There is no doubt that anger lingers on both sides, and there have been many mistakes made by both sides. Having said that, the Jerusalem Post had an editorial today (read it!) that reflects my thinking that for the most part both sides behaved with respect for each other and for the state of Israel. Obviously this was heartbreaking for many Israelis regardless of political affiliation, but in the end there was relatively little violence and a great deal of understanding. From the J Post editorial:

And at the height of that process, time after time, we witnessed the extraordinary sense of responsibility, to themselves and to the good of Israel, demonstrated by both sides.

There was shouting and wailing from the protesters, but rarely was a hand raised. Rabbis and other mediators kept the resistance within the boundaries of non-violent protests. Soldiers and policemen pulled themselves out of the grasp of some protesters who attempted to prevent them from continuing the one-at-a-time pullout, but they too did not raise their fists.

At one point, people with their tefillin were being extracted from the [synagogue], but even as the soldiers were pulling them out, they were taking a few moments to ensure that those tefillin were not damaged, indeed that they remained centered on the foreheads of the evacuees.

Haaretz reports about Kfar Darom (read it!!), where some of the hardest hit victims of Palestinian terrorism lived (in peace, despite the violence against them). In a heartbreaking story, we read about the anguish to both inhabitants and soldiers as they leave the homes for which they risked and gave up so much.

The bus slows and parks at the roadside. Through one of the windows, a women is visible, beating desperately on the window. The bus door opens, and one of the soldiers accompanying it descends. He bends down, grabs a handful of dirt from this place, gets back on the bus and hands the dirt to the woman. Only then does she sit down in her seat, and the evacuees continue on their way to Kfar Maimon.

At the home of the Biton family, the soldiers met 15-year-old Eliashiv Biton, the son of Gavriel Biton, who was murdered in the roadside bombing of a school bus full of children about five years ago. Eliashiv lay on the floor, banged it with his fist and cried “Daddy, Daddy,” for several long minutes. The soldiers also found it difficult to face Hila Amitai, whose mother, Miri, was also murdered in that bus attack. Hila told friends of her father, Border Policeman Eliezer Amitai, that she had already rent her clothes in mourning over her mother, and never imagined that she would be rending them again, this time for her home, Kfar Darom. Soldiers had to drag 13-year-old Menachem Zvi Schreiber, the son of Kfar Darom’s rabbi, Avraham Schreiber, into his home, away from where he had been standing, outside the home of his friends, the children of the Cohen family, three of whom lost their legs in the bus bombing. The 13 year old had been shouting at the soldiers not to dare touch his friends; that they had suffered enough. The soldiers also listened to the story of Asher Mivtzari, whose father David, a member of the original Kibbutz Ein Tsurim, had fallen prisoner to the Jordanians in 1948, and to the story of Rachel Hadad, now 12, who was also wounded in the bus bombing.

There are also ridiculous stories, like the one about the millions wasted on empty hotel rooms, while another story has a group complaining and the state investigating how half the Gaza families have no place to live (for those seeking a reason: the settlers blame the government for poor planning; the state comptroller is blaming poor communications; and the government is blaming the settlers for not dealing with the Disengagement Authority which was created to alleviate these issues).

I believe the other stories – the “details” – will be forgotten soon and are truly tangenital to the real accomplishment here: a nation came together, not apart, at a critical and decisive moment.

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