by Dror Eydar
The smear campaign against the settlers is meant to cover the naked shame of the slanderers, who once belonged to the pro-settlement camp, and belong today to the camp destroying what the sons and the daughters of their nation have built.
How symbolic is the passage through Ofra, up the winding road to the top of Amona Mountain, the passage from the ancient flagship of the settlement in Judea and Samaria to the young elite company of the Amona pioneers. The ascent up the mountain leaves behind the veteran leadership and reveals a new social elite in the making. At a height of around 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level, the bare, rocky mountain has for the past 20 years been covered in vineyards, olive groves, cherry orchards, herds of sheep, wineries, homes, families and the laughter of children playing.
It was there that I met hope: people of land and vision; pioneers who guard the lowlands and the coastal plain from up high, holding fast to the soil of the homeland. Zionism at its best. I did not find arrogance, but simplicity and humility and a recognition of the enormity of the role history had conferred upon them. In the discourse so replete with cynicism that dominates these parts, it is difficult to risk such writing. But in the late 1930s, the poet Nathan Alterman called for the removal of these heavy and important words from the prison of quotation marks and for them to be treated naturally, because they are our lives and our longevity on this good land.
I have seen many youths who left everything to come and support the settlers. They clean and tidy up and provide an easygoing milieu to the drama in the air. Some of them are angry at the unnecessary demolition of the homes -- a natural reaction, especially from those who were born there. The adults tolerate them. They have a difficult time ahead of them, of wandering and transition and laying down new roots.
All day yesterday, the disgraceful claims of the Left were heard, the ones that make the people of Amona out to be "real estate dealers" who got millions in return for the demolition of their homes. It's only money those Jews care about, huh? The realization of Zionism requires resources -- first and foremost human capital, and financial capital, too. But contrary to the slander, a vast majority of the money does not end up with the settlers. Of the 150 million shekels ($39 million), only NIS 20 million (about $5.2 million) goes directly to the 42 families as compensation for what they built and invested in Amona in the last 20 years. Around NIS 20 million is compensation for the nine homes in Ofra. I have seen them: big stone homes, built from the ground up. Evacuation costs are set at NIS 40 million ($10.4 million). The rest of the money goes toward the development of the settlement enterprise, and not to the people of Amona.
The smear campaign against the settlers is meant to cover the naked shame of the slanderers, who once belonged to the pro-settlement camp, and belong today to the camp destroying what the sons and the daughters of their nation have built. By the way, a senior official calculated the cost of the petitions submitted to the High Court by leftist organizations in the last decade alone as -- wait for it -- around NIS 1 billion ($259 million)!
And then I turned to the south of the settlement and saw nine ugly slabs of concrete, twisted iron rods growing out of them; a souvenir from the sin of the demolition of homes in February 2006. The first homes in Amona were left in their destruction, a monument to the heartlessness of the organizations for demolition rights. No one will come to work the lands of this abandoned mountain. Destruction for destruction's sake. The state offered generous financial compensation to Arabs who claimed uncertain ownership of these lands -- this would have cost a lot less. They could not accept the financial compensation because they are just a tool in the Left and the Palestinian Authority's fight against the settlements.
When I came down from the mountain, I turned on the radio. The first thing I heard was Shlomo Artzi singing:
"To the home where I used to live
to those same beginnings.
It is not by chance I passed this way
Here it is quiet, I am no longer so."
"Again will I build thee and thou shalt be built" (Jeremiah 31:3).
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