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Hitchhikers at the checkpoint on the way to Karnei Shomron.
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Checkpoint we passed that marks pre-67 Israel. Karnei Shomron is located 48 kilometres (30 minutes) northeast of Tel Aviv and 85 kilometres (53 minutes) north of Jerusalem.
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Car with Arab lisence plate in front of us
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Entrance to Karnie Shomron
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Caravans in middle of Karnei Shomron
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Wadi Kana, Karnei Shomron.The wadi wadi marks the border between lands that are believed to have been the territory of the tribes of Efraim and Menashe in biblical times.
photo by Rhonda Spivak


Pizzeria where suicide bomber blew himself up during the second intifada
photo by Rhonda Spivak

 
Editor's Report: My Visit to A Settlement Deep within the West Bank (Samaria)

by Rhonda Spivak, January 1,2020

 
 

Ever since Donald Trump has been elected, I have been  thinking about a day I spent going to Karnie Shomron, a Jewish settlement pretty deep in Samaria (the West Bank) that is past Israel's security fence. 

 

Jay Shapiro, an American Jew who moved to Israel after the Six Day War and lives in Karnie Shomron picked me up in his car near Ra'anana and drove over the checkpoint into Samaria (the West Bank). Shapiro and his family had decided to build a new home  on a hilltop that was being developed in about 1986. I first heard of Shapiro when I listened to his radio show on Israel National Radio, a weekly show he currently has on Israeli politics and current  events that has been on the air since 1998. 

 

As we passed the checkpoint into the West Bank, he pointed out a Jewish orthodox hitchhiker, and said  "Every one hitchikes. No Jew will leave you here," meaning that Jewish settlers look after each other.

 

Jay, who was previously a physicist at a major Israeli firm and  has authored six books on Israeli politics, the Middle East, Judaism and Aliya, also noted that there were  a lot of Arabs from the Palestinian Authority that cross the checkpoint in the morning between 6-8 a.m. to work inside pre-67 Israel. "Arab taxis wait on the other side of the checkpoint to take them home."

 

"Why are they going into Israel. There's no work under the PA, because all the money gets skimmed up at the top. they didn't build their own infrastructure," Jay said. 

 

As we are driving he says that in the "old days" this road went to Schem, Nablus, and mentions that on the road there are Arab cabs, cars driven by Jews and by Arabs, as the road serves all.

 

When we arrive at Karnie Shomron with a population of about 7000 Jews, Jay explained that there are three hills, the Central Hill is populated by religious, and the Western Hill, where he lives is  "mixed" (meaning both religious and secular Jews) as is the Eastern Hill. The first caravans from 1977 are still there. "The land area of  Karnei Shomron is big," Jay noted, adding that  "There are a lot of Russians living here."

 

 

After mentioning that there are one million Arabs who live in Israel proper, Jay said that "those who say settlements are an obstacle to peace are wrong", and he asked why can't Jews live  in Karnie Shomron and Samaria even if that meant they were to live in an Arab state.

"We should be able to...The American government is pushing to establish a [Palestinian] state in which Jews aren't able to live? Are the Americans pushing for a democratic Palestinian state that won't allow Jews to live  in it? Jews lived here when there [Ottoman]Turks were here. Jews lived here under the British mandate. This land [on which Karnei Shomron was built] was public land. It wasn't owned by anyone. The Turkish government owned it in 1917. In the 19th century, they did a survey and saw that most of the land was not owned. When the British took over it all became known as Crown property. When Jordan took over in 1948 [after the Israeli -Arab war of 1948 which broke out at the end of the British mandate when the Palestinian and Arab states rejected the 1947 UN partition plan ] it became Jordanian government land. After 1967, the land fell under the Israeli land Authority." 

 

Jay pointed out correctly that part of the University of Tel-Aviv was built on land that was formerly the small Arab village of Sheikh Monas. "The Arabs from there were chased out in 1948. The former home of the village sheikh now serves as the University's faculty club. But,my house wasn't ever an Arab house. The land it was built on was public land."  [Editor's note: According to wikipedia, the village of Sheik Monas  was abandoned in March 1948 under pressure from Jewish militia, two months before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Today, Tel Aviv Universty lies on part of the village land"]. The former home of the village sheikh serves as the University's faculty club."

