Refugee in My Own Country
When Yael Ben Yaakov from Mevo Dotan in northern Samaria describes
the brit milah ceremonies she held for her three sons in her
home, she taps on the four tiles on which the chair the circumcision
took place stood. "Here in Mevo Dotan my sons were circumcised.
I held their bar mitzvah ceremonies here, and there," she
points toward the cemetery, "Zamir, my husband, who died
eight months ago, is buried … Then, those who were murdered
in [terror] attacks were buried."
Yaakov, who came to Mevo Dotan 25 years ago, speaks of the "transfer" that
is facing the settlements in northern Samaria. She says she
will feel "a refugee in her own country" and that
it is doubtful whether she will be able to continue "referring
to this country as `my country.’"
Monday, Ben Yaakov became a grandmother, the first child to
Ori, her son who lives in the settlement of Gan Or in Gush
Katif, in the Gaza Strip. He is also scheduled for evacuation.
Another son lives in Ofra. This is not an unusual case. Many
of the first settlers have children and grandchildren living
in other settlements.
Lior and Zevulun Kalifa are also talking about "transfer" with
bitterness. Zevulun, a contractor, has been working in Gush
Katif for the past 12 years. A few weeks ago he laid the first
foundations for a new neighborhood, of 22 housing units, in
Neveh Dekalim. Lior stood by President Moshe Katsav earlier
this week, when the residents asked him why he differentiates
between the transfer of Jews and the transfer of Arabs. "Even
the president avoided the question," the brothers say
Adar, sister of the Kalifa brothers, also lives in Neveh Dekalim,
not far from Baruch and Dvora Sarusi. The Sarusi couple have
children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They all live
in Gush Katif. Lior Kalifa says the Sarusi family and their
offspring are a root, "and whoever uproots a root carries
out a transfer."
use of the term "transfer" to describe the evacuation
of settlements, did not rise from the bottom ranks but trickled
from the top: the grassroots grasped the spirit of the statements
of their leaders. For example, in October 2003, in a rowdy
debate held by the Israel Institute for Democracy on the question
of the evacuation of settlements, the head of the institute,
Prof. Arik Karmon, promised Israel Harel and other representatives
of the settlers that in the future the institute would also
consider scenarios not only of the evacuation of settlers but
also the evacuation of Arab populations as part of an agreed
unusual promise has not been carried out. Karmon was forced
into the corner when rabbis Avi Giser of Ofra and Daniel Shilo
of Kedumim charged him with seeking to carry out the "transfer" of
the Jews in the territories.
1982, when the residents of Yamit were evacuated from the Sinai,
no one spoke of a transfer. The settler literature documenting
that evacuation hardly
makes use of this term. The origins of the term transfer, can be found in
latter half of the 1980s to describe the evacuation of settlements, when
the right sought to set limits of obedience versus left-wing
of right-wingers, including Prof. Israel Eldad and the authors Nomi Frankel
and Moshe Shamir, signed a declaration that set the removal of Jewish settlements
an illegal order and called on soldiers to refuse to obey it. A long time
passed before a number of the rabbis on the right made their
rulings on refusing a
command public, justifying it on the basis of the halakha.
Organization for the Prevention of the Plan for Autonomy, which
attorney Elyakim Haetzni from Kiryat Arba established in those
years, disseminated, almost obsessively, literature that the
Israeli left published on the limits of obedience. There were
articles there by Yesh Gvul and of Prof. Yeshayahu Leibovitz,
Asa Kasher, Adi Tzemach and Meir Pail. But the most popular
articles, those that contributed most to shaping the description
of evacuation as a transfer, were those of author Amos Oz,
of former minister Yair Tzaban, and of MK Yossi Sarid.
example, Oz wrote in 1990 that the transfer of Arabs is "an
impossible idea … we will not allow you to evict the Arabs
– even if we will have to divide the country, and the army.
Even if we have to lie in front of the wheels of trucks. Even
if we have to blow up bridges." Haetzni and his colleagues
quoted these manifestos repeatedly and slipped in the same
principles into the possibility of evacuating the settlers
from the territories.
use of transfer with reference to settlements was first adopted
by extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, that were not
part of the settler leadership. But gradually, mostly after
the Oslo Accords, the term has found its way in the dialogue
that the right-wing is having with the left. It is now well
placed among the spectrum of views ranging from the Yesha rabbis
to the "right-wing street." Even Rabbi Yoel Ben Nun,
a pragmatist, who is willing to come to terms with the evacuation
of part of the settlements, says that "there is no moral
difference between the eviction of Jews from their homes and
the eviction of Arabs from theirs."
they evacuate 1,000 of us, let them evacuate 1,000 of them," Ben
Nun tells left-wingers with whom he debates, "or let them
define Jewish islands in Palestinian territory as in Israel
they identify Palestinian islands."
first to term the evacuation of settlements as transfer, goes
as far as to use the phrase "ethnic cleansing." Dov
Cohen, one of his neighbors in Kiryat Arba, also adopted this
terminology. He says that as far as he is concerned the evacuation
is no different from the cataclysm brought down on Noah’s generation: "The
cataclysm wiped the world. The evacuation will wipe our world.
If this is not a transfer, then what is a transfer?"
Ron Breiman, one of the heads of Professors for a Strong Israel,
says, "In Israel there are two parties in whose manifestos
transfer is carved. Moledet, for the Arabs, and Meretz [Yahad]
for the Jews."
240,000 Jews currently live in settlements in the territories.
Tens of thousands were born there. Some have not only children there
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 85,000 Jews in the territories
are children below the age of 14, and another 20,000 are between 15-19 years
old. Those aged 20-34 are some 42,000 strong. The meaning of these figures
is that some 61 percent of the settler population was born into the reality
of post-Six-Day War Israel and knows no other situation.
crux of the "settler transfer" argument is as follows:
evicting Jews from the settlements in the territories is immoral,
illegal, as is the eviction of Arabs from the homes in the
territories or Israel. Transfer from here and transfer from
there is a black flag act that must be opposed. Hagai Segal,
head of the news department on Arutz Sheva, a pirate settler
radio station, and a former member of the Jewish underground,
has recently written that rape within the family (as he describes
the eviction of Jews) is no more kosher than rape (transfer
seems that the use of "transfer" has both and internal
and external significance. Internally, Jews in the territories
refer to themselves these days as UFOs. In conversation with
residents of Kfar Darom, Homesh, Neveh Dekalim, and other sites
set for evacuation, it turns that some feel like refugees in
their own country. Others wonder if this is really their country.
the minute the evacuation becomes illegitimate, the public
that opposes it allows itself to adopt more extreme measures.
A campaign of mutual delegitimacy existed, for example, between
the settlers and the government of Yitzhak Rabin, on the eve
of his assassination. Such delegitimization is unfolding currently
toward the Sharon government. Terming the evacuation as transfer
is part of this campaign. For the settlers there is a huge
difference between opposition to a legitimate act, even if
they oppose it, and an act they consider illegitimate. It is
no coincidence that the Yesha Council leadership is unwilling
to sign a document of understanding, that some of its leaders
did sign, with the left, in an effort to formulate the parameters
for the debate or struggle that may unfold in the future. If
the Yesha Council would now support this document of "rules," it
would signify an announcement that the evacuation of settlements
is considered legitimate.