Residents of Kibbutz Negba were surprised to receive letters over the weekend from an elderly “Palestinian refugee” asking them to leave their homes.
The letter claimed that the kibbutz was built on the remnants of the destroyed Arab village Beit Afa, which the letter said was “ethnically cleansed” in the 1930s. The letter writer promised European Union funding to any residents of the kibbutz who would “go back to Europe” or America and leave their property for “refugees” and their offspring.
One of the Kibbutz's senior member is MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), who is spearheading a campaign to offer Jews living in Judea and Samaria towns beyond the Partition Wall compensation to abandon their homes to a future Palestinian State. MK Vilan calmed his neighbors, assuring them that the letter was not sent by a “refugee,” but by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria angered by his political plan.
On the other side of the letter, National Union Secretary-General Nachi Eyal, a Jewish resident of the Binyamin-region community of Psagot, explained his reasoning for dispatching the letter.
Eyal informed residents that the “refugee” author of the letter, Salah Washa, who claims seven children and 136 grandchildren and great-grandchildren who long to return to their ancestral home, is real. While the man did not personally write the letter, Eyal said, he had posted his picture and story on a website aimed at encouraging foreign Arabs to return “home” to villages their grandparents and great-grandparents left during the War of Independence.
The activist explained that their neighbor, MK Vilan, seeks to evict the Jews of Judea and Samaria. "It is unpleasant to know that there is someone who wants to expel you from your home," Eyal wrote. "But this is exactly what MK Avshalom Vilan seeks to do, dispatching letters to my neighbors and telling us we will be expelled anyway so we may as well take the money and leave now."
He invited residents to visit the expellees of Gush Katif in Nitzan and other temporary communities to see for themselves the result of displacing Jews from parts of the Land of Israel.
MK Vilan responded angrily Saturday, claiming that in fact "only a small part of the kibbutz" was built on the former village of Beit Afa, while most of the village’s lands were used for the nearby Jewish community of Moshav Yad Natan.
Vilan called Eyal’s comparison of Kibbutz Negba to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria “pathetic and ridiculous.” Kibbutz Negba was vital to Israel’s security during the War of Independence, Vilan argued. Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria are “not connected to security," he asserted, insisting that "most Israelis" are ready to give them away.