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In my previous article about our trip to Israel I wrote about how the Jews are treated at their second holiest place – the Tomb of the Patriarchs. However, there is a group, which is treated even worse. I am talking about the settlers – people who are blackmailed and vilified to different degrees by almost everybody.
In Hebron we met Elisheva Federman, a brave woman, who has managed to preserve her sanity, despite the tribulations that befell on her and her family. When you google her name, as a number one in the results comes up an article which among other things tells us that she is:
“… the wife of extreme right-wing terrorist Noam Federman. Sunday January 09, 20051, Elisheva Federman, and her extremists friends, Yifat Vinograd and Miriam Fleishman were handed suspended sentences of between two and five months, conditional prison terms, having been convicted of ‘child neglect’ and ‘causing a police officer to fail in performing his duty…
She is constantly involved in harassment, street blockades, land theft, break-ins, house occupations and other acts of violence and vandalism against Palestinians.”
Wow, that woman must be worse than O.J. Simpson! And she lived to the ripe old age of over 18,000 years! At least that’s what the semi-literate author of the piece wants us to think. The website belongs to Kawther Salam, a Palestinian “journalist”, who made her career out of slandering and blackmailing IDF and the Jews of Hebron. That PLO piece of garbage used her activities as her meal ticket to the West – in 2002 she managed to get political asylum in Austria (even though what she needs more is a mental asylum).
Austria is a country, where the critics of Islam are persecuted – Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff was dragged through the courts because she dared criticize the Muslim fanaticism. On the other hand, a scumbag like Salam is free to spew her disinformation, fully supported by welfare payments that come out of the pockets of the European taxpayers.
The real Elisheva is quite different from the picture presented by the pathological liar Kawther Salam.
She is a polite, soft-spoken and rational woman. With her modest and conservative clothes she looks like she came out of a Dutch Renaissance painting. She has 10 children. Her husband is also a friendly, quiet, and soft-spoken man. English is not his first language, and sometimes he struggles to find the right words.
I met her first at a political event in Jerusalem, where she was one of the speakers. She told her story about how their house had been demolished 6 times by the Israeli government. That sounded shocking to me, especially considering the fact that I have never heard of her before.
I talked briefly to her after the event, asking if she knew other people treated the same way – she referred me to the murder in the Uzeri family and said that I could find information online. That was difficult, because very few traces of that tragedy remain available online. However, it is important to tell something about it, because that provides very enlightening information about Elisheva’s court conviction, which Kawther was so quick to mention.
It happened in early 2001 when, at the urge of their raped-camel-faced leader Arafat, the Arabs in Israel through bombs and shootings were expressing their gratitude for Ehud Barak’s generous land offer. One of their stops was the home of the Uzeri family at the outskirts of Kiryat Arba (the Hebron Jewish quarter). The Uzeris were having their Shabbat dinner on a Friday night when somebody knocked on the door.
Nati Uzeri, the father, opened it to be met with massive gunfire, which killed him instantly. The Arab terrorists kept shooting hoping to kill everybody else in the house. Fortunately, two unarmed men present at the dinner managed to escape through a back door, face the terrorists and eliminate them.
Under normal circumstances, the family would’ve received the government’s support for their loss and all the encouragement for dealing with the horrible situation. Not so in Israel – only a few months later, on March 24, 2001, the area around the house was swamped by a large number of soldiers and police. They cut off all communications and closed the roads. The area was declared a “closed military zone” – not because there was any attack against Israel, they just needed some peace to demolish the Uzeri house.
Please note that this was not something like a house in Gaza, which serves as a launching pad for missiles or an entrance to weapons-smuggling tunnels. This was an Israeli house, where a few months earlier an Israeli citizen was killed by Arab terrorists.
Things turned bizarre, because it was midnight of a cold rainy night – unlike most of the Israel, the Hebron area is high in the hills and it is really cold at night most of the year.
The Israeli forces kicked out of their home Livnat (Nati’s widow), her children and everybody else who lived in the area. They were sleeping at the time, so when the soldiers arrived, they were removed from the house in their pajamas, not allowed to change their clothes. Then the bulldozers flattened the house with all possessions still in it. The most traumatizing part was that all the keepsakes from their murdered father were flattened and destroyed as well.
The torn stained picture below, showing Nati with one of his sons, was one of the few things they managed to salvage from the mud and the debris of the house.
