Shalom Gaza

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.

About the author

themiddle

41 Comments

  • Let’s hope this disengagement DOESN’T go through!

    I’m going through quite a surrealistic moment right now.

    I’m packing my bag right now with some clothes and other things and I’m not sure how much to bring with. I don’t know when I’m coming home again. I’ve told my friends at work, my team leader and manager of my intentions. The last time I took off work, it was to go to miluim/reserves down south. Today, I’ll probably be heading down south once again, but this time to oppose that army and add my body to the tens of thousands who are already heading in that direction.

    Many think it’s a done deal, as if the government decided to foreclose a bankrupt company and send people home with compensation – a somewhat simple procedure. The media is drooling over the whole thing: new studio sets built, all reporters in the field (even sports commentators), and there is even restrained giddiness ( I saw chuckling on a neighbour’s tv this morning!) and the lies abound. Speaking from the inside, if you are depending on ynetnews and haaretz, then you are allowing yourself to be lied to.

    Don’t expect credibility from haaretz. If you insist on it though, do yourself a favour and at least balance this out with http://www.israelnationalnews.com and try to decide for yourself who’s telling the truth.

    In the meantime, back to packing.

  • Yeah, I read the Arutz Sheva news but find it so biased that it’s hard to take seriously.

    Nonetheless, here are their current disengagement articles. You will note they do not mention the attacks on soldiers that have resulted in damage to military property and harm to soldiers.

    You represent a small minority, Josh. By going into Gaza, you will be violating a law. At least be sure you don’t violate any other laws by directly or indirectly causing harm to Israeli police or soldiers.

  • The Muddled One:
    You represent a small minority, Josh.
    – – – – – – – – –
    … this comment sums up how misinformed you are TM.

    Those of us who have not depended on ha’aretz and other mainstream media were not shocked by the sudden revelation of 5,000 infiltrators.

    What were your sources of news reporting until now? What were (politically appointed chief of staff) Dan Halutz and (political hack minister of defense)Shaul Mofaz saying until now?

    This is a battle waged largely on the field of public impressions – and the government and the leftists in the media have maintained a campaign of disinformation.

    I remember when we went down to Kfar Maimon – the papers and (government controlled) Israeli TV reported “a few thousand” and then had to eat their words when subsequent events revealed the scope of the crowd.

    Similarly – the New York Times reported on last week’s rally of 250,000 anti-disengagement protesters in Tel Aviv by referring to “thousands” of protesters. And its coverage is peppered with the assertion that “the majority of Israelis support the pullout” – a canard based on a handful of jury-rigged surveys, long overtaken by numerous surveys showing that the popularity of the plan – and of Sharon’s government – has plummetted.

    Sorry – the large majority of Israelis who voted down the plan in the last election haven’t gone anywhere. And the massive, non-violent protests of the past weeks showed the silent majority that they weren’t alone in their disapproval.

    Here in Israel, we have watched with bitter mirth as the phrase “but the disengagement WILL go forward” has become an almost religious incancation by the radio and TV announcers.

    I believe the phrase is “whistling past the graveyard”.

    The Marie Antoinettes who only consume media that confirm their worldview are in for some more surprises…

    oh, and middle – I wouldn’t put much stock in the assertion that half the settlers have agreed to leave. Less than 25 percent even contacted the government agency coordinating the expulsion.

  • Biased? One one hand, they don’t claim to report all the news, and I’m the first to say not to depend only on them either, but the news they report is definitely true and the other media won’t report it as if it doesn’t exist. 5000 extra residents is news to you? A7 was reporting this weeks ago.

    The army/government and misinformation:

    http://www.a7.org/news.php3?id=121248
    In hebrew, the army is paying semi-truck drivers to drive through gush katif with no cargo inside to give the settlers the illusion that more and more families are leaving.

    Will haaretz of jpost report this? Doubt it.

  • I thought the David Grossman piece was just shameful. If he had stepped up with this a year ago (and other prominent leftists did) it might have had value. But showing up today to explain how no matter how evil the settlers are, he, David Grossman is capable of feeling pity for them — what on earth does that accomplish?

