Settlement activists meet to debate how to fight the freeze

Settlement activists mee

clinton at saban 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
clinton at saban 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
"Don't serve in the army. Don't pay taxes," Eviathar H. Ben-Zedeff said on Thursday night as he and other right-wing activists and settlers debated the best strategy to combat the 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction. Many settlers leaders and leading rabbis have called for nonviolent resistance and for continued service in the IDF. But some of those who gathered under the large white plastic tent in the Gilad Farm outpost in Samaria felt that a stiffer battle was needed. "Refusing to serve is like refusing to eat pork," said Ben-Zedeff, who traveled to the small hilltop community from in home in Tel Mond, near Netanya. One man in the tent yelled out to him in protest, "We will continue to serve, and we will continue to win this fight!" Ben-Zedeff shot back, "Don't be like a battered wife who returns to her husband." They spoke at the tail end of an event organized by the Samaria Regional Council, which included speakers such as MKs Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and MK Ayoub Kara (Likud) on the topic of "Connecting the Nation of Israel in Israel and Abroad for Action" against the moratorium. Most of the speakers spoke broadly about the importance of continued Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria. But at the end, activists came up to the microphone to voice their opinions. One young man, Yehoda Cohen, who wore long sidecurls and a large crocheted skull cap, said that he had tried to enlist in the army but was rejected because his brother lived in Gilad Farm. Now, he said, he has come to understand "that we do not have a place in the IDF. I call on everyone not to join the army." Another speaker from the audience, Michael Ben-Horin, wore a cloth orange star on his shirt, above his chest. He accused the government and the IDF of being worse than those Jews who collaborated with Hitler. "They didn't have a choice," he later told The Jerusalem Post. "In this instance, they have volunteered." Anat Livny, from the Shomron Liason office, took the microphone to say that people had to learn from 2005's Gaza evacuation that it made no sense to embrace those who would come to destroy their homes, as they did in Gush Katif. "I want to fight and not protest," said Livny, who had black pants and long, loose blond hair. It's not enough to go to rallies, she said. It was very important to be clear about terms, she added. "Evacuation is violence. Self-defense is not," said Livny. Yishai Fleisher, of Kumah!The Neo Zionist Lobby, said he it was important to remember the significance of the state. "You mean the land," said Livny. "No, I mean the state," said Fleisher. "I will not give up on this state. I am 'orange' in my opinions, but no one will take away from me my right to serve in the IDF. I am as Israeli as possible." Livny shot back, "But first of all I fighting for the land, because without that we are nothing." Veteran settler leader and former MK Elyakim Haetzni tried to moderate the argument. "A strong nation is the best way to ensure our continuity over the land," he said. Moshe Zar, on whose land the outpost was built, said that the greatest threat that the Zionist movement faced was disunity, and that it was important not to fight one another. Among those 200 people who came to the event were a number of Australians from Melbourne who have a partnership program with Gilad Farm. David Ha'ivri, executive director of the Shomron Liaison office, said an important part of the event was its pluralistic nature, in that it drew secular and religious participants as well as people from around the country, including the Tel Aviv and Haifa areas. "The goal of our event was to discuss and organize our appeal to the international community and to gather an ongoing relationship and support for the growth and establishment of the Jewish communities throughout Judea and Samaria. "These people as well as public figures came to express their support for the settlement movement and the Land of Israel," Ha'ivri said.