Jewish Residents Apprehensive as Peace Now, Arabs, Count the Days for Migron’s Fall (JEWISH PRESS) By: Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency 06/14/12)
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A group of young children parade in a circle, waving Israeli flags
against the clear blue sky. They are directed by several youth
leaders who are trying to keep the kids in line. It is a few days
before Israel’s Independence Day and Migron is preparing for the
upcoming festive ceremony, held for the entire community.
Some of the mothers come out to watch their children perform. Among
them stands Aviela Deitch, originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who
has been living for the past year in Migron, a tiny community of 49
families, located 14 miles north of Jerusalem. She lives in a small
mobile home with her husband and six children, in a community
considered “illegal” and “unauthorized,” and even marked as
a “wildcat outpost” by those who oppose its existence – and
subsequently described as such in the international press.
For Aviela, the terminology does not matter.
“We chose to live here because we wanted our children to know the
responsibility of building a community in a place that has wonderful
people,” she says to the Tazpit News Agency.
“There is a certain quality of life in Migron and a very strong sense
of community. The youth are bright and polite and their parents are
involved. Our children attend great schools in nearby communities,
while the younger ones go to Migron’s community daycare and
kindergarten. There is almost a zero-percent crime rate.”
Established in 1999, Migron is made up of mostly young professionals
who served in the IDF and national service, graduated from
universities, with many now working primarily in social work, special
education, rehabilitation, elderly care, computer programming and
Until 2006, the residents of Migron lived quietly, certain that their
children would continue to flourish in a safe and happy environment
embodied by the values of their community.
“I couldn’t imagine raising my kids anywhere else,” says Itay Harel,
one of Migron’s founders who established the community 13 years ago.
But an unexpected battle began after the Israeli anti-settlement
movement Peace Now, which aims to eliminate any Jewish presence in
Judea and Samaria, to be replaced by a Palestinian state, claimed
that Migron was settled on privately owned Arab land.
“Who are these organizations to dictate to us where our homes should
be?” asks Harel. “We received the proper authorization to establish
this community over a decade ago.”
Migron residents claim that the Arabs were not even aware that they
supposedly “owned” the land until Peace Now instigated the petition
on their behalf.
In an unprecedented ruling in August 2011, Israel’s Supreme Court
ruled in favor of Peace Now’s attorney and ordered the government to
evict the Migron settlers. The evacuation and dismantling of Migron
is scheduled to take place this coming August.
Itay Harel says that the land was barren when he first arrived. “No
Arabs were living in this area. There was nothing here when we came
to set up this community, which was one reason why we chose build
here in the first place,” he says, pointing out the rocky landscape.
Harel runs a horseback-riding therapy clinic for youth at risk with
his wife. “Our clinic currently caters to 80 children from across the
country, many of whom come from broken homes and could not fit in a
traditional school system. They have abused drugs and alcohol, and
some are physically-challenged. They are given necessary life-tools
and skills through the therapeutic experience of learning to ride and
An idealistic 38-year-old social worker, Harel speaks warmly about
the Migron community. “I helped found Migron with the idea that it
would serve as pillar for troubled youth.” He says.
The Israeli government identified Migron as a necessary strategic
development, standing as it does on a hill overlooking a busy main
road, the site of Arab shootings that left countless Israelis dead in
the valley below during the Second Intifada of 2000-2005. The Israeli
government set up the electrical lines, the running water and the
infrastructure for a functioning sewage, as well as a telephone
system. It also provided families with mobile homes which are still
in use today.
Come August, Harel does not want to think about losing the home and
the community that he has worked for more than a decade to
build. “We’ve worked so hard this past year to get the government to
postpone the court’s decision. Every week I’ve visited the Knesset to
try and ensure that Migron would continue.”
Migron residents feel that the battle is not only with the government
and the courts but also with the press, both in Israel and abroad.
Many feel they have been portrayed unfairly in the media.
“At the end of the day, I do my grocery shopping with Palestinians, I
live alongside of them, and I never have any problems. No one wants a
fight here,” says Weiss. “But that’s not what you usually read about
us in the news.”
“Sometimes reporters come with pre-conceived notions about our
community and it’s difficult to change that. I’ve found that my words
have been altered completely in some news pieces and that’s also
“I have only one message to the world. I want to live in Migron so
that I can raise my kids in this wonderful community. This is my home
and I should have every right to do so.” says Deitch. (© 2012
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