Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Best-made plans...

If you're one of the lucky ones to receive and read Sharon Katz's Voice's Magazine, you know that I started writing about the "endangered yishuvim." And if you don't already get the magazine, find a way to get it, since this is only the "coming attractions" for our next big feature.

Even before Ehud Olmert was the de jure Prime Minister of Israel, before the recent elections, when he was just the de facto, acting one, he announced to all the world that his aim was to destroy most of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. His Resettlement Plan envisioned the forced evacuation, the exile of 70,000 law-abiding Jewish Israeli citizens and transferring them into ghettos, in what he euphemistically calls "settlement blocks."

Now, 70,000 people may be small potatoes for China, the former USSR or the United States, but for Israel, it's well over 1%, that's 1 out of 100, or more accurately about 13 out of every 1,000 of the Jews in Israel and a higher proportion of Israeli children.

I call it the Resettlement Plan, but Olmert and his public relations agency have been looking for more obscure names, "Convergence," now called "Realignment." The lists have also been changing, but once included, the danger remains. As long as even one community is G-d forbid slated for destruction, we're all in danger. You can't be a little bit pregnant. And even more important, the entire viability of the State of Israel is endangered by the plan, no matter what he calls it!

First I wrote about Shiloh, and then Sharon and I decided that Elon Moreh-Kedumim should be next. We checked out public transportation and decided that it would be really easy to get to Kedumim, so we notified the office there that we were coming, and here's how we got there... (for the actual visit, you'll have to read the next issue of Voices.)

It was all planned so well, and if you know us, you have no doubts.

There's a 473 bus from Jerusalem to Kedumim that passes Shiloh. What could be better. The plan was simple. Sharon would get on in Jerusalem, and I would join her on the way.

A few minutes before she was to be on the bus, I called her, and she was stuck in traffic and would be missing the bus. So I checked on the internet and discovered that there's another bus which takes a different route, which leaves a bit later, just in time for her. Great, but then I looked at the stops on the 473, and Shiloh wasn't listed. The bus passes by on the main road and doesn't stop in. So I checked if at least it stops in Eli, but not there either. There was no way for me to catch the bus to Kedumim.

OK, not the end of the world, I'd "tremp," hitchhike. There was only one problem. I don't really know where Kedumim is, and it's very dangerous to "tremp" if you don't know where you're going. But nothing was going to stop me. I told Sharon I'd meet her and she should enjoy the scenery.

I packed up and started down to the bus stop. On the way I saw a neighbor: "Do you know where Kedumim is?" I asked. She very patiently tried to explain. Good, now I knew that there were two ways to go. Wonderful.

Down at the bus stop I saw some young neighbors, army age. "Does anyone know how to get to Kedumim?" Things began looking up, since one of them was going there, too. He hoped to catch the 473 in Ariel, but it was looking rather "iffy." Was I glad to have found a partner.

Eventually there was a ride to Tel Aviv, and we got in. Then we discussed where to get off. The driver was willing to take us towards Tapuach, but we settled on Ariel, but by then it seemed like it was too late. I remembered once seeing a sign to Kedumim a couple of miles past Ariel, and that's where we got off. Yes, on the side of a road, no bus stop, but not alone. After a few minutes a truck came with gas canisters in the back. It was going to Emanuel, about 10 kilometers from Kedumim. Maybe we could catch the bus or a ride there. So we squeezed into the front seat.

Eventually we got close to Emanuel and asked the driver to let us off at a bus stop. He didn't know where to go, but suddenly at the gate, we asked the guard, and there was the bus. Luckily the door was open, since the driver didn't really want us to enter--it wasn't an official stop. "But you have to let us in, you didn't go into Shiloh." My companion told the driver. So we got in and paid.

After a long tour of Emanuel, we finally got to Kedumim, and I asked the driver how many stops there. "A few," he answered. Gevalt! I didn't know where to to get off, since Sharon hadn't given me the number of our contact. "Please, just let me off in the center someplace," I begged the driver. He left me at some bus stop, which at least was in the shade.

I finally reached Sharon and then the contact and managed to identify where I was. Sharon was still on her way on the other bus, and thank G-d we met up and had a great time, and you'll just have to read all about it in the magazine.

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