Jews from the village of El Matan and activists from the L’Herut Tzion organization demonstrated against American pressure to destroy their community synagogue. The protest, which took place outside the prime minister’s residence, featured men wearing traditional Jewish prayer shawls calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resist pressure from American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
El Matan is a small Jewish village in northern Samaria, situated on a mountain straddling the border between the ancient Hebrew tribal territories of Menashe and Ephraim. The synagogue, which was built in a zone approved by the state for construction, was denied final authorization by Defense Minister Ehud Barak .
Not wanting to be left without a place of worship and assembly, the villagers of El Matan decided to move forward without Barak’s signature and built a small community Synagogue with money's donated privately.
“We built the synagogue a year and a half ago,” El Matan resident Tomer Mor told Israel National News. “It was before the American-impose ban on Jewish construction in Samaria. The members of our community deserve the right to a place to congregate and pray… Our synagogue isn’t hurting anyone. All of El Matan, including where the synagogue stands, is state owned land.”
Mor further said that genuine peace comes from Jews and Arabs being able to live together and not through – as the international community insists – forced expulsions and demolitions.
“Netanyahu is planning to suck up to the Americans by demolishing our Synagogue. Clinton wants it destroyed as a ‘gesture’ to Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] but we know that real peace cannot be achieved by destroying homes and places of worship. Real peace comes from people learning to live together as good neighbors – the exact opposite of the separation of populations that the Americans are trying to impose on us.”
One L’Herut Tzion demonstrator said that the El Matan Synagogue has particular importance to him and his group because they participated in its construction as part of their student volunteer programs.
L’Herut Tzion believes that Israel’s dependency on the United States accounts for the root cause for most of the Jewish state’s political and security problems. The movement advocates that Israel’s government take steps to move towards political and economic independence.
“You can’t be independent and dependent at the same time,” said one activist. “Zionism is about an independent Jewish state in the land of Israel. Achieving the goals of the Zionist Revolution requires us to become self-sufficient and decide Israeli policies based on the Jewish national interest."