GALILEE (Oct. 15)
The scene was reminiscent of album photos of the beginning of Zionist settlements of the turn of the century: a large crowd gathering on a Galilee hilltop, facing an improvised stage, surrounded by several prefabricated houses, and listening to a seemingly endless row of speakers.
The occasion was the inauguration of a new settlement — the lookout post of Adi in the western Galilee. World Zionist Organization Executive chairman Leon Dulzin took the day off from work in his Jerusalem headquarters and came to join the party in this remote hilltop, escorted by the two chairmen of the WZO settlement department and by the chairman of the Jewish National Fund, as well as other senior officials in the Jewish Agency.
There wasn’t really much to see. So for, there are only seven families in Adi, seven prefabricated houses, a small shop, a social club and an office. One needed a lot of imagination and on considerable amount of vision to picture the place in a few years. “One day it is going to be like Tivon,” said Yoacov Friedmann, director of the northern region at the settlement department. He did not even smile when he compared the newly-born settlement to the luxurious villa suburb of Haifa. He meant it seriously.
Standing on the podium, Dulzin recoiled a meeting several years ago with the President of Mexico, Luis Echeverria, following Mexico’s joining in the infamous Zionism equals racism vote in the United Nations. The President could not believe that little Israel was self-sufficient in food, and was even exporting food to other countries. “This, Mister President is Zionism,” Dulzin said triumphantly.
Now he pointed at the gathering he was facing, saying that the new settlements in the Galilee were as good a manifestation of Zionism as any. He argued with a recent essay published in the local press questioning the viability of Zionism “Not only has Zionism succeeded, but these settlements are its greatest victory. “
SETTLEMENTS IN THE GALILEE
Aside from Adi, there are 29 new settlements in the Galilee. All were established within the last year-and-a-half with a declared purpose of stopping the rapid process of Arab villagers taking control over vast areas in the Galilee.
The idea guiding the planners — the settlement department and the JNF — was speed . It was obvious that any square meter of land that was not occupied by Jew would sooner or later be occupied by Arabs. The State did not meet the challenge of controling Arab settlement by legal means.
Therefore, small settlements (mitzpim –lookout posts housing 15 to 25 families) and mitzporim (smaller posts with five to seven families) were quickly established throughout the Galilee, purposely in thickly populated Arab areas.
There are some 700,000 dunam of Stateowned land in the Galilee. Half of it is under either direct or indirect Arab control. The new settlements network intends to gain control over 150,000 dunam (some 40,000 acres) of land.
Dulzin and his enlourage visited several of these settlements and realized that if they were to stand on their own feet they would need money, a lot of money.
NO TIME TO WASTE
Meir Sharir JNF head of the development administration and eating director general of the settlement department, one of the initiators of the new settlements, said there was no time to waste. One should quickly enter the second stage of the settlement network thickening the settlements to house some 500 to 750 families, an estimated expense of 80 million Shekets ($13.3 million).
Customarily, the Jewish Agency settlement department and the JNF usually give the initial push they prepare the infrastructure, help the new settlement in its first steps. The second stage is usually taken by the State.
However, it was the shared view of bath chairmen of the settlement deportment, Prof. Roanan Weitz and Matityahu Drobless, that the settlements cannot wait for the State to step in at the speed the government ministries work.
“If we wait for the Ministry of Construction and Housing,” Weitz said, “the lookout posts will not hold out. ” He had already prepared a written proposal to Dulzin that the Jewish Agency should start adopting five of the smaller settlements as a starter. Dulzin said he viewed the proposal favorably, but said it needed further study.
INDICATION OF DIFFICULTIES
One indicator of the difficulties ahead was a remark by Drobless: “The ministerial settlement committee decided recently to expand all Galilee settlements to include at least 30 families, but there is no money to implement the decision.”
Some of the settlements already face serious trouble because they have passed the initial stage and. have no resources to enter the second developing stage.
Michmanim, on top of Mt Kamoun overlooking the Acre-Safed Rood, is one at them. Seven families live in Michmanim; all make their living outside. There is no telephone in the place, and the winding rood leading to the top at the mountain, which was cut through the difficult mountainous terrain by the JNF. in a record time of a year-and-a-half without marring the beautiful landscape, is not yet paved. In other words — the settlement, like many others of its kind, still has no entity of its own.
Part of the problem is that the Jewish Agency mode it quite clear to the settlers from the beginning, that the main purpose of the settlement was to demonstrate Jewish presence in a thickly populated Arab area, and that because of funds the Jewish Agency cannot provide — at least at this stage — it cannot help in building on economic infrastructure.
But as representatives of the families sat over coffee with Dulzin, the long-time understandings were soon forgotten and, quite naturally, they stressed present-time difficulties.
“There will be no settlement here without means of production,” said Benny Aharon, a heavy, dark-bearded fellow in his mid-30s. Aharon wanted to raise a herd of black goats, which he said were popular on the meat market. But he needed a 150,000 Shekel investment, which he wanted to get from the Jewish Agency.
An argument developed in which the guests explained to Aharon that although they understood the difficulties, there were no funds available at this stage for additional investments, since funds would go to help the entire settlement drive.
Summing up the situation, Weitz said “When we established the seven family settlements we knew there would be trouble, but we wanted Jewish presence. Well, thank God — now there is trouble. The target is now to slowly expand these settlements but this, is a process that can lost even 10 years. One way to do it is to recruit families which can come here and establish their own source of income, without public help.”
RELATIONS WITH ARAB NEIGHBORS
All this time hardly anyone spoke at a much larger potential problem — the relations with the Arab neighbors “So far there are no problems, ” said one at the settlers of Tol-EI, just north of the Acre-Safed Rood. “One at the Arab youngsters even gives us karate lessons.”
Taha Abu-Amin, the Mukhtar (chief) of the neighboring Bedouin tribe, was one of the speakers in the Adi ceremony. He spoke Arabic, which most of the audience did not understand. Only few noticed that in his message he included the hope that the new settlement would contribute to the development of the area for “the sake of both peoples. “
Abu-Amin touched a delicate nerve. There is a general animosity among the Galilee Arabs to the new settlements. Many. regard the term “Judification of the Galilee” as on unfortunate alternative to “Arabrein territory, ” although nobody has the intention to drive Arab villagers away. Building neighborly relations with the suspicious Arabs is still one of the major tasks of the villagers. The settlers are well aware of the difficulties.
“Whatever will happen, Aharon said, locking straight of Dulzin, “we are staying here, whether you help as with the black goats or not.