The Hayovel neighborhood in the community of Eli has cropped up every so often in news reports ever since Maj. Roi Klein became the biggest hero of the Second Lebanon War. Klein threw himself on a live grenade in order to save the soldiers under his command during one of the worst battles of that war, meriting the rare accolade of having the Israeli prime minister eulogize him from the Knesset podium.
Three and a half years later, in March 2010, Maj. Eliraz Peretz was killed in a firefight with Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, and the Hayovel neighborhood again made the news.
Both IDF officers lived in the neighborhood, and their widows and children continue to live there to this day. But the neighborhood was never made “legal” under Israeli law, and continues to be considered by many as an “illegal outpost”.
In 2005, while the neighborhood was being built, the Peace Now organization petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to block construction, since the neighborhood had not been “legalized”. The Supreme Court asked for a response from the State, and in the interim, the construction was completed, and 12 families moved into their new homes – where they still live to this day. After much delaying, the State seemed ready to give its response this week, and the Hayovel neighborhood was again a topic of the morning radio talk shows and afternoon newspaper headlines. The response still hasn’t come.
Perhaps the lack of a State response is fitting in this case, since the petition is one of utter disrespect and contempt in the first place. It shows a disrespect for Jewish history, and contempt for modern Jewish residents of Israel.
But it is also joined by a healthy dose of cynicism. For on the morning news shows, Peace Now leader Tzali Reshef confirmed that his organization had filed papers with the court indicating that they were excluding the homes of the Klein and Peretz families from their petition.
I have no doubt that Peace Now’s move is one designed to save face in light of the fact that Roi Klein and Eliraz Peretz are national heroes who laid down their lives in defense of our country. But what Peace Now fails to realize is that every family in Hayovel, indeed every family in Judea and Samaria, if not in the entire country, are heroes. By the very fact of living in the Land of Israel and reclaiming that land on behalf of the Jewish nation, these families are reinstituting our national claim to our national homeland. Their presence sends a message that this land is the land of the Jewish nation from time immemorial, and will remain so regardless of geopolitical fads, international political or legal campaigns and anti-Zionist machinations of one kind or another.
Peace Now’s cynicism is in the fact that they are removing their claim from only these two homes. What is it about Roi Klein’s death and Eliraz Peretz’s death that puts their families outside of Peace Now’s target? Does the fact that they are dead suddenly absolve them of the “sin” of being a “settler”?
Is it that they died in battle as officers in the IDF? Perhaps this proves to Peace Now that at least these “settlers” actually had Israel’s interests at heart and were prepared to lay down their lives for Israel’s protection?
Either way, by excluding these two homes from the claim, Peace Now shows their disrespect for the fallen and their contempt for those living anywhere in Judea and Samaria in their attempt to “divide and conquer” these communities. For let’s say that their claim is now successful. Ten families will be forced from their homes and have those homes destroyed, and just two will remain, unable to defend themselves against potential intrusion, and having purchased that “benefit” with the lives of their husbands and fathers. If this takes place, the remaining two families will be “set apart” from the rest by virtue of their loss, and those who lose their homes may resent the ones who don’t. After all, if their husband or father had been killed, they too would have been able to stay in their homes. Who can make that kind of calculation? Does anyone really think that any of the 12 families concerned will accept such a distinction? These families – all of them – are of a stronger character and moral fiber than Peace Now will ever be able to lay claim to.
Peace Now should realize that every family living in Judea and Samaria, just like every family living anywhere else in Israel, are living there by national right – historical, moral, divine, or other. They should realize that the people living in Judea and Samaria are Israelis in the full sense of the term, just like everyone else living in this country. They should realize that, as Jews, they have an inherent right to build and occupy homes in the Land of Israel without suffering the disrespect, contempt or cynicism of people with anti-Zionist political agendas.