I would like to share with you the experience a few of us had of the exciting last few days in Chomesh and hopefully pass on to those of you who could not be there, a so much needed shot of Zionism, adrenaline, renewed hope and faith.
Fearing that, like it had happened on Chanukka, the army would put up roadblocks already on Monday morning, our little group of 9 people decided to leave our homes at midnight Sunday night. In our van we packed as much as we could: a sleeping bag for each, warm clothes, helmets against police brutality, food, drinks and lots of strong will to make it to Chomesh. With me in the van were three of my children (Talya, 16 years old, Bentzie, 14 years old and Amichai, 10 years old), two other mothers and three other teenagers from Efrat.
Our first goal was to reach Shavei Shomron, the community closest to Chomesh where all the people had been asked to gather. Our drive took a little less than two hours and to our amazement - no roadblocks. The rumor was that the army was probably going to let the people get to Chomesh, but only for one day.
In Shavei Shomron we met many other people who also had feared roadblocks and thus arrived that night. Everybody found somewhere to sleep. Boys in one building, girls in another. The women in our little group joined others who had found room to sleep in some side room in the main synagogue.
In the morning, after morning prayers, we gathered around the synagogue plaza, we were around 300 people. The organizers told us that we would be the first group to mach up to Chomesh at 8:00 am. The masses would be coming later in the afternoon.
The rumor turned out to be true: the army decided to let marchers go up, on condition that it would be by foot. No cars allowed. The army's decision to allow people to go up to Chomesh was already a first victory. After the authorities had threatened to not allow anyone back and even warned that people daring to march to Chomesh would be punished with a two year jail sentence and organizers would be fined with all the expenses - the organizers did not cave in; did not agree to make any compromises and simply said: we are going up no matter what. We refuse to make any deals with you, we refuse to collaborate with you.
When the authorities realized the organizers were serious, they realized they were the ones who had to bend down and allowed the marchers to go up. Sadly, this made us realize how things could have been different in the summer of 2005 - had we not been stuck with the Yesha council as our leaders but rather with a leadership with no ties to the government, a leadership of uncompromising idealists who do not collaborate with the authorities.
At 8:15 we started walking. Each and one of us, even the children, carried as much as we could: sleeping bags, sweaters, backpacks with as much food as possible, tefillin for the boys and lots of brazenness. We knew it was not an easy walk. Three hours, all the time uphill. But let me tell you, those 3 hours will not be forgotten by anyone. The knowledge that we were going back to Chomesh gave all of us, even those not in such good shape, the strength to make it uphill.
No word can describe the beauty of the view we witnessed. Who needs to go abroad to Thailand when we got even more beautiful views and landscapes right here in our Promised Biblical homeland? The green hills, the fields of colorful flowers, the amazing blue sky, reminded all of us how beautiful Eretz Yisrael is and how insane anyone who wants to give it up is. Here and there one sees some Arab houses and even small villages, but mostly, the area is empty, waiting for the Jewish people to come back home and resettle their G-d given homeland.
During the march, army jeeps were driving by with soldiers waving hello - happy that they were not (yet) asked to prevent us from going to Chomesh. When we neared Chomesh, we could see from far the ruins of the other community destroyed by the Sharon government: Sa-Nur. The last hill before one gets to Chomesh is the most difficult one- but by that time our excitement was so great, that no one could feel the tired legs and feet. We almost ran.
At around 11:00am we entered what once was the beautiful entrance to Chomesh. Our excitement and happiness mingled with lots of sadness. Everything was gone, destroyed, ruined. The evil powers of the Sharon government made sure to clean everything away, even the sewage connections. All that we could see were some bricks left from the streets and here and there some steps that used to lead to people's homes.
The youth ran to the one and only structure left in place; the water tower. Climbing on top the tower they hung the 2 flags we had brought with us; the Israeli flag and a flag Women in Green had produced after the expulsion in 2005: an orange flag on which is printed a Magen David and the saying: The Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel.
