Thursday, July 21, 2005

On Tuesday afternoon I headed down to Kfar Maimon to join the protest. The roads were blocked from Netivot, which is about five miles away. We headed into the local streets of Netivot in the direction of the kever of the Baba Sali, which was rumored to be a good launching spot. As we got there a convoy formed behind two guys in orange shirts on a moped. These guys led us through miles of dirt roads through groves, fields and dunes until the police stopped us about half a mile from Kfar Maimon. We parked in a lemon grove and walked from there.

The only way into (or out of) Kfar Maimon was through a hole in the fence next to the main gate. There were about a thousand soldiers guarding that hole but people were for the most part allowed to pass in and out freely. There is one main drag in Kfar Maimon from the gate straight to the shul, a distance of about a quarter mile. Along the sides there are some small streets and some large empty lots. Thousands and thousands of people were camped out on every empty piece of land. Along the way various entrepeneurs were hawking corn, french fries, sandwiches and drinks.

The shul was constantly packed with people sitting and learning or participating in rolling minyanim and shiurim. Outside the shul, there were makeshift musical performances. Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix didn't show. It didn't rain. Nobody took their clothes off to slide in the mud. No drugs, no sex.

Oh yeah. It was hot as hell. My older son was there and I crashed in his tent. I finally fell asleep at about 1:00 and about half an hour later I was woken by loud marching and singing heading in the direction of the gate. Rumors spread through the camp that we were moving out in the direction of Azza. I dutifully got dressed (my son wisely stayed put) only to discover that this was an independent shevet-Efraim operation launched by a few hundred Chabad meshichistim. (I was extremely impressed with the crowd down there with the single exception of these meshichistim, who are completely insane.) The gate was locked, nobody got anywhere and eventually everybody went back to sleep.

In the morning, there were minyanim in every direction as far as the eye could see. Local farmers brought vegetables to the hordes. At about 9:00, I headed out to my car and drove back home. My son stuck around until at night when it was announced that another attempt would be made to head out in the direction of Azza. Many hundreds continued to arrive even at night but there was no hope of any organized exit towards Azza. The whole village was surrounded by a fence, makeshift barbed wire and over 10,000 soldiers and police. Eventually, everyone went to sleep and in the morning they went home and headed straight for the shower.

Did all this do any good? Think of it this way: When someone says tehillim for a sick person, it might or might not help the sick person, but it is surely good for the soul of the zogger.


Anonymous said...

Turning the IDF against it's own citizens - and in pre-1967 Israel to boot - was a mnajor turning point. In any other normal regime the government would ahve fallen. Here, we are Jewish and thus "afraid" of the unknown, so that will have to wait. But we have crossed the rubicon as far as people's understanding of the limites of their obedeience to a false democracy and the relationship of the religious zionist movement to teh state. Yes, anarchy is bad - but anarchy might be better than totalitarianism as far as the Jews go.

10:43 AM  

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