Sunday, July 2, 2017


A short and sad return to thoughts of Israel…
Leaving Shaar Hagai was terribly difficult mentally and emotionally, more than physically, which also was not easy.  But in a way, knowing that the house was there, even if abandoned, left a slight modicum of hope that some day things might change.  And even if I would never be able to return, maybe these historical buildings, part of the founding of the State of Israel's story, would be made use of for a positive purpose, as a monument or museum or something to the advantage of the public.  After all, it is in a national park, so of course it could be made some sort of visitor's center….
Today my daughter notified me that my house has been demolished by the Israel Lands Authority.  What is left is a pile of rubble.  Although the warden in charge of the demolition claimed they were "returning it to nature", all the rubble was left scattered on the hillside and spread over the ruined terraces that we had so carefully renovated and repaired.
Why?  Although I decided to leave when the court gave the decision of eviction, as I had to find a place to go with all the dogs and couldn't wait, other residents were allowed, after payment to the government of a guarantee that they would leave, to remain until June 2018, which was the final eviction date.  So why was it necessary now to destroy?
Everything was done hush-hush.  The residents were not notified – if they had been, maybe they could have acted and gotten a court order to prevent it.  The wardens simply appeared with the tractors and machinery and flattened, not only 47 years of an attempt to renovate and create something beautiful and worthwhile, but history of about 80 years or more, from the time of the British mandate, buildings that were part of the development of the country and a location that was prominent in  the War of Independence.  But who cares about history these days?  If it doesn't bring in money and power, it is not worth anything.  History, dogs…who cares?
Of course, this kind of behavior is not unusual for the Israel Lands Authority.  There was a wonderful old khan from the Turkish period on the hillside opposite the farm.  It was beautifully built, with arches, lovely stonework, a well, and was in excellent condition.  We could see it from the farm, and sometimes visited it to enjoy its beauty.  One day, to our astonishment, we saw tractors on the hillside, demolishing it!  We tried to call the police, but it was too late, this lovely relic of the past was quickly flattened to a scattered pile of rocks.  Why?  The Lands Authority was afraid that someone would try to squat there….So that was a reason for destruction…
I find it hard to understand how a nation that was always so connected to its history, its past, and all those things that were evidence of it, can have turned so egotistical and self interested and corrupt, and gives no value or consideration to anything that doesn't bring power or line the pockets of the "in" crowd.
It has been suggested by some that the destruction of my house was a demonstration of power by the Lands Authority – destroying the house of the one who was the founder and the symbol of Shaar Hagai.  Pathetic if true.  They have already expelled me from my country, why destroy something of value to everyone?
I feel lost, empty, heartbroken…even though I had left, the house was still a symbol of all the years of creation, of overcoming obstacles, and achievement.  There is nothing to come back to now, even to look at and say, once that was my home…
So future posts will be from Italy…

(For those who may not know the story of the founding of Shaar Hagai – all the story of over 40 years is in my book, "Tails of Shaar Hagai", available from Amazon.)

1 comment:

  1. You need to publish this on the Op-Ed page of HaAretz or another Israeli newspaper. So wrong, wasteful and lacking in vision. I am sorry.