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Resigned to Exile

Avi Friedman

Many of the young parents in Ulpana, Migron, and Givat Assaf were teenagers when Gush Katif was destroyed. Now, seven years later, they’re facing the prospect of their own evictions. This time around, the fighting spirit that dominated the summer of 2005 has faded to an embittered resignation. The would-be settlers of 2012 understand that fighting the State of Israel is a losing proposition.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

man in office buildingLate in the afternoon on Ulpana Hill, a small outpost in Israel’s Binyaminregion, the evening breeze kicks in to break down the heat of the day. On this day in early June, the summer is not yet in full force, but the midday sun is strong enough that the change feels refreshing. By six o’clock, as the sun begins to descend, one can clearly make out the Tel Aviv skyline to the southwest. In some ways, it is a view that defines the struggle of the Eretz Yisrael HaShleimah (wholeland ofIsrael) community: The foreground is the heart ofIsrael’s Biblical narrative, the land where prophets walked and where ancient judges and kings led the Jewish people in statehood and war. The skyline represents modernIsrael.

Looking out at the view from a small porch, Galit and Naftali Friedman try hard to project a sense of confidence in G-d’s plan for them. But they cannot hide their anxiety as the clock ticks down to July 1, the date the High Court has set for the eviction of Ulpana Hill and several other disputed outposts. As Naftali, a 28-year-old web developer, pushes one-and-a-half-year-old Yehuda on a swing, Galit says their feelings of uncertainty are the result of poor administration on the part of the government.

“I understand that Bibi [Prime MinisterBinyaminNetanyahu] is under a lot of pressure to carry out the court’s ruling,” says Galit, 26. “We can talk about the wisdom or justice of the ruling or of his obeying a ruling we feel is fundamentally flawed, but my biggest argument with the government is over the total lack of communication with us throughout this whole saga. I’d have at least expected someone — a government minister, or at least a spokesman — to visit us here and to let us know what’s going on, but no one has. I have no idea if we’ve got another three weeks to make plans, or if the army is going to come in the middle of the night tonight.”

Asked whether or not they would begin to pack their belongings and to prepare to move from their little neighborhood inside the Beit El settlement, they said without hesitation that they would not, because they do not want to give the eviction the appearance of legitimacy. Like other families here, they said they would stay in Beit El, either in the caravans the government is preparing for them or in rental properties in other parts of the 6,000-strong community.

Surprisingly, neither member of the couple says the Ulpana community is committed to staying together. Unlike other places in Judea andSamaria, few of Ulpana’s residents commute toJerusalemor Tel Aviv. A majority are professionals like social workers, accountants, and teachers who work in Beit El. There’s also a smattering of freelance high-tech workers who telecommute to jobs in other parts ofIsraeland around the world. 


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