- Spreading Falsifications About the Skali Farm by Kalman Liebskind
- "I Have a Nightmare" - The Concern for the Fate of Darfur by Rabbi David Saperstein
Spreading Falsifications About the Skali Farm
by Kalman Liebskind
Investigative Journalist, Maariv
KIBBUTZNIKS IN SAMARIA
The place: Skali's farm, an isolated settlement outpost in the heart of Samaria.
The setting: A field strewn with alfalfa, olive groves and rocky hills.
The event: A battle between the descendants of the dinosaurs. The
participants: On one side, Yoel Marshak, 61, son of Benny Maharshak, the
Palmah's mythological commissar and its education and ideology officer.
On the other side, Ahuvya Tabenkin, son of Yitzhak Tabenkin, a founder
of the United Kibbutz Movement and the spiritual leader of Ahdut
The background: A group of Palestinians, led by Marshak and
Uri Pinkerfeld, former secretary of the National Kibbutz Movement,
arrives from Kafr Salem on its way to cultivating lands that its people
say belong to the Arabs of the village. Tabenkin and Tzafrir Ronen,
residents of Ein Harod, wait for them in a field being cultivated by the
farm owner, Yitzhak Skali, to protect his crops.
It must be conceded that it is a bit unexpected to find the
kibbutzniks waging an ideological battle here of all places, close to a
small farm in Samaria located four kilometers from the nearest
settlement. In the past decades it would have been more feasible to
find these bitter debates being waged, if at all, over a cup of coffee
and plate of cookies in Ramat Efal or on the pages of the kibbutz
newsletter Hadaf Hayarok.
There is a lot of bad blood between these two, Tabenkin and Marshak.
They refuse to speak to each other, and can barely bring themselves to
pronounce each other's names. For Tabenkin, Marshak is not Yoel but
rather "the apple." "Why an apple? Because even his father, who I was
with in the Palmah, said about him once that he was an apple who fell
far from the tree." Marshak, in turn, awards his rival the nickname
"messiah." "I have nothing to say to him. This Jew lives a hundred
years ago. As far as he is concerned, the land was given only to us,
and all the others are here by mistake."
In this clash, involving the parents seems to be inevitable.
Tabenkin is convinced that Yoel's Palmahnik father is turning over in
his grave. "It is good that he is dead and can't see this shameful
sight, how the apple has deteriorated so far that today he is leading
the marauders," he lashes out. Marshak, unsurprisingly, is convinced
that the parents would think differently today. "His father and mine,
who believed in the greater Israel, would change their opinion if they
were alive today, because human life is more sacred than land."
The story began a few months ago, when left wing activists led by
Marshak and Pinkerfeld began to accompany Palestinian farmers to their
olive groves near Skali's farm. The IDF, which approved the
[agricultural] work after advance notice, would update the residents of
the settlement Elon Moreh and the residents of the farm, and aside from
relatively minor incidents, which reached the point of debates at a low
volume, matters ended with relative quiet.
On March 31 things could have ended quietly as well, if the left wing
activists and the Palestinians who were with them had not begun to spill
over from the olive orchards on the hilltop to the lands that the
residents of Skali have been cultivating for years, lands where alfalfa
planted by the farm residents is now growing. It should be noted that
these are lands known as "survey lands," lands that the state has held
since 1967 and whose ownership is unclear.
"An Arab from Salem came," recounted Pinkerfeld, a member of Kibbutz
Revadim, "and said it was his land and asked us to let the tractor go
down and plow. I don't want to determine if it's his or not."
His or not, Pinkerfeld and Marshak assisted the tractor to enter the
area, and [the Palestinian] laid down a plow and began to move, while
destroying Skali's new crops. When IDF soldiers stopped him, Marshak
got on the tractor and continued the work. The residents of the farm,
who were watching the scene, called in help from nearby Elon Moreh. The
clash became unavoidable. "At this stage there was no violence, just a
loud quarrel," relates Pinkerfeld. The two groups faced each other,
standing a few meters apart, and competed in curses and insults. When
the IDF declared the spot a closed military zone, the commotion
dispersed, not before the settlers fired a few shots in the air. The
IDF arrested two of them this week, soldiers on leave, on suspicion of shooting.
On the following Friday, the sides already came prepared. Skali invited
Tabenkin and Ronen, on the assumption that the police would show
greater patience towards the kibbutzniks from the Jezreel Valley than towards the
settlers, before they would find themselves in the squad car. At a
certain stage, the residents of Kafr Salem arrived with a group of left
wing activists and a TV crew that was accompanying them, and began to
make their way towards the field. This time, when the Palestinian
tractor driver entered the area, Tabenkin and Ronen awaited him, to
bodily halt him. Marshak said this week that the IDF had authorized him
to plow the land. The IDF Spokesperson's Office clarified, conversely,
that the field had been declared a closed military zone in advance and
that the left wingers and Palestinians had violated the order. [.]
