Daniella Weiss, one of the most veteran leaders and pioneers of the Judea, Samaria and Gaza settlement enterprise, and the mayor of Kedumim for 11 years until stepping down this year, visited on Monday several of the new settlement outpost sites being built this Chanukah. Standing outside Mevaseret Adumim, between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, she spoke with Yishai Fleisher on IsraelNationalRadio. Excerpts:
"...Yes, Chanukah is very special for me [as this was the time of year 32 years ago when we started, against all odds, the first Jewish town in the Shomron - Kedumim]. When I saw the leftists demonstrating yesterday outside this new outpost here in Mevaseret Adumim, the area that is called E-1 [where the government approved the construction of 4,000 units which have now been held up under American pressure], it reminded me of what happened 32 years ago.
"In 1975, when we came to the Shomron, a leftist group headed by Ran Cohen [now a Knesset Member from the far-left Meretz Party] came to protest, and they stood there opposite the place that later became the Jewish town of Elon Moreh. It was a cold December night, and we came out to them and brought them coffee, and we said let's see who will remain here longer, you or us - and they didn't even remain that night! Yet we've been here 32 years, with more than 200 communities and towns and farms and even cities that have been built since then...
"So now when I hear people ask if we will succeed with these new outposts, and how long they will last. I tell them that we were removed seven times before we were able to start Kedumim, and only on the 8th time did we succeed. So don't worry; we just have to invest more and more energy and time and strength and dedication so that it will become a beautiful community."
Asked if it is not true that her faith, and the fact that she has in fact succeeded, gives her the strength and confidence to continue, Daniella said, "Certainly, but not only that - it is also all the youth that I see here. We sometimes hear complaints that the adults are barely involved in these efforts - but I say that the very presence of the youth is our future! Not only that, but when they work for days to build something and then the army knocks it down or takes it away, I never hear these youngsters complain or lament; they just say right away, 'This was a mitzvah [a Torah commandment or good deed], something important that we did for the Land of Israel, and now let's start again!' This shows me that we are climbing up not only physically, but also spiritually, and it gives me strength as well."
Daniella Weiss listed nine locations that are currently being built:
"First of all, there is Homesh, which was destroyed in Arik Sharon's Disengagement plan, but where it's already been five months that it's been on the way to being rebuilt; the police and army keep coming to try to destroy it, but we keep going back there, and there is a small yeshiva there, and people come every day, and it's just glorious. In addition, there is Harchivi just outside Elon Moreh, which was started before Sukkot, and Shvut Ami between Kedumim and Karnei Shomron, which is about two months old. Then there is Nofei Hashmonaim, where the youths come time and again, even though the army takes them down, and Maoz Esther near Kokhav HaShachar, and Givat Halhoul near Karmei Tzur, and Eitam near Efrat. There is also this spot where I am standing, Mevaseret Adumim between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, which blocks Arab expansion in this area, and Givat HaOr where I just came from outside Beit El. Givat HaOr is a very important location, with several buildings already standing that were probably built during the Jordanian occupation; these buildings, ironically, cannot be destroyed by the army, because they are Jordanian.... I say this in a bittersweet manner, as if the army is waiting for the Jordanians to return so they can take back these buildings; let's pray to G-d that this never happens. But there's room there for 15-20 families, and lots of room for more houses to be built."
Thus, in the spirit of Chanukah, during which we increase our light and strength as we increase the number of candles we light each night, Daniella Weiss and others lead the way to an increased Jewish presence in and connection to the Land of Israel.