  • I’m reading all this stuff, and feeling immeasurably sad. It’s like leaving Anatevka, but from within a homeland where you felt safe and settled. I have cousins in Beit El who built their home from nothing–I saw the house when it was just a patch of dirt and watched it literally blossom. I can easily imagine how hard it would be for others who built a life in an area where none previously existed to be forced to uproot themselves and relocate to an uncertain future…

    There is really no payment that can compensate for the losses that these families are sustaining. Here’s one article that points out that it’s not just the living being uprooted, but the dead as well, which hadn’t crossed my mind at all before now:

    Israel decided not to leave the Katif cemetery behind when it removes area residents beginning Aug. 17. The government expressed fear the graveyard would be vandalized by Palestinians who will likely move into Gush Katif after the Jews are evacuated.[…] Most families expressed opposition to uprooting the cemetery until after all Jewish communities here are evacuated. The government conceded.

    “My son was killed for his country, now his country will be killing him again,” said Hilburg. “To me, its like I have to on some level go through Yochanan’s death again.”

    Exhuming graves in Israel is a particularly ghoulish process. Bodies here are not buried in coffins. Instead they are wrapped in prayer shawls in accordance with specific Jewish laws pertaining to Israel. Soldiers will need to dig up decaying bodies or skeletons that may have broken up in the surrounding dirt.

    In June, Israel’s chief rabbis ruled according to Jewish law the graves may be removed, but only if no Jewish residents remain in Gaza and if defense experts feel the graves will be vandalized if left behind.

    I wish I had the faith that this disruptive move would create lasting peace. Does anyone really believe it will?

  • No. This move might have worked 20 or more years ago. Now that Israel let Hamas build itself up, forget it. It’s like the US position in Iraq. They might as well leave bec. they are never going to defeat the resistance there.
    Unless Israel would be willing to really hurt these people, they will not back down. It’s the nature of the oppressed. That is why Saddam understood how to control these people. But we are enlightened we cannot be brutal. So there will be no lasting peace. It’s a shame bec. it could have happened years ago to our specs.

    In terms of the settlers, I believe everyone knew this might happen someday. For all those places including all the Americans in Efrat, those who have huge houses there w/ the automatic vaccuum cleaning, the ones where the men work in Manhattan Monday – thru Thursday night, w/ their Honda vans and all.
    Only by severe retaliation of civilians will there be any hope. SOrry it pains me to say this, I see their beautiful children on TV also but nothing else will sway them, they only understand brutality.

  • With the disengagement today, there is a possibility, Rachmana litzlan, of Jews shooting at other Jews.

    I think it’s important that everyone, regardless of your position, take a moment today and over the next few days to say one chapter of Psalms to beg the Good L-rd not to allow any bloodshed.

  • Middle, nice post. I gather you’re a strong proponent of disengagement, yet you demonstrate real compassion for those caught in the midst of this upheaval.

    Esther, if this move is not conducive to “creating lasting peace”– and if that’s the standard by which this is judged– what are the alternatives? Will permanent/expanded settlement of Gaza “create lasting peace,” or prove more conducive to that end?

    This poignantly illustrates the absence of good policy options available to Israel. It’s easy to demonize Sharon and play the part of Cassandra. And the threats are, of course, quite real. But, to paraphrase Churchill, this may be the worst option except for all the others.

    And have Netanyahu and his far-right ilk proposed any realistic alternative to this Oslo-style retreat? Is the alternative permanent conflict?

    All that settlement activity in Gaza has had this result: a tremendous victory for Hamas. And a genuine, not a propaganda, one.

  • Again what can I tell you…

    Kahane told you so.

    Josh Hatzlacha.

    I hope that REAL change come to Israel as a result of this and as the Isaiah promised:

    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/et/et1001.htm
    “24 Therefore saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah, I will ease Me of Mine adversaries, and avenge Me of Mine enemies; 25 And I will turn My hand upon thee, and purge away thy dross as with lye, and will take away all thine alloy;
    —->26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning; afterward thou shalt be called The city of righteousness, the faithful city. 27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness.”

    Amen!

  • Yesher Koach Josh!!! Becareful, and were praying for you and all of Bnei Yisrael!!!!

  • First time posting a comment but I think it is worth it.

