March 27, 2008

Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST 3/24/08

Moshav Tzipori, in the Lower Galilee, is a microcosm of the
history of the Land of Israel. A regional capital under King
Herod, Tzipori was the seat of Jewish learning and the
preservation of the Torah through some of the most tumultuous
periods of Jewish history.

After the Romans destroyed the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70
CE, refugees from Jerusalem fled to the Galilean town. Rabbi
Yehuda Hanassi, who presided over the writing of the Mishna, or
oral law, moved to Tzipori from Beit Shearim, and it was there
that he codified the six books of the Mishna and died.

The Jews of Tzipori revolted against the Roman Emperor
Constantine, refusing to accept Christianity and the city was
destroyed. The Jews later returned during the Islamic period. On
and off, for the next millennia, Jews settled, were forcibly
removed and resettled the city several times under various
conquerors of Israel.

During the 1948 War of Independence, the ancient city was the
site of a major battle between the new Israel Defense Force and
the neighboring Arab villages assisted by invading forces from
Syria and Lebanon. The Arabs were routed. In 1949, Moshav Tzipori
was founded.

LAST FRIDAY afternoon, the struggle for Jewish control of
Tzipori, the Galilee and the Land of Israel as a whole continued
on the ancient ground. On that quiet afternoon of Purim, under
the blistering sun, three horses stood happily grazing in a field
of shrubs and grasses. The only problem with the otherwise
pastoral scene was that the horses belong to Arab squatters from
the Kablawi clan. In recent years, the Kablawis have built
themselves an illegal village of some 20 houses masquerading as
storage containers on stolen Jewish National Fund land adjacent
to Tzipori's fields. The horses, who entered through a hole cut
into the field's fence, pranced about and ate, destroying the
field that was painstakingly cultivated for the moshav's cattle

The farmers and ranchers of the Galilee, like their counterparts
in the Negev are at wits' end. Fearing Arab riots or political
condemnation by the Israeli Left, Arab leaders, the Islamic
Movement and their allies abroad, the police and the state
prosecutors have simply stopped enforcing the laws against the
Galilee and Negev Arabs. Surrounded by increasingly hostile and
lawless Arab and Beduin villages, local Jews' livestock and crops
are continuously plundered.

They are faced with three equally unacceptable options for
contending with this state of affairs. They can do nothing and
let their livelihood and lives' work be destroyed. They can pay
protection money to Arab criminal gangs, who in exchange agree
not to rob them. Or they can try to sell off their lands and
abandon agriculture altogether.

The obvious recourse - filing a complaint with the police - is an
exercise in futility. Thousands of complaints are filed each
year. Almost none of them end in indictments or trials. Most of
the files are closed by the police due to "lack of public

ON FRIDAY, the field in question belonged to a cattle rancher
named Haim Z. Over the past few years, Haim has filed more than
250 complaints against local Arabs from the Kablawi family and
from neighboring Arab villages like the Islamist stronghold
Mashad with the police. None have ever gone anywhere. Last year,
a helpful police officer recommended that Haim simply start
paying protection money.

Last year Haim told his son that he had had it. The son of the
moshav's founding generation, Haim said that he just couldn't go
on anymore. The state's refusal to protect Jewish property rights
had forced him to devote all of his energies to playing cat and
mouse games with Arab poachers. He couldn't invest in his herd.
He couldn't develop his land. All he could do was sit by and
watch as year in and year out, his lands were plundered, his
cattle stolen and the work of his life and his father's life was

HIS SON, a 23 year old soldier in one of the IDF's elite commando
units decided that it was up to him not only to save his father's
farm, but to stem the tide of Arab infringement on Jewish land
and property rights. Due to his position in the IDF, his name is
classified. We'll call him J - for Jew.

In response to his father's desperation, J. took a storage
container to a hilltop that overlooks Tzipori's fields, the
surrounding Arab villages and the access routes to the moshav's
fields. He placed a sofa, a bookshelf full of Jewish history
books, religious texts and philosophy classics, and canned food
inside and moved in during his furloughs from the army. Rather
than hang out with his friends, he began standing guard. He
confronted every Arab he caught infiltrating the moshav's fields,
and both filed complaints with the police and chased them away.

