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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Gush Katif’

JobKatif: Strength for Those in Need

Monday, July 21st, 2014

It has been nine years since Israel’s disengagement from the Jewish settlements of the Gaza Strip. About 500 people still remain without jobs and stability, a dire predicament exacerbated by the current turmoil in Southern Israel, where many of the evacuees went to rebuild their lives. JobKatif continues to bring relief to thousands of these unemployed and underemployed families through vocational training, employment placement, counseling and coaching.

Itzik, a restaurant owner in Southern Israel, finds himself paralyzed this summer. Normally, his café and catering company are bustling with customers. Yet this summer, because of the constant barrage of rockets targeting the region from Gaza, people are barely leaving their homes, let alone going out for a meal.

For Itzik, surprisingly, this is not grossly traumatic. While his business is suffering and he is concerned about sustaining his family and paying the bills, he remembers all the struggles he faced before he could even open his business. Itzik and his family are just one example of the thousands who relocated to Southern Israel following the Disengagement of 2005.

Nine years ago, the Israeli Government decided to withdraw the Jewish settlements of Gush Katif in Gaza. These families lost everything: their homes, communities, businesses, synagogues and more.

A majority of these people relocated to towns and cities in the South of Israel, which for years has been targeted by rocket fire from Gaza. Today, Israel is in a state of emergency; at least 70 percent of Israeli residents are at risk of rocket fire from Gaza and have had to experience the horror of the Code Red Siren, which gives seconds notice before a rocket strikes.

Aside from the obvious distress that this situation brings, income is down by nearly 90% for businesses in the South. Many people are unable to go to work; children are staying home from school and camps. Much is left unknown.

Making ends meet Prior to 2005, Itzik lived with his wife and five children in Moshav Katif. He worked in a marketing department in Beer Sheva and enjoyed the rural community life in Gush Katif. Following the Disengagement, his life began falling apart.

“I was at home for nearly a year,” Itzik recalls, “I wasn’t able to hold down a job for more than 3-4 weeks, tops. Our whole financial situation deteriorated, until there was not enough money for food. You are dying to work, but you simply can’t.” Like many evacuees, there was trauma and gaining stable ground seemed worlds away.

He and his wife dreamed of opening a catering business. Slowly, they saved money and recruited customers. “I remember the first Shabbat meals that we did,” he said. “To save money, I recruited our kids to help us. The business began to turn a profit, but it was slow going,” Itzik says with a smile.

In 2009, Itzik was contacted by the staff of JobKatif, an organization established for the sole purpose of assisting Gush Katif families left bereft of their livelihood to become financially independent. With some funding and advice from professionals, Itzik and his wife purchased a restaurant.

“JobKatif was a true and faithful ‘shaliach,’” he admits. “They helped us and thanks to all their support, we are where we are today. They believed in us.”

Eight-three percent of former Gush Katif residents are now employed.

However, there is still more work to do, especially as the situation in Southern Israel has become more severe.

Some 500 individuals from Gush Katif still remain out of work. Because of the security situation in the South, even JobKatif needed to temporarily shut its training centers and counseling programs because people were just unable to attend. This year, the Israeli government renewed their commitment to these important endeavors and has promised to match up to 75% of the programming costs to help Gush Katif families find meaningful employment. But these funds are returned retroactively and dependent on JobKatif raising money from donors.

Over the past nine years, 2,500 people have found employment because of JobKatif. Among these people, 570 participated in vocational retraining courses. At least 200 small businesses are operating because of JobKatif’s start-up funding and guidance. Another 202 students now are studying in colleges and universities across the country, thanks to scholarships provided by Amutat Yedidut Toronto. To assist those remaining without work, JobKatif developed customized programs tailored for specific populations. These groups include: Bnei Menashe (Jews from India), small business owners on the threshold of success, people over 55 years, individuals with challenges, students and employed individuals who are dissatisfied with their jobs. The organization has over one year left to accomplish its goals.

“We have nearly accomplished our mission of assisting all Gush Katif evacuees to earn a living so that they can support their families with pride and dignity. As they once did in Gush Katif,” says Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, founder and chairman of JobKatif. “We have made so much progress and with continued support, we can make sure that the burdens are eased and our brothers and sisters can live with peace of mind and stability.”

As it moves towards completing what it set out to do, JobKatif is seeking partners from across Jewish communities worldwide to join in relieving the struggles of unemployment in this difficult time. To contribute to JobKatif’s Shabbat Chazon campaign, tax-deductible donations can be sent to JobKatif 71-47, 171st St. Flushing, New York 11365 or online at www.jobkatif.org. For more information, please contact info@jobkatif.org or +972-2-547-4548. All donations will be matched 3:1 by the Israeli Government.

Olmert’s Legacy

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heads off to jail for corruption, one tries to consider which event will best define Olmert’s legacy.

His role in destroying Gush Katif? His abject failure in the Lebanon war? The Holyland Towers? Simply being the first Israeli Prime Minister sent to jail?

