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November 21, 2003 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-11-21

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Hilltop Revolution


more were also destroyed.
With ongoing terrorist
attacks and the failure of
movement. The matter went
efforts to achieve peace, the
to court and today there are
government ignored some
hundreds of families living in
efforts to rebuild the hilltop
these new neighborhoods
and others in the area.
But renewed demands by
foreign governments —
aided by far-left Israeli
Caravan Approach
groups like Peace Now and
But the question remains:
Gush Shalom — have put
Where and when will Jews
pressure on the Israeli gov-
be allowed to build?
ernment to dismantle hill-
Leapfrogging over these
tops and settlements.
bureaucracies, the "hilltop
The hilltop people are
people" have taken matters into their
among the most inspired people in
own hands, literally. Caravans (a two-
Israel today. They are not rebellious
room, prefab) are moved onto a site,
crazies or "extremists" as portrayed
down a dirt road and that is called
by the media. They are dedicated
Zionists, idealists and deeply reli-
Other caravans arrive and homes are gious.
built nearby; a caravan becomes a syn-
Their roots are a love for Eretz
agogue and in time a building is erect-
Yisrael and the Torah — and a pro-
ed. They are on their way. Almost.
found ideology similar to that of earli-
Under Ehud Barak's reign as prime
er Israeli pioneers. These young people
minister in the late 1990s, a brutal
have revived a spirit of dedication and
eviction of one of these sites, near the
self-sacrifice that characterized an ear-
community of Maon in the southern
lier Zionism and nation building.
Hebron Hills, occurred. The hilltop
They have rejected the affluence,
had been settled by Dov Dribin and
self-indulgence, arrogance and perverse
his family; he was murdered by
hatred of things Jewish that has infect-
Bedouins from the area. In response,
ed Israeli society today.
other families, including young people
They are ready and willing to sacri-
moved there to help. The government
fice their lives to demonstrate that Jews
sent in the army and police and utter-
have a basic fundamental right to live
ly destroyed the place, including a
anywhere in The Land of Israel.
makeshift synagogue.
While many Israelis of their age are
Nearly a year ago, the government
aoinab to Asia and South America, tak-
evicted a hilltop in the Shomron
ing drugs and going to dance parties,
owned by the Zar family charging that the "hilltop people" are building and
they were there without permission
planting. For them, "Hatikva" has real
(although it's difficult to understand
meaning. They have laid claim to their
why building on private land would
homeland and thereby created an addi-
be a problem). And in June, the gov-
tional obstacle to the creation of a ter-
ernment destroyed a hilltop near the
rorist-based Palestinian state They are
Jewish community of Yitzhar as part
the New Israelis. So what's wrong with
of a campaign to remove such sites to
that? II
comply with the road map. Many

fruits of 55 years of building a "nor-
mal" country now versus the desire
to continue the confrontational
struggle indefinitely.
So what lies ahead?
Aluf Benn, the diplomatic corre-
spondent for Hdaretz, says both
sides are tired. "We are adrift in
Israel and there is enormous pres-
sure to move the peace process for-
ward," Benn said last week.
He sees cracks on the Israeli
domestic front after three years of
"unprecedented domestic consensus"
for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
tough talk and tactics, citing the so-

called Geneva Accord private peace
plan and the fact that Sharon's
approval rating was just 34 percent
last week, the lowest since his first
election more than three years ago.
For all of that, Benn predicts that
the Bush administration won't risk
"what's left of its prestige [to push]
the Israelis and the Palestinians"
before the 2004 presidential elec-
tions. Indeed, he doesn't see the two
sides achieving "anything tougher"
than another ceasefire in the
months ahead.
But Dan Kurtzer, the American
ambassador to Israel, is more opti-



t a time when many
Israelis believe that the
"peace process that was
touted a decade ago was a
fraud, a subtle revolution is taking
place: Hundreds of young families
and youths are moving to isolated
hilltops adjacent to established
Jewish communities throughout
Yehuda and Shomron.
Not officially authorized, they are
considered "illegal" by the Israeli
and many foreign governments. Like
hundreds of Arab villages through-
out Israel that are expanding in the
same way, these outposts are built on
uninhabited state-owned land that
has not been designated for use and
is unclaimed. For both sides, it's a
race against time.
Israeli government policy is selec-
tive and inconsistent. It generally
ignores massive building in the Arab
sector, while building in Jewish com-
munities is often stymied. In some
cases, however, government min-
istries with different agendas have
allocated funds for basic infrastruc-
ture and development. And in most
cases the Israeli army provides securi-
Almost a decade ago, for example,
during Rabin's administration,
attempts to build new neighborhoods
in Efrat, in Gush Etzion, were
stopped. Police and army units were
sent to destroy encampments on land
that had been approved for building as
a show of force against the settlement

Moshe Dann, who was born and raised

in Detroit, is a writer and journalist liv-
ing in Jerusalem. His e-mail address is


mistic, at least for public consump-
"We will see in the next few weeks
whether there's any vitality left to
the road map [peace plan]," he told
GA delegates. "But we need more
content in the process [i.e., discus-
sions and proposals] to move for-
Unless and until that happens,
however, Israel will remain a contra-
diction — the world's most danger-
ous place for Jews and the only
place where many people feel safe to
live as Jews in an increasingly hos-
tile world. 1-1

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Jewish News, my
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are very proud to
serve the Jewish
community with

Co-owner Shirlee Bloom

Bloom's Catering

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