Israel Resource Review 30th June, 2005


Actualities in Black and Orange

The Last Event at the Katif Hotel Before All Residents Were Evicted
Menachem Kuchar

The demonisation of the residents of Maoz Yam, the Gush Katif hotel, has continued in the Israeli press for the past two weeks.

A side of the story not reported in the media was an event, the first of what was planned to many cultural evenings for the residents of Gush Katif, two nights before the Israeli government ordered all residents evicted.

Last Tuesday evening a wine and cheese night accompanied opening of my one man photography exhibition, "Actualities in Black & Orange".

The idea for the evening grew out of my visit to Kfar Yam last week, to the homes of Nadia Matar and Anita Finkelstein. They, together with long time Kfar Yam resident Datya Yitzchaki, founded Minhelet Kela, an organization to encourage and assist people to move to Gush Katif at this time. The aim of the evening was to allow the veteran residents of Gush Katif and the newcomers to meet, to break down barriers that may have arisen due to the negative press. People from other areas of Israel were invited to meet both groups and see the hotel first hand.

Hotel Entrance,
before the residents moved in

I arrived early, around noon. The gates of the hotel were surrounded by an aggressive press corps. One cameraman had built himself a platform to allow him to film over the wall; the road was all but blocked by a satellite dish around which I maneuvered with difficulty -- a rumor was circulating that the police were about to raid the premises. When this proved not to be the case, the press quickly and quietly dispersed.

Camerman over the wall

Inside the hotel complex I found everything to very calm and relaxed. In the newly built synagogue, a group were in the middle of a Talmud lesson, in the dining hall, tables were being laid out for lunch and others were busy in the kitchen preparing the food. Still others were cleaning the public areas and planting trees in the grounds. Visitors from all around Israel were coming and going throughout the day. I didn't find the radical image the media was presenting.

The windowless Synagogoue

The only thing that was strange was that there were no windows in any of the buildings. Apparently a couple of years ago, these were smashed by out-of -the-area drug addicts who sold the aluminum frames for scrap. The glass and rubble had all been cleaned up now by the new residents, and a cool sea breeze blew in through the openings.

Hotel Reception,
before the residents moved in

A number of volunteers helped me to prepare the venue for the exhibit. The hotel coffee shop was restored for the occasion, and Victor, who had been the old hotel's chef, arranged the room and the food. There was a shortage of electricity in the hotel, but some lights were connected.

Setting up the gallery

At 6:30 people started to arrive. The few fluorescent lighting tubes were augmented by the warm light of the sunset streaming through the large "windows" in the west. About 200 people attended the opening of the exhibition. Various companies from around Israel donated wine, cheese, fruit and other delicacies for the occasion. Both recorded and live music was played in the background. Newcomers, residents and visitors mixed freely. Everyone had a good time.

Hotel Entrance

The ambiance was electrifying.

Eitan ben David, the owner of the hotel, was present. He publicly expressed his joy at seeing the hotel again "come to life". The entertainment was reminiscent of summer evenings when the hotel was full of visitors.

Relaxing at the Hotel

One hotel resident, a tour guide, best summed up the evening. He said that whilst my photographs represented a certain surrealism in Israeli society today, reality was far more surrealistic. "Last night", he continued, "we were building barricades as we were expecting the police to raid the hotel; and tonight I'm drinking wine and looking at fine art".

Sunset on the exhibition

View more of Menachem's photography at

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

You've won, Mr. Sharon. I'm Disengaged
Naomi Ragen

I'm watching the news on television. The screen is filled with a major Israeli security operation.

Seven hundred police are involved, with major military backup.

Could it be, perhaps, an attack on Hezbollah, which just sent three terrorists to infiltrate Israel, and attacked Har Dov with artillery fire, killing a 20 year old soldier from Beersheva?

No, they are involved in clearing out a bunch of teenagers from an abandoned hotel in Gush Katif!

There are ten soldiers and policemen for every kid.

I see them dragging the children by their legs. I see them putting a young girl in a head hold.

It takes them twenty minutes, tops, to empty the "right-wing extremist stronghold."

And this is how I feel: Disengaged, in the real sense of the word, not Mr. Sharon's spin. I feel detached, withdrawn, my ties and obligations severed.

Who are these people who are running my country?

