Day 9: Getting Engaged

Settlement residents and infiltrators are ambushing security forces — ambushing their hearts and their minds. I am on the frontlines of the Jewish soul.

Border police created a new human border at the entrance of each settlement, and here at Neve Dekalim, and residents and infiltrators are ambushing them — ambushing their hearts and their minds.

First, I shook their hands in my jeans and white T-shirt. They smiled back. They were trained not to smile, not to talk, but they were engaged. My friend Nava, one of the “Americans Opposing Jewish Expulsion,” engaged a pretty blue-eyed woman, dressed in black, trying to look tough. “You came from Russia to be here. You left a communist country to be part of the Israeli KGB! You shouldn’t be doing this. You should be a model!” She smiled, but the mean old policeman drove a wedge between soldiers and protestors.

“Give them space.”

“Give the people back their houses’ space!” I shouted.

Then an 18-year-old woman, dressed modestly, found another black angel to pick on. “My grandfather was taken out of his home, now you’re going to take me out of my home? Jews don’t do this to Jews! We’ve suffered together! We’ve gone through so much together! Why inflict this suffering upon us?”

“Listen to her,” another yelled. “She’s 18 years old and she understands more than you!” He couldn’t look her in the eye, but he was trying to hold in his smile, his suppressed emotion; they weren’t allowed to show any.

Then I walked over to a tent where dozens of policemen were sitting. “You guys look bored,” I said in Hebrew. They engaged me. “You want me to sing to you?” I asked.

“Yes!”

“Do you like Britney Spears?”

“Yes!”

Then the commander came over.

“Excuse me, but you can’t be here.”

“But why? They’re bored.”

“This is a police area. You can’t be here.”

“What are you going to do, arrest me?” I asked, sadly. I really didn’t want to go, not just yet. So I saved my battle, even though I regret that I didn’t engage him further.

“He wants to expel you,” said my friend Hezzy, who was with me.

“I’m not expelling, I’m asking,” said the commander, feeling guilty, I hope.

Then, on another front at another Neve Dekalim entrance, a Gush messenger engaged a soldier. “Jewish soldiers don’t do this,” someone said.

“But we have to do this. If we don’t do this, the army will fall apart.”

“But what kind of army would do this? If it could do this, then it should fall apart.”

He kept answering back, having been drilled that the army must be preserved at the expense of Gush residents. “I have to tell you that I made Aliyah because I wanted to be protected by a Jewish, Israeli army. Now I see a soldier, and I’m afraid of him. Is that how it should be?”

“You don’t have to be afraid,” he said.

“But I am.”

Everyone continued to ambush him until a man in a beard went up to him and hugged him and kissed him. The soldier hugged him back.

The engagement continues everywhere here. That’s our battle. Not to disengage, but to engage. When all this is over, let’s hope that this plan is called not the “Disengagement Plan” but the “Engagement Plan.”

May it succeed.