Monday, July 09, 2007

Shomron Trip I: The Ride to Shchem

The Belzer Beis Hamedrash Hagadol was fun, but now it's time for another adventure into the Jewish heartland, the Shomron (Samaria; northern west bank.) At Machon Meir, the semester ends on Tisha B'Av (the ninth of Av, a day of fasting mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple, which is coming up in just a couple of weeks,) so everyone came on the end-of-the-semester shabbaton to get to know the new guys, and to say goodbye to those who will be moving on.

Adam shows up, with guitar, of course!

Deep in discussion.
The bus is here, "Central Corporation for the Development of the Shomron, for the Settlements of the Shomron and it's Settlement" (it sounds better in Hebrew.) This is one of the luxury models, air conditioned and bullet proof.

An hour or so later:
Coming to Givat Assaf, an outpost of Beit El, to pick up Rabbi Listman (director of the English Department) and family.
And we'll be making a left turn, onward to Shchem! (Nablus.)

Along the way, we pass by several Arab villages. All of the homes visible from the road are far larger than anything the permitted to the Jews. Tennis courts, swimming pools, marble fountains, you name it. This highlights one of the major misconceptions about third world, in this case Arab society; that there is less money in the third world. Average income is not so much lower in the third world than it is in the first, but it's the wildly uneven distribution of wealth due to corruption which results in some people living in truly abject poverty. In this case, the Palestinian Authority does not have the vast mineral resources of their brethren in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states, but it does have one major ace up it's sleeve; terror. Fear of being the victim of Islamic atrocities has led the states of Europe and Arabia to flood the Palestinian Authority with cash. Despite an alleged withholding of aid after the election of Hamas a year ago, the Palestinian Authority still managed to rake in a cool $1.2 billion last year, that for a population of only a few million. Of course, every penny of this stays in the hands of whatever gangster warlords happen to be in power, hence the mansions.

The pictures didn't come out so great, as I was trying to photograph from the bus window. Much more impressive photos than these can be found at Shiloh Musing's post: Arab Mansions.

Amber waves of grain south of Shiloh, where the Mishkan (the portable tabernacle, which preceded the building of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) stood for 369 years.

We pass through Hurwa (an Arab city built on the ruins of the ancient Jewish city of Horon,) and are bombarded by billboards for falafel, internet stock trading, you name it.

"Please, send us more aid, we are on the verge of starvation! And our stock portfolios need diversification!"

Arriving at the traffic circle at the entrance to Shechem, one is confronted with the grim reality of the price of ruling over a third-world society. The entrance to Shechem itself (which the Arabs have renamed Nablus,) is blocked and controlled, as are the off-ramps to the various towns and villages along the way. This is how the IDF (Israeli Army) defeated the second Intifadah, by controlling movement. With the ability to shut down transportation, the IDF can stop the movement of suicide bombers upon the receipt of an intelligence warning.

As Israel surrenders the moral high ground, refusing to state its own case for it's right to posses the Shomron, this provides encouragement to the Arabs that the Jewish will is weakening, and that terrorist atrocities will work to accelerate the Israeli collapse. This terrorism forces Israel to re-take full control of the roads. These checkpoints also prevent Jews from entering Shchem to pray at the tomb of Yosef Hatzaddik (the biblical Joseph) and his sons, Menashe and Ephraim.

It's easier to pass through by foot, so a line taxis wait outside to pick up pedestrians and bring them to their next destination.

As for us, we'll be making a left turn and heading up to Har Grizzim, Grizzim Mountan, where Joshua first took the Jewish people upon entering the land of Israel to reaffirm the covenant.

No comments: