Don't You Get It?

I have one of my "dumb questions". If the government is willing to throw out $100,000 per family for temporary housing, why can't they just give each family the money, their officially calculated compensation and some government land, and allow the people to build their own communities? Yes, it's capitalism, rather than paternalist socialism.

Batya Medad,

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
Over and over, I keep reading and hearing on the news that the government's Disengagement Authority made arrangements to separate the Disengagement victims and designed all sorts of "temporary" solutions, necessitating multiple moves and further dislocations, even though the experts and the victims themselves all agree that they want to preserve their communities and social, educational and religious ties. It's a known fact that the best chance for a healthy recovery and adjustment is to facilitate the continuity of the refugees' communal lives.

But don't you get it? The government made its plans to divide, separate and disorient the victims because it was the opposite of what is best for the refugees. Their overall aim is - not was, but is - to demoralize and destroy the national religious section of the population.

Add to that the cost of all these temporary "solutions", especially the "caravilla" town of Nitzan. It costs the government $100,000 per family for this temporary shantytown for refugees. When the two to three years are up, most of these poor people will be so totally bankrupt - after continuing to pay their old mortgages and loans, paying the government rent and being unemployed - that they won't be able to afford to buy new homes.

Nitzan will end up being the "mother of all Israeli slums", outdoing the asbestonim erected for the North African immigrants who made aliyah in the early days of the state. As horrid as those asbestos shacks sound, they were a lot sturdier and more weatherproof than the prefab huts, euphemistically called "caravillas", which are made of "reinforced" cardboard.

Now, I have one of my "dumb questions". If the government is willing to throw out $100,000 per family for temporary housing, why can't they just give each family the money, their officially calculated compensation and some government land, and allow the people to build their own communities? Yes, it's capitalism, rather than paternalist socialism. It would certainly save a lot of money all around. And the most important factor is that it would give the victims power, control over their lives again. It is the best way for them to recover from the horrendous traumas of recent months. It would also help preserve family structure by showing the children that their parents aren't pathetic failures, which will, G-d forbid, be one of the secondary negative effects of Disengagement if things don't change soon.

The one shining light has been the community of Atzmonah, which has established a kibbutz-like refugee town in a failed industrial zone way in the south, called Ir Ha'Emunah, the City of Faith. Despite the obvious difficulties, such as two washing machines for dozens of families, the residents radiate purpose and faith. They wish to stay there together while building their new homes. They are already a community. The only problem is that the government doesn't approve, and wants them to leave and live in scattered apartments all over the country, which had been rented for the refugees.

Last night, there was an investigative feature on TV showing how the Disengagement victims are coping. I was really impressed by what's going on in Ir Ha'Emunah. It certainly fleshed out my friend's description. One should never forget the emotional and spiritual strength and fortitude of the people of Gush Katif. They had lived for the past few years with rocket bombardments and terrorism that was more like a horror movie than the idyllic picture they paint of their former homes. These are people of great strength, and they function best when they can make their own decisions. The government, the Disengagement Authority, has been doing its best to destroy them by vetoing all of their suggestions and redistributing the population.

Redistributing means that the communities have been, on the whole, divided and then patched up with others, primarily in Nitzan. Nitzan has the added burden of almost total unemployment. Even the enthusiastic residents, anxious for their moment of fame on national TV, contradicted their words of praise with reports of no jobs and no prospects. And it was clear that many of them were unrealistically optimistic that the schools their children finally began, just that morning, weeks late, would be the end of their educational problems.

There was a very disturbing scene from the Noam Girls School in Jerusalem, when some of the children became totally hysterical while being interviewed, accusing the media of trying to make the unspeakable horror of Disengagement seem benign and normal. Then the principal spoke, apologizing for miscalculating the pain and trauma his refugee students are still undergoing. He had assumed that the well-behaved girls were well adjusted to the move, and therefore had approved the media's interviewing them.

The vast majority of the Disengagement victims are still in turmoil, without any permanent home in site. One of the basic things taught in first aid courses is that when treating cuts, one should quickly put pressure on it, to hold the skin together, so it will begin to heal. The longer the cut is open, the larger the gap between the pieces of skin, the more difficult the healing and the thicker and larger the scar. The more the government, the Disengagement Authority, prevents the victims from finding the solutions best for themselves, the more damage and scarring - not only to the victims, but to our entire country.

Refuah shleimah - a complete healing - Gmar Chatima Tovah. May G-d forgive us and accept our prayers.




top