They are privatizing our coastline
By Naomi Barot | 02/04/2010
Land is being “thawed out” - that is, agricultural land is being rezoned to make way for construction projects. It is difficult to deny the truth of this statement. All our habits, all our landscapes, all our familiar aromas, all our beliefs are in danger of being destroyed. Our entire coastline with all its beaches and all of the above are being threatened with annihilation. The day before yesterday it was Caesarea, yesterday it was Achziv, now it is Dor. And this process is continuing to move forward
Agencies such as the Israel Lands Administration and the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council have signed agreements with moshavnikim (residents of moshavim, semi-collective agricultural settlements). The term “transfer of state lands to private hands” is being translated into concrete programs
From the standpoint of the groundsels, the snails, the sticky elecampanes; from the standpoint of the paths, the lizards, the thorns; from the standpoint of the tamarisks, the ancient coastal trees whose fleshy, economical leaves enable them to survive the climatic conditions of Israel's coastline and which today can barely stretch their necks out among the large white piles of rocks, stones and unused construction materials that are thrown daily onto the beaches in order to raise ground level and enable construction work to begin – from the standpoint of all these mute witnesses, the game has been lost.
Despite the prohibition, I lift some broken seashells and, holding them in my hand, marvel at their lovely shapes and colors, at their symmetry, at their spirals, at the unique way the lines spread out on the shells like a fan. Unable to avoid the temptation, I stretch out my arm to a branch and tear off a leaf in order to lick it and taste the salt.
Land is being “thawed out” - that is, agricultural land is being rezoned to make way for construction projects. It is difficult to deny the truth of this statement. All our habits, all our landscapes, all our familiar aromas, all our beliefs are in danger of being destroyed. Our entire coastline with all its beaches and all of the above are being threatened with annihilation. The day before yesterday it was Caesarea, yesterday it was Achziv, now it is Dor. And this process is continuing to move forward.
Agencies such as the Israel Lands Administration and the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council have signed agreements with moshavnikim (residents of moshavim, semi-collective agricultural settlements). The term “transfer of state lands to private hands” is being translated into concrete programs.
Those of us who love Israel's beaches have no trade union and no agencies to represent us.
After all, none of us lives forever and eventually we will all depart from this earthly existence. The question is what we will leave behind us.
All this development work sounds so innocent and it appears totally legal. The piles of white construction waste materials that are being built up along our coastline are serving as a foundation on which the ground level will be raised and on which a new neighborhood can then be built. When I heard this statement, I stopped the private research study I had been carrying out on my own initiative . I now understood what was happening: One after the other, the relevant officials signed the necessary documents; the required funds exchanged hands; and the deal was approved. The result: The land between Moshav Dor and the sea will be rezoned to allow construction work to be carried out there. “Neither you nor I will be able to afford a house in this area,” I was told by a member of the moshav. He was referring to the new neighborhood that will be constructed there after all the obstacles set up by green organizations have been removed and after all the minor objections of members of Moshav Dor, who will be deprived of their sea breeze after the construction project's completion, have been overcome. “This will be,” the moshavnik informed me, “a neighborhood for those who are really affluent.”
On the distant horizon, you can see the houses that comprise Moshav Dor. On the closer horizon, you can see the piles of rocks, stones and construction waste materials that are being dumped here every day amid the fallow fields and remnants of hothouses that are mute evidence of an agricultural way of life in this area that has not managed to survive. Among the heaps of waste materials, the bushes and trees of the coast – the tamarisks, the palm-trees, the asphodels, the squills and the groundsels – as well as the snails are fighting to survive. In this area, I was not surprised to catch sight, for the first time, a raven atop one of the arid, white piles.
“My God, my God,/May the sand and the sea,/The gentle lapping of the water/The lightning in the sky/The prayers uttered by human lips –/May all this never end.”
A beautiful passage of poetry, a string of words that miraculously have been blended into a single musical statement by David Zehavi and which have become a major – perhaps the only – secular prayer.
I think of Hannah Senesh, who was in this place for only a short while, and I think of her daily routine as a Zionist pioneer – a routine that no doubt gave her little free time for lying on the beach. In her diary, you can find perhaps only three references to brief excursions along the coast. On those three occasions, she probably took off her shoes and treaded the sand with bare feet; perhaps she even entered the water and swam up to the Fisherman, a perpendicular rock that stands out on the band of rocks that forms a natural bay on Sdot Yam's coastline. In the epic story of her life, there may have been a few hours when she allowed herself to lie back on the sand like any young woman who is not fated to die a heroine's death.
You have to pass through the ugly iron gates and show your admission ticket – today, a ticket costs NIS20. In order to enjoy the sea, we are prepared to pay and to even suffer the presence of those ugly iron gates. All we ask is that the situation remain what it is today, that nobody try to tamper with it. We have learned to fear any change. The ugly iron gates have become a part of the landscape and they fulfill their function. After we have passed through the iron gates and have passed the little booth, the yellow and sky-blue locker rooms and the collection of temporary structures that have been standing here for decades, we enter the beach area.
At this point, we stop for a moment, remove our sandals and take in the entire scene. We make sure that the lifeguards have not posted a black flag prohibiting entry into the water, that the wind is not too strong, that there are not too many people on the beach, that there is a beach chair on which to sit and that there is a shaded area. These are our concerns as we rest the soles of our bare feet on the sand. As we get organized, these are our principal worries; however, the moment we have found our spot on the beach, we feel carefree. Not even those around us present a problem. Everyone who loves the beach has one common characteristic: A real love for going to the beach.