Outposts / 'God Giveth, God Taketh Away'

A fancy-looking wooden structure, resembling a Japanese pagoda, appeared recently in the center of the Havat Yair outpost. The building serves as a function hall and a cafe.

Tamar lives in the building next door. Her husband, attorney Doron Nir Zvi, decided to fulfill her dream, and gave her a small business as a gift. Nir Zvi is well aware that the "business" is not exactly financially viable; after all, the residents of the coastal plain are not going to be flocking to Havat Yair. Moreover, most of the homes at Havat Yair, including the pagoda, are under threat of demolition and evacuation.

"God giveth and God taketh away," Nir Zvi says in a mixture of cynicism, humor and resignation.

The Nir Zvis first set up house at the Givat Harel outpost, near Shilo. They then moved to Yakir, and then to the new Havat Yair outpost, along with several families and bachelors from Yakir.

The outpost was initially established in 1999; it was subsequently evacuated and then set up again. It is situated on state land, within the planning zone of the adjacent Nofim settlement. The outpost is now home to 18 families, primarily young couples and professionals.

Also living at Havat Yair is the Katz family - Tehiya, Effi and their five children. The emotional upheaval experienced by the national religious population since the disengagement did not bypass the Katz family, which has been at the outpost for the past five years.

The Katzes are not "hilltop youth" or a "disengaged" family; they still make a point of reciting the prayer for Israel's peace and security, but "the emotion and inner sense," says Tehiya, "is that it is difficult to identify with the current regime and government."

The Katzes, like most of the residents of the outpost, also live in a home that is under a demolition order. Effi Katz, a building contractor, employs Druze workers, "who have been living for years without building permits, like us."

But, says Katz, "we're Jews, and it's different with us. If, God forbid, they come to evacuate us, we won't welcome them with open arms; but we don't have the 'entire village' behind us that my Druze workers speak about. We are part of the people of Israel."