    I don’t know how the media works in Israel or if anyone outside of Israel has paid too much attention to Hamas during this time. The pull-out, while a move for peace, is seemingly setting up for bloodshed. Hamas is, for one, proclaiming they are the reason Israel is pulling out. Secondly, Egypt has been entering into contract negotiations with the Palestinian Order to sell them Egyptian arms, such jeeps, tanks, rifles, and ammunition.

    Jews here in the US are honestly quite baffled by this withdrawl. Maybe it is that we have grown up in a certain mentality, but we honestly don’t know what to think. Suprisingly enough the Christian right in America, at least the conservative arm of it, has been condemning the withdrawl and showing ardent support for the settlers (ironic no?).

    In essence, this isn’t just an Israeli event. Many in the US are paying close attention as some believe this will lead to further bloodshed amongst the Jews and Arabs. I know that the Gaza pull out is meant to act within the context of peace, but unfortunately it leaves too open the chance that all out war will occur.

    Anyway, that’s my opinion.

  • I’ve got a question about the disengagement. Is the government leaving the homes and infrastructure intact for use by Palestinians (the use of which would be administered, of course, instead of free-for-all)? If the goal is to build good faith with the Palestinians, I’d guess that it would be best to leave behind whatever can be used and isn’t being taken.

    Can anyone answer this for me? Thanks.

  • I think the Hothouses and other agricultural facilities are being sold via the World Bank. I beleive the houses are schedueled for demolition, but possibly they are still negotiating this, it makes no sense whatsoever to demolish like that. Even many settlers want what they built to remain.

  • Sorry, middle, your option is a possibility, but frankly, you don’t know what you are talking about. I wish Jews had more trust in themselves than that given to a sworn enemy who has already proved he can’t be trusted, killed over 1000 Jews, is not voicing any regret and is actully saying that more is to come.
    ===================

    No one really knows how the story will unfold, if the expulsion is even ‘successfully’ completed.

    A poll released yesterday on Israel TV asking Palestinians if the retreat is due to political negotiations with the Jews or the ‘pressure’ through violent struggle, only 95% stated that the retreat was due to, drum roll…
    … violent pressure. Given that, and with the current Palestinian Authority trying to keep the quiet to show that they aren’t screwing up again in front of the cameras, we do know that Hamas, Fatah/PLO, and Islamic Jihad are still aching to show the Jewish soldier running with his tail between his legs – exactly like Hezbollah did five years ago.

    So one highly probable outcome that might unfold is that (if the army manages to pull most families out), and some ‘violence’ breaks out, that a decision will be made to abandon the 21 settlements ‘as is’ while the media screams that it is not worth one Israeli soldier to die for the settler property left behind (even the few that has packed stuff into containers).

    Mofaz has already given maps of all the towns to the Palestinian Army. If the army manages to pull out all the families, then only a short time after that, Hamas will be dancing on the rooftops and eating in the kitchens of families they had pushed out.

  • Josh when will you do Teshuvah and admit:

    Kahane told you this would happen.

    He tried to explain that ‘for every jew killed we will build another settlement’ or
    ‘we can live wherever we want WITH the enemy’ is doomed to failure.

    Until you and yout mizrahi buddies who had a hand in banning Kahane admit your error and publicly say it and go to his grave and beg for forgiveness you have only yourselves to blame.

    You were warned and you ignored the warning.

    Even about Sharon he spoke 14 years ago! Look at the top article on
    http://www.kahane.org

    But you and you people are stubborn and even now refuse to admit your error but continue in your foolish ways. Therefore you will see more of this happening while your hapless yesha leaders lead you in circles in frustration all the while calling wise people like Rabbi kahane all sorts of names.

    There is always time for repentence. But if you continue in your stubborness and refuse to see the obvious and defame and mock those who speak it there is no hope for you.

  • Are the ‘anti – disengagement – people’ “mainstream” in the US?
    I am astonished that most people commenting here support the settlers and their selfish goals and the hate they are importing to Israel. Tragedy for the people who have to leave their houses, but have you thought about all the young soldiers who died in Gaza because they had to protect the people living in Netzarim (for example).
    Somebody even mentioned Rabbin Kahane- disgusting…
    Just my few words and thought about that…

  • Schmo,
    please read my past comments before lumping me in with the mizrachim, who, BTW, are maturing slowly but surely, away from the seculars.

