I thought this was very interesting and deserved to be a post rather than hidden as a comment. When the orange star was still a topic of discussion, I asked Ezra, a settler supporter who has been opposed to the disengagement, 10 questions. He responded and requested a further response from me.

Italics is my original question; the grey block quote is his response; the regular font is my answer. Please note that I promised my questions would not be a trap and asked out of curiosity and for the sake of discussion.

1. How do you feel when soldiers give up their lives and limbs so that you and yours can continue to live as 7500 Jews in a sea of 1.2 million Palestinians?

How do you feel standing over the graves of those soldiers who died for the Land of Israel – explaining to them that davka now – as the bloodiest, most gruesome terror offensive is winding down – you have decided to throw in the towel on behalf of them and generations to come?

Have more lives and limbs been lost guarding yishuvim than in operations keeping Arabs with explosives strapped to them from boarding buses and visiting malls all over Israel?
More importantly: How do you feel when soldiers give up their lives and limbs so that you and yours can continue to live as 6 million Jews in a sea of billions of hostile Arabs? Are the proportions any different?

You didn’t answer directly, but I guess my question was a loaded one. You skipped over the most salient point, which is that to maintain an equation where a few thousand settlers live in a place where their population is 150 times smaller than the hostile population around them requires a real, tangible and significant sacrifice on the part of Israeli soldiers. This sacrifice is especially questionable in light of the small odds that this area will ever have a much different demographic equation and the Jewish civilian population does not add much to Israel in the way of defense.

In answer to your questions: I tell those soldiers and their families that their sacrifice will enable a Jewish state to exist. I tell them that in all battlefields and in all wars, the dynamics change and one has to acknowledge the enemy’s strengths and weaknesses. Gaza is a place of weakness for the Palestinians when we leave it to them. It also deflates one of their strengths which is the demographic equation. I tell them the Palestinians gain little while we gain freedom of movement and action; free up military resources; clear up one patch of the diplomatic puzzle facing Israel; further strengthen the demographics inside the Green Line; further strengthen the ranks of the most passionate Israelis by returning home some of the most ardent Zionists we have among us; and give Israel a much stronger chance of maintaining the key settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria.

The answer about more lives and limbs being lost inside Israel than in the yishuvim (settlements) simply brings up the issue that the suicide bombings, which have taken the greatest toll on the civilian Israeli population, have targeted Israel inside the Green Line. The reason is simple: Israelis who live outside the Green Line see themselves to a degree as living in a hostile environment where they may be attacked while inside the Green Line Israelis feel more secure. As the Palestinians seek to use terror for the sake of affecting the Israeli psyche, they naturally target the areas where Israelis feel safest.

Your final question indicates that you believe that you live where there is consensus by both Israelis and the international community about Israel’s right to have communities (Gaza). There isn’t such a consensus at all. On the other hand, there is consensus about Israel’s current Green Line borders and international understanding that Israel’s settlement blocks in the West Bank will probably also have to remain. When I defend Israel’s borders with the IDF against Arab states surrounding us, as an army we can do very different things to defend what is practically an impenetrable line of defense protecting the country. It’s much more difficult to provide this protection in the territories. Furthermore, I would argue that our presence without a demarcation declaring our border creates a tremendous security headache for the entire country.

2. What do you think will happen eventually that will allow Israel to win this war?

There will be a war. Anyone who posits otherwise is naïve. Israel will win because she will have to. Right now we have not been fighting to win. Winning is not the goal.

So according to you, the real war hasn’t begun. The real war is coming and somehow we will win it. I’m sorry but that’s not an answer. We’ve been in a war for 4 years. It may be an unconventional war, but it’s a war and Sharon would argue (correctly) that having decreased the number of Israeli victims of this war to about 1/4 of the traffic fatalities in Israel is quite an achievement; a victory, if you will.

