The story of Kedumim is the story of heroism, courage and a strong pioneering spirit. It is the story of the commitment of brave individuals, visionaries who believed that Jewish life in Samaria was possible, even though at the time it seemed incredibly difficult, if not impossible. The story of Kedumim is the story of groundbreaking efforts in the history of modern Eretz Israel, of commitment and endurance. But it is also the story of extraordinary people who strove to develop an ordinary community, a living and breathing town where ordinary people could live ordinary lives.
The story of Kedumim has also been the story of hardship and struggle at the forefront of a terrorist war forced upon the people of Israel by its Palestinian neighbors.
After the Yom Kippur War, two idealistic young men Benjamin (beni) Katzover and Menachem Felix from Kiryat Arba, decided that it is the time to renew Jewish settlement in Samaria Mountains, An area that was empty of Jewish presence. The small group of young people decided to change that reality, to challenge the law that forbade Jewish settlement in the very center of our historical homeland. The year was 1973, six years after Israel had liberated Judea and Samaria in the miraculous Six-Day War (1967), and was reunited once again with the very special sites that featured so prominently in Jewish Biblical history.
The Kedumim Garin, or nucleus of pioneers, drew encouragement and inspiration from the early Zionists. Like them, we understood that Israel's permanent borders would be determined, in large part, by the location of Jewish settlement. We made seven unsuccessful attempts to settle mountain-tops in the area of Shechem (Nablus). Each time, we were forced to evacuate by the government.
But as each settlement effort was rebuffed, the settlement movement grew. More and more people throughout Israel, and indeed throughout the world, understood the grave injustice of barring Jews from living in the center of their historical homeland. On the eighth and last attempt, on Hanukkah 1975, thousands gathered to help lay the foundations for a new community in Sebastia, the Roman name for the Biblical town of Samaria, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Israel.
The government could no longer stand against a grassroots movement that had garnered such intense public support. In a historic compromise, the government agreed to allow 13 families to settle in the nearby army camp of Kadum. The government was convinced that the families would not remain for long. The physical conditions were nearly unbearable – no running water, irregular electricity. Families with small children would have to find a way to get their children to school, to buy food, to get to work.
Pioneering life in an army camp is an adventure for teen-agers for a few days. But it is no picnic for families and incredibly difficult for the long-term. But the pioneering families were thrilled with the opportunity the government had given them. The way had been paved for permanent settlement in Samaria.
Kedumim represents the classic Zionist activity which has always been marked by a few courageous people with vision, who took upon themselves a mission which at that time seemed to be totally irrational and unrealistic, but by their belief in the rightness of their cause and by their determination, they went forward and succeeded.
This is the saga of Kedumim!
From those 13 families in an army base, grew the town of Kedumim, located on the hilltops overlooking that same army base. Today there are 900 families 5,000 people living in Kedumim and nearly a quarter of a million people in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
For 44 years we have been guided by the same approach: doing what we think is right, not minding the practical calculations. This is how Kedumim grew, despite many hardships, to become a thriving center of education, culture and community services that serves the entire area.
We have never wavered from our initial vision and our various accomplishments and developments over the years have always stemmed from the same foundation – a vision of Zionism as a movement of action and determination, of remaining faithful to a vision and acting upon it, regardless of whether the numbers were few, of whether the goal seemed irrational. That is how the State of Israel was born. That is how Kedumim was established.
While devoting energies to the quality of life of our residents, we have never lost sight of our ultimate objective – to settle Samaria and strengthen our hold in the area. For example Kedumim is comprised of 12 neighborhoods spread out across many hilltops without territorial contiguity between them. Despite the inconveniences involved, we built along the perimeter of Kedumim deliberately in order to stabilize our presence here and to ensure our control on lands that belong to Kedumim. Another example of our on-going pioneering struggle is the outpost Har Chemed.
we established a presence on Har Chemed. This hilltop is two miles from the center of Kedumim. Twenty families live there in conditions that remind us of the first pioneering years of Kedumim. They live in shipping containers and shacks. The outpost Har Chemed prevented the barren lands in this area to be transferred to the Arabs and ensured that the entire area west of Kedumim.
This determined approach has accompanied us, the people of Kedumim throughout our most difficult hours, as the Oslo Accords were signed and implemented. So many predicted its demise, and yet Kedumim continued to grow and expand. Young couples continue to make their homes in Kedumim, despite the difficulties and the dangers.