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Title: Grains Of Sand: The Fall Of Neve Dekalim


         This is a book we all need to read because of its message. Even though it’s the debut novel of a young writer (she was 18 at the time) and perhaps more for a teenage reader, the heartbreak of the destruction of a 30-year dream, that was destroyed in a few moments, is guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings.

 

         Something unbelievable happened and, if we don’t learn the lesson, this story threatens to be repeated in many more Israeli communities where Jews have settled and forged meaningful lives. The danger may come, not from our enemies, but from our own governmental decision-makers.

 

         The author was born in America, and lived with her family in Neve Dekalim until 1992 until the tragic Disengagement in 2005. She loved her life in Gush Katif, where she spent her childhood and teenage years with her parents and six siblings.

 

         The story is written as a novel, with a fictitious family comprised of parents Yoram and Miri Yefet and their two teenage children, Efrat and Yair. The father is a farmer inspecting dunams of vegetables to ensure they are bug-free. At first their lives and concerns are typical of Israelis all over the country, even though the firing of mortars and rockets is often a nightly occurrence.

 

         We learn of intermittent tragedies such as the murder of a beloved teacher, Miriam, in a terrorist attack. Sadly such events have become commonplace in Israel as the Intifada shattered lives and families that can never be whole again.

 

         The community’s foreboding strengthened when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave a speech at the Herzliya Conference. He stated clearly that he intended – if he didn’t find an Arab partner – to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and part of Northern Samaria (Shomron) even though it meant dismantling settlements.

 

         Thus the residents of Gush Katif realized that their only hope was to raise national awareness of what their communities actually were and the kind of idealistic people who lived there. They decided to mount a massive campaign to convince citizens to vote against Sharon’s plan should it come to a national referendum.

 

         The Yefet family began by choosing a city and going door-to-door to talk with any residents who were willing to listen. Some were. Many, however, felt that “the settlers” were the stumbling block to peace and would be no loss if disengagement should eventuate.

 

         These were usually ones who did not know that Gush Katif boasted 21 thriving communities of 8,000 settlers, religious and secular, Israeli-born, as well as immigrants. They lived there despite 11,000 terror attacks and 4,000 mortars and Kassam rockets. In a short time, the entire Gush joined the “Face to Face” campaign, handing out pamphlets, vegetables that were grown there, and CDs of their beautiful, endangered communities. Many strategies were originally employed, including wearing an orange star. However, public pressure caused an end to this campaign with its echoes of the Holocaust.

 

         Much of the book is written in the form of Effie’s diary entries, which I suppose are typical of the way a young girl might record her thoughts. There are also extracts translated from various articles in the Hebrew press in 2005, as the Disengagement built towards reality, with mass demonstrations, blocking of roads, civil disobedience and prayer vigils, which we know with hindsight, were all in vain. Efforts were made to try to convince soldiers to disobey orders, which presented a moral predicament for them.

 

         In the final pages, you will find your cheeks wet with tears as you finish the book – fiction that so tragically became fact. Read it – and remember!

 

         The book is available from Mazo Publishers, P.O.B. 36084 Jerusalem 91360 Israel; or info@mazopublishers.com  Tel: Israel 054 7294 565 USA: 1 815 301 3559 .

 

         Dvora Waysman is the author of 10 books, including Esther – A Jerusalem Love Story; The Pomegranate Pendant and its new sequel: The Seeds of the Pomegranate also available from Mazo Publishers. She can be reached at: ways@netvision.net.il 

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