Daily Israel Report

Shdema Campaign Continues at Full Steam

Activists working to keep a former IDF army base Jewish continue their weekly efforts, in the shadow of an IDF decision to build an outpost there.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/7/2010, 12:46 PM / Last Update: 2/7/2010, 12:37 PM

Activists working to keep the former IDF army base Shdema in Jewish hands continued their weekly efforts on Friday, in the shadow of an IDF decision to build an outpost there. The decision is both heartening and cause for concern, they feel, as pressure from both in and outside Israel against the campaign intensifies.

The 18-month-old struggle for the site, located between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, features weekly lectures at the site, attended by dozens of people, as well as other activities.

Consular Car Sighted

“With mixed feelings of happiness and concern,” writes one leading activist, “we came to Shdema on Friday to listen to a class by Prof. Hillel Weiss of Bar Ilan University on First Aliyah literature. Feelings of happiness - because of the IDF's decision to return to Shdema and set up an outpost there, and feelings of worry over whether the outpost would stand firm against the international pressure against Israel.

Participants reported that they saw a car with diplomatic plates at the bottom of the hilltop site on Friday, “watching our moves. When we approached it, we saw that the driver was actually a bodyguard – but when we further neared the car to identify who was in the back, which was covered by a very dark window, the car quickly took off towards [the nearby Arab village] Biet Sahour.” 

Some of the Jewish activists drove after the vehicle, but the driver was able to lose them in Jerusalem. “There is no doubt that there was someone in the car who did not want us to know he was there,” they reported. “We think it might have been the USA consul himself.” A photo of the car, indicating an American make, can be seen here

USAID is a sponsor of the illegal Arab construction at the foot of the Shdema hill.

Haaretz Gets Involved
The campaign organizers note that the Haaretz newspaper, via its reporter Amira Hass, who has spent years living in PA Arab towns, has apparently begun a campaign of its own against the Jewish return to Shdema. Articles appeared on both Thursday and Friday, sympathetic to the Arab presence and illegal construction there and belligerent towards the Jewish activists. 

Hass claims “that the lands of Shdema have been taken away from the Arabs,” the Jewish activists say, “but the truth is exactly the opposite. Since the signing of the Oslo Agreements, most of the area has been taken away from Israel and has become area A – under full Arab control. Gush Etzion has been left with only 4% of the land, and from this 4%, they want to take away Shdema from us as well… It is clear that the IDF's decision to return to Shdema is a purely professional decision. The IDF understands the strategic importance of Shdema for the security of the area. Anyone with common sense understands one cannot abandon such an important place.

The Committee for a Jewish Shdema and Women in Green announce that they will continue with their activities in Shdema as planned. This coming Friday, the weekly lecture will be given – in Hebrew - by Emanuel Shilo, editor of the weekly B’Sheva newspaper, on the topic: "How to Turn the Situation Around.”

The organizations call for Land of Israel supporters from all over the region to take part in the efforts: “The presence of each and every one of us in Shdema is now more important than ever. The support of all our members, together with the constant presence of the devoted activists from Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood, Beit Shemesh, Efrat, Gush Etzion, Kiryat Arab/Hevron, and elsewhere, together with the involvement of Knesset Members, is what has achieved progress in the struggle for a Jewish Shdema. Now we must continue and make even more of an effort to come every week. Please G-d, we will succeed”.