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Monday, July 26, 2004

of solidarity and love for The Land

130,000 - 200,000 Israelis linked arms in a 56-mile continuous human chain from Gaza to the Kotel in Jerusalem.

At 6:45 PM the thousands of participants clasped one another’s hands and prepared for the singing of ‘Hatikva’ – ‘The Hope’, Israel’s national anthem.  At seven, ram’s horns were blown at some points in the chain and the words of Hatikva echoed across the country.

Benny Elon:

“This chain is a form of prayer . . . on the eve of Tisha B’Av the Jewish people have come together to cry out to heaven against the latest attempt to expel us from our land.”

My friend Shirl in Jerusalem writes me that, not only was the chain unbroken all the way from Jerusalem to Gush Katif, but this child seen next to the Kotel is the 6-year-old granddaughter of the two people at the very other end of the human chain.  The grandparents have lived in Gaza since the early 1940s.  As everyone began to sing the national anthem, Hatikva, this girl placed a note in the Wall,  as is our custom when seeking Divine intervention. According to the Jerusalem Post, the note said, "Don't evacuate us."

Also present at the Kotel was bereaved father and husband David Hatuel, whose pregnant wife and four daughters were murdered in their car in Gush Katif just a few months ago.  He told reporters that he was overwhelmed by the unprecedented event: 

"Sadly, I came alone, but the connection I felt from everyone here on erev Tisha B'Av is quite amazing. This will broadcast to everyone that we have the will to continue to pursue our lives in all parts of the land of Israel," he said.

American Al Nachom, who flew to Israel for the event:  

“The incredible event we just witnessed is an inspiration not only to the Jews of Gush Katif but to Jews in all of Israel and all of the world – reminding us that our people are alive and well.”

“I called my synagogue, the West Coast Torah Center in Beverly Hills and could hear the crying on the other end of the line as those assembled heard thousands of their brothers here in Israel singing the Jewish national anthem.”

Judy Lash Balint:

"For those who stood together singing The Hope, it was the successful conclusion of yet another battle in the war to preserve Israel's integrity."



In the Jewish heart

A Jewish spirit still sings,

And the eyes look east

Toward Zion.

Our hope is not lost,

Our hope of two thousand years,

To be a free nation in our land,

In the land of Zion and Jerusalem.

Am Yisrael Chai!


BBC headline: "Israeli chain fails to impress" - based on Israeli editorials - MUST READ to believe.

Coverage at Al Jazeera was more positive.

The New York Times falls somewhere in between the two. They seem to appreciate the anti-Sharon spin they can put on it, but they don't want to give too much to the "settlers," either. 

 "The size of the demonstration - organizers estimated that 200,000 Israelis took part, though the police put the number at 70,000 -  represented perhaps the gravest challenge yet to Mr. Sharon's disengagement plan . . . "

"The chain . . . was far from complete . . . "

The Times did include this map, however, which cannot fail to impress.



JPost /   As a secular, fun-loving Israeli, Sharar admits that he doesn't exactly fit the stereotype of an activist. Sitting near Jerusalem's Central Bus Station, with sunglasses hanging from his half-opened button-down black shirt, Sharar said he would rather be out dancing or telling a woman he loves her than getting ready to stand in the human chain that ran from Gush Katif to the Western Wall on Sunday.

But it would be irresponsible not to participate in an action that could prevent leaders from making a terrible blunder, said Sharar, who organized 40 other secular young adults to join him in the human chain.

As a soldier in the IDF, said Sharar, "I saw a lot of terrible things. I lost three of my friends. I had no fear, no emotions. I put a wall inside my heart."

But something inside him snapped when he read about the Hatuel family. He imagined how the terrorist gunned them down as Tali was driving.

"For the first time I started to cry."

On a whim, he and a friend drove down to Gush Katif, to pay Tali's husband David a shiva call. "Without thinking about the political implications I knew I had to go down there," said Sharar.He was struck by how noble and strong David Hatuel seemed. "I felt I was receiving power from him. It shows you what kind of people live there."

When Hatuel shook their hands and thanked them for coming, it dawned on Sharar that he could make a difference. 

"I tried to bring some comfort and the whole thing snowballed," said Sharar.