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'It's a Shame I Missed the Snow'

Boaz Albert, the Jewish farmer jailed for resisting distancing order from his Samarian farm, says the price was worth paying.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 1/6/2014, 5:22 PM

Boaz Albert
Boaz Albert
Boaz Albert Headquarters

In another ten days Boaz Albert, who has been in jail since September after refusing to be distanced from his home in the Samarian community of Yitzhar, is expected to be released and return home as the administrative order against him expires.

Albert refused to be freed from jail until the order distancing him from his house was removed, even as death threats forced him to be transferred to a different jail wing. A father of 6 children, Albert is a vintner producing wine on his Samarian farm. 

The administrative order was handed to him without any explanation, giving him no chance to legally oppose the move, which he says threatened his very livelihood.

In a recent letter written by Albert in jail, the Samarian farmer described to a friend in Yitzhar the conditions of his 3 and a half month imprisonment.

Struggle between those disconnected from Jewish values and those clinging to Torah

"More and more it becomes apparent that the system isn't comprised of 'guardians of the law' and 'those breaching the law,' as some try to portray it," writes Albert. "Rather, it's between those stuck in sadness and disconnection from the values of Israel, and those that cling to joy, to the Torah, to the land."

"The feelings of many of those that have turned to us express joy and an elevation of spirit from the recognition that it's possible to insist, to express the fundamentals of the Torah and the connection to the land of Israel without fear of the destructiveness of the government," emphasizes Albert.

Elaborating on a previous op-ed article, Albert explained his reasons for choosing to stay in jail even after a court ruling allowed his freedom to house arrest.

"The release was dependent on a demand that I obligate myself not to breach the order again, and since I don't agree to sign on the obligation, I decided to continue my imprisonment," wrote Albert.

"As I declared at the start of the road, the order was given to me not because of acts, but rather because of opinions and thoughts that I expressed publicly in written articles, in writings on different forums, and incidental conversations," noted Albert. "The draconian and disproportional punishment that (IDF Central) Commander (Nitzan Alon) enacted against me has aroused the rage of many, and the insistence in not honoring the order have highlighted the issue."

Public support in opposing the draconian measures

"The public support which the struggle has garnered finds expression in strengthening letters, telephone calls, and showing up at different events held now and then outside the prison walls," noted Albert. "Many of those supporting us we don't know, they're just Jews from all parts of the land whose hearts have been touched by the struggle. From residents of the community, my family receives countless strengthening and aid."

Members of the Women in Green and Professors for a Strong Israel organizations made a solidarity visit to Albert's home in late December.

"We came only to say 'Thank you,' in the name of the people of Israel, for the struggle that Boaz is waging on all our behalf, for the values of freedom, justice, and integrity," said Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katsover, co-founders of Women in Green, to the Albert family.

Albert notes in his letter how he has used his imprisonment as a rare opportunity to make outreach with prisoners, and to study Torah uninterruptedly.

"Regarding the policy of distributing orders, even now we can cautiously estimate that General (Alon's) fingers will be not as light on the trigger, and that in itself is not a small accomplishment," concluded Albert. "So it's true that the price isn't easy, but if needed, it is possible to pay it."

"It's just a shame that I missed the snow," quipped Albert, closing on a light note. "For that it will really be hard for me to forgive Nitzan Alon."

Albert is not the only resident of Judea and Samaria suffering from draconian administrative orders issued without trial, evidence or testimony. 19 year old David Hai Hasdai of Beit El has been engaged in legal battles following similar orders that seek to place him under a 6 month house arrest, also without charge.