    Chajm,
    not many soldiers died in Gush Katif at all (not that I’m minimizing that at all – every single Jewish life is precious). Most soldiers were massacred (I think about 300 or so) in the past five years of war on public buses or in cafes.

    If only the army and government dealt with with the terrorists as they are dealing with settlers now.

    Frankly, it doesn’t matter if this ‘disengagement’ goes through or not, the next war is already being planned against us. But it’s better to get there from a position of strength, not shameful retreat.

  • I think, Chajm, that it depends upon where you live. Our site actually has many commenters (and a couple of posters) who are native English speakers and live in Israel. You may be reading the comment of a settler (Josh) and supposing that he is actually writing from Miami. He’s not, and I doubt his views are representative of maintream American Jews. I believe most American Jews who actually care about Israel question the decision about having a pullout to some degree, but trust the Israeli government to make this type of decision for Israel.

    As for Kahane, we have a guest who visits us regularly by the moniker of Joe Schmo and he believes that Kahane was right. He also believes other things that are preposterous, but there’s no question that he represents a fringe of crazies. Therefore, when he writes, it’s important to pay attention, so these fringe-dwellers don’t sneak up on the rest of us one day.

  • Thanks for the answer, themiddle, my observation was , that most settlers are “new” israelis from the US or other countries. A german-jewish journalist wrote, he met many converts among the settlers… but I am not quite sure about that…

  • There are many Anglos among the settlers, but they remain a small portion of the settlement movement. I have been in discussions with pro-Palestinians who claim that almost all settlers are Anglos, but they use this argument to try to drive home the point that Israelis in general are foreigners. It’s a false claim on many fronts, but falls flat once one looks at the small percentage of Israelis who are from the US, Canada, Britain or other English-speaking countries.

  • Chajm, that’s a well thought out reply, but I think you’re missing the bigger picture. While it is an absolute tragedy that soldiers died attempting to keep the peace in Gaza, we must evaluate the possible consequences of leaving Gaza. Again, Egypt and the PA have entered into negotiations concerning weaponry such as Tanks, APCs, and other military vehicles/weapons (at least, that is what is being reported here). Thus we must evaluate what is known against the very possible and very likely unknown. One hundred dead soldiers trying to keep the peace, while extremely tragic and unwanted, is nothing compared to an all out war between Palestine and Israel where thousands of lives, on both sides, could be lost. I am not saying this will happen and G-D willing peace will come of this pull out, I must side with realism and understand that war is more likely and peace. When you have Hamas and other terrorist organizations believing that violence brought about the pull out, one can only expect more violence. So again, while the death of soldiers is tragic in trying to keep the peace, how many more soldiers will be lost because of the pull out?

  • Chajm — I’ve always had the feeling that most American Jews are on the left side of Israeli politics, but I could be wrong.

  • Joel, thank you for your “long” answer. Do you remember the withdrawal from sinai – when I read the old papers and the documentary about this I see the same arguments, the same reaction of the settlers (some of them moved to Gaza) which is very interesting. On the other hand you have Hamas claiming a “victory” but they will lose an argument. They can’t say “First clear Gaza” anymore…

  • Well while the two withdrawls are similar, at the same time they are completely different. WIth Sinai the land was being handed over to an established governmental power (Egypt) that had recognized Israel as a legitimate state and had produced no hostilities towards Israel in years. Gaza, on the other hand, is being handed over to a government that is in the process of being built and is also having to compete with terrorist organizations dedicated to the eradication of Jews in Israel. Likewise, during the Sinai handover it was considered a “peaceful victory” for both sides. The Gaza strip is considered a victory by terrorism. The differences aren’t limited to just that, but for the sake of space I’ll refrain from posting more as I think the main differences have been exposed. 🙂

  • Absolutely not, Tom.

    Israel is clearing the settlers because of a demographic time bomb and because Sharon and the rest of the leadership don’t mind giving up this hell-hole (remember it has only been able to attract 2000 families since 1967) to shore up their position in the West Bank.

    Hamas was reeling until the Palestinian elections and the so-called “lull.”

  • I wonder after this event whether there’ll be any stomach for further, presumably much more painful, pullbacks from the West Bank.

