We’ve been debating it for months. We’ve been watching the political and media maneuvers of both sides. We’ve been hoping for differing outcomes, depending upon our position with respect to the disengagement.
It has begun.
The first thing we know is that the IDF Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, has told the media that 5000 (!!!!) people have infiltrated Gush Katif to assist in protesting the disengagement. Another thing we know is that just over half of the Jewish Gazan families have accepted the government’s offers of compensation. I believe that those who did not accept and will not leave peacefully do not qualify for certain benefits. We also know that a couple of communities have essentially locked out soldiers and are refusing them entry.
A visit to any of the news sites, such as Jerusalem Post and Haaretz, will reveal a large number of news and opinion articles. Haaretz has made the point, in its main editorial yesterday, that the destruction of the Temple may have been caused by religious zealots who selfishly decided that their religion was more important than either reality or the consequences to the rest of the inhabitants of the land. In the same day, they published an opinion piece by the noteworthy author, David Grossman, who is notably opposed to any occupation by Israelis, that this should be a time of mourning and sadness for all Israelis. It expresses sadness at the pain that is being caused to the departing settlers and asks for empathy.
Undoubtedly, this is a complex and heart-rending situation.
The one story that touched me more than any others was this one.
In an emotional standoff, Colonel Erez Tzukerman, head of the Golani Brigade, hugged and cried together with the settlers of Morag Monday morning in an effort to persuade them to evacuate voluntarily before Wednesday, when the forced evacuation was slated to begin.
“We didn’t come here to clash with you, but to offer assistance and to help you, the people we once protected and worked hand in hand with,” a teary-eyed Tzukerman called out to a crowd of several hundred anti-disengagement activists gathered at the entrance to the southern settlement.
A young man suddenly emerged from the crowd with tears streaming down his face and called out to the senior officer, “I was an officer under your command, you taught me what it was to be an officer and protect the Israeli people. We are not your enemy but you have turned us into your enemy. Just six months ago, I was wearing an army uniform and serving side by side with you.”
Tzukerman then wrapped his arms, in a tight bear hug, around the former subordinate, evoking cries of anguish and sadness from the crowd.
Tzukerman told the crowd that he loved them and that he felt that the settlers of Morag were a part of this nation and always would be. “All of the officers are here and we are together on this day in a display of our love and affection to offer you help and assist you during this difficult time.”
The crowd then broke out singing Hatikva and together with the soldiers sang the national anthem.
I realize that perhaps each side had a different viewpoint with respect to the meaning of singing the Israeli national anthem at that moment, but it also shows how much they share.
Let’s hope this disengagement goes through without brothers shooting at each other, breaking bones or causing physical harm in any way. Let’s hope this disengagement goes through without any further harm to Israel’s democracy, so that the government, judicial system and IDF can continue to function in the future as befitting a strong state and democracy.
Let tears be the ultimate protest here.