I didn't elect them. I voted for those who promised to support Gush Katif, to fight terrorism.

I sent my son to the army to shoulder arms and risk his young life to protect his people, not drag them kicking and screaming out of their homes.

Not to mount a little war against a bunch of teenagers.

Of course, you'd never know this listening to the Israeli media, who have joined forces with European and Palestinian spin doctors to foster anti-Israel propaganda.

How many times did I hear the newscaster showing this shameful footage call these kids : "Men of the Right." Men? I didn't see any men. I saw fifteen year-olds, confused and unhappy and hyper.

Now why should that be? I mean, the fact that their government gave out guns to terrorists after signing worthless agreements with them couldn't be a factor, could it? Or the fact that they sat and had bombs thrown at them for four years, while their government was "negotiating."

It couldn't be seeing their friends, neighbors, parents,teachers and Rabbis gunned down or blown up in cold blood by their Palestinian neighbors, could it? Or the fact that they are about to lose their homes and have their synagogues, schools and even cemeteries bulldozed? I mean, that's no excuse for sitting on the roads and blocking complacent Tel Aviv home-owners trying to get to their television sets and humus. No, they must be "dangerous criminals who will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." Bad seeds, "men of the right," violent fanatics who deserve and who will receive, no doubt, long jail terms if Mr. Sharon and his forces get their hands on them.

I saw one of them throw a rock and injure a Palestinian, which was disgusting. This incident is now being denounced as a "lynch" (Lynch? You mean like the two Israeli reservists who were beaten to death by a Palestinian mob,who dipped their hands in the blood? That kind of lynch?)

Let's kill the kids, why don't we? After all, they are worse than terrorists aren't they, with their "lynch" and their desperate, annoying attempts to wake up their fellow citizens, keeping them in traffic jams in hot days. Or like the soldier who cried out: "This is wrong!" during an operation to drag the kids bodily into waiting vans. He was given the maximum jail sentence. Not for refusing orders, mind you. For expressing his feelings. Let's string him up, too.

Disengagement: To detach oneself. Free oneself from an obligation or pledge.

To withdraw.

I guess that's how I feel about my government and the Israeli news media today.

I'm disengaged. I think I speak for many.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

IDF Announcement About Why The IDF Acted To Evict All Residents From the Hotel:
No Real Explanation Given

[Israel Resource News Agency asked the Israeli government as to why they ordered ALL residents of the Katif Hotel to be forcibly evicted. The goverment referred us to the following statement, which does not provide an answer - db]

‏01/07/2005 12:10
IDF Spokesperson Announcement

Temporary limitation of entry to the Gaza Strip following radicalization of the activities of factors opposing the disengagement plan.

During the past 24 hours, factors opposing the disengagement have radicalized their activities in the Gaza Strip, including repeated violations of the law and order, as well as harm to Palestinian residents of the area, and to the security forces.

Updated information exists regarding additional groups of Israelis that are moving towards the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to provide backup for the rioters and to act to further escalate the situation.

A further escalation of this course of action taken by radical elements may have grave effects on the region.

In light of this situation, the GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, signed an order regarding a temporary limitation of entrance and presence in the Gaza Strip. Entrance to these areas will be allowed to Israelis working in the area, providing essential services, to Israelis who are listed as residents of the area, and to others whose entry is permitted by the authorities.

The IDF and the Israeli Police forces plan to act in the near future in order to restore calm in the area. Upon completion of this activity, the order limiting entry to the area will be removed.

It should be noted that this order is not the order of limitation to be issued by the political echelon as part of the preparations for the implementation of the disengagement plan.

The IDF and the Israeli Police are in continuous contact with the leaders of the Gush Katif communities, and are updating them regarding all developments. The IDF and Israeli Police are making every effort to minimize the harm to the residents' daily lives.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

What Happened During the Katif Eviction:
A first hand Account
Sara Feld Lubar

I have decided to send this out to you so that you can read a first hand detailed account of what the world news is mostly blacking out.

First, I want you to understand the basic facts:

1. Sharon decided for no reason that removing his citizens from their homes and giving the Land away to long term enemies who are terrorists, was a good idea.

