Save Yourselves

I spent a day pleading with the residents of Chomesh to save their community. Ariel Sharon intends to demolish this community by next Tisha B'Av. Although 70% of the Likud Party opposed the disengagement plan, Sharon is undeterred. The 200,000 person human chain and million signature petitions are publicity stunts that are insufficient to stop the bulldozer, Ariel Sharon.

Prof. Shmuel Neumann

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My father survived the Holocaust by posing as a gentile. He was able to get a job in town hall and, in the middle of the night, he broke in to steal identity papers. He thus was able to frequently switch identities.

During his travels, he heard that in two days they were going to round up the Jews to send them to concentration camps. My father took a stack of identity papers to the local synagogue. After the prayers, the men sat down to learn while uncomfortably stealing distrustful glances at my father who looked to them like a gentile.

Before they started Talmud study, my father put down the stack of identity papers and explained to the men that he was a Jew working in the local town hall and that the Jews were going to be rounded up and taken to a concentration camp to be killed. They stared at him with disbelief. Disbelief not that they would be killed: Disbelief that this gentile was not setting them up. They acted as though as soon as they touched the stolen identity papers, they would be arrested.

"Save yourselves," my father pleaded. "I am a Jew. Take any Gemorah and test me." He stayed for the Talmud lesson and proved his facility with the commentaries.

"Save yourselves," my father pleaded. He explained that his parents and siblings were taken away and killed.

Not one person elected to take the papers and they all perished. Some appeared to rather die as a Jew than live as a gentile. Others were frozen in inertia. Not one saved themselves.

Well, the experiences of the fathers are signs to the children.

I spent a day pleading with the residents of Chomesh to save their community. Ariel Sharon intends to demolish this community by next Tisha B'Av. Although 70% of the Likud Party opposed the disengagement plan, Sharon is undeterred. The 200,000 person human chain and million signature petitions are publicity stunts that are insufficient to stop the bulldozer, Ariel Sharon.

"Save yourselves," I pleaded. Saturate the settlement. What does it take to increase the population? It's ridiculously simple. Rent all houses and then furnished rooms, temporary housing and caravans to hundreds of families. They need not vote in the yishuv (community) just as most of the yeshiva families are not full members of the yishuv and cannot vote. As soon as a rental agreement is signed, the newcomers record the change of address with the Interior Ministry. These people may maintain a second dwelling anywhere else. If one can afford it, there is nothing preventing a family from keeping an apartment in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and a house in Eilat, Tiberias, the Golan or the Galilee. You can have only one primary residence, but you can have as many domiciles as you wish. Within days, you can take in thousands of new residents.

"Save yourselves," I pleaded. Permit not just dozens, but hundreds and, if physically possible, thousands to become permanent members. There are numerous houses that could be rented for next to nothing, but most of these have been cannibalized and are in need of major repair that people can do themselves. Facilitate the purchase of houses as the purchase price is reasonable.

"Save yourselves," I pleaded. Accept into the community people of other nationalities that have the standing to ask their governments to put pressure on Israel to not evict them based solely on race or religion. When Sharon boldly pontificated that by 2005 there will be no Jew in Gaza, he violated the international standard of human rights. At best, he may be within his legal rights to proclaim that there will be no Israeli in Gaza, but he has no right to evict only Jews. If American Christians may remain in Bethlehem and American Moslems in Jenin, then American Jews must be permitted to remain in Chomesh. If an Israeli Moslem may remain in Gaza, then the Israeli government has no right to remove Israeli Jews. They certainly have no right to remove an American Jew. If there were numerous American Jews living in Chomesh, then as soon as a formal disengagement plan was approved, the American Jews would file a civil rights action in the US against the State Department and against Israel. These American citizens would ask their congressmen to insist that no American citizen be forcibly evicted until the United States courts determined that civil rights were not violated. In fact, the complaint is currently being prepared.

"Save yourselves," I pleaded. File complaints in court against the illegal Arab houses and get them demolished. On the road to Chomesh, there are numerous illegal settlements - illegal Arab settlements. Houses illegally constructed and which, even according to Palestinian law, must be demolished. The fact that the Israeli government destroys only the houses of Jews, built according to code, but without a final building permit, is bald-faced racism. File a formal complaint against Arab squatters so that there is no Arab presence between Shavei Shomron, the next community, and Chomesh.

"Save yourselves," I pleaded. There is land available for sale near Chomesh. Buy it and take possession. Open tours to Sebastia and other tourist sights in the area so that you do not appear as frightened settlers cowering behind a circle of covered wagons.

It all fell on deaf ears.

Despite these settlers' self-destructive, self-defeating, misguided agendas, every Jew has an obligation to not stand idly by while his brother bleeds. We have an obligation to saturate each and every settlement that Sharon and the Peresites slate for evacuation.

We have an obligation to demand that the Ministry of Housing continue to sell and rent all houses under their control in Chomesh, Sa Nur, Gadid and Kadim, as the "disengagement plan" has been voted on only in principle and not in action. The Ministry of Housing is violating the law and we must not stand for it.

We must insist that the law be applied equally, Jew and Arab alike. If a Jew is removed from his property because the land registration of the property purchase was not finalized, then all so-called Palestinians who do not have currently recorded ownership of their land in the Land Registry must be forcibly removed from their lands and houses. Unless Israel forcibly removes gentiles, they have absolutely no right to employ force and violently remove Jews from their homes, demolish their homes and destroy their farms. There are currently over 30,000 court orders for the demolition of illegal Arab houses, but they are not implemented. It is a disgrace that they only destroy the houses of Jews.

The Israeli government must stop discrimination. If it determines that its citizens must be removed from a given area, then all Israeli citizens, including Christian and Moslem Israeli citizens, must be removed. But Israel would never forcibly remove an Israeli Christian or Moslem from Judea, Samaria or Gaza. Similarly, if Israel forcibly removes American, or other non-Israeli Jews, then American Christians and Moslems must also be forcibly evacuated. If they will refuse to forcibly eject a Christian or a Moslem, then Jewish expulsion is patently illegal. Furthermore, if it is a crime for a Jewish Israeli citizen to visit Area A, then Israel must enforce the criminal prosecution of any Israeli citizen who visits Area A, even if that Israeli citizen is Moslem or Christian.

Doing what is right is an individual obligation irrelevant of what everyone else is doing. But truth is heavy, so few care to bear it. To anecdotally illustrate this point:

A righteous person enters heaven and the Almighty tells him that, as he suffered his whole life and as he remained righteous throughout the course of upheavals and threats, he could have anything he wanted. Having suffered his whole life, the righteous man was curious what torment was in store for the wicked in the afterlife in Hell.

He asks the Almighty for a peek of the underworld. Suddenly, the clouds part and the earth opens. He is amazed to see festivities and celebrations that he could never have imagined. Everyone is beautiful and dressed in unbelievably exquisite clothing dancing, singing and devouring food that appears indescribably delicious.

Looking down, he tells the Almighty that this has made him hungry, could he have something to eat? The righteous martyr thinks to himself that if the food in Hell is so delectable, he couldn't imagine how good the food in heaven would be.

In short order, he gets his meal.

"A tuna fish sandwich!" he apoplectically screams. "Down there they get twenty-course gourmet meals and I get a tuna sandwich?"

The Almighty quips, "For two, it doesn't pay to cook."