Made literally a refugee by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Disengagement Plan, Tucker - a celery farmer in, and founder of, Netzer Hazani - says things are still not going their way. "The government hasn't given us a cent yet from the compensation law. They're giving us a hard time. We're supposed to have received 50,000 NIS (approx $11,000), but now they tell us we have to prove that we lived there for 29 years," says Tucker.
It's widely known that the Knesset passed several funding laws with regard to Gush Katif, but now that the expulsion has taken place, the story has lost its appeal in most of the major world media. This has clearly given the government what they see as a free pass to ignore their responsibilities under the law, Tucker feels. "It’s obvious that they're trying to hurt those of us who are trying to stay together...they're being impossible."
With the High Holidays upon us, even the most basic needs of these people are being ignored. "We can't even get out prayer books for the High Holidays. They're locked away in a container, and they won't let us near them. We have to pay NIS 7,000 ($1,500) just to look inside a container,” says Tucker. The reason: a spiff between Zim Lines and the government.
Nonetheless, the community spirit that made them so great in the first place is intact, and is getting them through these difficult times. "We left our red tile roofs behind, but we did take out with us our spirit, our values and our community, and we're not going to let anyone destroy that," adds Tucker. Through the generosity of others, these Israeli heroes are not being left in the dust just yet. "The people of Israel are behind us...when we came to the Kotel [Western Wall] that first night, there were tens of thousands of people there to greet us," says Tucker.
Others in the same situation might just give up. They would split the communities, fend for themselves, and make their own way, right? No way! Not these people. These are people of faith, and the circumstances in which they now find themselves just deepen that faith. You may say that it's the people of Israel that keep them strong, but the actual State itself has spat upon them, discarded them, and abandoned them, right? The response may surprise you. "There's a certain basic faith in the State of Israel that we haven't lost, and we hope that the law is implemented," says Tucker.
However, along with the faith in Israel comes fair warning to others who may find themselves in the front lines of a battle with the government. "If it happens with one issue, then every citizen of this country should be worried. It could happen tomorrow with the teachers, and it can happen with every issue in the country. Every law can be trampled. I mean, this is a law that was passed by the Knesset," says Tucker.
In spite of all the hardships that the residents of Netzer Hazani have been through, life goes on. In fact, Tucker's grandson just got married recently. "When there's a simcha, you realize that G-d is good, and you realize that there is still good in the world. But, we can't ignore the evil. There's a lot of evil, a lot of wickedness going on in the government," says Tucker.
At present, Netzer Hazani is split into two locations, with about 35 families living in Hispin in the Golan Heights, and another 25 at Kibbutz Ein Tzurim, just an hour's drive from their former homes in Gush Katif.
Tucker expects that one day soon, they will all be together again, rebuilding their homes and continuing on with their lives, but until then, it’s still a constant battle with everything from where to send the kids to school, to healthcare issues.
To hear the interview with Anita Tucker, click here.