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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Here's your big chance to be a giver!

I'm usually the one sharing little tidbits of information and local lore about the area where I live... but today you might be the ones who get to be 'the givers'.

Since we moved to Gush Etzion in 2003 I have been trying (albeit in a very unsystematic way) to locate and visit as many landmarks of the Gush's modern history as possible.  There are actually several excellent narratives of this region's history (which mostly agree with one another), but only one or two (very grainy) maps that give general locations of the landmarks exist as far as I can tell.

I actually sent emails to one or two people I know in each of the local towns and kibbutzim asking for help... but I figured it never hurts to give people a chance to contribute.  Heck, the last time I asked for information here on the web I got a private email from someone who had actually done her masters thesis on exactly what I was trying to find out.

So without further ado, here's what I'm looking for:

In an effort to educate our kids about the history of Gush Etzion, I have been researching the location of the original settlements, the critical battles and other important landmarks here in the Gush.

One of the landmarks I've been trying, without success, to identify is the exact location of the ambush/battle of Neve Daniel that is described in this link.  Obviously the ambush/battle would have taken place along the old road (Derech Hevron) which has mostly been torn up when the new Rt 60 Tunnel road was built to bypass most of the hostile Arab villages.  But I am trying to find out if the section of the road where this battle took place - and the house that is mentioned in the linked account - are still extant... even if they are isolated in the middle of some farmer's vineyards.

Also, if while you are asking around someone should say "Oh, Trep should speak with __________ because he/she knows everything about the history of the Gush", I would love to know who such a person might be.

Here is a list of other bits of information I am looking for (just in case you stumble upon someone who is an expert on the area):

1.  The exact location of the original Migdal Eder (the first settlement in Gush Etzion) that was abandoned after being attacked and overrun by Arabs in 1929.  I think it was probably on or near the present-day Kfar etzion, but haven't read or heard anything conclusive.

2.  The exact location of the airstrip that was constructed by the Jews of Kfar Etzion during the Arab blockade of Gush Etzion on which small planes could take off and land.  One would assume that something like this would leave a trace on the landscape.

3.  Is the 'Rechov Zerubavel' that is found in many of the Gush Etzion settlements named in memory of Zerubavel Horowitz who died at the ambush of Neve Daniel?  If so, it would be nice to be able to tell my kids to have him in mind when they pass 'his' street.

4.  The exact Location of Kibbutz Revadim (and if any remnants of the old kibbutz infrastructure remain).  This was the only non-religious settlement in the 'original Gush', and I suspect that it may be because of its 'HaShomer HaTza'ir' origins that not as much attention has been paid to it as some of the other original settlements in local history lessons.  If this is so, I would like to do my part to set the record straight as a pioneer is a pioneer is a pioneer in my book, regardless of religious or political affiliation.

5.  The location of any original infrastructure from Kibbutz Ein Tzurim.  Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim was established mostly on the original site of Ein Tzurim.  But even during the time I volunteered on that kibbutz milking cows and exercising horses, I never came across any remnants of the original kibbutz.

6.  There are several mentions on the Web of the fact that the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem was built on land owned by the Jewish agency.  I would love to know if proof of this is available in the public domain or if the Israeli government has ever publicly mentioned this.

Thanks in advance for your help.  I know... you're all givers.  :-)

Posted by David Bogner on August 16, 2009 | Permalink


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I am so happy to hear that you are attempting to get to the bottom of local history. So much of this stuff vanishes with the older folk. I know a few of the original pioneers of Kfar Hanassi and they are great at telling their history now, but very soon they won't be around to pass on this history.
In all that spare time you have (ahem) perhaps you should be writing a history of the Gush, with a little help from your friends? You have a gift in bringing things alive. Can we perhaps request a serialised version of it here at Treppenwitz?

Posted by: Noa | Aug 16, 2009 10:42:25 AM

Aryeh Rottenberg (Alon Shvut) is the person to talk to. His wife, Ora, was evacuated from Kfar Etzion in '48 and is now in charge of the Kfar Etzion archives. I recall passing the building that is mentioned in the battle account back in the "old days" when Egged buses ran through Bet Lehem, but Aryeh tells me that it has been removed since Oslo.

To the best of my knowledge the airstrip is the road that we drive on between Alon Shvut and Kfar Etzion. At least that is what the sign says there.

Posted by: Shalom | Aug 16, 2009 10:46:04 AM

Oh, no need to thank me. I am also a giver.

Posted by: Shalom | Aug 16, 2009 11:00:14 AM

This page that popped up in Google Books gives a little detail about Revadim's location, and might be a good source to track down:


When we first came to Gush (or maybe even on a pilot trip) I seem to remember being told that Revadim still technically owned their land, although for ideological reasons they never rebuilt after 1967.

Again, if my memory serves me well, the guide mentioned that they now rent out the land (not sure to whom) and get revenue from it ... but that they don't exactly publicize this fact, since that's not terribly compatible with their beliefs. Perhaps that's one element behind their reduced profile in Gush history books?

Of course, I may be remembering wrong; the guide may have been nuts, or mistaken, or making a snide political point ... so don't take this info to the bank.

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Aug 16, 2009 12:41:50 PM

I know pitifully little about the recent history of where you live, but am so moved by your desire to find out and more importantly, pass it on to your children.

Posted by: Baila | Aug 16, 2009 1:58:39 PM

the "bayit haboded" from the nebe daniel battle stood by the roadside at the southern end of Dahishe- it was dismantled by the enemy around 1999, when I "visited" there during Homat Magen (2002) it looked like (through the armoured windows of the safari truck)a junk yard

I've got a great little story about the battle site with a topical twist- see my blog- or give me a call

Posted by: britac | Aug 16, 2009 5:31:38 PM

I second the suggestion of contacting Aryeh Rottenberg. You can reach him through the Beit Sefer Sadeh at Kfar Etzion.

Posted by: Raz | Aug 16, 2009 11:48:10 PM

Have you looked here? http://www.etzion-bloc.org.il/default.aspx
If you go to the current map it has links to some of the landmarks that you mentioned.

Posted by: Raz | Aug 17, 2009 1:12:55 AM

Regarding Kibbutz Revadim, why don't you get in touch with the Kibbutz in it's present day location. I know for sure that a few of the original members are stil with us.

Posted by: Ofra Leon | Aug 17, 2009 1:18:54 AM

Just took a look at the site Raz recommended and all I can say is WOW! There are some amazing photographs in the photo archives there.

Posted by: tzip | Aug 17, 2009 4:22:03 AM

I don't know about other towns in the Gush, but as far as street naming in Efrat, as I understand it, there are no streets named after "recent" people. And considering that other streets in the area are named after early Second Temple figures (like Koresh), I'm guessing that Zerubavel is also going back to that time.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Aug 17, 2009 9:06:08 AM

I think that Migdal Eder was located in the area of the Pina Hama/Gas Station. Problem is that I don't recall where I read that. Try Yossi Katz' books.

Posted by: Jeffrey Woolf | Aug 21, 2009 11:29:58 AM

I would very much like to obtain information about Neve Daniel and Gush Etzion. My cousin Reuven Rubenstein was a 16-year-old Palmach driver who died in March, 1948 in this area. His commander was Zerubavel Horowitz mentioned on this page. If anyone could direct me to a map showing the exact area where the ambus took place, I would be most appreciative.

Posted by: Deborah Long | Feb 12, 2013 4:02:58 AM

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