Walking back from the Tapu'ah West and Elnaqam 4 Hills on Shabbath afternoon, I re-entered the fence surrounding K'far Tapu'ah (I hate that fence) to encounter a soldier's queries. After the requisite nodding of heads....
Soldier: Are you from here?
10ag (Me): (jokingly) No, I'm from Yassuf (a neighboring Ishma'elite village).
Soldier: (grin & holding a paper in his hand) Can I ask you something,...about where we are?
10ag: (a matter of fact-ly) Why? So, you can know from which town you're supposed to throw the residents out?
Soldier: No, so that I can know about the area where I'm guarding.
10ag: Why don't you ask your commander?
Soldier: I don't really appreciate you talking to me that way.
10ag: Look. I have nothing personal against you, at all. Ask me any other question, ANY other question, and I'll be happy to answer it.
Soldier: You have another reason not to have anything personal against me. I'm your neighbor. I live in the Shomron.
10ag: Yeshivah students from Qarnei Shomron participated in the expulsion from Amona. So that you live in the Shomron doesn't mean anything to me. (I start walking away again.)
Soldier: Well, do you know where (Arabic name) is?
10ag: I really don't have a clue.
After I walked down the security road, and up the hill into my backyard, I saw a former member of our town council and his kids walk up and start talking to this same soldier. So, I'm sure I will get chastised for exercising my right to free speech, and hurting the town's precious image. (eyes rolling)
Oh, I almost forgot. I do not have any such right. I live in Israel.
So, was I rude and unwelcoming to the soldier? I think not.
Years ago, there was man walking around a Jerusalem neighborhood, asking about a particular shi'ur (class) which was taking place in the area. The rabbi teaching this shi'ur got wind of this, and said it sounded like he might fit the profile of a Shabba"k (Israeli secret police) snooping around. He said not to say anything to him. It wasn't because he had anything to hide. He didn't. Rather, he said, "If he's too lazy to pick up the phone book, and look up my address, which is plainly there in black and white, by all means, do NOT help him do his job."
Sure, the soldier could probably find his way away the map he had with or without my help. But, the minute I started answering such questions, I would have risked getting pulled in, and then later, stuck, hemming and hawing about answering more pointed questions:
What exactly is that structure over there?
Who goes down there anyway?
Get my drift? By the way, the Elnaqam 4 Hill (see photo) received an evacuation order recently, as did the kennel which has housed guard dogs, which protect various towns in Yehudah and Shomron (Judea and Samaria). So, you can understand my hesitation to any inquiry from anyone about local geography, let alone a soldier.
Even more so, the self-defense program in K'far Tapu'ah has been canceled. We are now guarded solely by soldiers, as opposed to our own residents employed, or doing their reserve duty, to do so instead. We're not the only town which has this program canceled, due to "budgetary concerns." For the first time in Tapu'ah West's 10-year history, there are soldiers guarding hill, placed there by the Ravsha"tz (town security chief). Most of the residents do not want them there, perfectly capable of defending the hill themselves. Holes in the town's fence by the main entrance have been plugged up. Now, to leave the town on foot, you have to get the guard to open the main gate. There are only a couple of other ways to leave by foot (without climbing over the barbed wire), one of which takes you passed a small IDF base. Are they locking out the Arabs? Or are they locking us in? How convenient to have the soldiers here, already in place, when it comes time to expel us. May God forbid!
I had just left se'udath shlishith (the third meal of Shabbath) at Elnaqam 4, while a couple of soldiers were snooping around, on the pretext of taking a stroll. Funny. This is the first time in the year of the hill's existence as a residence that soldiers have come down for a stroll.
Who knows when the powers that be will actually have the order executed. Everyone knows that plans are in the works to expel more Jews from Yehudah and Shomron. The only questions remain are...
1. Will the government learn from its expulsion mistakes it made in Azza (Gaza)?
2. Will the government attempt to show any caring for the housing of those expelled?
3. How much blood will be spilled this time? (May God forbid!)
4. How will the government attempt to cover it up?
5. Or will they just try to demonize us, and get the world to root for "The Settlers Demise?"
...and most importantly...
6. How far will we let them go?
7. How far will YOU let them go?
Nope. No conspiracies here. Just some simple logic guided by the recent trail of events, with full knowledge of the current government's wishes. Here in K'far Tapu'ah we are all to familiar with destruction and expulsion....
Photo: Aftermath of the work of soldiers on the Tapu'ah West synagogue,...under IDF "rabbinic supervision," years before the destruction of synagogues and yeshivoth in Azza (Gush Qatif and surrounding area)