View from the Hills: Popsicles for Migron

Despite a court order to evacuate Binyamin, the future for the 60 families living there remains in limbo.

Migron 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Migron 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Despite a High Court of Justice ruling to evacuate the Binyamin community of Migron, just north of Jerusalem, by today, August 1, 2012, the future for the 60 families living there remains in limbo for several reasons.
Firstly, as reported in this newspaper recently, the state has asked the court to delay by 29 days – from August 1 to August 30, the evacuation of Migron citing security concerns – fearing potential “Ramadan” violence.
More significantly, however, justices have been listening to arguments with respect to a petition filed on behalf of Migron claiming that an anonymous US donor has legally purchased (or re-purchased) up to 80 percent of the land where the community now sits from local Arabs who say they own the land.
If that is in fact the case, the government’s newly created Ministerial Committee on “settlements” says that if the purchase is found to be authentic there is no reason to evacuate Migron – end of story.
All of this, despite the fact that Migron was established 13 years ago – with the government’s Housing Ministry backing – on land that was at the time declared “Ownerless State Land,” thus making it a legitimate location for the establishment of a Jewish community.
It was only years later, in 2006, that a petition by Peace Now claiming that the area was privately-owned Arab land, did the court side against Migron’s residents.
NEVERTHELESS, WHILE all of this drama is being played out in the political and judicial echelons, some of Migron’s youngest residents have dedicated the rest of their summer vacations towards trying to save their community.
Led by 13 year-old Yosef Tzvi Dietch, a group of nine pre-pubescent boys have started selling popsicles for NIS 2 a stick, in order to try and raise enough money to purchase the 20% of land that was not bought by the US philanthropist.
Instead of being off at summer camp, or hanging out by the pool, the boys have started selling popsicles in shifts down at the Kochav Ya’akov gas station juncture two kilometers below, with high hopes that they will be able to sell enough frozen treats to make a difference.
According to Dietch, he and another one of his friends came up with the idea, after seeing a political advertisement in a weekly Torah portion parsha sheet, which was distributed to synagogues around the country, calling on Jews in all of Israel and the rest of the world to help “buy” the rest of Migron. Dietch figured that instead of waiting for outsiders to chip in, as a resident of Migron himself, he would get the ball rolling.
While, realistically, Dietch knows that it will be a nearly impossible feat to sell enough popsicles to purchase more than 20,000 dunam, which according to one community source is valued at several million shekels, he and his young band of entrepreneurs were unwilling to sit back and do nothing while their homes were being threatened – even if their actions end up being merely symbolic.
Dietch’s mom, Aviela, expressed great pride in her son and his friends for trying to creatively alleviate what could be yet another painful and confrontational eviction in which Jews are removed from their homes by their fellow countrymen.
WHILE THE residents of Migron did reach an agreement, facilitated by Minister Bennie Begin, to relocate their community just two kilometers away from its current site near the Psagot winery, that location is not yet livable, plus history has shown that past evacuations can spur Jew versus Jew violence.
In a 1985, adventure-comedy produced by Steven Spielberg called The Goonies, a group of teen misfits from a lower-middle class Oregon community go on an expedition to find a Spanish pirate’s hidden treasure in order to prevent their homes, already under foreclosure, from being destroyed.
(Spoiler alert.) In the end, despite fighting off wanted criminals also trying to get their hands on the treasure, and surviving potentially fatal booby traps set by the pirates years before to protect their booty, the children succeed in finding the riches and ultimately save their homes.
While in the real world selling popsicles might not yield a similar treasure’s sum to save their homes, it is inspiring nonetheless to see these Migron youngsters making the effort.
The writer is a media expert, freelance journalist and the host of “Reality Bytes Radio,” on