January 3, 2005
Last week, expulsion forces, led by “annihilation authority” director Yonatan Bassi, made their way to communities in the northern Shomron, communities marked for destruction by the Sharon government. Traveling the roads wasn’t easy. At the Shavei Shomron community, not far from their destination, furious Israelis lined the road, protesting, attempting to prevent the convey from continuing onward. Despite the scuffles and temporary delay, the expulsion force continued and soon reached their goal: Sa’nur.
Founded in the 1970’s Sa’nur was populated for the next 30 years by various groups of people, and included an artist’s colony, initiated in the late 1980s. In 2001 a group of Habad Chassidim moved into Sa’nur, and brought about a reopening of roads that had been closed in the area and a revitalization the community. However, due to the problems entailed by the Oslo war, the community shrunk in size.
In 2002, Yaron and Miriam Adler, then living in Kiryat Arba, moved to Sa’nur, making the community’s total population four families. Today, two years later, twenty families and over 50 children live there, including 10 families who moved in following Ariel Sharon’s announcement that Sa’nur is on the chopping block and scheduled for execution sometime this coming summer. The community has reopened the artist’s gallery, and groups of foreign and Israeli tourists frequent the site.
Last week, Bassi’s annihilation authority forces decided to visit Sa’nur, ostensibly to check out logistics, etc. However, the real reason was to determine the extent of Israeli resistance to their presence. They weren’t to be disappointed. Many Sa’nur residents blocked the road leading into the community, and locked the main gate, preventing the convoy from entering. An IDF officer managed to cut through the gate, opened it, and the vehicles progressed. Miriam Adler, mother of six children aged 8 and a half to nine months, decided that she could not stand on the side and watch the expulsion forces roll into her home. With three of her children, Miriam lay down in the street, in front of the vehicles, preventing them from traveling any further. Her husband Yaron, was with another child, also in the road.
Police and other security forces didn’t hesitate. A mother of six children is evidently a danger to the state. Miriam was brutally dragged from the site and her nine month old daughter Yael forcibly taken from her. Miriam was arrested. Her husband’s finger was intentionally broken by security forces.
Finally, following almost five hours of interrogation Miriam Adler was released. One of the main topics of the interrogation was ‘endangering a minor’ i.e. child neglect. Media reports have indicated that she will be charged with this grave crime.
When I asked Miriam about this she said, “We will continue to educate our children to love Eretz Yisrael and to struggle to save Eretz Yisrael. If police and soldiers think that they can scare us, they are wrong. Any brute who attacks us will be sued, civilly and criminally. They will not be able to chase us off our land.” (Anyone wishing to visit Sa’nur can call: Ariel at 057-7304402 or Yossi at 057-7304401 (from outside Israel – 972-57-…..).
Child neglect is a very interesting charge, indeed. One might expect that parents whose children cavort at sex and drug parties, while Mom and Dad frolic somewhere in the Caribbean, might be charged with child neglect. Perhaps parents who abandon newborns in the hospital or others who can’t seem to find time to attend parent-teacher conferences at school, these kinds of people might be candidates for criminal ‘child neglect.’
But not in Israel.
Two years ago, Nati Uzeri HY”D was brutally murdered by Arab terrorists in his home, just outside Kiryat Arba. The animals knocked on his door during the family’s Friday night Sabbath meal. When Nati Uzeri opened the door, massive gunfire killed him instantly. The terrorists continued shooting into the house, intending to murder all there. They had come prepared with enough fuel to transform the house into little more than ashes. Thank G-d, they didn’t have a chance. Two unarmed men inside the home managed to escape through a back door and attacked the animals, who were eventually eliminated.
Only a few months later, at midnight on March 24, 2001, on a rainy, ice-cold night, the Uzeri home was swamped with dozens of soldiers, police and other security forces. The road between Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion was closed to Israeli traffic. A curfew was declared in Kiryat Arba and the Givat HaHarsina neighborhood. The area surrounding the Uzeri home was declared a ‘closed military zone.’ Nati’s widow Livnat, her children and several others living in three shacks, were forcibly evicted. All in pajamas, the mother and children weren’t allowed to change clothes, put on warm coats, pack clothing for the next day, or take anything from the house. IDF bulldozers swiftly destroyed the home. All keepsakes of their father and husband, Nati, were ground into the earth.