Anyway, whether you admit it or not, there are other fronts to this war such as demographics, diplomatic and economic. How are you going to win in the long run?

3. What do you think will happen with the demographics of the situation?

I think they are fine. Furthermore – all you folks who love talking about demographics refuse to even entertain the fact that the bigger demographic nightmare is that of the Israeli Arabs – who after the establishment of Palestine, will begin the campaign for Palestine 2 – to be founded democratically through the Knesset. Unless…T_M has so much fun cheering on the transfer of Jews that him and his decide transfer of Arabs is just as palatable. Pigs will then fly.

Wow, what a straw man. So far, Israel’s non-Jewish population has held steady at 19% since almost the founding of the state in 1948. I believe that with a stronger economy and security situation, many Jews who are reluctant to live in Israel might consider moving there, thereby increasing the Jewish population. I also believe that the government’s removal of some subsidies that benefit families with many children, will cause both Orthodox Jewish and Arab non-Jewish families to have fewer children.

Now please answer my question about your plans for resolving the demographics issue and stop avoiding this key issue.

4. Do you believe that Gaza will be rid of its Palestinians but you will remain? How will this happen? Do you have a position about these issues with respect to Yehuda and Shomron? Feel free to mention a flood if that’s what you believe.

There is no reason for Gaza to be rid of Arabs – as long as they accept the Jewish State. Until then, I would like to keep an eye on them so as to prevent thousands more Jewish deaths. It is the folks who dream of the primitive partition fence at night and the unilateral retreat by day who have this desperate and “flood-like” conception that a fence (which has already been penetrated on numerous occasions by tunnels the IDF has termed “undetectable” due to their depth) and a retreat will bring anything but disaster upon our people. “We gotta try something” comes the response from the masses, programmed by the media and with carrots dangling forth just over the horizon.

They accept the Jewish state only if you concede certain things to them. Since that is unlikely, they will not recognize the Jewish state for a while. In the meantime, I still have to contend with the diplomatic, economic and demographic issues. You are not proposing a solution at all. You are providing this circular cycle that cannot be resolved. “If they accept Israel, there will be no problem having them here. If they don’t accept Israel, I won’t say what should happen because if they accept Israel, there will be no problem having them here.”

Also note that nobody has said anything about “not keeping an eye on them.” Nobody mentioned that security should be diminished. Nobody suggested the barrier is the ultimate solution. We are discussing what you think you can do about the demographic issue. Please answer the question.

My plan is not spectacular. It is that we don’t tear the nation apart by forcing soldiers to choose the whims of crooked politicians over the words of our precious Torah. It is that we keep up the counter-terror operations, deport/execute terrorists, and move past this obsession with convincing ourselves we can force a thing as holy and real as peace upon a people that still cheers at the sight of hands drenched in blood.

More non-answer. I’m not sure why you are so sanguine about keeping the status quo. Are you not seeing the dangers to Israel and its very existence?

Patience. Let us heal our wounds. Let us heal the rifts in society. No matter how much you yell about how dastardly the settlers are for not going softly into the night, I think lying on your pillow you realize that this does not have to happen this way and I think you know who has guided the situation to a crash-course.

Patience and the ongoing support of the settlement movement has only made the situation worse. You’re right, for that I blame Ariel Sharon. The situation in which Israel finds itself now, where a small segment of the population is holding hostage the rest of the country and slaughtering its sacred cows, is the fault of waiting and trying to appease the settler population. How are wounds going to heal when settler officers feel fine listening to their rabbi instead of serving their country as IDF soldiers? When settlers feel comfortable hinting at civil war and bloody outcomes if Israel makes moves they don’t like? When every leader out there who doesn’t toe your party line becomes a traitor, a crook, a liar, a demagogue, a tyrant, a traitor, etc.? How are wounds going to heal when you view the world as us and them in the way you do (read your questions to me above)?

