by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths
In 1927 a group of Jews from Yemen purchased a mountain top area between Jerusalem and Hebron in the Land of Israel. Far away from any local Arab villages or areas of influence, they hoped to build a life in the Holy Land as they built a village and new homes in a desolate area.
The 1929 riots that started with the slaughter of the Jews of Hebron spread as the Arabs figured it was open season on the Jews (and their property and women were free for the taking). The Yemenite Jews ran for their lives and escaped, but their land and property were stolen and homes destroyed.
In 1932 a German Jew provided funding for a return to the area and Jewish pioneers returned, rebuilding the village and starting to plant the area. The Arab revolt (against the British) made the Jews and their village again a target (if you can’t kill a British soldier, a Jew will do in a pinch), and in 1937 the village was again abandoned as their lives were at constant risk.
In 1943 the Jewish National Fund (those little blue charity boxes found in the homes of Jews in America and England) funded another return of Jewish pioneers. This time the area flourished (and the Jews were a little better armed), and the village became an “area”, Gush Etzion, as two other Jewish villages were started nearby (giving access to different farming areas).
In 1947, the combined villages were attacked by Arab irregulars and then the Jordanian legion. They held out from November until May of 1948, when a large combined attack overwhelmed the Jewish defenders. The Arab attackers then slaughtered the captured Jewish soldiers and the Jewish civilians of the villages, the men, women and children. 250 Jews died that day. (Some of the women and children had been evacuated some weeks before.)
The Arabs then proceeded to level the villages, even cutting down every planted tree.
All they left was one lonely oak tree. (Perhaps to hang the bodies, who knows?)
This lone tree could be seen from Jerusalem, the last remnant of Gush Etzion.
After 1967, Israel recaptured the Gush Etzion area. Some survivors and children of evacuees returned and began rebuilding the villages. Oh, and they didn’t slaughter or expel the few Arab families that had moved into the area. They let them remain on the blood soaked land and fields they’d appropriated, figuring there was plenty of room for everyone.
Today Gush Etzion is home to towns that almost qualify as small cities. They are renowned for their grapes and wines, beer and cherries.
Every year right before summer they have a cherry festival. Gush is home to organic cherries which are grown (as you can see in the picture) by covering the whole orchard with huge bug nets, removing the need for pesticides. They also use drip irrigation, requiring less than 1/2 the water of a traditional orchard.
The festival draws tens of thousands from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, and surrounding areas. It includes the option to pick your own cherries (with a variety of types).
Besides a chance to enjoy the orchard and some pick your cherries (and blackberries and raspberries), it also included music, various booths selling various treats, clothes, art and so forth.
While wandering the booths I saw a young man wearing a Palestinian Keffiyah around his neck and back. Now what do you think happened to this young man, in the middle of an Israeli settlement surrounded by “violent settlers” who’s grandparents had literally been slaughtered by the Arabs of the symbol he was wearing?
What happened to him? Nothing. After all, Jews aren’t barbarians who go around slaughtering people – regardless of the news propaganda.
Everything is rebuilt, new, and created by them, including the forests. Every tree they planted, every stone they moved, every pipe they laid and every orchard they created.
Gush Etzion is “over the green line” and “beyond the 1948 borders”. And President Obama expects them to “give it back”??? They bought it, they died for it, and they returned to it again and again.
They are more connected to their land than President Obama is to the United States of America.
The Torah says G-d gave the land of Israel to the Jewish people. Their grandfathers took it seriously and so do they.
A cotton candy guy seriously into his job. Look at those arms!
The Festival area, a family weekend delight.
No different than a simple town festival anywhere else…except the ground is soaked in the blood of their grandfathers.