The Traffic Jam That Saved Eretz Yisrael
April 28, 2004
Yesterday morning we left Hebron at about 10:30. The car was full – my wife, daughter and her two small children. The others were on one of the two Hebron buses. The destination: Gush Katif.
THE referendum is scheduled for next week – Sunday, May 2. Ariel Sharon is worried. The Hebrew daily Maariv quoted the prime minister as saying, “Whoever votes against the ‘disengagement’ is voting against me.” In other words, Sharon is transforming the referendum into a ‘no-confidence vote.’ Arutz 7 posted an article saying that Sharon is considering resigning should the referendum be defeated.
In yet another article, Associated Press correspondent Ramit Plushnick-Masti writes: Sharon Plan would remove up to 100 west bank settlements. “Senior Israeli officials and government advisers acknowledge privately that many – if not all – of these isolated enclaves may eventually be taken down, even without a peace deal, if they become increasingly indefensible.”
Arutz 7 reports: “In the meantime, Sharon and his staffers are hiding the truth from the public regarding the depth of his planned pullback from Judea and Samaria. “If the Likud members would know what Sharon is really planning,” Likud leaders told Yossi Elituv of Mishpachah [Family] magazine, “they would be storming his office and demanding his immediate resignation.” The Likud seniors told Elituv that Sharon has given the order to “hide the evacuation from Judea/Samaria, and concentrate only on the pullback from Gaza. His purpose is to lull the Likud members, obtain their consent for the disengagement from Gaza, and then to use that to move on to the next stage – a massive evacuation of Judea and Samaria.””
Yet it is vital to note that Sharon does not represent all of the Likud leadership.
Speaking at Mt. Hertzl on the eve of Israel’s 56th
independence day, Speaker of the Knesset Rubi Rivlin, basing his speech on the famous words of Theodore Hertzl, “If you will it, it is no legend,” said, “These words beat in its heart and drove its wheels, as Zionism succeeded, achieved the impossible, time after time.
When we willed it – the legend became reality.
When we willed it – the scattered exiles of Israel were gathered in.
When we willed it – from a small, fearful community, we became a proud nation.
And when we willed it; when we really willed it – the Land was conquered, and nobody stood in our way.
But the story has not yet ended.
Even today; on the one hundredth anniversary of Herzl’s death; in the
fifty-sixth year of the Independence of Israel; nothing is self-evident.
Even today, every day, we must continue to will it, we must continue to
Speaking before lighting the traditional, honorary torch of honor:
I, Reuven Rivlin, son of my father and teacher, Professor Yosef-Yoel Rivlin, may he rest in peace, researcher of Semitic languages, and translator of the Koran into Hebrew, and – may she live long – my mother and teacher, Rachel, who today, 6th Iyar, is exactly one hundred years old; seventh generation in Jerusalem; descendent of the Aliyah to Jerusalem, one hundred years before the vision of Herzl, by the disciples of the Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna; Speaker of the Sixteenth Knesset; am honoured to light this torch, of the fifty-sixth Independence Day of the State of Israel.
In honour of – The Knesset, the legislature of Israel, and the temple of democracy!
In honour of – the pioneers, the vanguard of those who came to settle the Land of our Fathers, who redeemed the land – from Hanita – to Kfar Darom; from Negba – to Kiryat Arba, that is Hebron!
In honour of – The heroes of all branches of the security forces.
In honour of – Jerusalem, our holy city, our eternal capital and the heart of the nation.
And for the glory of the State of Israel!
Rivlin’s initial speech most certainly alluded to the challenges of Zionism and the will to overcome – not only 100 years ago, not only fifty-six years ago, but also at the present. Rivlin’s words, coming from the Speaker of the Knesset, articulating ‘the pioneers, the vanguard of those who came to settle the Land of our Fathers, who redeemed the land – from Hanita – to Kfar Darom; from Negba – to Kiryat Arba, that is Hebron!’ reflect the true Likud ideology, the true Zionist ideology, which Ariel Sharon has so grossly warped. And Rivlin is not alone.
Yesterday, some 150,000 Israelis voiced their opinion, not in words, but in actions, expressing themselves with their feet and with their tires.
According to police reports, 70,000 people arrived yesterday in Gush Katif. Our experience has taught us that the ‘official estimate’ is about a half of the ‘real thing.’ According to Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg, over 100,000 people managed to get into Gush Katif. Tens of thousands of others, including yours truly, were crowded out. Traffic authorities said this morning on Israel radio that they have never before witnessed a traffic jam as large as yesterday’s, tens of kilometers long.
We left Hebron at 10:30 in the morning for a two hour ride to Gush Katif. I managed to drive the last 20 kilometers in about an hour and a half and we were still about 10 kilometers from our destination. After not moving for over an hour and having spent a grand total of five hours in the car we decided to pull into a nearby kibbutz, found a nice place for a picnic barbeque (not too far from some Bedouin tents), and camped out for a few hours.
But you know something. No one complained. And I’m not talking about us. I’m talking about thousands and thousands of people stuck, just like us. Many of them were more daring than I was – they parked their cars on the side of the road and walked, 10 or more kilometers, in order to reach Gush Katif and participate in the main event at 3:30 in the afternoon.
No one really cared how long it took to arrive, because the message was clear. Gush Katif is part of Eretz Yisrael and we have no intentions of leaving, not now, not ever. Over 100,000 Israelis shouted out to Ariel Sharon – “Go ahead, just try and evacuate Gush Katif, go ahead, just try to evict over 7,000 Jews from their homes. Because if you so dare, you will not be evicting 7,000 Israelis – you will have to evict hundreds of thousands of people!!!”
Have not doubt: the almost 200,000 Likud members who will be voting on Sunday saw and heard yesterday’s events. Many of them participated. I expect that early Monday morning the results will be self-evident.
History will definitely remember Ariel Sharon from many diverse angles. But perhaps one of the most unique will be just this: Ariel Sharon initiated the greatest traffic jam in Israel’s history, a traffic jam which may turn out to have saved Eretz Yisrael.
With blessings from Hebron,