser Arafat.
Gilad's Farm — a clump of a half-
dozen semi-permanent structures
planted on the bald hilltop — had a
carnival feel in the early hours of June
10. An unsuspecting bystander might
have mistaken it for a hippie youth
Wide-eyed youth, some barely in
their teens, stalked the camp, glowing

with excitement. The more veteran
activists sat up late into the night
under a blanket of stars, singing songs
by the campfires. Some boys used the
lid of an old paint bucket as a Frisbee.
The army has evacuated Gilad's Farm
four times in recent years, but each time
the settlers have rebuilt it. The most
recent demolition was last October,
when the evacuation sparked violent
clashes between settlers and soldiers.
Some of the youth, veterans of pre-
vious "campaigns," remained sullen
and vigilant as the night wore on and
news trickled in on walkie-talkies of
the dismantling of a water tower here,
a metal shipping container there.
Inside Zar's tent, the mood was
grave. His comrades gathered under the
canvas, sitting on makeshift couches fit-
ted with Arabic-style cushions. Some
cradled babies swaddled in blankets.
They discussed their own unique
brand of politics, a cocktail of religious
messianism and the hard-nosed practi-
cality of political activists. Red lines,
bridges and all matter of rhetorical
boundaries have been crossed, the
activists said. It now is time to take
the battle to Sharon, for years the -
patron of the settlement movement.

Women's Connection

Partnership 2000 program brings
Israeli women to state.



hey met as strangers, toured together and became
family after one week.
The eight Israeli women from the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit's Partnership
2000 region in the Central Galilee toured Detroit, Ann Arbor
and Grand Rapids June 3-10 with eight women from the
Federation Women's Exchange. The partnership program is a
cultural, economic and educational exchange.
Touring different agencies, from a shelter for battered
women to teen centers and day schools, the mothers found
they have the same problems whether they live in Israel or the
United States, said Nancy Glass of West Bloomfield, -who co-
chaired the event with Lori Davidson of Royal Oak.
"We are seeking ways we can help each other as women and
ways that we can help each other in leadership and opportuni-
ties to develop programming," she said.

Some joked about sending bulldoz-
ers to Sharon's ranch in the Negev, to
"see how he feels when someone tries
to rip apart his home."
The anger toward Sharon is palpa-
ble. Settlers have passed from shock —
over Sharon's recent comments about
Israel's "occupation" of the Palestinians
— to indignation over his moves to
dismantle outposts. Sharon, they feel,
is blind to the Palestinians' true inten-
tions — the destruction of the State of
Israel, the outpost youth say.
"We are the ones that will die from
his blindness," one woman said. "How
can we make peace with those that are
sworn to our destruction?"

Protecting Israel

The activists pay little heed to the
views of the majority of Israelis, who
see the illegal encampments as a pri-
mary obstacle to peace and security,
according to some recent polls.
"Security, security," Zar said as he
rose from the couch slowly, angry but
tired, and walked over to an aerial
map of the region.
His finger lightly brushing the
green- and brown-shaded photograph,
he traced his way from Nablus to a
Palestinian village called Farta'a. An
Israeli army officer "told us that our
presence here has blocked the route of
terrorists to Israel," Zar said. "So how
can people say we are detrimental to
Zar and his family had left most of

The group is seeking ways to have more connections with
the Jewish community, "to strengthen bonds with each other,"
said Nili Shefer of Moshav Bet She'arim. "We believe that real
involvement — not just sending money — is a way to make
an effective relationship between the groups."
Funded by Federation's Gesher L'Kesher (Building Bridges)
committee, this is the second exchange since 1998, Glass said.
Eight women from the program will tour Israel in the fall. CI

Israelis Nili Shefer of Moshav Bet She'arim and Michal Mishor of
Nazareth Mit share stories with Nancy Glass of West Bloomfield.

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