Many of you have asked me what is happening with the Schneids of Netzar Chazani, the people I wrote about in Moment Magazine this month. Paul and Roz, who are leading members of their community, stayed with their neighbors until soldiers — members of the airforce in which Paul’s son serves as a senior officer– came knocking on their door. They had asked for containers and received them. By the way, these containers are costing the settlers $2,000 each, and they will be charged an additional $1,500 for moving costs. All the compensation owed them will also be taxed!
And they are not getting much. The night before, in order to spare the young soldiers as much pain as possible, they did the packing themselves. When the soldiers knocked on the door of their home, they said: “I’m so sorry. I know how hard this must be for you.” A group of officers came to call on the family because of Paul’s son. They embraced. Then they left the house together for the last time.
Silently, they marched with their neighbors to the synagogue, the same synagogue whose Rabbi was brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists two years ago. This is no bedroom community. This is not a neighborhood, as most of us understand it. This is an extended family who have sat shiva in each other’s homes, banded together to help when thousands of rockets fell in their backyards and on their roofs. They have been in a furnace of terror together, and have emerged welded into one cohesive unit: Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Teachers and farmers and businessmen and grocery store owners. They love each other. And they love the soldiers.
At the synagogue, soldiers and settlers suddenly put their arms around each others shoulders and sand songs of the land of Israel, each quietly wiping away tears. This went on for two hours. Paul was asked to speak. He tried so hard to be upbeat and hopeful. He spoke of their history together, how they had come from all different backgrounds. How they were a microcosm of Israel. He looked at the soldiers and told them they were one. ” When we slip our hands together and hold each other, we can’t fight. We can only build.” They could destroy the buildings. Take away the land. But the spirit within the community, the oneness, the eagerness to continue building the land was unquenched within them. The community asked only one thing: Not to be separated. Not to be sent to different apartments in different cities. To be left together as a unit.
They had been saying this from the beginning to everyone who would listen. And as any psychologist would tell you, they needed each other to get through this.
They were loaded peacefully onto buses. It was then the nightmare began for the wonderful people of Netzar Chazani. No stops were made for bathrooms. They were on the bus for six hours.
At their request, they went first to the Kotel.
Yeshivat Hakotel gave them a place to sleep. The next morning, according to the “plans” of the Disengagement Authority (SELA) the community were sent up to the Golan Heights, Chispin. A five hour drive. They were originally told they could stay there until September 1. But on Saturday night, after all they’d been through, they were told by the hotel they needed to get out of their rooms to make way for other guests on Sunday morning! They were offered dilapidated dorm rooms, without air conditioning, instead. Fearing for the health of their children, they refused. Overwrought, tempers flared and the entire community decided to march back to their homes in Netzar Chazani. That’s where they are now. On the road. Exhausted, and angry, and heartbroken.
Paul and Roz aren’t with them. He needed to have chemotherapy today. But when he got to the hospital, they said he needed to pick up his dose at the pharmacy. When he got to the pharmacy, he was told he needed a letter from his local clinic. He patiently explained that he no longer had a local clinic ( just as he explained to the supermarket cashier that he had no telephone number to put on his credit card receipt…..) It took him three hours to straighten it out. Sick, tired, jobless, homeless, he and his wife wait to see what will happen next, and where they will sleep tonight.
I have heard some people say:” Well, what do people expect when they didn’t make any plans? When they refused to cooperate?”
I know it’s hard for most people to understand, but they weren’t worried about themselves. They were concerned about the state of mind of the community if they went off and fended for themselves, concerned about setting an example that would encourage everyone to go their own way, helping to destroy the only thing left: the community and it’s spirit.
They are a rare, endangered species: idealists. Like beautiful old houses and rare animals, the special community of Netzar Chazani must be preserved. That’s all its people want. Not luxury hotels. Not huge houses with swimming pools. They want to be together in a place that will afford them their basic necessities. SELA, whose incompetence is a national disgrace, suggested sending them to Eilat (six hours away, in hotels that are empty for a reason: 45 degree summer heat. They offered to send them to the Dead Sea (ditto). And then they sent them to the Golan, without bothering to check how long the hotel could host them.
There is so much empty land all over the Galilee.
Why couldn’t they have simply put a caravan park there? “We couldn’t force people. Decide for them where to go. And they weren’t talking to us,” SELA has been whining. They remind me of the rapist who tells the victim: If you only wouldn’t have struggled so much, you would have made it so much easier for yourself.”
For shame. For shame. For shame. For shame. For shame.