Over 300 people, including rabbis and public officials, participated in the first annual "Vision of Settlement" conference Thursday in the community of Yakir in Samaria. The conference is to be held every year on the Hebrew date of 22 Shvat, known as Gush Katif and North Samaria Day. Its organizers want it to turn into a tradition and become the nationalist equivalent of the Herzliya Conference.
The central speaker was Nobel prize laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann, who noted that the expulsion from Gush Katif took place just after the week in which Jews read part of the book of Jeremiah that deals with Divine punishment in the Sabbath haftarah (which is read after the weekly Torah portion). The prophet Jeremiah spoke of two evils, Prof. Aumann explained: one moral and the other tangible. The expulsion, too, was a combination of these two kinds of evil: it was immoral - because people were expelled from their homes and many have yet to find permanent places of residence; it had tangible negative results - because the promised peace did not materialize and Israel's international and security situation only worsened after the expulsion.
Limor Sohn Har-Melech related the story of the murder of her husband Shuli Har-Melech by terrorists and of the bris for their son, that was held upon the ruins of Homesh, one of the Samaria communities destroyed in the 2005 expulsion. "The tikkun [correction of the sin - ed.] of the expulsion will start at the foundations," she predicted, "through the return to Homesh."
"We are incorrectly diagnosing the Arab-Jewish conflict, and that is why all the plans crumble into dust," MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who is also a medical doctor, told the participants. "The conflict is a religious war. We are here because of G-d's promise to Abraham, and when this is a two-sided war, the problem cannot be solved [through partition]. We must explain that this is a religious conflict, not one of dividing up the country."
Additional speakers included Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Samaria Regional Rabbi; Samaria local authority head Gershon Mesika; Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, Head of the Ramat Gan Hesder Yeshiva, and Rabbi Aharon HaCohen, the rabbi of Yakir.