This may provide extra fuel to the anti-Semitic insanity, but looking at this picture I can’t help but think – wasn’t a torn picture like this one everything that remained after a pogrom in Russia or Ukraine or after a Nazi raid? Isn’t it a disgraceful to get the same result from the Israeli authorities?
The next chapter in this tragedy shows Elisheva’s character.
A day after the disgraceful event, a group of people showed up to protest, despite the fact that the place was still a “military zone”. As it often happens, women were the most dedicated to the protest. The three women, whom Kawther the terrorist lover mentioned – Elisheva, Yifat and Miriam – were the bravest.
They came with some of their children (as it is usual the case in area like this where daycare is a luxury), then refused to live and locked themselves in an abandoned car. The authorities dragged them out of the car and arrested them. Then they were charged with “child neglect”.
To understand the extreme humiliation of that charge, one must understand that children are the most prized possession for any Jewish woman. Unlike the Arabs, who are happy to see their children blowing themselves up to kill non-Muslims, the Jews think how to protect their children and see them grow up as successful people.
Thus the three women received their suspended sentences based on the phony charges of endangering their children.
For Elisheva that was just the beginning of her ordeal. There were much worse things that she was going to face with her family. We got the further details of what happened when we saw her for the second time.
The second time we met her was at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where we had the chance to talk to her longer.
Inside the building she explained to us the restrictions and told us how the Jews handled the situation.
Then she invited us to visit her house. Since the place was neglected by the government and there was no road suitable for a bus, she offered to drive a few of our women in her car. For the record – that was a beat-up car that most Arabs would never drive. As soon as she left, the rest of us hopped on our bulletproof bus and went to the settlement where she lived. We really had to walk downhill to reach the place.
The place where the Federmans live is known as the “Federman Farm” – it’s not a term they invented or even liked, it was given by the Arabs and the lefties, who didn’t like them. On our way we passed the other “houses” of this settler neighbourhood. You can often read in the Western press that the settlers get the best agricultural land for their settlements.
Well, I don’t know if the Jews are able to hide land, but what we saw were trailers (old and worn) placed on a few rocks, which excluded any possibility of agriculture.
I’ll leave it to you to compare the Jewish settlers’ “houses” with the mansions in the Hebron Palestinian refugee camp…
After a 5-minute walk, we reached the notorious Federman Farm. It didn’t look much better than the trailer neighbourhood. It was the same type of land that I saw for the first time in Armenia – a few patches of soil covered with grass with tons of rocks scattered in between, which makes questionable any agricultural activity.
On our way downhill we saw the ruins of a house showing what you can expect when your government doesn’t like you (more on that in a minute).
Elisheva was already waiting for us with the women around her. The “extreme right-wing terrorist” Noam (her husband) had already joined them. Still wearing his stained and worn work clothes and his awkward smile, he didn’t look like a born silver-tongued speaker.
Yet despite the fact that he had to stop from time to time to think about the proper English word to use, he was able to tell us the terrifying story about the life on the “Federman Farm”.
Over 60 years ago, the inhospitable piece of land where the family lives, was owned by an Arab who is now gone. Neither he, nor his heirs ever returned to claim the land. However, the Israeli government still treats it as an “absentee owner’s” land.
Noam told us that just like in the Uzeri case in 2008 a big unit of several hundred soldiers and policemen descended in the middle of the night on their house and ordered them to leave. Everybody, including the children, was thrown out. Noam tried to resist, but his hands were not a match to the weapons – beaten and handcuffed, he was taken into custody, while Elisheva and the kids had to fend for themselves. The house meanwhile was demolished and flattened with their property in it.
Released and then arrested again, Noam was dragged through courts for many months until eventually a sympathetic conservative judge agreed with him and said that settlers like the Federmans are at the outer edge of the Israeli state and they are the buffer that would provide the warning to the country when they are attacked and killed by the enemy. Although Noam didn’t find the arguments very comforting, he was grateful that somebody from the government agreed that he had rights.
Unfortunately, that decision didn’t make their lives easier – since 2008 their house has been destroyed five more times. The last time was 2 years ago – since then they have lived in relative peace.
They never know when the government would strike again and that insecurity has left its mark on their lives. The current house was built as a temporary structure, which they started to improve gradually.
Nevertheless, they managed to raise 10 kids on that property. Many of them are still there and look well fed and happy. Other than a trampoline and a playground, they also have a climbing wall.
