Sunday, June 23, 2013

89 New Settlements, and Another 77

There are a few important corners of Israel's state bureaucracy where one can get awesome things done quickly. The invention, development and deployment of the Iron Dome anti-projectile systems, for example, happened very quickly by the standards of any government project. Most of the time, however, executing large projects inside the official sphere is, how to put this, challenging.

All the more reason to observe with incredulity the rate at which Israel in its infancy managed to get things done. Today's document, for example, is a report by Raanan Weitz, head of the Settlement Department in the Jewish Agency, from June 14, 1949. (File ×’-3013/12).

In the first six months of Israel's independence, according to Weitz, 35 settlements were founded. Then, in the ensuing 10 months or so, his department had created 54 settlements, in what was called "Series A". The cost of this activity had been 4,705,100 Lira (IL), and about 11,700 immigrants had been settled.

Just recently his officials had begun settling 1,010 families of new immigrants in 13 abandoned villages. He had "borrowed IL 250,000 for this from the next budget he was about to request, along with IL 171,750 which he had already used for series A, above the original allocation. (And note that he seems to have been informing that he'd already done this, not requesting permission. As in "I've already spent the money, now find a way to cover it.")

Having completed that, he was now requesting funds to launch "Series B". The plan here was to create 77 new settlements, for at least 3,000 families. The cost would be IL 3,676,750 (including the two above sums which had already been spent). The Series B settlements would be made up as follows: 22 settlements of pioneering youth; 22 settlements of demobilised soldiers (many of whom would have been new immigrants); 13 settlements for immigrants in abandoned villages; and 20 founded especially for their immigrant settlers.

The document then goes on for another 30-some pages with details about funds, expenditures, brief descriptions of each of the new settlements, and so on.

It might also be interesting to note that Weitz had no complexes about the abandoned villages. He's quite straightforward in talking about them and naming them, and he also doesn't agonize about how they came to be abandoned. Like everyone else at the time he was aware that the way of the world in the 1940s was that during and after wars populations were transferred from place to place; he remembered how the Arabs had trumpeted their intention to get rid of the Jews, and once the tables had been turned, he was getting on with life; his urgent task was to find somewhere to put the large numbers of Jews who were being transferred out of their homes and coming to Israel.

1 comment:

  1. This was before the courts stuck their noses into where it doesn't belong.