Not Me

Most Israelis live on overdrafts. Their bank accounts are permanently in the red, and the banks encourage it, because that way they can charge very hefty interest. If you're wondering how the refugees are "managing", that's the story.

Batya Medad,

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Could I easily document that my family has lived here in Shiloh for over twenty-four years? Not me!

If, G-d forbid, I had to pack up my most precious possessions what would I pack? Wow! That's a tough one. I've been married thirty-five years; I'm a wife, mother and grandmother. I have a house with four bedrooms, a den and an over-stuffed attic and basement.

We have photographs, negatives and pictures the children drew before they could write their names. We have more than enough clothes, and the kids, even though out of the house, have plenty of clothes and books stored here. The kitchen is fully supplied with all of the dishes, pots and appliances a kosher kitchen needs in quadruple quantities, and don't forget the pareve things for both chametz and Pesach.

There are more than enough books and files here to open a reading and reference library, with a well-equipped section for EFL (English as a foreign language) teaching. And did I describe all of the framed pictures, drawings, embroidery and needlepoint on the walls? And we also have a TV, VCR and DVD, small, simple models, plus what to watch - a closet full of tapes and discs.

We're just like families all over the world and just like the good people thrown out of their homes in the name of Disengagement, who are now poverty-stricken, unemployed and homeless. The Disengagement Authority is now demanding that the victims bring in school report cards and other proof that they had really lived in Gush Katif and northern Samaria.

I didn't keep my kids' report cards, and I didn't keep their baby teeth. And if I had to gather my most precious possessions, those would not be on the list.

The Israeli government is getting more sadistic by the moment, and the Israeli public is disengaged, ignoring the "displaced" people, good Jews, loyal citizens, who were thrown out of their homes.

Most Israelis live on overdrafts. Their bank accounts are permanently in the red, and the banks encourage it, because that way they can charge very hefty interest. If you're wondering how the refugees are "managing", that's the story.

The big problem is that someday, the Disengagement victims are going to have to fill that hole. One of the things making it deeper is that they are being charged for their hotel rooms and caravillas. Since they want to be together and have lost track of their financial situation, these once-independent - and some were very successful businesspeople - families are now too paralyzed by depression to take initiative and risks, and move to less expensive places.

Since the government has added to the requirements of proof, nobody knows how much money is coming, whenever it comes. All the time, ticking away, eating up at the potential compensation, are those "temporary" costs. I have this awful feeling that when the final calculations are done, these poor people will owe the government money.

It reminds me of the "company towns", which were owned by large companies for their workers. Everything from the housing to the grocer was owned by the company, which controlled salaries and prices, calculated so that nobody could ever save enough money to leave. Frequently, at the end of the month, the workers would discover that they owed money to the company, enslaving them further.

It's frightening how quickly the once-confident and independent residents of Gush Katif and northern Samaria have deteriorated into depressed refugees. Their former leaders have lost direction and aren't taking them out of their ruts, since they too are in the same condition.

I have no doubt that all the proof of residence is easy to find in government files. As a salaried worker, I know that I've had to file "proof of residence" periodically with income tax forms. Also, the Interior Ministry computerized years ago, and birth certificates include residence of parents. The healthcare funds are also computerized and should be able to say since when a member has been using a specific clinic. Most people keep the same bank accounts from a young age, and these too will provide proof of address.

So, if I am, G-d forbid, forced to pack - and I will hope, pray and write all I can so the day never comes - I'm not going to look for old report cards. We moved to Shiloh over a two-day period, August 31 and September 1, 1981, and I'd like to see the government try to prove differently.

From my home in Shiloh.

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