Given his impossible schedule, J. enlisted his friends to help
out. The sons of other desperate farmers, who also serve in
combat units, they joined him enthusiastically. Within months, J.
had set up an organization of more than a hundred young
volunteers - soldiers, college students, and high school students
from his moshav, other moshavim in the lower Galilee and
surrounding non-agricultural communities.

He called the organization, Hashomer Hayisraeli Hahadash
( or the
New Israeli Guardsmen. The original Hashomer, or Guardsmen was
established in the Galilee in 1909 for the same purpose -
protecting Jewish farming communities from Arab marauders who
demanded protection money from the farmers. It was the progenitor
of the Haganah, which in turn, became the Israel Defense Force.

As J. puts it, "We're not simply a security service. We see
ourselves as a new movement. Our activities rest on three
foundations: securing the land, expanding our operations
throughout the Galilee and the Negev, and teaching Zionist and
Jewish values to our members, our communities and the general

TZIPORI, ONE of the stops of the Cross Israel Hiking Trail, is a
popular destination for school groups, youth groups and just
regular hikers. J. has organized visits to his guard post for
thousands of hikers over the past year. During their visits the
hikers listen to lectures about the New Guardsmen, about the
Jewish history of the Galilee and the development of agriculture
in the area, and topics of general interest provided by local
residents, politicians and professors.

Friday afternoon, after noticing another encroachment on his
father's field, J. called the police at the Nazareth police
station. Joined by two of his fellow guardsmen, who are also sons
of farmers and soldiers in commando units, they waited in the sun
for over an hour for the police to arrive and planned their
moves. They approached the horses with reins and bits.

"We will seize the horses and bring them back to our stable. If
the Kablawis pay the damages, then I'll give them back, if not,
I'll sell them," J. explained.

As the young men approached the horses, Yasser Kablawi, the head
of the clan appeared. According to Haim, over the past year, the
Kablawis have trampled his fields with their animals on more than
20 occasions.

Haim, who arrived at the scene some 10 minutes before the police
made their grand appearance turned toward Kablawi and said, "Why
are you doing this?"

"This land belongs to the JNF, not to you," Kablawi said.

"Why are you lying? I sat in your home with the JNF inspector
months ago, and he told you straight that this is my land. You
know you are stealing from me, and you're doing it while you're
illegally squatting on JNF land. You've caused me tens of
thousands of shekels in damages by trampling my fields today
alone, and you know it."

By the time the police arrived, J. and his friends had roped one
of the horses. Kablawi was joined by three grandsons and four
sons. J. was joined by another seven Guardsmen. It was a

THE POLICE, who were informed of the presence of a journalist at
the scene, acted with some resolution. After speaking with the
JNF inspector, they explained to Kablawi that he could either
sign a statement acknowledging that the land belongs to Haim and
that he would be arrested if he trespassed again, or they would
allow Haim to seize his horses. Kablawi signed.

J.'s activism is not just a personal quest to save his father
from economic ruin. "If it were just about me and my family, my
brother and I could take care of the thieves. They'd leave us
alone. But then they'd just move on to our neighbors. It isn't
about one family. This is a question of control over the land of
Israel. The state is weak. We need to be strong if we want to
remain here."

Last month, J. registered the Guardsman as a non-profit
organization. He has a grand vision for the future.

"In the space of just a few months, I have brought in thousands
of people, exposed them to our mission. I have more than a 100
volunteer guards. We have reduced theft by 80 percent.

"I want to raise money to buy night vision goggles and some all
terrain vehicles to do proper patrols. I'd like to be able to
give students scholarships so that they can guard and study at
the same time. I've been in touch with farmers and ranchers in
the Negev and they are anxious for us to expand to the south. I
believe that within five years, the Guardsmen can end the
protection rackets."

BACK IN June 2005, then vice premier Ehud Olmert gave an American
audience his opinion of the Israeli people. "We are tired of
fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of
winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies," he whined.

Young people like J. and his colleagues, secular, yet deeply
rooted Jewish sons and daughters of Galilee and Negev farmers,
like their religious friends prove everyday that Olmert was not
speaking for his countrymen. Whatever messes Olmert and his
colleagues in the government still manage to make before they are
finally thrown from office, it is absolutely clear that these
young people and millions like them are willing and able to clean
them up for themselves, their countrymen, and for the next
generation of Jews in the land of Israel.

Great Story, came from Naomi Ragen and she said it best

It gives you hope!!

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