2. Polls reflect that the majority of his citizens do not want this.

3. Soldiers, including an entire unit toda, are refusing orders to remove their fellow citizens from their homes.

4. Sharon announced a set of rules under which his dictates would happen.

5. He broke every single one of his own rules.

6. In any other context, happening to anyone other than Israelis, the United Nations would intervene, other governments would call it an atrocity, and perhaps even war crime indictments would be made.

---> Next, I want you to picture the "extremists" involved in the resistance to the Expulsion plans. Get ready. Picture normal middle class frequently articulate, empowered, American, educated folks who moved here to build a life. Dress them well, give them manners, and you have just pictured the vast majority of the protesters.

---> Now finally I want you to read this email which was sent by a licensed clinical psychologist who works for my agency. He is a brilliant and kind man. He rode to Gush Katif last night, on a momen'ts notice, in a car driven by my son, with my husband and another young woman also as passengers. Their aim was to join another van full of similar people from our town, to make sure with their own bodies that Sharon would not be a dictator and violator of the HUMAN RIGHTS of people in their own homes.

Read this description of what went on in Gush Katif, at the "hotel" which is really a building housing lots of people, as the military and the police entered this private property unannounced and in direct conflict with all stated policies . . .

There are not two sides to this issus. Let the politicians find other ways of solving terrorism. Throwing good and productive people out of their homes in order to give them to terrorists, is not a way to solve terrorism. It is a way to guarantee it.

Please pray for Divine wisdom to enter our lives now. Please, please trudge through every word of Yaacov's email.


Shalom all,

Well thanx to this list, to Aryeh, and our driver Shimmy, we managed to get down to Maoz Yam Hotel yesterday before they closed the Gush. We were given sleeping bags and stayed the night in the hotel. In the a.m. upon hearing the Gush had been closed, some of us decided to stay on since it would be hard for others to get in to take our place. Some observations, thoughts, suggestions:

1) My encounter with the police was chilling. They were not violent to me, personally, I did not resist and was carried away briskly but without violence. The same cannot be said for others. However, the police--two in particular--refused to identify themselves; they refused to tell me whether I was meukav (detained) or atzur (arrested) ; they refused to say where they were taking me. All of this is disturbing enough (because essentially it is like you have been kidnapped. Police MUST identify themselves, badge # etc . . . ). The looks on some of their faces was what really disturbed me. Blank looks. I believe these were the "Yasam" ones.

2) The police I saw were all armed. They entered the hotel in SWAT team style, with machine guns in prepared posture, helmeted, with ladders, crowbars and sledge hammers. Those who carried me away were carrying pistols. I thought the police had agreed that those doing the gerush would not be armed? What if in the pressured situation, amidst the screams and crying, some unbalanced individual [or government plant, a la Avishai Raviv, for that matter]--were to grab one of their guns and start shooting? The guns were within easy reach. Why did they come in with guns?

3) Why were religious teenage young women who were not resisting, who had tied their own hands and were sitting passively (although crying), handled roughly and carried away by male policemen? There has always been a policy to use female police for that purpose. There was certainly no shortage of manpower, and I did see some female police. Was this a policy decision?

4) For all the mantra-like repetition of "extremists" and "extremist hotel" in the media (it does seem that they all get told what words to use), even the "hilltop youth" and Cahanistim responded immediately to the requests of the leadership at the hotel, and came down from the rooftops where they had been barricading themselves with barbed wire, tires, food etc. They agreed to adopt nonviolent means. Otherwise it would have taken many hours or days to remove them. This moderation is the only reason that there were not serious injuries or even deaths at the hotel, and why it was so easy and fast for the police to remove everyone. The police SWAT invasion of a private hotel, breaking the law by not identifying themselves etc, was "extreme." The people at the hotel were models of restraint and moderation in my opinion.

All of the problems with police conduct I have mentioned, when dealing with people who were showing tremendous restraint while being ripped, mothers and babies, from their homes (remember: families have been living in the hotel for years), has the effect of radicalizing the opposition, and increasing exponentially the risk of severe violence. A father sees his wife and infant child being roughly removed from their home by a blankly-staring policeman in a ridiculous space-man SWAT outfit, while his religious teenaged daughter is being manhandled by other male police---they are pushing this person to the limit. I'm frankly surprised that no one has seriously attacked the police, and judging from the way the police came in, I think they are also surprised.