I think Olmert will best be remembered for his attempt to follow up on his success in destroying Gush Katif, by trying to violently destroy the Jewish town of Amona in 2006.

Amona Photo by: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Amona
Photo by: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Amona Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Amona
Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

What do you think is Olmert’s Legacy?

Begin’s Palestinian ‘Genie;’ It All Started With ‘Autonomy’

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Way back when, almost thirty-eight years ago, when Israel’s great electoral “Mahapach,” electoral upheaval of 1977 happened and Menachem Begin’s Likud was elected to power the very first time after twenty-nine years of Labor rule, absolutely nobody expected davka him to make revolutionary policy decisions that would facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian State in the very heart of the Historic Biblical Jewish Land of Israel. Sorry for that very long opening sentence…

Yes, the supposedly Right, pro-Jewish rights in the Land of Israel Menachem Begin’s revolutionary “give the Arabs autonomy” policy opened the door to the security and diplomatic Hell that the State of Israel now suffers.

Until Begin began his policy of withdrawing from Land liberated in the 1967 Six Days War, today’s scenario was totally unthinkable.

While Menachem Begin had been in the Opposition, the Leftist Labor leadership never dared proposing withdrawing from any of the Land and certainly not destroying Jewish communities. But just over a decade after Israel’s totally miraculous victory in the 1967 Six Days War, Begin not only handed Egypt’s Sadat the Sinai on a silver platter, he turned thousands of Israelis into refugees, giving away their homes, communities, businesses and farms.

I’ll never forget the bombastic statements he made afterwards claiming that this decision will preserve Israeli rights to the rest of the Land of Israel and his promises that the new communities established in places like Gush Katif were guaranteed as permanent and Israeli. But we all know what happened since then. Begin’s successors in the Likud, Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert came up with Disengagement and destroyed those very “replacement” communities in Gush Katif.

Even worse, the pressure on Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and neighborhoods in Jerusalem have only gotten stronger.

Evil Genie Another part of Begin’s revolutionary policy, giving the Arabs “autonomy” has already turned them into a de facto and in many cases now a de jure country called Palestine.

That Palestine “genie” has grown and can’t be controlled. It will take a very brave and strong Israel to destroy it. Unfortunately, I don’t see any Israeli politicians with the guts to do it.

Visit Shiloh Musings.  / Batya Medad

Israel Develops ‘Cyber Negev’ as Powerful Defense against Missiles

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the government “has turned the Negev and Be’er Sheva into the cyber capital of the Eastern Hemisphere” and that “there will no trickle of rockets.”

Every prime minister for the past 20 years has promised Jews in Gaza, before they were expelled, and residents in the Western Negev, that Israel will not tolerate missile fire from Gaza.

Those promises were worth about as much as the commitment of Ariel Sharon when he encouraged Jews to live in Gush Katif and as much as the intellectual dishonesty of the Labor governments that offered incentives to Jews to live in the same communities in Judea and Samaria that they now want to dismantle.

After the expulsion of Jews from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinian Authority, then under the aegis of Mahmoud Abbas and later under the current Hamas regime, relentlessly pounded Sderot and Netivot with missiles. They developed longer-range rockets to hit Ashkelon, and then Ashdod, both of them key port cities where a single missile blast at the wrong place could blow up strategic  infrastructure, such as the electric generating, fuel depots and gas lines. Defense ministers talked, and terrorists fired. When the missiles stated hitting the area of Rehovot and Rishon LeTzion, cities that are part of metropolitan Tel Aviv, the government ordered the IDF not only to put an end to the attacks but also changed its policy and started retaliating for every rocket attack.

It is a sad fact that the government really does not care that much about the towns of Sederot, Netivot and surrounding rural areas. The votes are in metorpolitcan Tel Aviv, the home of most Israeli factories and offices and the homes of the power brokers, the people who really run Israel.

Tel Aviv is running out of room, Home prices are out of reach of the average family, and the Olmert and Netanyahu administrations made strategic decisions to invest in the wide open Negev, whose “capital” is Be’er Sheva, for decades an ignored outpost for Moroccan Jews and academics who learn and teach at Ben Gurion University.

A revolution is taking place in Israel, and it is in the Negev. A new high-tech park, with international investment, was launched earlier this year. The north-south Highway 6 high-speed highway is being extended to the outskirts of Be’er Sheva.

The IDF is in the process of moving bases, especially Air Force bases, from the Tel Aviv area to the Negev.

“We are in the midst of a revolution that is turning the Negev into a thriving center, not a periphery or branch, into a bustling center of Israel,” Netanyahu said Tuesday.

His last line, that “my policy is clear; any firing of rockets will be met with an immediate and sharp response,” was ostensibly irrelevant to the subject of development, but in fact it was part and parcel of the new Negev.

Israel now has a vested interest in the Negev, and it cannot afford even one rocket attack no more than it can allow rocket firing on Ben Gurion Airport.

It is not a very nice message to the pioneers of kibbutzim, moshavim and development towns in the Negev, but the truth is that the Iron Dome anti-missile system is just a Band-Aid.