Healing can be achieved if you wake up tomorrow morning and say, “It is difficult to do this, but there is a government and a country, who have placed us here in the first place, who need us to sacrifice and leave now. While it is painful, we will honor their request of us.”

5. If you perceive this forced pullout by Israel and your forced removal from Gaza as immoral and Nazi-like (your concept, not mine, I feel Israel and the IDF are moral and absolutely un-Nazi-like), why do you accept the protection of the State? Why do you accept the state’s subsidies or live in a community that accepts them and was founded by the State? Why do you allow the instrument of this Nazi-like State, the IDF, to protect you?

It is the doings of a leader who is madly implementing the platform of his trounced opponent contrary to a referendum he vowed to abide by and then changed his mind. The State is just fine, as is the IDF. A candlestick is also a fine thing – until a murderer uses it to bludgeon someone to death. Are these concepts too difficult or do you really have some sort of cult-like condition whereby any comparison with aspects of Jewish History (specifically WW II) elicits hysterics.

Um, you’re the group that put on the orange stars, that uses words like Judenrein, expulsion, transfer, etc. This entire discussion erupted from your defense of some settlers’ comparison between the disengagement and WWII, not from me. I’m glad to hear that you reject the comparison as hysterics. We agree on this completely.

IDF soldiers who fulfill illegal orders will be brought to trial. Politicians who flout the will of the public will be rejected by the populace whenever the ballots are opened. Jews who throw Jews out of their homes in the hope that “maybe” it will improve the security situation on the coastal plane – are making the same “pragmatic” error that many of the Judenrat made when they participated in “relocating” the Jews in hopes that things would get better (at least for them) if they cooperate. And to be clear, the analogy casts the Arab world as the Nazis, and most of the rest of the world as most of the rest of the world during the Holocaust

Oh, so it’s hysterical to call the state and IDF Nazis, but it’s okay to call them Nazi collaborators. I see.

Please don’t forget that you were “relocated” into Gaza in the first place. It was Judenrein in 1967.

6. How do you explain that just a couple of years ago, Sharon was the darling of the settlers, but is now badmouthed as a traitor or as someone who has lost his capacity to see reality?

The settler movement has in it a large percentage of westerners. Due partly to this, and partly to the culture of religious Jews, the residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as sympathizers across the Jewish State, have gotten past the concept of electing themselves a dictator and fully expect democratic principles to be upheld. If one goes up against their party and constituency and loses in democratic processes in both regards, he is expected to take the hint.

The “settlers” – as you call them – but in fact a large segment of Israel’s citizens – living all across the country – have been systematically disenfranchised and demonized for threatening to engage in civil disobedience and for pointing out that expelling Jews from their homes is illegal and immoral. Cabinet ministers were fired on the eve of votes. Idiotic polls by the same companies which consistently get it wrong on the eve of every election or referendum use deceptive wording (“as part of a final peace agreement, should Israel leave parts of Gaza?) and are used to make headlines and recycled to make headlines again until the withdrawal is “inevitable” and the only thing standing in the way of economic prosperity and maybe even PEACE is these pesky weird looking settlers.

Fair enough.

So if I get what you’re saying, it is that Sharon is illegally holding on to power, that he is bulldozing through something undemocratic without a mandate to do so, and that even if there is a mandate, it is created by bad polling and a bad press, including unfair defamation of settlers.

I would argue the Likud has had opportunity to knock Sharon out of his leadership role and to remove his supporters. They haven’t. If they wanted to topple his government, there have been numerous non-confidence Knesset votes and if just one passes, he has to call elections. So far, he’s beaten back every one of those votes. The Supreme Court enabled his firings of cabinet ministers, upholding them. The rest of your comments about the evil press and bad polls simply don’t hold up because the polls have been ongoing for years and every variety of media has tackled these topics. I will agree with you that settlers are made to look bad, and sometimes unfairly.