I will never forget the little girl happily riding her bike around the hotel courtyard--perhaps the only home she has ever known--shortly before the Israeli SWAT teams stormed in--literally--to drag her and her parents onto buses, to drop them many miles away on a secluded highway, some barefoot, and *without water* in the Negev sun. I saw this with my two eyes, which are teary as I write this.

Because someone decided Jews can't live there anymore. We will never forget this.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Leave it to Bieber:
Parents Speak to Their Children About IDF Refusal
David Bedein

Avi Bieber was a grade school kid when he was our neighbor in Efrat only a few years back, just before his family moved to Tekoa.

Now we see his face flash on the TV screen over the past 48 hours, wearing his army uniform, with his simple, clear statement to his commander that he would not obey an order to beat up Jews. His statement that "It is simply not just and not right" was quite clear, as he laid down his weapon and was promptly arrested and jailed for refusing an order.

All day long, the next day, Avi's father was on the air, saying clearly that his son acted on his conscience and that he would be supportive of his son, even if his son was thrown in jail for a long prison term.

Now our children ask what they should do. We have four older children and two younger children. We have two two boys -- 23 and 19. One has just finished the army and the other is about to go in. And we have two big girls -- 22 and 17, one who has finished her national service and one who is about to go in, and we have two little girls -- 11 and 6, and they all ask us each in their own way, including our little ones, what is right to do at this moment in time.

Every parent in Israel now experiences this moral dilemma.

Speaking from personal experience, I have been through some of this before, when the Vietnam conflict was raging, when it seemed like fighting in that war was the wrong thing to do.

Despite intense patriotism for America, it hurt to come to the conclusion that I could no longer live or fight for my country. In good faith, I could not call myself a conscientious objector, since there was a nation that I could fight for -- Israel.

There were heartrending talks that I had with my father, who fought for America in the South Pacific in World War II, and an even more difficult dialogue with my grandfather, who fought for America in France in World War I and went on be a proud leader in the American Legion.

Yet they both saw the injustice in Vietnam, and supported the tough decision to leave America rather than to fight for an unjust cause.

What reinforced my decision to choose Israel as a land to live and fight for was what I had learned in high school from a teacher who had been an Israeli army officer who taught us about the Israeli army's code of conscience, which requires an Israeli soldier to disobey an order which the soldier believes is immoral.

Our teacher taught us about the Kfar Kassam case in 1956, when Israeli soldiers opened fire on a truck of Arab workers returning home after curfew, and how every single soldier was convicted for obeying an illegal order to fire and kill unarmed workers.

Unlike Lieutenant Calley and his troops who walked free after their trial for conducting the Mylai massacre in Vietnam, every Israeli soldier at Kfar Kassam paid a heavy price for following what the Israeli court determined to be an immoral order.

Israel is perhaps the only nation to apply the principle of the Nuremberg Trials that you cannot say that "I was only following orders". Indeed, the principles of the Nuremberg Trials have been integrated into the moral code of the Israeli soldier.

And what I do say to my children, speaking as a social worker, a journalist and a father, is that there can be no moral justification to follow an orders issued under the current Israeli government, which again arms a PLO security force that is at war with the state and people of Israel, which cedes key strategic positions to threaten the entire western Negev and coastal plain of Israel, and which forcibly expels thousands of citizens from their private homes and farms.

We as parents must now bear the burden of supporting our children in prison rather than asking them to bear responsibility to follow an immoral order.

When I pondered the possibility of resisting Vietnam 35 years ago, I made a pilgrimage to Walden Pond in Massachusetts, and read the principles of civil disobedience, articulated in the 19th century by Henry David Thoreau, who would not participate in supporting the American war against Mexico.

And when Thoreau was finally imprisoned, the famed American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson came to see his friend in prison.

Emerson then asked his incarcerated friend, "What are you doing in there", to which Thoreau responded, "As a man of conscience, what are you doing out there"?

Avi Bieber and many IDF troops will now suffer the indignity of long jail sentences for refusing an immoral order.

They will be vindicated in their conviction.

Printer friendly version of this article

Return to Contents

Go to the Israel Resource Review homepage

The Israel Resource Review is brought to you by the Israel Resource, a media firm based at the Bet Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, and the Gaza Media Center under the juristdiction of the Palestine Authority.
You can contact us on