A new Jewish town will be established during US President George W. Bush's visit to Israel, in defiance of US governmental pressure to cease building in Judea and Samaria.
The new location, called Shdema, is on the site of a former IDF base located along the road between Jerusalem's southern Har Homa neighborhood and the eastern Gush Etzion towns of Nokdim and Tekoa. Located in Area C (under full Israeli security and administrative control), it was abandoned about 18 months ago.
The Olmert government, in negotiations with the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, has agreed to turn the location into an Arab village, despite reported objections form the IDF that such a step would endanger the traffic artery linking the area to Jerusalem. The activists seek to instead turn the place into a thriving Jewish community providing contiguity between Jerusalem and the eastern Gush Etzion bloc.
"We have invited President George W. Bush and his entourage to join us at the ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone," organizers announced Tuesday evening. “Only an insane government that has no qualms abandoning its citizens to Arab terror can come up with such an outrageous idea as building the enemy new cities in strategic locations, thus endangering the lives of Jews in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.”
The activist groups plan to post a large ad in Israel’s English-language newspapers, aimed at delivering their message to Bush during his visit.
The groups emphasizing that the struggle here is not only for Shdema per se but against the entire Olmert-Livni policy of building cities for the Arab enemy while freezing Jewish building.
Women in Green head Nadia Matar pointed out that the settlement of Shdema constitutes a new method of operation for Land of Israel activists. "Until Gush Katif, the national camp used to always react - to be passive," she told Arutz Sheva. "We used to wait till the day of the expulsion came to actually start doing something and getting organized. Now we understand that that is not the way. We must initiate. We must be active and lead the way. Whether it is building new outposts all over Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza). We must not wait till it is too late, wait untill the bulldozers come in August to destroy the community of Migron, but rather launch the struggle already now."
Matar says that whereas the old model would wait until construction begins in Shdema for an Arab village to launch protests, the new model dictates embarking on a construction drive there right now. On Thursday, activists will leave from Kiryat Arba (8:30 AM), Efrat (8:45 AM), Tekoa (9:00 AM) and the Har Homa police station (9:00 AM) for a tour of Shdema, followed by the painting and refurbishing of the dilapidated army barracks there. Mezuzahs (Biblical holy items affixed to Jews’ doorposts containing parchment with central Jewish texts written on them) will be affixed to the barracks during the ceremony.
Rabbi Uzi Sharbaf, Attorney Elyakim HaEtzni, MK Arieh Eldad (National Union) and Rabbi Durani of Nokdim will participate in the event, which is being organized by the Action Committees of Har Homa, Efrat, Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba-Hevron; The Committee to Save the People and the Land; The Yesha Rabbinic Council, The Nascent Sanhedrin; Women in Green; Land of Israel Loyalists; Land of Israel Youth; Homesh First; Nahalal Forum; Virashtem Ota; Meginei Eretz; Mateh Tsafon; Mateh Eretz Yisrael; Mattot Arim; The New Jewish Congress and the Temple Mount Movement.
Friday will also be a day of touring and building in Shdema. For more information, called 050 550 0834, 050 577 7254, (02) 996 1292 or 050 524 6770.