The wound grows larger, wider, deeper. The Israeli government has now demanded that each expelled family pay 150 shekels per day for living in a hotel room. Considering that we have no income, nor any home to return to, it is quite a chunk of money to be deducted from our compensation package. Indeed, absolutely no money has been paid to the vast majority of expellees. We are dependent on the kindness of donors even for pocket money.
Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dkalim/NitzanBefore her community´s expulsion from Gush Katif, Rachel Saperstein was a teacher at the N´vei Dekalim ulpana and a spokeswoman for the Katif Regional Council.
"Ah," says the government, "but 900 families have received keys to caravillas (caravans made to look like villas). You just don't want to leave the hotel. That's why we're fining you."
"But we do want to leave," we reply. "We want our own homes. Our own kitchen table. Where are the caravillas?"
"They aren't built yet. We're working on them."
"So, even the few of us who have received keys have no doors in which to put them."
"True, but we're telling the media you just want to enjoy the hotels."
"Where is the money you promised us so we can maintain our dignity until the final compensation is worked out?"
"We gave you half a million dollars when you were forcibly removed from Gush Katif."
"But we never received any money."
"Doesn't matter. We are telling the media you are choking on all the money we've given you. We have the best public relations firms working for us and collaborators throughout the press. And today, people believe what we say. Our message is repeated over and over in all the media. Whom do you think the world believes, the government of Israel or... the settlers?"
"Why are you doing this to us? No homes, no money, no jobs, and dependent on the charity of others. And even forced to continue paying mortgages on the homes you destroyed."
"Because if we succeed in convincing the world that we are the good guys and you are the liars, then we've set the stage for the next expulsion. The settlers of Judea and Samaria understand this very well. They won't give us any trouble when they get their eviction notices. They're watching how we squeeze you and make you suffer. They won't want to be in your shoes. They'll sell out quickly enough. You are the example."
"We may be the example of people you have expelled, but we have retained our self-respect despite your best efforts."
"But we are working overtime at breaking you, depriving you of your dignity. We signed an agreement to give the people of Kfar Darom an apartment building in Ashkelon so they could stay together. But we reneged."
"We can do with you as we wish. We can make you disappear. We have the power to do so. You witnessed our power first hand. Anyway, elections are on the horizon and Gush Katif must be forgotten ? and soon. That's why we torment and humiliate you. So you'll give up and just go away."
"We will not go away. We are a community and will remain a community. We are a symbol to the world. Our strength lies in our belief in our country, our people, our Torah. Through us, Eretz Yisrael will remain strong despite your efforts to weaken it. The love of the people that we inspire will overcome your power. The gaping wound that you have created in Israel's society will heal only through our strength and belief. We will be the healers and we will not be forgotten, and you will not be forgiven."
"Operation Band-Aid" means immediate help to the people of Gush Katif. A discrete envelope with 500 shekels is given to each family to use as they wish. Tax-deductible contributions can be made to:
Central Fund for Israel
13 Hagoel St.
Attention: Jay Marcus
Earmarked for: Operation Band-Aid