We took a stroll around what used to be Chomesh. There was the swimming pool, there was the synagogue, there lived this family, there lived that family. Looking around one can easily see the Mediterranean sea, Tel Aviv, Natanya, Hadera; turning on the other side one can see Haifa and even the Hermon Mountains. One looks at this view and one asks: WHY? Why was this place destroyed? Why was this place abandoned? In Gush Katif they claimed it was because of the "many Arabs of Gaza" that make it impossible for Jews to live there - a lie in itself as we know, but that was the official "terutz"…here in Chomesh, with hardly any Arabs in sight, what was their reason? And this is where you realize that there was "reasoning" behind the expulsion. Just pure hatred of the national camp by the left. What pushed them to destroy 25 Jewish communities was pure evil. A sick pleasure by the Israeli secular leftist camp to try and crush the traditional Jewish camp and all those who want this country to be a Jewish country.
Looking down from Chomesh onto the road, we all of a sudden realized that the road we had just one up, was black with people. What a sight!! Thousands and thousands more Jews were now trekking up to Chomesh. Arriving, after a three hour walk, were women with children and babies, men carrying their little one on the shoulders, teenagers, and even elderly people. No, not only youngsters were making it up the hill but lots and lots of adults.
Everyone that arrived found a place where he would spend the night. Girls in one area of Chomesh. Boys in another one and families in yet another area. Everyone made sure to gather wood for the bonfires that will be needed at night. Around 4:00pm it was already getting very cold and windy. Youth were building a house from leftover blocks and stones. At 5:00pm the organizers covered tents they had hidden there a few days before. Within a few minutes five large tents had been put up.
The stream of people arriving did not stop till late in the night. There must have been at least 6000 people there. Among them Women in Green activists Anita and Chaim Finkelstein, Renee Margolis, Meira Zohar, Kenny and Sandy Lerner and many more. It was simply amazing.
Around 7:00pm the official ceremony started with incredible fireworks that warmed everybody's hearts. Lots of singing, dancing and words of strength and Torah were spoken by different public figures and activists.
The night was not easy. It was very, very cold and by that time many people had finished all the food they had brought. Evil minds in the government had decided, in order to try and break the Chomesh supporters spirit, to not allow water and food be brought up to Chomesh. When the mass murderer Yasser Arafat, may his name be blotted out, was being held in the Mukata compound, the Israeli government made sure to tell the world that –for humanitarian reasons-Israel is allowing Arafat to get pita bread and humus and drinks - but when Jewish lovers of the Land are concerned, the Olmert government does not allow them to get supplies of food, water, diapers and coats that were so much needed.
This did not break the people and we spent the night, close to the bonfire, warming ourselves mainly with the incredible feeling of satisfaction and success: we had come back home to Chomesh and even if the authorities will succeed in bringing us down - we will come back and back again, till Chomesh will be rebuilt, please G-d.
The next morning, after morning prayers, our little group of nine needed to get back home. Even though the army had provided buses for people to go back, we refused to give them that satisfaction and walked back the three hour walk. Arriving back in Shavei Shomron we heard that the authorities had stopped allowing people to go up. Despite that, tens and tens of youth were going up, this time not on the main road but through the field and the mountains.
In the late afternoon a very exciting event took place in Chomesh. Limor Har Melech, resident of Chomesh, whose husband, Shuli HY"D, had been murdered a few years ago by Arab terrorists, had remarried and a week ago gave birth to a son. The very emotional Brit Mila (circumcision) took place on the ruins of their house.
Another night was spent on Chomesh. Our little group of nine already was not there. Other people had replaced those who had come in the beginning. This morning (Wednesday) 1000 policemen came and evacuated the 300 or so youngsters who were still in Chomesh. I am writing those words while listening to the Arutz 7 news report announcing that there still are tens of youth scattered around the hills.
Even if by the end of the day the government will succeed in bringing down all Jews from Chomesh - this return to Chomesh was an incredible success. We have passed on a clear message that like at the time of the creation of the State of Israel the Jews did not accept the decree of the British White Paper not allowing Jews to come to the land of Israel, we today do not accept the decree of uprooting us from our homeland. We have not forgotten nor forgiven. We will go back and back and back till we will be back in all places abandoned by the Sharon government. With G-d's help.
Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380