Rabbi Ben-Dahan affixes a mezuzah in Shdema
Rabbi Ben-Dahan affixes a mezuzah in Shdema Elad Pessach Photography

The transformation of the abandoned IDF base at Shdema into a cultural center is a sign of things to come, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Bayit Yehudi), the Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs, said Friday.

“Shdema will be a large, flourishing community,” he predicted.

“There will be no sovereign nation in the land of Israel other than the state of Israel,” he declared. “We must constantly repeat this statement… There will be families and children here, and from here, sovereignty will spread to all of Judea and Samaria [Shomron],” he added.

The government is currently negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, which has demanded the regions of Judea and Samaria, along with Gaza, as land for new Arab state in which Jews would not be welcome.

Ben-Dahan told those present at the dedication that the event helped him to better understand the teachings of his rabbi, renowned religious-Zionist leader Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.

“Our sages said a person does not fully understand his rabbi’s teachings until forty years have passed. Now, after forty years, I understand why Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda would speak about the great importance of the land of Israel to the Jewish nation every week during his lecture on the weekly Torah portion,” he said.

“We asked more than once why he would endlessly repeat that. Today I realize that only through constantly repeating this declaration full of trust, faith and hope, can we internalize its message,” he concluded.

The Women in Green movement fought for five years to create an Israeli presence in Shdema, which overlooks the main highway between Jerusalem and the Israeli communities of Gush Etzion. They feared that if the strategically important community was abandoned, it would become an Arab outpost.

Activists held regular events at the site despite the lack of even basic infrastructure such as electricity or toilets.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) sent his congratulations on the group’s success. “The land of Israel was redeemed in the merit of righteous women, in the merit of stubborn women, women who fight,” he wrote.

“Shdema will yet become an important, central settlement,” he added.

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