June 13, 2018
Sallai Meridor is an Israeli politician who served as Israeli Ambassador to the United States between 2005-2009. Fifteen of the residents of the West Bank settlement where he lives are standing up for their impoverished neighbors in Khan al-Ahmar. Meridor penned an open letter to his fellow settlers in Kfar Adumim that we have reproduced here.
More than forty years ago, Noa and I joined the initial group that founded Kfar Adumim.
For forty years I was proud of what we created here. Pride in our community, in its wonderful social fabric, the shared living of secular and religious, the education, the factories that have been established for the benefit of the Jewish people, the realization of our right to the Land of Israel, the contribution to the strength of the State of Israel, and the ability to make all of this possible while maintaining our humanity, upholding “that which is hateful unto you do not do to your neighbor.”
Today I write to you on the verge of tears. I read the High Court’s decision regarding our Bedouin neighbors. It is clear that the four petitions submitted by the Association contributed to a decision that would enable the forcible evacuation of our Bedouin neighbors.
I cannot understand why the village leadership chose to act to expel our neighbors. What led us to want the destruction of their homes? What morality has motivated us to want to expel people for the second time, after their families were already expelled from the State of Israel in the 1950s? What closed mindedness, and perhaps haughtiness, led us to refuse to join the proposal of members of the neighborhood to reach an agreed upon solution? What logic led us to enter this terrible battle with those living next to us?
The Bedouin houses are illegal. Maintaining the law is essential for the welfare of society, but this value was not the main concern of the leadership of the village. If this were the case, it would prevent unauthorized construction inside the village, before it acted against the Bedouin construction. Other considerations, not upholding the law and not good neighborly actions, were their motivation.
I hope that there were no considerations regarding the fact that our neighbors were non-Jews, because these are unacceptable to me as a Jew. Policy considerations and national security are the responsibility of the State, not to a cooperative society, no matter how dear these areas are to my heart.
We had the right to establish Kfar Adumim and made sure not to violate anyone’s rights. The Bedouins were here when we arrived. Their presence did not prevent us from receiving more than ten thousand Dunams from the state. Plia Albeck z”l marked the border with her own feet and gave us everything, except for the little pieces of land that the Bedouins lived upon. What has happened to us that we now also demand the poor man’s sheep? Today, or tonight, when the army will come to expel our neighbors, it will be a sad day not only because of their suffering, but mainly because we caused this suffering.
None of us can wash our hands from this. I too remained silent, out of the honor for the community and its emissaries, and I will walk with this sign of Cain for a long time. We can not wash ourselves clean, because our hands shed this “blood” and we witnessed this.
We will not be forgiven for these petitions.