With Respect

Shiri Gur-Aryeh

I was four when my family moved to Kokhav Hashahar, a 25-minute drive northeast of Jerusalem. I grew up here among its vineyards, watching this community swell.

Once I married, it was supposed to be my turn, my chance to build not just a home but a community, adjacent to Kokhav Hashahar, together with my peers. Not miles away, not on any hilltop, but on the mountain that overlooks my parents’ home.

So we went through all the legal procedures, obtained all the necessary permits from the IDF, the Jewish Agency, the Civil Administration, and the Ministry of Defense. And six months ago, my husband, my year-old daughter Yuval and I moved in. Only now we have discovered that the most essential document, from the Defense Ministry, was invalid because it had only been signed by the assistant to the defense minister, who was not authorized to do so. Only the minister himself could grant us permission for Mitzpeh Kramim. And so, our caravan — our home — and the eight others around it, face the bulldozer of peace which insists we are somehow standing in its way.

Mitzpeh Kramim has been developing slowly but surely. There are 34 of us living here. With the help of people from Kokhav Hashahar, we have a weekday minyan for morning and evening services and Sabbath prayers. We, in turn, visit our parent community to buy food and drop off our kids for school. In the beginning, we had to drink days’-old water from containers, but now we have hooked ourselves up to Kokhav Hashahar’s running supply. We also generate our own electricity.

Before we moved to this hill, it sprouted nothing but thorns; tractors had to bring arable earth here for our lawn and flower-filled garden. I sit and wonder how destroying my home helps the peace process. There are no Arab villages within nine miles of here, only a single nearby Beduin camp, with which we get along well. I look out my window and see only the breathtaking landscape of the Jordan Valley on Israel’s eastern border, in this most strategic of locations, right off the Allon Road. We don’t see ourselves as an obstacle to peace. We certainly did not set ourselves up here to sabotage peace hopes. We are doing nothing more than fulfilling the Zionist dream of building a Jewish community in the Land of Israel.

As I watch Yuval play with our dog on our front lawn, I wonder if there is a way to save this place. Perhaps if the prime minister would visit us for just a few minutes and see what we’ve built, maybe he would understand. His Labor Party, after all, founded Kokhav Hashahar.

We don’t believe that it was easy for the government to decide to turn settlers out of their homes. It’s just that, with Mitzpeh Kramim, we feel that more could have been done. The same goes for the Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza: We respect the compromise it reached with the government. After all, it was with the council’s support that we set up Mitzpeh Kramim in the first place.

But no matter what happens, we will remain committed, law-abiding citizens of the State of Israel. My husband will continue to serve faithfully as an officer in the army reserves, and we will continue to show only the utmost respect for our prime minister, no matter how wrong we feel he may be. But for myself and in the name of my peers, I dare declare that my heart will always reside in Mitzpeh Kramim.

If the army comes to remove us, we will resist, passively. Not one of us will attack a soldier - not verbally, not physically. But we will resist because we feel a profound connection to this spot, and if the soldiers do succeed in removing us, we will return to this hill.

[This Article Appeared in The Jerusalem Report, November 8, 1999 Issue]

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