Day 5: Frequent Flyers

Many flyers were handed out today.

One advertised a handholding chain from Gaza to Jerusalem.

Another advertised a communal prayer in the evening.

Another flyer informed residents of the siege that would befall the settlements next week, when transportation between settlements will be forbidden and power and water possibly cut. The community called on us to stock up on canned foods, water, flashlights, toilet paper and many other amenities for at least two weeks.

An official flyer from a senior IDF General, casually handed out to residents at Netzarim, Morag, and maybe some other settlements, expressed to the residents the government’s “deep understanding” of their pain but that nevertheless, starting Monday they have two days to leave voluntarily and receive the full compensation package and the luxury of having the army move most of their stuff. If not, it went on, the government will relinquish any serious responsibility for providing for them thereafter. The flyer acknowledged that Tisha B’Av, the day the siege begins, is the saddest day of the Jewish people, but that sometimes growth spawns from sorrow. Some residents burned the flyer.

Then there were many national “flyers” that didn’t mention anything about these other flyers. The front page headline of Maariv read (and I kid you not): “Danger in Antalya.” Obviously, more Israelis are in danger in Turkey then they are in Israel itself. The other headlines read (paraphrased): “Veteran Israeli Actor Accused of Rape” and “One Third of Israelis Living in Poverty.” Not one mention of the government’s “deep understanding” flyers made the front page.

Angry and outraged, I knew I had to do something. At 12 pm the dozens of “secular” supporters met to discuss our stance and purpose, and to show the world that the disengagement is not (only) a religious issue. We invited the media to interview us. Channel 2 walked in and out.

I frantically looked for something else to do, but it seemed that there was enough help to go around. Students were holding a camp for kids in the Gan Or settlement; the ratio of adults to kids was too high for my presence to be worth it. I went to Morag and offered to make an art workshop. The kids were busy with other things.

So I took a piece of paper and some markers and decided that I will take matters into my own hands. I’ll make a poster, my own “flyer.”

I debated with those around me what to write, until I decided upon, in Hebrew: “Policeman/soldier: Where’s the shame” There was no room for a question mark, and I realized that was only proper. It was a rhetorical statement.

I walked around Morag and a boy wanted to take a picture of me. I opened to the poster, and he took the picture.

But a man came out of his home behind him, containers and a moving truck parked outside. He wasn’t pleased with my flyer.

“I don’t like it. I’m not going to ask a solider to refuse orders. If he refuses orders now, what happens when he gets an order during a war against Egypt?”

I told him this order wasn’t moral, but I couldn’t argue with the man. I couldn’t make him feel worse then he already did. I wanted to tell him that if the soldiers carry out this order, then I won’t have faith that they’ll ever have the duty and fortitude to protect Jewish lives from any foreign threat.

I continued walking further. A newfound friend, an agronomist, and I passed a house with a beautiful, lush garden. Flowers were wrapped around the bark, ivy leaves were painstakingly growing around a gazebo. It was a little paradise. We noticed the man of the house sitting deeper inside the garden, slouched in his chair. It was clear he had been crying.

“Your garden is beautiful,” said my friend.

“Why say that to me? You’re not the only one. Don’t you see that you’re turning a knife inside my back?”

This man — who must have planted with joy and pride, with self-love and self-respect — now sat their, broken, dejected, useless. He and his wife argued about whether or not to pack. She’s preparing for the worst; he’s not touching a thing.

I can’t imagine what these families must be going through and the arguments and tension this whole expulsion plan is creating within these homes. I know that already a few people have died of heart attacks, but there are terror threats in Turkey?

We spoke with another woman. She had survived a roadside shooting. She was tired. She’s hardly packing, but she’s getting ready to stay with her husband and eight kids in her mother’s small apartment in Gadera. She has no will to fight.

We looked up at the rain clouds.

I told her that I prayed for dew yesterday and that it drizzled, so maybe there is some hope. She said it was wishful thinking. It wasn’t dew, after all, it was rain. Or perhaps rain can be considered “super-dew”?

Maybe God was mocking me, and His tears were simply joining ours.

I’m not a believer in a personal God or supernatural miracles. I am fan of the theology of Judaism’s most famous rebel, Spinoza, who views God as synonymous with Nature, the inevitable, rational workings of the Universe. But I looked up at the summer rain clouds and I knew that while Israeli citizens were ignoring us, Nature wasn’t.

There are a lot of cries and a lot of prayers going on here. I’m starting to believe that the shekhina — the Divine Presence — is hovering here, over the Gush. All the thought vibrations being shot out to the Universe are being picked up by this Universal Intelligence that is registering these waves into movements of clouds. Yesterday, rain poured over Jerusalem.

Religious faith is indeed what gives many people the strength to go through this. They believe that no matter what happens, it’s not Sharon who’s running the show but the Man Upstairs. Some take this religious faith and turn it into action to become partners with the divine — with plans to resist peacefully, yet actively. Some turn this faith into a peaceful resignation. Some concede to Sharon the upper hand and let him dictate their lives.

At night my roommates and I went to the beach for a birthday party, and boy did I need to be cheered up. The waves were loud and angry, but the young crowd, most of them residents, was joyful and hopeful. We raised toasts in “memory of the disengagement.”

The 21 year-old whose family hosted us for Shabbat related to us that her parents gathered her and her two brothers for a family talk. They consulted with them whether or not they should pack. She did not hesitate.

“Not only are we not going to pack, but this Shabbat you are bringing the housekeeper and we’re going to make this place spotless. Everything will be in place. The fridge will be filled, our beds as they are. If I have to leave here, I’m leaving with respect. I never asked to leave — they’re forcing me out — so I want to leave with the memory of everything I love

The only thing the family packed was a box of family albums, which they kept at her father’s office outside the Gush.

No one really knows what’s going to happen. Uncertainty envelops us all.

One of the most important turning points in Jewish history is around the bend — the stuff of books, the stuff of movies, the stuff of legend — and the stuff of flyers.

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