In the afternoon, when it seemed that things were beginning to calm
down, Marshak took a short ride in his Isuzu pickup. When he approached
Ronen and Tabenkin, the two looked in the back of his pickup and spotted
a large chain saw. Ronen jumped in, took the saw from the vehicle, fled
to the outpost and returned 15 minutes later, only after calling in the
"The settlers are always being accused of chopping down olive trees,
and now it is clear that the ones chopping them down are Marshak and his
friends," says Ronen. "We finally caught the saw. They chop down [the
trees], complain about the Jews and make a provocation. Every farmer
knows that you don't prune trees in April."
Marshak: "This is a saw that serves us to help the Palestinians prune
their trees, which have not been tended for six years. All the rest is
simply fabrications." Deputy Commander of the Samaria Region Police
Asst. Cmdr. Uzi Zomer confirmed this week that the police were
investigating the complaints filed by both sides.
This piece ran in Maariv on April 28th, 2006
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"I Have a Nightmare" - The Concern for the Fate of Darfur
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center, Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, DC, April 30, 2006 - Rabbi David Saperstein was one
of the speakers who addressed the thousands amassed on the National
Mall at the Rally for Darfur. Saperstein challenged American leaders,
"Mr. President, Senators, and Representatives: We have gathered
here today and will lobby you tomorrow to say: make no mistake, an 'A'
for effort is not enough - your legacies and ours will be measured not
by efforts alone but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this
genocide." The full text of Rabbi Saperstein's speech follows:
We stand here on the Nation's Mall, hearing still the echoes of Dr.
King's dream. But we, the Jews of America, we whose people have been
the quintessential victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide, join with a
rainbow of Americans of conscience to speak not of remembered dreams but
of ongoing nightmares.
For I have a nightmare today that because of the world's apathy and
indifference hundreds of thousands more Darfurians will die. Will you
let that happen?
I have a nightmare that we will act so slowly that this year thousands
more women will be raped as a calculated Janjaweed tactic of war. Will
you let that happen?
I have a nightmare that this year more villages will be scorched, more
wells poisoned, and a million more innocent Darfurians driven out in
this ongoing campaign to wipe them from the region. Will you let that
I have a nightmare that the Government of Khartoum and the Darfurian
rebels will take the world's silence as a signal that it is better to
fight than to sign a peace agreement. Will you let that happen?
I have a nightmare that despite the committed efforts of our President,
Congress, and ourselves, we will commit the most tragic political sin
good people can make - we will be too late. Will you let that happen?
Mr. President, Senators, and Representatives: We have gathered here
today and will lobby you tomorrow to say: make no mistake, an 'A' for
effort is not enough - your legacies and ours will be measured not by
efforts alone but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this
I have a nightmare that years from now, there will be a Museum of the
Darfurian Genocide that will be part of the genocide trail. And tourists
will go from Cambodia to Rwanda, from Auschwitz and Treblinka to Darfur,
and they will gasp and they will sob, and many among them will doubtless
wonder: Where were our parents? Where were our President and Congress?
Where was NATO? Where was the EU? Above all, where was the UN? Did
they not know? Did they not care? Will you let that happen?
And I have a nightmare that you and I have become so coarsened by
violence that we can muster only a rally in Washington, thence go to our
homes and resume our normal schedules? Surely that cannot be, that must
not be. Will we let that happen?
This is why we are here: for the people of Darfur have no one else who
will rescue them. Let us begin anew tomorrow: lobbying and calling our
senators and representatives, demanding action now to pass the Darfur
Peace and Accountability Act, adequately fund the African Union forces,
and increase funding of humanitarian relief. But that is not enough;
America cannot do it alone. So the Reform Jewish Movement is announcing
today a campaign (endorsed by the National Council of Churches) that
will ask America's faith communities to join together to visit every
embassy and consulate of the NATO and African Union nations, Russia, and
China by June 2nd, before the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Those visits
will be taking place during the counting of the Omer, in which we move
from the freedom given us at Passover to the responsibility that came
with accepting God's laws at Sinai. We will ask for urgent action from
their governments to stop the genocide and support UN resolutions to
create a robust, well-equipped, and effective peace-keeping force with a
clear mandate to protect innocent civilian life. And we call on our
co-religionists across the globe to publicly and forcefully demand such
action from their own governments.
So in this moment of urgency and hope, we stand here in front of the
Capitol - a symbol of our great democracy - to remember that justice is
our duty, to recognize the image of the Divine in every human life, to
renounce inaction in the face of such enormous tragedy; to demand an
immediate response from our nation's leaders and the leaders of the
world on behalf of the people of Darfur, and, above all to affirm: Never
Again. So I ask that here and now, you join with me in saying those
words, "Never again. Never again. Never again."
Having affirmed the promise, go forth then and do not cease your actions
until we have transformed the nightmare - into a dream of hope, freedom,
and security for all the people of Darfur.
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