The developing the Negev as the Cyber Capital of the Eastern Hemisphere is guaranteeing southern Israel peace and quiet.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy Dies at Age 72

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Retired Supreme Court Edmund Levy, who headed a three-man committee that debunked allegations that Israel is an “occupier,” died Tuesday night at the age of 72.

He served on the Supreme Court from 2000 to 2011, capping a legal career that began with studies at Tel Aviv University several years after his family immigrated to Israel from Iraq.

Levy was the only dissenting justice who ruled in favor of petitioners against the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and four communities in northern Samaria in 2005.

Levy immigrated to Israel from Iraq as a child in the early 1950s. He studied law at Tel Aviv University and served as a military

The “Levy Committee” in 2012 wrote a lengthy document that supported the rights of Jews to live everywhere in Judea and Samaria.

Expect Hell’s Fury as Scorned Aide Turns State Witness Against Olmert

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Shula Zaken’s career and her entire life have been intertwined with the life and career of top-level attorney, Likud “prince” (meaning his family belonged to the original, Jabotinsky-inspired Revisionist movement), Jerusalem mayor, government minister and finally prime minister Ebhud Olmert. Zaken was Olmert’s gatekeeper, and as such was directly involved in the complex and quite unappealing corruption quagmire her boss has been fighting in several court rooms over the past seven years.

This week, it appears that Zaken has agreed to become a state witness against her former boss, in exchange for reducing her sentence to one year in jail.

Until that crucial turn of events, the former prime minister had not escaped the long list of charges against him unscathed, he sustained an injury, in the form of a single conviction in one out of three separate cases, on breach of trust, for which he received one year’s probation and a $20 thousand fine. The last remaining case, regarding his role in the Holyland construction project—he was accused of accepting millions in bribes, while serving as Jerusalem’s mayor—was expected to be another squeaker for him. The prosecution’s key witness did not perform well at all, hard evidence was not offered, a walk in the park for Olmert.

Olmert might still beat this one, but a walk in the park it won’t be.

On Tuesday, Zaken went public on her Facebook page: “It’s no secret that in the last few days my heart’s been broken and what little joy I still had has also been almost extinguished. Until you came, dear people, family members, friends and just people – with blessings and support that I felt came from the heart. And those strengthened my faith, resurrected my joy of life, and this way I wish to thank you and bless each and every one of you that the Holy One Blessed Be His name fulfill all your wishes to a good end with health, happiness, pleasure, a good livelihood and, most important, joy in your hearts and a permanent smile on your faces.”

Convicted embezzlers who find God usually go a little overboard—I’m particularly leery of the permanent smile thing. I’m sure the prosecutors, should they accept her plea deal, will advise against it while on the stand. Could be off putting to the judges.

A week ago, Zaken reportedly told friends that she was feeling humiliated and was considering sharing with the authorities some of the vast information in her possession.

“If I open my mouth, forget it, Olmert will be sitting in jail,” she said to her friends. “I never said that he was corrupt, until he came up and said I was corrupt. I will talk about everything I have, amybe a few things that aren’t known yet.”

“After all,” Zaken emphasized, “I never did anything without instructions from him. Unlike him, I kept the covenant and the friendship until the very last minute.”

A few weeks ago, on a Friday, Zaken and Olmert happened into the same social event, and she told him, for all the world to hear: “You sold me out!”

Then, as a crowd was gathering, she shot: “You say I’m corrupt? I say that everything I did – I learned from you.”

Since, at one point, Olmert’s attorney Roy Blecher, accused Zaken of lying, it was becoming clear that the former PM was going to use Zaken as his fall guy—for everything. Zaken is now reacting like the proverbial woman scorned, complete with hell fury and the works.

“I lay down on the fence for him,” she said tearfully to her friends, citing the IDF combat method of going over a barbed wire fence – one guy throws himself on it and the rest step on his body. “I kept silent during the interrogations, I accepted responsibility, but there’s a limit to everything.”

Gush Katif Expellees Looking Forward to Permanent Homes

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Gush Katif Committee has worked for several months with Housing minister Uri Ariel, and the Tnufa administration headed by Yisrael Melachi, to develop a working plan for the victims of the mass expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif in 2005.

The committee’s targets are to develop new communities, which besides fulfilling the obligation to help the expulsion victims also will help strengthen Israel’s periphery; dismantle the temporary caravilla sites by the end of 2015 with every resident finally living in a permanent home; completing the rehabilitation process; and helping to restore the unique social framework of the communities.

The Cabinet has signed an agreement to help the new Gush Katif communities and provide guidance for families seeking to move to their permanent homes. The agreement joins the all-too-short list of previous government agreements seeking to help rehabilitate the former residents of Gush Katif.

The $40 million plan includes providing professional guidance, lowering rent on the caravilla and selling the lot in order to purchase a house in another community, it also will help provide funding to complete infrastructure work in the new Gush Katif communities of Shvei Darom and Palmachi, which will enable those families to finally start building their permanent homes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gush-katif-expellees-looking-forward-to-permanent-homes/2014/02/25/

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