7. Do you not find it odd that you are now attacking Sharon, Foxman, the IDF and the State? Is it healthy when everybody becomes your enemy, even your supporters and friends? Do you believe that the nature of your accusations and attacks is a fair type of criticism? Doesn’t it bother you that your remarks and comments mirror those of the Palestinians, the international Far Right and Far Left?

Stupid question/statement. Once again stuffing my mouth full of words. Is this eight grade debate team?

Uh, no, I went to your website and read the article attacking Foxman. It sounded just like the pro-Palestinians, far Left and the far Right. Sorry. In our conversations, you have made points about the IDF and the Israeli government that sound just like the comments I hear on the far Left and the far Right.

If you don’t want to acknowledge that this is what happens when you talk about Israel not behaving democratically, about soldiers who fulfill their orders having to face trials in the future, about Sharon being a bulldozing tyrant who is leading these illegal actions for which the soldiers will eventually by punished, etc., then I am here to inform you that you sound no different than those groups.

8. In order to remain close to the cradle of Jewish civilization, would you be willing to remain behind and live among the Palestinians?

Yes. You can come visit if you like. I imagine Yad VaShem will become the new popular holy site once all the others are relinquished to the guardianship of the Wakf.

I will be glad to visit.

9. You are a faithful Jew. You obviously believe that Israel is in the wrong in this matter. Ostensibly, this goes against your faith. Would you raise arms against a State that violates what you consider holy? Second part of this question is would you put your faith above democracy if Israel found itself in demographic difficulties or if you felt the State’s choices forced you to give up too much of what you consider basic tenets of faith?

This isn’t just about faith, my friend. It is about justice, and common sense. Creating a terror-state along our borders – newly motivated by a retreat under fire – is one of the worst ideas ever – of all time.

Israel is not wrong – the Prime Minister is. The nation of Israel is being lied to, silenced, threatened and bamboozled in a very blatant manner. Why in the world is there no referendum? Why are you not campaigning for a referendum? Don’t you believe there is this overwhelming majority that agrees with you? Wouldn’t that neutralize much of the rifts that this hasty ethnic cleansing of Gaza will cause?

I actually don’t have a problem holding a referendum and believe Sharon made a mistake not holding one. On the other hand, referenda are only as good as the question being asked, aren’t they? Referenda can be held hostage by their opponents. For example, a number of well timed Palestinian attacks (since they, like you, oppose the disengagement), have been known to change elections in Israel and could change the outcome of this referendum. Referenda should also be used very judiciously, and only in matters that relate to a significant question. The significance of this matter to you is very great, but Israel may not view it that way. Finally, referenda undermine governments and their powers. Suddenly, whenever a special interest group opposes a law or a government decision, they will demand a referendum. Why establish this precedent? Go to your Likud members and to all the Orthodox Knesset members, and to all the other Right oriented Knesset members. Hell, go to the Arab non-Jewish Knesset members, and convince all these people to vote Sharon’s government out of office. Go ahead, that’s your referendum right there.

If you choose democracy over Jewish State, then you are going to make that same choice how ever many years down the line when the Israeli Arabs pose it to us.

Well, there’s a straight answer finally. So Jewish comes before democracy.

10. Are you going to keep making hasbara class jokes when I write?

Are you going to keep playing games, repeating the same tired emotional non-facts, throwing lists of questions back at me rather than bringing proof of the benefit of this retreat from Gaza and the northern Shomron that outweighs the rights of these people to live on their land?

I’ve written pages and pages on this site, in my discussions with you, about this topic. My comments have been factual and backed up by data and links to a variety of sources. You have yet to provide any solution to the current situation. There is a demographics problem that we need to overcome as noted above. Even if you are right and there will be a war “to win,” hostile states will remain closed to the Palestinians. Small settlements like yours could be held hostage and require tremendous resources to defend in the middle of a big war, if there is one. This debate with the settlers is polarizing the country. The settlers have now harmed the legitimacy of the IDF and are continuing to do so.

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