Ezra had some questions for me. You’ll note some of them are trick questions.
AND NOW FOR YOU:
1) Do you believe that the God of Israel is the One true God and that He gave your people a document in which it is outlined that we are not stumbling about seeking the most consumer goods and the safest domicile, but that we actually have a great national project to accomplish on this earth?
I do believe we have a historical right to live on the Land of Israel, that my ancestors lived there, and that other ancestors who followed those who lived there spent millenia pining and dreaming of their return one day. I believe that Zionism enables that return and has created a reflowering of an ancient culture. I believe that creating a national home for the Jewish people is a great national project. I am willing to use the document you mention, the Torah, as a guide and as a historical marker, but not as the Word. I am interested in the here and now and in pragmatic solutions, and those sentiments may conflict with elements of the Torah.
2) Do you truly believe people will have less reserve duty/IDF service after a withdrawal? Do you truly believe less soldiers will die combatting terrorism or that the security situation will improve?
Yes. The burden on the IDF will diminish because there will be fewer enclaves to defend and because Gaza will become an area that is entered only when violations become very severe. I believe the security situation will improve for many reasons, one of which will be the disadvantage to the Palestinians to keep attacking when they need to take care of their own needs and survival suddenly. Leaving Gaza throws the ball back into their court. Less soldiers will die.
3)If Ariel Sharon woke up tomorrow and said “OK, my mistake, Shabak says this is a dangerous plan – its been shelved,” would you still want to implement the plan?
I would want to hear the reasons Israel’s security forces reject a pullout (as Avi Dichter, head of the Shin Bet did the other day), but I still believe it benefits Israel to leave Gaza and move to about the 20% line inside the West Bank. That was actually Barak’s plan, not Sharon’s. He envisioned a security fence positioned along a line that keeps 25% of the West Bank in Israeli hands to use as leverage when negotiating with the Palestinians. I might be willing to wait a little longer if Sharon says to wait, but I believe it’s in Israel’s interests to remove itself from most of the territories.
4)How large a role does your trust in PM Sharon play in your endorsement of this expulsion?
I answer that above to some degree. There is no question that I take into consideration his very active history in developing the settlements. If he, as a force behind the settlement movement, sees the importance of the disengagement, there are probably some good reasons for his change of heart. However, as I answer above, I’ve always considered the majority of settlements to be a hindrance and not a help to the Zionist vision of a Jewish state. I want the state and I feel the settlements create more danger than good for the state.
5)What is an example of an order you would refuse?
Directly and intentionally kill an innocent person in war or in peaceful times. Kill or seriously harm a civilian intentionally. Take an action that undermines the democratic nature of the U.S., Canada, Israel or any other democracy in which I would live. Take an action that places people (Jewish or non-Jewish) in serious danger unnecessarily. After the pullout, I would refuse an order to protect Israelis who have stayed behind intentionally.
6)What is something you would be willing to die for?
My family. Some of my friends. Democracy. A justly fought war of defense against an oppressive enemy.
7)Have you been to Gush Katif?
Yes, but a very long time ago. I’m sure things have changed dramatically.
Anywhere in Yesha besides Efrat?
Yes, many times.
How much does your objectification of these people figure into your ability to be so scornful of them and their motives for living where they do?
What objectification of these people? Who has been scornful of them and their motives? You are only reading what you want to read. I don’t objectify the settlers, nor do I consider them all to be of the same ideology and beliefs. On the contrary, I think there are many different types of “settlers” living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. I believe there are many different motivating factors in their residence in the territories. I have great respect for their bravery, for their love of the land, for their love of Israel and the Zionist dream. I admire the sacrifices they are willing to make, including the physical risks they take upon themselves and their families by living where they do. I also greatly respect the settler movement in its growth and political and cultural savvy.
8) If you knew a referendum could prevent Jew v. Jew bloodshed would you be actively campaigning for one?
But I would first campaign to do everything possible to shut down the Jews who are threatening the bloodshed over the issue.
9) Would you like to come for Shabbat?
I’d love to. Um, wait, I have an appointment to keep and should only be available sometime after I no longer have to enter Gaza to visit you…
Ezra, will you take the very same questions you asked me and answer them? Thanks!