A day later, a group of people from Hebron and Kiryat Arba arrived at Hill 26, as the Uzeri site was known, to protest. The cold, wet winter weather didn’t stop them. Neither did the army-police announcement that the area was off-limits, a ‘closed military zone.’ Three Hebron women, Elisheva Federman, Yifat Alkobi, and Miriam Fleishmen, refused to leave, and locked themselves, together with some of their children, in an abandoned car. Of course, eventually they were apprehended and evicted from the site. But that was not enough. They too were charged with a serious crime: child neglect.
Understanding the political implications involved and the absurdity of the charges, the women refused to participate in the trial, refusing to offer any defense. A few weeks ago a Jerusalem court judge, Yehezkel Barkali, convicted the three women of child neglect. Realizing the present they had just been given, it seems that the police have decided to indict all parents whose children appear at protests with this horrific crime: child neglect.
Early yesterday afternoon the women appeared in court for a pre-sentencing hearing. Inside the small courtroom they sat, together with their children. A few friends were present, as well a small number of journalists. The prosecution opened the hearing by changing their original demand, that the women be punished by having to perform a certain number of hours of community service. They now requested that the women be given conditional jail sentences. In other words, should they again appear at a protest with their children, they would be imprisoned.
The weather in Jerusalem yesterday was cold and rainy. During the hearing the heavens opened up and it poured. Despite this, over one hundred women and children stood outside the courthouse, chanting and demonstrating, protesting the Israeli version of justice, occurring inside.
Each one of the spoke in turn. Please read some of the remarks made by Yifat Alkobi:
Yifat began: “I would like to bring to the court’s attention a small portion of the history upon which we were raised and educated…A family living in Tzfat, in the year 1838, a year after the massive earthquake which left over 2,000 people dead, came to live in Israel and in Tzafat, despite the famine and plagues…or the 10 year old boy, Nissim Gigi, in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, who ran through the streets in-between missiles and gunfire, whose mother worried, but knew that they were fighting for their home, for their house, a mother who wanted to remain there, in Jerusalem, with her children, all those already born and those not yet born…or perhaps the case of the mother, who in 1994 turned on the radio, only to hear that a bus had exploded in the center of Tel Aviv, a bus her daughter had boarded a short time ago.”
Speaking about the Uzeri home and family: “We protested: how can a Jewish house be so destroyed in Israel? Is this the prize Nati’s murderers received? How can a widow and orphans be expelled from their home, the home where their father was murdered in front of their eyes? How could we look in our children’s eyes when they would ask us, in our pleasant home, under warm blankets, where are Nati’s orphaned children sleeping, how is it possible that in Eretz Yisrael, the Jewish homeland, Jewish family articles are covered by mud – didn’t we once witness this in other, foreign lands before the creation of our state?…Is a mother negligent if she chooses to adhere to the way of so many other dedicated mothers throughout history, who always claimed, and lived in such a way that their children were united with them in building Eretz Yisrael?…”
“According to many of our leaders today, Eretz Yisrael is guilty of everything. Because of Eretz Yisrael there isn’t security, there isn’t peace, there is violence, there isn’t enough employment, there are diseases, there are educational problems, in other words, in their opinion, Eretz Yisrael is responsible for all our problems. But this is not true and Am Yisrael knew this throughout our history and was never confused. They know that Eretz Yisrael is the basis for everything, the foundation of the existence of Am Yisrael, the foundation of our success, of our growth, of our security, of our happiness, in short, Eretz Yisrael is the Living land of the Jewish people. This is how I was educated, how my father and mother were educated, how my grandparents were educated, who arrived here from Galut, from the Diaspora in unimaginable ways, to this land. And this is how I educate my children, to love this land, to live for its sake, and to do everything in order to enable Am Yisrael to live here…”
“Together with my husband and family, rather than expel we will expand, rather than uproot we will plant, rather than destroy we will build…If the court decides to continue to associate me with the ridiculous charge of child neglect, at least it should be due to my bond to Eretz Yisrael, to our people, to our Torah, and not, G-d forbid, because of an aloofness to the fundamental, eternal values, from which Am Yisrael lives and has lived for generations, and from which we will continue to live and remain in this Land.”
The judge will pass sentence on Yifat, Miriam and Elisheva next Sunday, at one o’clock in the afternoon, in Jerusalem.
With blessings from Hebron.