 

 

I understood  why Jay was making the point about part of Tel Aviv University lying on a former Arab village. Most Jews, especially in the Diaspora, do not know this fact. He 's made the comparison because there is no way the Jewish world would ever be prepared to "give back" Tel Aviv University, so why he argues, should Jews be willing to uproot Karnei Shomron settlers when they are living on land that was never populated by Arabs, since it was empty. Nonetheless,  the situation of Karnei Shomron is much more complicated, since it is now an isolated  settlement not within the Israeli side of the separation fence, and not within the larger settlement blocs that are viewed by a clear majority of Israelis to remain part of Israel, even should a Palestinian state one day arise.  Yet in Ehud olmert's peace paln offered to Abbas (to which Abbas didn't respond)Karnei Shomron was to be annexed ot Israel.

 

"The Oslo Accords were a great historical mistake," Jay said

 

"How can an Israeli government be in favour of a [Palestinian ]state that doesn't allow Jews?," he asked emphatically. He noted that there are no Jews living in Jordan, but there are Jews living in Iran, and even a few in Egypt. "If Iraq were to become a democracy, will they recognize Jews?," he asked. "If you treat Jews to a different standard simply because they are  Jews, that's antisemitism."

 

Jay took me to see caravans in Karnei Shomran that are relatively cheap accommodations that were purposely built in the centre of the community, near the sports club and  not in the periphery. "We wanted these caravans  not be on the edge [of Karnei Shomron] so that the [Israeli] army can't come in the middle of the night and tear them down. These are not fly by nite”

 

As for growth in Karnei Shomron, Jay bitterly complains, "there's land, but the government doesn't let us build." He explains that new building "has been frozen under all  Israeli governments."

 

I have wondered if with the election of Donald Trump, the Israeli government will feel at more liberty to approve new construction in a settlement such as Karnei Shomron. But, I am not at all sure this is the case, and if I had to guess I would say they won't . Already Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Minister of Defence has said that  Trump's team is asking that  Israel only build within the major settlement blocs, which is what Lieberman favours. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4880028,00.html.  Lieberman's approach no doubt will not meet with approval in Karnei Shomron.

 

Jay showed me Wadi Kana, "which is mentioned in the book of Joshua."  The wadi is a  ravine that is dry except in the rainy season, and  marked the border between lands that are believed to have been the territory of the tribes of Efraim and Menashe in biblical times. "The Wadi runs from Shchem, which is Hebrew for Nablus." Jay indicated that  Nablus got its name from the Greek Hellenists, who called it Naopolis, meaning the new city. Arabic doesn't have a P sound, but instead uses a B sound, which is why the Arabs called the city Nablus.

 

"If you look at a Nablus phonebook, you'll see most Arabs in Nablus are of Egyptian descent. The name Masri means "Mitzree" the Hebrew word for Egyptian. (As an aside, Munib Rashid al-Masri, is a Palestinain industrialist, and patriarch of the al-Masri family, who is widely described as the world's richest Palestinian, and has a home in Nablus.) 

I accompanied Jay to the shopping area of Karnei Shomron. Jay told me about a Palestinian suicide bomber who blew himself up at a pizzeria in the shopping mall in February 2002 which left three teenagers dead and 30 people wounded. According to Jay, before that attack Arabs used to work in Karnei Shomron, in construction and as waiters. Now they don't. Jews do this now.

 

On The bus out of Karnei Shomron, I met Joyce Boim, the mother of David Boim, a US citizen of Israel who was killed while he was waiting for a bus stop with his high school classmates, when Hamas members fired at him.

 

The Boim's launched a ground breaking lawsuit against the Holy land Foundation, which was the largest Islamic charity in the United States, and two other Islamic fundraising organizations  (Quranic Literacy Institute (QLI) and the American Muslim Society ) for violating the Antiterrorism Act, by aiding and abetting Hamas terrorists by

providing them with financial support. A jury awarded  $52 million against the Defendants but the defendants appealed to  trial court . " A trial court in 2007 tripled the amount to $156 million," Mrs Boim explained to me on the bus.

 

"The Holyland Foundation kept on insisting that it was a charitable foundation, and that they had nothing to with terror. It was a front for Hamas [listed as a terror organization in the US], helping to buy guns and arms." she said.

 

 The court held that funds earmarked for the “humanitarian” work of a known terrorist group violated the Antiterrorism Act because donating to Hamas ostensibly for humanitarian purposes allowed Hamas to divert funds from its humanitarian programs to the purchase of bullets and explosives.

.

At a retrial in 2008, a the jury found all defendants guilty.The 2008 trial of the charity leaders was the considered to be the "largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history."

 

In 2009 the founders of the Holyland Foundation were given sentences of between 15 and 65 years in prison for "funneling $12 million to Hamas."

 

My visit to Karnei Shomron took place in the summer of 2009, but I don't think too much has changed.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.