Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's a Kibbutz! They don't pay!

The situation at Kibbutz Karmia seems to be a collision of several painful issues for the Israeli society. The facts, as far as I could figure it out, are these:
  • The government sought an arrangement for all Gaza strip settlers evacuated in August 2005 (the Hitknatkut in Hebrew). Some were offered temporary housing at a few Kibbutzes (plural) in the region surrounding Gaza strip (but within Israeli border). Karmia was one of these Kibbutzes.
  • The deal was that the Kibbutz will transform the required fields into a residence area, build infrastructure and set up temporary houses (called Caravillas in Israel, a conjunction of Caravan and Villa, but most like to a shack than anything else). The government will help fund the buildings, and will pay for a two-year rent for every settler house as the fulfillment of the settlers agreed right for housing or rent for the same period.
  • What is the clear benefit for each? The Kibbutz gets to keep the infrastructure and the land that were built for the settlers, and that is a 'big thing' in Israel, where land for building is sparse and most Kibbutzes have hard time transforming agriculture-purposed land into residence-purposed land. The settlers will have temporary housing for a significant period of time while keeping their community intact (more or less), in a suitable environment. The government saved a lot of money which would have been wasted on building temporary housing - like what happens in Nitzanim.
This could have been an good chance for all sides to work together and benefit, but after 2 years, what really happens is that everyone is angry and fighting and mostly blaming the others for their bad situation.

The Government Point of View
Well, those settlers are really a pain in the arse. They should have been moving to their permanent location by now. So it's not the best places they wanted, so what? Don't they realise that we can't satisfy everyone, that we're working on a budget here? And no cooperation from them, no sir, just complaints all the time - fix the damn Caravilla, build shelters against rockets. We end out spending on these 'temp' housing more than it takes to build a proper house!
They want to keep an unrealistic life style - don't they know that there are no rich farmers in Israel? They should take care of themselves; we provide the house, they look for a job, education, transports, all these trifles.
Even so, we could have shut them up for another year or two, if only those greedy Kibbutznikim (people living in a kibbutz) would not have doubled the price of the rent, now that the 2-year term is up. Looking to make some easy money, do they? Well, we're simply not going to pay.
We're simply going to wait them out. They will cave in, you'll see.

The Settlers Point of View
They want us to despair and disappear. The government, that is. They throw us here, in these shambles and call them Caravillas! Villas indeed. We had real villas in Gush Katif (the settlements), with a view to the sea. Now we have an asbestos wall which can burn in 30 seconds when a rocket hits it. Oh yea, and there are rockets. Sure, we had these before but in our home we had a reinforced roof which could stand most of the rockets the Hamas shoot.
And do they offer anything reasonable in exchange? No! Just lousy apartments in Ashkelon, or somewhere deep in the desert, where we can never be farmers again. Never! We should get the same life style as we had before.
The Kibbutz are showing they real nature by now. We know they hate us - they were supporting the bloody Hitnatkut all along, they are peace mongering left wing communists. Don't they see how the mere fact we were sitting in Gaza strip protected them? That all of these rockets weren't coming before we were evacuated?
And don't they know how badly the government mistreat us? If we could have hoped to pay the rent by ourselves and then get some return, we would have, but there is no chance of that with this government. So we don't really have a choice, and what the Kibbutz does? They cut us off - turn off the electricity! What's next - our water? Will they physically throw us out of our houses? Again??

The Kibbutz Point of View
Boy, did it turn sour. We tried to be good neighbours, good citizens. We welcomed these groups of people who we fought against all these years. We turned our fields into sewers and wires. Sure, there was some profit in it, we get to have a residential land where we can later sell houses or rent them - but let's face it, who's gonna come live here, under the shadow of rockets? If we get to cover our expenses we'll be lucky...
They really ought to have been on their way by now. The government promised we can use the land after the 2 years. If we have to keep up, we want fair price. Did they expect we will keep these low rents the government forced on us in the initial agreement? Now it's time to value the housing at their market price, like good Capitalists do. If the government doesn't like it, they can go ahead and find the alternatives - isn't that a free market?
And these settlers - they like complaining. Shielding all the houses? We don't get such protection. This was always the case - the government ignores us. These settlers got used to the good living, near the master's table, and now they're shocked how the rest of us get along through life in Israel. We will make it all the clearer for them when we turn off the water supply...

You really expect one? This is Israel of the 21st century. Bad Karma all around.

The talkbacks at the popular news site take the opportunity to slander everyone in this story, for things which has little baring on the subject, like how beautiful were the houses of the settlements, or attacking the Kibbutz for stealing public money through the Kibbutzim Agreements of the 90's. It's amazing how old wounds and hatreds find their way into every discussion, sometimes not even disguised in new form.

No comments: