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Op-Ed: 'Among the Herdsmen of Tekoa'

Jewish settlement in this area has a long history.
Published: Friday, June 08, 2007 1:19 AM


As the early morning sun begins its assent in the southeast, the Great Rift that forms the Jordan Valley and then the Arava, and continues on deep into Africa, appears in the distance. Soon thereafter, the beckoning azure of the Dead Sea waters comes into view. And on a clear night, looking northward, the enchanting glow of the lights of Jerusalem provides inspiration.
The Book of Amos records the prophet as "among the herdsman of Tekoa."

It is Friday, late afternoon, and preparations for the Shabbat are in high gear, although the young girls, busy helping their Moms, are far more involved than their male counterparts. It's not that the boys aren't busy, they are, but their involvement is with a game of soccer in the small square in front of the convenience store. They are an eclectic collection of native-born Israelis, some with kippot and some without, Yemenite boys with payot, Chabad boys with tzitzit flying, and a blond-haired Russian boy, clearly the strongest player on that day. They all live in Tekoa.

Tekoa is a community of attractive, but modest, and mostly well maintained homes connected by quaint tree-lined shady paths, with a truly beautiful central synagogue, a Sefaradi synagogue and a Chabad synagogue, a mikvah and a swimming pool, horses, goats, and a myriad of other farm animals. It is a wonderful place to grow up. In fact, for the majority of our soccer players, and for at least several of their parents, it's the only home they have ever known.

Approximately 300 families, religious and non-religious, native Israeli, American, Russian and families of various other points of origin, live in Tekoa. Founded in 1977, Tekoa is located just 12 miles southeast of Jerusalem.

Recent news concerning the government-proposed route for the "separation fence" was discouraging. Tekoa was to be on the outside, even though many here consider it to be part of the Gush Etzion bloc, which is to be included within the fence. The potential impact of this decision was ominous. It meant that if the government followed through with its stated intention, then the community would be slated for destruction. Jews would again be expelled, and their homes, their synagogues, their livelihoods would all be lost. The well-being of their families would be shattered.

Perhaps the greatest irony is that Jewish settlement in this area has a history dating back several thousand years. Jewish towns and villages have been here, on and off, since the Jewish prophet Amos first walked these hills. The opening verse of the Book of Amos records the prophet as "among the herdsman of Tekoa." In recent times, Jewish families have been living here and thriving here for almost 30 years. What could justify committing so evil an act as is contemplated against these precious Jewish families?

It is well near impossible to comprehend the motivations of the current Israeli leadership. With its documented incompetence, pervasive corruption, shameless greed, and individual lust for power and position, it is also well near impossible to have confidence in any of their distorted decisions. They behave like a punch-drunk pugilist, flailing wildly in every direction, but not in control even of themselves.

Have they concluded that it is time again for the world to see more Jewish refugees in the land of Israel, on the road, homeless, and pathetically carrying their worldly belongings, as they so effectively managed to accomplish just two years ago? Have they so little confidence in the ability of the Israel Defense Forces that they believe it incapable of defending Jewish communities in the land of Israel? Will they again endeavor to deceive with euphemisms like Convergence, Road Map, Disengagement, or their old standby, the Peace Process, in order to soften the reality of their dastardly acts? "Expelling Jewish
What could justify committing so evil an act as is contemplated against these precious Jewish families?
families" is not quite the way they would want it presented in politically correct Western society.

With their much vaunted Oslo Accords an acknowledged disaster, with their hysterical midnight run from Lebanon resulting in the saturation bombing of northern Israel, and with their expulsion of the Jewish communities of Gush Katif resulting in the current daily bombing of southern Israel, and the national shame it wrought, there's little sympathy for surrendering more land to the Arabs, at least for now. But a punch-drunk pugilist can be dangerous and these people need to be removed from office before they do more irrevocable damage. Why the people of Israel allow this government to continue is unfathomable.

The panoramas described above, each magnificent in its own right, are secondary to Tekoa's most imposing view, that of Herodian. The massive flat-topped mountain built by Herod the Great stands on a rock solid foundation and has endured the storms of time. The people of Tekoa also stand on a rock solid foundation. Their foundation is their faith in the land of Israel and in the ultimate destiny of the nation of Israel.