  • That’s assuming that Israel will pull back from the West Bank, which I just do not see likely.

  • Sharon has already indicated there will be some movement in the West Bank. I believe that the security barrier is the delineation of a future de facto border.

  • The “demographic timebomb” is bullshit. Go to this link.

    The ikkur of the issue: being gradutates of the Mohammed al-Dura School of Population Projections, the Paleostinians are lying through their teeth about the number of Arabs in Yesha (who knew?). There are at least 1.4 million fewer than the Paleostinians claim; there has been net Arab emigration from Yehuda and Shomron since it became Fatahland; and the Paleostinian birth rate is falling, just as it is in all of the Arab countries. The Jews are projected to maintain their >60% majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan for the forseeable future if these trends continue.

    Now, that majority may be too slim for some, I agree. Others may have decided that terrorism makes it too difficult to hang onto the areas. Others may be bleeding hearts and feel that it is not “Jewish” to “oppress” the poor Paleostinians (read: kill them when they try to kill you). Whatever. But the idea that Israel is about to be innundated by a sea of Arabs is Chicken Little panic propaganda.

    The only good reason for withdrawing from Gaza is to improve Israel’s military position and to give it a freer hand when it becomes necessary to retaliate forcefully against Paleostinian terror, which should become necessary probably some time around next week. Anybody who thinks this will bring peace is, well, just stupid.

    However, my view is that Israel will not really take the fight to the Arabs. Just listen to what Ehud Olmert has been saying recently. A wholesale retreat is in the works. I think that there will either be increasing withdrawals from large parts of Yehuda and Shomron or the government will fall. The best we can hope for is that the Arabs once again will revert to character and be unablke to resist their urge to murder Jews, forcing Israel to respond with overwhelming force and to crush them once and for all. This will have to happen at some point, and so it should be sooner rather than later.

    Yes, Middle, even though Sharon said that the fence will not become the de facto barrier, everyone knew he was lying.

  • A Palestinian can’t now but conclude that the way to induce Israel to yield territory is through armed resistance.

    What’s been more effective in this regard? Hezbollah in Lebanon/Hamas’s rockets in Gaza? Or Abbas, with his ineffectual efforts to make nice with the West?

  • Sorry, I meant de facto border.

    However, it will not become the de jure border because the Arabs have yelled until they are blue in the face that “peace” will not come until all of Eretz Israel is “cleansed” of Jews, G-d forbid.

    And of course everybody just sits there nodding like idiots, refusing to believe them. Jews, at least, should have the sense to listen to people who say “We are going to kill all the Jews”, even if the rest of the world is just sitting there with its fingers in its ears going “LALALALALALALALA!!!”.

    It’s not like we haven’t heard it before.

  • How come Tom has the sense to see what is obvious and the Jews are the ones going around trying to dress up a pig in an evening gown?

    I don’t mean to be rude, but Jesus H. Christ, people. If you were Hamas, what would you think?

  • You wish. That’s not what Hamas is thinking, and you know it, Middle. They believe they have the Jews on the run.

    And anybody who thinks that the Egyptians are really going to stop the flow of weapons into Hamasistan instead of facilitaitng it is simply hallucinating.

    The Egyptian presence at the Philadelphi corridor is just the first step in the wholesale re-introduction of the Egyptian Army into the Sinai.

    Mark my words. WHEN the Egyptians allow Hamas to smuggle arms under their noses, and WHEN the Egyptians whine that they need oh, another umpteen soldiers to control the terroists (wink wink, nudge nudge), and WHEN that “doesn’t work”, and WHEN the IDF is forced to retaliate, and WHEN some “innocent” Egyptian soldiers are killed, just what do you think is going to happen?

  • Unfortunately Ephraim, you are correct. This is merely establishing the ground for another major Israeli conflict.

  • Hamas is the reason that we are retreating from Gaza. 95% of Palestinians agree that the violent struggle made us flee as oppose to 5% who answered ‘political negotiations’.

    Middle, stop trying to project or assume what the Palestinians are feeling because there is a plethora contradicting you. They see this as an essential part of the ‘stages plan’ and they will take us piece by piece until all the Jews are disengaged to ‘America’.

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