Ben Zion stood up beside him.
“While we all hope for an ideal future, when it comes to these Bedouin marauders, the only solution is war.”
A woman stood up to express her opinion.
“The Arabs are not the problem,” she shouted. “The Turks are. They are the ones who rule here. They have to be overthrown.”
“Overthrown with what?” Perchik asked. “We barely have rifles for a half dozen men.”
“Overthrown with the truth of our cause,” Peter’s friend, Ari, declared. “We must build a new Jewish state in Palestine.”
Applause broke out in the hall.
“Enough speeches,” another woman yelled. “What are we going to do about the disputed well?”
“The Arabs have no legal claim to the site,” Ben Zion asserted.
“That may be true,” Perchik responded. “But they believe it’s their land.”
“Land ownership is not based on illusions, but on a legal proof of sale. And we have a copy of the deed in our possession.”
“Yes, yes, we all are aware of the legality of our settlement here,” Perchik said. “But these Bedouins have their own customs and beliefs.”
“Are you proposing we pick up and move?” Ben Zion asked.
“No, of course not. I propose that there is enough land and water for everyone. We should meet with them and reach an agreement.”
Once again, there was loud applause in the dining hall.
After a two-hour discussion, a vote was taken. Even the women were allowed to raise hands. Shmuelik stared down at his shoes when all of the bare arms rose up in the air. When the counting of hands was concluded, the outcome was an absolute deadlock.
“I propose that we let the new arrivals take part in the vote,” Ben Zion called out, certain that the religious Jews would share his view that the Land of Israel was the rightful homeland of the Jews.
Immediately, Sonia protested. They were visitors, she said, and not official members of the kibbutz. Renewed shouting erupted. A vote on Ben Zion’s proposal was taken. Again, both sides were even. Perchik banged his gavel on the table. The meeting was declared adjourned. For the moment, no action would be initiated. Instead, they would wait to see how the matter developed. That seemed like a sensible solution to Tevye. As the Talmud taught, if a man doesn’t know what course of action to take, he should just sit and wait.