Readers, today's events at Amonah have been heart wrenching on many different levels. A loyal reader, decided to pen a guest blog about his recent visit to Amonah to attend the brit (circumcision) of his great nephew. We'll call our writer Mo Udall as he tends to be more of the left wing Democratic variety. However, seeing how our government has gone over board can cause people to re-think their political persuasion.
In light of todayÃ‚Â’s events in Amonah, I decided that today I needed to write some thoughts on this subject. This morning I heard about the compromise that was brought before the High Court of Justice, so I hope that some sort of solution is found. This may happen before I finish this.
Unfortunately, since sending this to you, I see that the compromise was over ruled. Five houses have been destroyed and tens of people injured, some critically. What happened this summer in Gush Katif apparently was just child's play.
On Friday, January 20, Erev Parshat Shmot, we went to Amonah to attend our niece's son's brit. We were told that it would be better off to go there via Jerusalem. Amonah, if you asked me, should be considered a neighborhood of Ofra. Ofra is one of the first modern Jewish Settlements in Judea and Samaria. The first families arrived their in the mid 1970Ã‚Â’s. My brother in law and his family moved to Ofra from Mevaseret Yerushalayim in the early 1990Ã‚Â’s shortly after Oslo accords. This was their way of protesting the accords. Actually, not all of the family was keen about this move. Since they are in Ofra, we see much less of them as compared to when they were in Mevasaret which was just of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway.
The highway from Jerusalem to Ofra is relatively new. It leaves the neighborhood Pisgat Zeev and bypasses Ramallah. On the way you pass maybe one Arab village that is certainly not on the road. This bypass highway was built as a result of the Oslo accord. After Oslo and the start of the Intifada many such roads were built so that Jewish traffic would avoid attacks from the local population. You must pass through Ofra to reach Amonah. Ofra is situated in a valley and Amonah is on top of a hill.
Amonah looks like a bunch of rack shacks, caravans (trailers) that are too small for the families that live there. This was our third visit there. Our First visit was also a brit. During our second visit, we had a chance to see the caravan that our niece's family lives in and the cherry tree groves they maintain on the other side of the Hill , not facing Ofra, but that face an Arab village.
We were able to see the houses that are in dispute from the synagogue where the brit was held. They seem rather modest compared to those in Ofra and certainly in other places I have seen in Israel. It is sad if they will be destroyed. On the other hand if they are moved to Ofra (per the proposed compromise), then what will be with the land in Amonah? I will get back to that after describing the brit.
The brit took place on Friday morning and there was a small group that gathered to attend, which consisted mostly of family. What was unique about the brit is that the Rav of Amonah recited a special prayer in which he asked for the settlement to remain as is and that the Ã‚Â“decreeÃ‚Â” of the government be annulled.
The baby was named Oded Ã‚Â– which means encouragement. My niece explain that there are three verses in the book of Psalms where the word is used and also mention a prophet whose father's name was Oded. However, her main message was that the birth of the baby should give them encouragement to continue to build Amonah.
I have mixed feelings about this situation. Obviously it is sad that homes need to be destroyed and people moved. But here the reason is different. Apparently the houses in Amonah were built on private Arab land. I understand from my niece that the inhabitants of Amonah have tried to reach the registered owner, but to no avail. Apparently they do not live in the vicinity, or it may be an inheritance. What is beyond me is if this is the situation why did people come to Amonah and why were the houses built in the first place? This situation was a time bomb waiting to explode. Another thing that really bothers me is the demonstrators that fight the soldiers and police that are there. Many of these demonstrators are students who should be in school learning to Torah to improve the situation of the people of Israel.
Under the proposed agreement, the houses will be moved from Amonah to another part of Ofra that is on "administrative" land, whatever that means. It appears acting Prime Minister Olmert is opposed to this agreement, and seems intent on having the houses destroyed. Olmert seems stubborn and I reminded of the hardenipharaohharoahÃ‚Â’s heart.
On the way back home we took our soldier son back to his base outside of a major Samarian city (yeah Joseph happens to buried there) On the road from Ofra North, we passed the large settlements of Eli and Shiloh. There were a few Arab villages along the way as well. I saw a great deal of campaign posters. Little did we know what the Hamas would take the elections walking a few days later.
The road from Jerusalem north is scenic and pastoral filled with rolling hills and olive trees. The olive tree is a symbol of peace and it is my sincere hope that, one day soon we will have a true peace that the olive tree has come to represent.
If you are interested in reading more about Amonah please see the links below.