Houses for blood?

It's far more impressive to boycott a PM and demonstrate. They'll applaud me. But what's the purpose? What about building homes?

Oded Ravivi, Efrat Mayor ,

Mayor Revivi with Civil Administration head
Mayor Revivi with Civil Administration head
Flash 90

It isn't always popular to say things that don't sit well with one's political base, to take a stand against an emotional response that came a moment after Jews were murdered. Anyone who thinks I'm attacking my colleagues doesn't realize that my stance is what's protecting them.

In recent years, the Efrat Local Council has grown by about 60%, demographic growth unparalleled in such little time, not only in Judea and Samaria but also in Israel in general. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved construction of 1,100 housing units in Efrat that are already in the process of being populated, and recently advanced another 8,250 units.

Government ministries are full partners in building schools, public institutions, paving roads, and more. To remove any doubt regarding my intention, they should have built more and more, doubling the building numbers. They should have taken advantage of the friendly administration in the United States and moved forward without fear, but I can't ignore the tractors on the ground and more and more red roofs and new families that are moving in.

The main point of my argument relates to the need to proceed in the proper course of settlement, not the one that shouts, but the one that signs on the dotted line. I'm well aware of the legal injustices against settlement, the imperviousness, the leftism bubbling with Supreme Court decisions, as in the case of Nativ HaAvot. Therefore I ask my colleagues to act more correctly also in the legal arena. Don't be caught in the net. Don't say everything'll be fine. Don't go head to head with the system, biased and nasty as it may be.

As evidence, hundreds of housing units are being built in Efrat, and none of them G-d forbid is going to be demolished. Delegations from around the world come and are impressed by the fabric of life we've ​​built in Efrat alongside the Arab population, and thus we're neutralizing the international automatic resistance to Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.

Efrat and its growth are the evidence that the way we chose is the right one that brings thousands of settlers to Gush Etzion, that isn't stuck in the Supreme Court, and is the one that prevents confrontations against the backdrop of destroying Jewish homes. We must listen to those who understand it isn't always possible to achieve everything, and there are times when it's right to settle for a portion, so we don't weaken the camp and cause another regime to arise with a destructive world view.

There's no intention of painting reality in pink colors. The security situation isn't simple. Bereavement has visited us lately with great intensity, but we're no longer in those crazy days of suicide bombers and shooting attacks like in 1996 and not like those in 2002 on the eve of Operation Defensive Shield. This is certainly a challenging security period, one that demands more of the army, but also requires our strength and steadfastness.

When they try to hurt us, it's better to raise our heads and encourage the defense establishment. Not to insult them. I don't agree with every decision by the army, but the criticism I have against them I say behind closed doors. First, it isn't right to share our security needs with our enemies and where to challenge us. Second, because we have no other army, and therefore we need to conduct a dialogue that conveys unity rather than division.

After the murder of Ari Fuld, we went up to Eitam Hill, a hill that had already been bought in the mid-1940s; an undisputed hill. The ascent was made with the appropriate permits that were given on the very same day of the murder, after we'd been working to receive them for many months. We went with our heads held high and not like thieves in the night. Not because of the murder and not as blood compensation, but in the spirit of young people who had joined the hilltop, exposed to cold and wind. As fate would have it, and in consequence of the murder that took place that day, they wanted to dedicate the ascent and commemorate the late Fuld. We helped them by directing them to the worthwhile task.

The demand to build in response to spilled Jewish blood is wrong because it transmits a message that only when blood is shed is there building. In Efrat we build regardless of attacks. The additional fear I raised was that G-d forbid, a price list would develop for the fallen; for a family we'd set up a settlement, for a small child we'll pave a road, and for a soldier we'll put a square. We mustn't conduct a sale trade in corpses.

It's far more impressive to boycott a Prime Minister and demonstrate muscle. "They'll applaud me, they'll cheer for me in meetings," but what's the purpose? What about developing settlement? What about constructing homes and public buildings? Has boycott helped advance settlement? Development?

Just as it's necessary to wake up from Oslo delusions there's also a need to wake up from other old perceptions. There's a need to act according to the law, to avoid falling into legal ignorance; it's necessary to understand that we won't expel the Arabs. Those who support settlement must act more correctly, more statesmanly. Those who support settlement should come to Efrat and see how to build a proper settlement.

The author is Mayor of Efrat.

Translated by Mordechai Sones




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