Living on a Prayer

Starting a new life means searching for a new livelihood.

yitzhak golan (photo credit: Tamar Wisemon [file])
yitzhak golan
(photo credit: Tamar Wisemon [file])
Ten days ago, Yitzchak Golan, 54, formerly of Neveh Dekalim, was trying to decide whether to accept a job offer in Tel Chai and move his family to the Golan Heights, or wait for a response from Intel, to which he had applied for a position as a computer engineer, which would allow him to move with his former neighbors to Nitzan, near Ashkelon. Added to his dilemma was the question mark hovering over his married son, Yisrael, whether he would be allocated a caravilla in Nitzan too, or be separated from the community where he has lived all his life [as reported in the Post on December 7). That night, Thursday, Yitzchak was shocked to receive a phone call from a Disengagement Authority representative warning him that his family had to vacate their Jerusalem hotel the following morning. "I was informed that since we had been offered a caravilla in Nitzan ten days earlier, our time limit had run out. I argued that no one had told us we had a ten day limit and we still didn't have sufficient information to decide if we wanted to move to Nitzan." Explains Golan, "Thank G-d we are a strong family that doesn't need to rely on a community to provide our source of strength. We thought perhaps it would be preferable to move where we could help to influence the wider community. But my main concern was finding a job, not such a simple matter at my age. I literally searched from Eilat to the Golan Heights and couldn't commit to Nitzan without a source of livelihood." Golan, who served for over a decade as a career officer in the IDF, established his own computer consultancy firm eleven years ago, working mostly with clients in Gush Katif. He was content there, despite losing three successive cars to mortar shells that fell and exploded beside the parking space outside his home, the shrapnel even piercing a new computer monitor he had just purchased. The break-up of his community and livelihood lead him to look for work as an employee. Says Golan, "I am lucky that I have a marketable profession. Most of the Gush Katif expellees do not have formal professional qualifications, but they were able to adapt and managed to find employment in agriculture and other industries in Gush Katif and many were employed by the local council. But now, unless the government provides professional training courses, no employer will look at them, so the manpower agency established by the government has little chance of finding them work This situation is not new - there has always been massive unemployment in the South - but the disengagement has exacerbated it by throwing thousands more into unemployment." After numerous phone calls to the authority, the Golans were given a reprieve, and allowed to remain in their hotel for a further two weeks. A few days later, his son was given permission to move to Nitzan and Yitzchak was offered, and accepted, a position at Intel. When the Post spoke with him on Monday, he had already moved into his caravilla in Nitzan and was trying to fit his possessions into his temporary 90-meter mobile home. Golan's wife, Chavi, a physical therapist, was the director of the Center for Child Development in Neve Dekalim. She too has received some job offers, but feels it important to set up her home and see her family settled in to school and work, before taking on a new position herself. Golan is determinedly upbeat about starting afresh after what he consistently refers to as "the expulsion" and is eager to acknowledge the assistance he received from the government-established manpower agency that gave him the lead to Intel. But he is far less satisfied with the performance of the central agency established to help the evacuees -the Disengagement Authority. Says Golan, "We have not yet received our compensation - no matter what proofs you provide Sela, they intimate that you are a liar, a cheat….I was very organized and brought a statement from the Gush Katif Council stating the exact years we lived in and owned our home in Neveh Dekalim - twenty-two years. Sela placed it in our file but said it was not good enough for them…instead they demanded as evidence decades old school certificates and municipal tax bills addressed to our home. Why do we need to provide this? It seems that it is merely a way of making life more difficult for us." Disengagement Authority spokesperson Haim Altman responded, "Evacuees have to provide sufficient evidence of their residency in Gush Katif, and in some cases we find a discrepancy between the information and evidence provided by the applicants and the information we have received from departments such as the Ministry of Education, which entails the need to provide additional documentation." Altman added that for this reason there is no single piece of documentation that will fully satisfy the authority. But he referred to his department's figures of last week, showing that 900 families have received either 75% or 100% of their compensation due, as proof that the system is functioning. But all evacuees interviewed by this reporter, including Golan, retort that because they cannot obtain clear, official guidelines of what will provide sufficient proof, they have been forced to devote days running around the country in a bureaucratic paper-chase, only to find that yet again another piece of evidence is needed.