It all started with a short news item on TV channel 10 reporting that Yehuda Yitzhak HaIsraeli, a critically wounded soldier, had regained consciousness after almost two years can’t go back home. The official reason given was that the house he lives in is in a settlement. HaIsraeli’s parents wanted to build another room specially designed to accomodate their son’s disabilities but, since Israel has imposed a freeze on all building permits in the “occupied territories,” HaIsraeli can’t go back to his home in Ofra.
Normally it is the duty of the Ministry of Defense to provide the needed permits and expenses but given this situation, it denied both permit and money. A few hours later the story was picked up by social network activists Sara Haetzni-Cohen and Avihai Shorshan. In a post from June 2, Shorshan called this incident an “outrage.” Since Israel is unwilling to help, he wrote, “we, the citizens, will not allow political and legal problems to prevent Yehuda from returning home.”
Shorshan, Haetzni-Cohen, Meir Layosh and Reuven Lorenzi went ahead with the “Returning Yehuda home” fundraising project aimed at collecting only half of the 1.2 million shekels needed for the building project. The response overwhelmed everyone. 158,466 NIS was donated within five hours and 1,194,199 NIS by the end of the next day. As of Sunday 1.4 million shekels had been collected in an act of love for the soldier and protest against the government.
This public support didn’t change the army’s position who released a confused response on the Army Radio which said that “the Ministry of Defense has aided the family in every way possible and the deliberation concerning aid will be delayed until a solution will be found.” In response Shorshan wrote: “The state knows how to bring back home one POW from Gaza in return for 1,000 terrorists but it is yakking about building permits when it comes to returning one soldier home from Sheba [hospital]. This disgrace will not be forgotten for a long time.” Permits or no permits, a video clip shows the new construction has begun.
This massive support upset the daily HaAretz – Rogel Alper – a great deal. His column reporting this incident is titled, “the fundraising for the wounded soldier – fascism at its best.”
Rogel justifies his opinion by explaining that “a small group of citizens are deciding who is a citizen, and according to their opinion I am not a citizen.” He also reasoned that such a fundraising campaign places compassion above the law. Rogel’s formalistic approach is that which has upset so many Israelis.
It is against this kind of dry and inhumane formalism that Shorshan and his peers protested against. “There are times when rushing one to a hospital permits going through a red light,” he said of the unconcerned formalists who are hiding their political views behind a legal barricade.