Regardless of how you see them, they are definitely poor, in stark contrast with the claims of the leftist propaganda that the settlers occupy the best lands in the country. However, from the family closeness they show, you can see that the expression “having each other” in their case is not an empty phrase.
Noam works in the “farm” taking care of the animals – a horse and a few goats.
Even that is not easy – their goats have been stolen several times by Arabs over the last few years. The last time the noise outside woke up one of their sons, who went out and chased away the Arabs (most of whom are cowards anyway).
Despite the constant danger, the government had repeatedly refused the Federmans a permit to carry weapons, even though they qualify. What a revenge coming from the bureaucrats! (Wait a minute – wasn’t every settler supposed to be armed to the teeth according to the Arab mythology?)
Finally, we go into the house. The small rooms are not able to accommodate our group.
There are shelves with books and sparce furniture. In one of the chairs sits the little daughter of the Federmans’ lovingly petting her guinea pig, who responds in the same way. She is too shy – when she sees us, she carefully puts the guinea pig back into his cage and runs away to another room. (So far the Arabs haven’t managed to steal her pets.)
I ask Elisheva if she has problems with her children at school because of the way the family was treated. She says that she drives them every day to the Jewish school nearby and she doesn’t have problems. About six months ago her eldest daughter got married.
Since now they don’t have a baby in the house, she can finally get a complete grip on the household. She contributes by working as a full-time English teacher. Things are easier now, because children have grown up. After the demolitions, they have received some support, but they had always relied mostly on themselves.
By that time we notice that it is getting dark outside (it’s November) and it’s already cold. Our guide keeps nagging us that we should get on the bus before it gets dark, because you never know what may happen in Hebron after dark. Probably out of place, but that reminds me of the Fogel family, who were killed last year by Arab terrorists and I pray that nothing like that ever happens to the Federmans.
On our way back to Tel Aviv we are stopped at a checkpoint and the soldiers want us to confirm that everybody on the bus is a Jew…
The next day we decided to go to the Ha Carmel Market. In the taxi one of our group asked me if I agree with the way the Federman kids were raised – they live in a hostile place, full of debris, which may harm them. I wasn’t sure what to say, so I started answering slowly, but another person in the car interrupted me, saying that there was nothing wrong with that – that’s how the pioneers of Israel lived. Maybe both of them are right.
Maybe that’s something that helped the Jews survive under seemingly impossible circumstances – living constantly under hatred that is nearly impossible to fight, because it is totally irrational, and having only your abilities and self-confidence to fight it, is not an easy task to accomplish.
The settlers are the bearers of that spirit. They go to places in the land of Israel, where few others dare to go. Even the most extreme anti-Semites, who see greed as the only motivator among Jews, would have hard time proving that the Federmans and other people like them had benefited in any way from living in those almost impossible conditions. The only real beneficiary is Israel, because the presence of the settlers marks the land of that country.
Ironically, the institution, which is supposed to protect the interests of all Israelis, doesn’t see things this way. Making people victims of its political schemes, it sees those pioneers as pawns in its game of “land for peace”, in which everybody is a loser.
The illusion that if you kick out a few Jews and demolish their houses, you will get lasting peace with the Arabs, has been beaten up by the reality more often than a nerd in a bikers’ bar. Yet the government insists on making the same mistakes all over again.
Encouraged by his “success” in his fight against the settlers in Judea and Samaria, Ariel Sharon decided to show good will on a massive scale by removing all Jewish presence from Gaza in 2005. The enthusiasm was so high that the government decided to leave all the sophisticated facilities for growing vegetables to the Arabs. As far as I remember, they were bought for millions of dollars by do-gooders (one of whom was the chairman of either the IMF or the World Bank). It was a naïve gesture – within hours, the Arabs stole the computers and everything else they could sell and destroyed the rest. There is nothing strange in that – with billions of dollars of UN welfare who needs to work? In their world the old maxim “teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime” actually sounds as: “give me a free fish every day or I’ll shoot rockets at you”. And that was just the beginning – the “free” Arabs in Gaza brought to power the bloodthirsty regime of Hamas.
There is one consolation for the Federmans – people like them, resilient, confident and sure of their values, have always survived. The governments with their petty games designed to please the Arab terrorists or any other enemy of the day, often come and go without leaving a trace. Sure, it is often tempting to compromise and get rich by selling your principles, but let me finish with a saying from Jesus, which sums up the situation: “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
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