In the latest issue of the kibbutz movement journal, Daf Hayarok (The Green Page), Amos Oz predicts a great future for the kibbutzim. He thinks there are chapters yet to be written in their history. I'm among those joining the optimistic forecast, among the well-wishers.
A grand future, perhaps, but not necessarily a great present. The entire great kibbutz movement did not have the strength to save a single small kibbutz, Shomriya, at the foothills of the Hebron Hills, inside the Green Line. Two weeks ago, the last 13 families left their kibbutz and handed the keys over to the evacuees of the settlement of Atzmona from Gush Katif. The Shomriya evacuees moved to neighboring kibbutzim, with their compensation. De facto they were willingly uprooted; nobody evicted them. But in fact they were uprooted unwillingly, for they had no choice.
Shomriya is the last kibbutz founded by Kibbutz Haartzi. For more than 20 years it clung to the land and made supreme efforts to survive, but did not succeed. Thus Kibbutz Haartzi lost the child of its old age. Will it give birth to another? One can hope.
The sell-off of Shomriya is still seeking its meaning, but the meaning is simple: From the moment the settlement was established inside the Green Line and not beyond it, it was doomed. True, Shomriya was a border hamlet, but it was not a settlement, and therefore was neglected and abandoned.
At the official ceremony, where the keys were handed over by the members of the kibbutz to the settlers, Shomriya's secretary and security officer, Yigal Aflalo, said, "Today is the end of a chapter in our lives and in a couple of weeks we won't be here anymore. We are ruined. This place no longer belongs to us, and it's a situation we find difficult to deal with."
Gad Sadeh, one of the kibbutz founders, said, "We waited 15 years for an access road and the construction of a dining hall, and those things arrived too late, and we understood that they didn't want us to live, but just to breathe."
Yoram Mamon, another of the founders, said, "If the state had only invested a tenth of what it's investing now in the Atzmona evacuees, we would have been a kibbutz with momentum now, and would not be uprooted from our homes to become tenants of another kibbutz."
It's a shame that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrasse did not hear about the trials and tribulations of the evacuees of Shomriya before writing his report on the suffering of the Gush Katif evacuees: how the kibbutzniks didn't have the IDF to protect them, so they guarded on their own at night and in the morning went to work outside the kibbutz; how nobody built them kindergartens or a school; and how they struggled for approval to build a new neighborhood, which only now is going up, as if a magic wand was waved, for those who are inheriting their lives; how every request for expansion, for a road, sewage, absorption of new members, got caught in bureaucratic mesh.
If the stories of the settlers of Shomriya - and not only theirs - had been known to the state comptroller, he would have had to admit that the settlers of Atzmona enjoyed a special, privileged status, which helped improve their lot.
The story of Shomriya is not only their private tale. Many settlements throughout the country, particularly in the Negev and Galilee, from Mt. Amsa to Margoliot, are going through the same hellish experience and nobody pays attention.
Over the last 38 years, everything that happened here, inside the Green Line, took place as if in the darkest of mountains. Only Yesha was here, and all the rest were somewhere else. "If the state had only invested a tenth of what it is investing now," said one of the founders. He, too, hasn't got a clue - because nobody does - how much was really invested in establishing Gush Katif and maintaining it and how much is being invested now in its evacuation. And for whom is there no money left? For all the rest, including Shomriya.
Nearly 40 years we wasted the state's money on settlements that have already been evacuated. During the term of the next Knesset, as promised, Israel will continue to evacuate more settlements and continue to throw away money. First there were no resources because it was being spent on staking out a robbed land; now there won't be resources because the stakes are being pulled out. Israel of Shomriya, therefore, is paying the settlement bill twice: once when breaking into the territories, and the second time when leaving.
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