Hundreds of American Jews Coming to Jewish Gaza Next Month

A large group of U.S. Jews is planning to arrive in Israel in early June, joining the Jews of Gush Katif and northern Shomron in opposing the expulsion/land-abandonment plan.

, | updated: 19:19

The organizer of the trip, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn, says he decided to put it together when he returned from his last visit to the threatened Jewish towns of Gaza. Dozens of professionals and two New York State judges participated in the original trip.

“My office was inundated with calls from Americans who want to be there for 8,500 people who have done nothing wrong and are being threatened with expulsion,” Hikind said. Recent reports from Gush Katif say that the number of residents in the region has now climbed to 9,200.

The Democratic Party assemblyman said on Israel National Radio’s Stutz & Fleisher Show, “The people who live in Gush Katif are the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. Anyone who goes there realizes what a tragedy it would be to lose this place.”

Hikind says that together with hundreds of ordinary Jews from the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) who will take a week of their lives to spend with the men, women and children of Gush Katif, he intends to give strength and support to the Jews living in Gaza’s 22 communities.

“It is the least we can do,” Hikind said. “Last time we were here, the residents gave us much more than we gave them, but I know that our coming means something, not only to the residents, but to G-d.”

“Here, outside of Israel, we [also] have faith in G-d, but what does that really mean? How often are we tested?” Hikind asks. “These people have been tested day in and day out for 30 years, and their faith has not been shaken. Their devotion to the Land of Israel and the People of Israel is something not to be believed.”

Asked whether he had reservations, as a Jew living outside Israel, about opposing the Israeli government's will, Hikind responded, “The Land of Israel does not only belong to the people of Israel, but to the Jewish people. I would be negligent if I let it be abandoned without a response.”

The seasoned politician says he is often challenged by those who see the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria as a fait accompli. “People say, ‘Can we really make a difference? Can we really change anything? Sharon seems to have it all worked it out, it seems to be final’ – but we as Jews know that it is in the hands of G-d, not Ariel Sharon. Things can change in a moment; forget about a week and a month, let alone three months.”

A recent Anti-Defamation League poll showed most American Jews support the withdrawal plan, but Hikind says such a fact is irrelevant. “The majority of American Jews also support dividing Jerusalem,” he said, “and the fact is, most Jews in America have never even been to Israel - so that doesn’t say much.”

”Whether someone supports the withdrawal or not,” Hikind said, “it would be radical and extreme to allow these Jews to feel isolated at a time like this.”

In response to reports that Gaza may be declared a closed military area by the end of May, Hikind said, “It would be tragic if we would be prevented from entering Gaza. But hundreds will be traveling to Israel and are committed to emotionally fortifying [those living there] during this dark and desperate period.”

For more information, or to join the group, call Hikind’s office: (718) 853-9616