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November 4, 2016 3:47 pm

Home Sweet Home: From Amona to Shiloh

avatar by Jerold Auerbach

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The Jewish community of Shiloh in the northern West Bank. Photo: Twitter

The Jewish community of Shiloh in the northern West Bank. Photo: Twitter

Like Jarndyce v. Jarndyce in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, the legal saga of some fifty families in the Jewish outpost of Amona “drones on.” Founded in 1996, the story of Amona has spawned nearly two decades of convoluted litigation. In 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court, ruling that the community was built on privately owned Palestinian land, ordered its evacuation and demolition within two years. By the end of 2016, Amona residents will be relocated to their new neighborhood in the nearby settlement of Shiloh.

Yet, last month, the US State Department — in what New York Times reporter Isabel Kirshner described as “an unusually sharp statement” —  castigated the move to Shiloh as “deeply troubling.” Claiming (erroneously) that it would “create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner anticipated that it would “seriously undermine the prospects for a two-state solution.”

Daniel Greenfield, known to online readers as the blogger “Sultan Knish,” wrote about “The Little Jewish Village That Makes Obama Boil.” The Amona families, he noted, “would hardly be noticeable if they all crowded into the White House foyer.” Why, then, were they targeted for American wrath, especially when their homes and community will soon cease to exist?

Shiloh, founded in 1978, was among the first half-dozen settlements built after the Six Day War. Like Kiryat Arba, which was established adjacent to Hebron six years earlier, it had “yichus,” meaning lineage or distinguished birth. For reasons that surely elude State Department officials, Shiloh is indeed “significant.” But with or without Amona refugees it is hardly “new.”

Following Joshua’s conquest, according to the Book of Joshua (18:1): “the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled themselves together at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there.” During the 11th and 12th centuries BCE, Shiloh, where the Ark and Tabernacle were located, was the religious center of Jewish worship in the Land of Israel: “The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself…through His word” (1 Samuel 1:3). Shiloh remained the holiest site of Jewish worship in the Land of Israel until King Solomon built the first Temple in Jerusalem.

The Israel Foreign Ministry bluntly – and accurately – stated in its response to State Department criticism: “The 98 housing units approved for the Shiloh settlement” to accommodate the Amona newcomers “do not constitute a new settlement.” They will be built on “state-owned land” in Shiloh and “will not alter its municipal boundaries.” The Ministry might also have noted the deeper flaw embedded in State Department fury: Israel’s explicit obligation under United Nations Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War is to withdraw from “territories” — not “the territories” or “all the territories” — in return for peace. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, followed by a decade of Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, suggests that it is not settlements, but the abandonment of them, that propels Palestinian violence.

A more troubling question is whether the forced departure of Amona residents will provoke a violent replay of the Israeli expulsions of Jews from Yamit in Sinai (1982) and Neve Dekalim in Gaza (2005). There is an ominous harbinger from a decade ago, when the Israeli government ordered the demolition of nine newly built homes in Amona and brought 10,000 Israeli police, Border Police and IDF soldiers to the hilltop outpost. A subsequent Knesset inquiry concluded that security forces had used excessive brutality in their confrontation with Israeli protesters.

The five-hundred expelled Amona residents who will arrive in Shiloh two months from now, will surely be filled with deep sorrow over the forced departure from their homes. But they will continue to live in Samaria, the northern portion of the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Indeed, they will be welcome residents of one of the most ancient communities in the Land of Israel. Celebrating Passover next spring, they might sing “Dayenu” for that new blessing.

Jerold S. Auerbach is a frequent contributor to The Algemeiner.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • YJ Draiman

    No Jew or Jewish government has the right to evict Jews from their historical land in Greater Israel. “Israel, including Judea and Samaria, and the land east of the Jordan River has been the land of the Jewish people since time immemorial, over 30 centuries. Judea means Land of the Jews. Never in the history of the world has there been an autonomous state in the area that was not Jewish.” There has never been a Nation known as Arab Palestine. The Arabs received over five million sq. mi. – 12 million sq. km. of territory, but that was not enough. Violating international law and treaty the British allocated over three quarters of Jewish allocated land to the Arabs as the new Arab state of Jordan. Now the Arabs want more; they will not stop until they have all of Israel without the Jews. The Arab countries expelled over a million Jewish families and confiscated all their assets including businesses, homes and over 75,000 sq. mi. (about 120,000 sq. km. which is 6 times the size of Israel) of Jewish owned land for over 25 centuries. No Jews are allowed to live in Jordan or in the West Bank area controlled by the Arab Palestinian Authority – Now you see it is the Arabs who are committing ethnic cleansing, just like they cleansed over a million Jewish families from Arab countries and now they are cleansing the millions of Christians and others.
    The Oslo Accord is null and void as Abbas stated in the summer of 2015 at the U.N.
    You; the Arabs have murdered the Jews and others and now you want to inherit them?
    In view of past history of persecution; Israel and the Jews have an obsolete obligation to defend themselves at all costs. NEVER AGAIN. It must be in action not just words. No capitulation to the bias world.
    YJ Draiman

  • YJ Draiman

    Any land claimed to be owned by the Arabs in Judea and Samaria is Jewish land for over 3,000 years. The Arabs stole it from the Jews or received it illegally from the British during the Mandate 1918-1948.
    There was never an Arab-Palestinian State in Greater Israel and there will never be – face it.
    The Ottoman land records of Palestine confirm that the local Arabs did not own land, they were sharecroppers. Over 90% of the land was owned by the Ottoman government the balance was owned by absentee wealthy Arabs from Lebanon and some wealthy Arab families and the Mufti of Jerusalem, who sold it to the Jews at premium prices.
    It is time to implement population transfer for all the Arabs who are unhappy under Israel’s government.
    Those Arabs who create terror, violence, riot and attack Jews and anyone else. They could be relocated to the homes and the 120,440 sq. km. of land of the million Jewish families and their children, who were terrorized persecuted and expelled from Arab countries or Jordan and now reside in Israel.
    YJ Draiman.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Israelis understand that whatever they do Obama will condemn them. This frees the Israelis to do what they like for the most part.