Shdema, a former Israeli army base in Gush Etzion, 5 kilometers from Jerusalem’s Har Homa, and 8 kilometers from Tekoa, was abandoned in 2006 for political reasons. Shdema, under Israeli control (Area C), is located at an extremely strategic point, that connects between Jerusalem and eastern Gush Etzion, and provides security for those traveling on the eastern Gush Etzion road.
Historically speaking, the Shdema area was densely populated by Jews during the First Temple period and resettled again during the Second Temple period. Archeological remains of Jewish settlement in the Shdema area have been identified from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Mameluke periods. The Hasmoneans waged their final victorious battle there.
In April 2008 the Committee for a Jewish Shdema, sponsored by Women in Green, began to maintain a permanent presence there, by organizing Land of Israel cultural activities at the site.
The Beit Sahur municipality submitted a request to the Minister of Defense to build a park and hospital on the area of the camp. The request is on the Defense Minister’s desk; permission has still not been granted.
This did not prevent the Arabs of Beit Sahur, with the encouragement and funding of European organizations and USAID, to build, in a patently illegal manner, an entire complex of structures and installations for various activities, on the northern area of the base, at the foot of the hill.
Two main conceptions underlie the roots of renewed Jewish settlement in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in general and in Shdema in particular:
The first one: all of Eretz Israel is the exclusive possession of the people of Israel. Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the very heart of Eretz Israel. They are the essence of our bond with the land. The ancient cities in those areas are replete with Jewish history from early times, the time of the Bible, the First and Second Temples, the Mishnah and the Talmud. The homeland, the people’s historic roots, is first and foremost in the hills of Judea and Samaria, and by extension to the coastal plain, and the rest of the country.
The second one: the hills of Judea and Samaria are the key to the security of all Eretz Israel. These hilly areas overlook all parts of the land, including the densely populated areas in the coastal plain. These two arguments, of divine and historic right and security, meet at Shdema.
The cultural activity at Shdema has brought hundreds of people there, from all parts of Israel, who are exposed to profound lectures on the values of Zionism that emphasize our right to Eretz Israel and to original Eretz Israel culture, music and art. A new-old spirit waves over Shdema. A spirit of dedication, tenacity, and fulfillment. A broad spectrum of politicians supports Jewish control of Shdema, along with many officers in the army. Additional pressure and a greater presence at the site, can succeed in leaving Shdema in the hands of the Jewish people.
The Struggle for Shdema Is Also the Struggle for Jerusalem
In the past few weeks, activists from Har Choma have joined together with activists from Shdema and Gush Etzion to advance together a plan for the extension of Jerusalem from Har Choma to Shdema, thus safeguarding the Jewish continuity between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
We appeal to you to exert all your national and Zionist influence to help us preserve a Jewish Shdema.