"There Will Be No Other Sovereignty in Eretz Israel Other than the State of Israel"
The Deputy Minister of Religious Services declared at the ceremony in which a mezuzah was affixed to the cultural building in the Shdema base that was restored to Jewish hands: "Shdema will be a flourishing community. There will be no other sovereignty in Eretz Israel other than that of the State of Israel"
Hundreds of participants, from the supporters of the settlement enterprise from throughout all Israel, were present Friday morning, Rosh Hodesh Heshvan (October 4, 2013) at the impressive and moving ceremony in which a mezuzah was affixed to the Eretz Israel cultural structure at Shdema in eastern Gush Etzion.
The event marked five years of struggle against anarchists and leftists and against the past plans of the government to give over the place to the Arab Palestinians. It was held with the participation of public figures, including Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl, Israel Prize laureate Geulah Cohen, Deputy Minister of Religious Services Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, the Bayit Yehudi candidate for the Jerusalem city council Adv. Herzl Yehezkel, and hundreds of supporters of the settlement enterprise and Eretz Israel.
The event was opened with greetings by the heads of the Women in Green movement, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, who called for the application of Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, and not to be satisfied with the establishment of new communities. "The application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria means that the land is ours, and is not up for negotiations. This is our demand of the government, the Knesset, and the public at large," Katsover said , and then she read the congratulatory letter to the event by the Speaker of the Knesset, MK Yuli Edelstein.
In the congratulatory letter that he sent to the event, Edelstein wrote: "The Gush Etzion area has an abundant history of special women who 'built the House of Israel.' On one side, standing on the main road, is the tomb of the Matriarch Rachel, who weeps and 'refuses to be comforted for her children, who are gone.' And on the other side stands Shdema, that connects Jerusalem and Tekoa, the place of the woman of Tekoa who acts on behalf of the unity of the people, 'that the one who is banished be not an outcast from him.' Israel is redeemed by the merit of righteous women, and by the merit of tenacious and fighting women, who are persistent and experienced in struggles, the women of Women in Green and the Committee for a Jewish Shdema , Shdema will yet develop and become an important and central settlement point."
This was followed by words by Deputy Minister of Religious Services MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, who declared that the call would go out from Shdema to go forth and make more and more places throughout the land flourish and bloom. "Shdema will be a large and flourishing community," Rabbi Ben-Dahan called, and related what he had heard forty years ago as a student in the study hall of Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kook about the connection between the people of Israel and its land. "The Sages said that a person can understand his teacher's words only after forty years. After forty years, I understand the reason why Rabbi Zvi Yehudah repeatedly mentioned the great worth of Eretz Israel to the people of Israel every week, in his class on the Torah portion. We often asked, why did he incessantly repeat this, and today I understand that only this unending repetition of this statement, replete with trust in G-d, faith, and hope, brought the essence of this message into people's hearts."
Rabbi Ben-Dahan then proclaimed: "There will be no other sovereignty in Eretz Israel other than the State of Israel. We will repeat this statement again and again, incessantly. Only this repetition will implant this within us. There will yet be families and children here, and from here sovereignty will expand to all Judea and Samaria, and we will continue to possess each and every place."
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl, too, expressed his confidence in the future possession of Shdema. "There will be a permanent settlement here. We will not rest until many families come here." He continued by showering praises on the activity of the heads of Women in Green, who led to the physical possession of the site. "The obsessiveness of Yehudit and Nadia led us to continue and be strong." Perl ended his speech with the declaration: "We will be here, ever more and ever stronger."
Perl's speech was followed by that of Adv. Herzl Yehezkel, who, during his term in office as Chairperson of the Homat Shmuel (Har Homah) Community Administration, accompanied the struggles for Jewish physical possession of the location. Yehezkel mentioned the struggles against the anarchists who attempted to make changes and establish facts on the ground, and in practice transfer the area to Beit Sahur. He also mentioned the attempt to pass a decision to transfer the area to the Palestinians on the pretext of building a hospital, and the many meetings and demonstrations against these various actions. "There were demonstrations and meetings, and we succeeded. This proves that determination is successful, and there is no reason not to settle everywhere."
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli spoke in a personal tone, telling how she came to Shdema four years ago on a cold winter night, together with and on the initiative of her husband, Eli Refaeli, to a windowless structure where the singer Karni Eldad performed. That time, as she tried to deal with the cold, she connected to the activity and vision at Shdema.
Moalem-Refaeli continued by mentioning the importance of the struggle for Eretz Israel in the people's consciousness, in tandem with the actual activity on the ground for the restoration and repair of the structure at Shdema. In her words, this struggle is "part of the simple statement that we knew to recite from the maqama of Naomi Shemer about that simple person who goes and continually states that Eretz Israel belongs to the people of Israel."
Turning to Israel Prize laureate Geulah Cohen, who was present in the audience, Moalem-Refaeli said: "It is a great privilege to act in the Knesset and continue the spirit of Geulah Cohen, the spirit that remains there." She told of a large picture in the corridors of the Knesset that shows Geulah Cohen in the time of the struggle against the uprooting from Sinai, sitting with a large sign that reads: "Eretz Israel belongs to the people of Israel." "Geulah is a source of strength. The affixing of the mezuzah today infuses us with that great spirit that sees afar. By the merit of this spirit, we will attain the great goal, which is the application of Jewish sovereignty over all Judea and Samaria. This demand is directed, first of all, to us, that the Lord will merit us to act in the general leadership of the people of Israel."
In the continuation of the event, Geulah Cohen spoke, telling of the feeling of excitement that she has at every event that strengthens the settlement enterprise in Eretz Israel, excitement that reaches new peaks from one event to the next. She also told of her hope that the next time that she comes to an event at Shdema, that will be the time when she will be able to announce the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.
Cohen then read a maqama that she had written, entitled "Lu Yehi [If Only]," that included the following lines: "If only we were given the strength to lovingly bear all the necessary tribulations entailed in the redemption of the Children of Israel [...]
"We were given the strength to struggle with all our might against all the tribulations that are not necessary, which are the fruit of our own hands, the fruits of our failings and our madnesses."
Geulah's words were followed by those of the last of the speakers, Rabbi Yaron Durani, the rabbi of Nokdim and one of the leaders of the Committee for a Jewish Shdema, who praised the older leadership that charts the way for the younger generation. "Words build reality. Words build in us the strength to do. The older generation educates us and leads to great action, and fills us with energy."
After the speeches, the audience turned to the stage of affixing the mezuzot on the structure's doors, following which the audience gathered for the artistic program of Kabbalat Shabbat songs with David Litke, Steve Rodan, and Shalom Weissberg. In the background was an exhibition of paintings by Shmuel Mushnik from Hebron. The event concluded with spontaneous dancing and the promise to return and advance the Jewish foothold in Shdema, until it becomes a flourishing settlement that will ensure territorial continuity between the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homah and Gush Etzion.
CREDIT FOR PHOTOS: ELAD PESSACH
for details and interviews:
Yehudit Katsover - 050-7161818, Nadia Matar - 050-5500834
Women for Israel's Future
(Women in Green)