Sunday, August 21, 2005

it's been a week

Ok, it’s been a week, and I guess I should put some of my thoughts down. I don’t know if any of them are original (and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing) and there’s no particular order.

  1. First of all, I think the way the Gush Katif residents acted was a real kiddush hashem. We often think about kiddush hashem as being the way we live our lives, by showing people – the whole world at times – that following God’s will is the right thing to do. We do it by succeeding. But there is also a kiddush hashem in knowing how to lose. That’s what martyrdom is all about. But kiddush hashem in loss doesn’t only refer to giving up one’s life. In this case it meant the exact opposite – realizing that the battle was over, putting up a real struggle, but with dignity.
  2. There are a lot of ways to look at what the residents of Gush Katif went through. Some I identify with, and some I don’t. Some feel more “real” to me than others. I think about these issues often when I think what would happen if the government tells us we need to leave Efrat. But to me, the most authentic source of pain about leaving is thinking about all those people who were killed simply because they were living there. And then how those who chose to stay despite, or because, of those attacks. That sorrow is very real, and after losing neighbors in Efrat, I can identify with it.

  3. The soldiers also acted impeccably well. It’s important to remember these are very young men and women, and there was tremendous psychological pressure for them not to fulfill their task. I hope that great strength will show itself in other missions the army has, as well as areas of civilian life.

  4. Even the media deserves credit here. Despite their general left wing approach, there was no gloating, and the evacuees got rather sympathetic coverage.

  5. I don’t believe Sharon came up with the plan to get out of trouble from his criminal investigations. And if he did - he would have been foolish, since it wouldn’t have made a difference. I believe he did it to save Judea and Samaria. Both by raising the price of another withdrawal, and shelving the various plans that were far worse (Beilin, Ayalon, etc.) Time will tell - probably sooner than later - whether this will work.

  6. This of course is why the evacuation of the settlements of the Northern Shomron is so problematic. It’s too bad they received such little attention in the anti-disengagement campaign. Maybe they could have been saved…

  7. I find it interesting that some of the most pro-Israel, conservative (neo-con?) columnists are actually in favor of the disengagement plan. Charles Krauthammer, William Safire, the National Review.

  8. I disagree with Krauthammer, however, that the threat from the Palestinians is missiles. I agree that rockets and missiles can become a real threat, but I think that the Palestinians will learn from the Hezbollah in Lebanon. They’ll start with small attacks, maybe gunfire, perhaps not evening hitting anyone. Maybe they’ll use “anti-aircraft” fire that happens to fall in Israel. But they’ll keep raising the stakes just high enough to terrorize, but without validating a large scale response.

  9. Elections might be coming. I’m not sure. But don’t rule out Sharon. Unlike every other prime minister who’s faced elections in the last 15 years, he’s not seen as a “loser”. Whether you agree with him or not, he’s succeeded in what he set out to do (even though he ran the last election against it.) And with his potential opponents not looking very appealing themselves, he might just pull off another surprise.

  10. I think a lot of the right would have supported the pullout had it come together with an annexation of some areas of the West Bank, like Maaleh Adumim or Gush Etzion. That would have really been viewed as Israel deciding its own borders. (I wonder how that would have played some settlers against each other, so maybe it would have caused internal problems.) Now that it wasn’t done, I certainly hope that Sharon takes the opportunity to do some real building in those same areas.

  11. I do not believe that the soldiers or the government were carrying out illegal, immoral or anti-halachic actions. There are very clear precedents for Jewish civilian populations being forced to leave settled areas – the Old City in 1948, for example. Now you can say that in 1948 it was war, but there will be those who will claim that today we are also in a state of war. Certainly the Palestinians see it that way. And that’s why, overall, I think the disengagement plan is bad. Precisely because it confirms the fact that we feel we are leaving because of that war. Illegal, immoral: no; stupid: yes.

  12. As much empathy I have for the settlers (and I am one!) I did not, and do not want to see the IDF lose. I never want to see the IDF lose.

  13. There are two common slogans heard now in “our camp.” There are those that say that we need to concentrate less on the land, and be more involved in the general country. There are others that say that we need to isolate ourselves more from the country, and focus only on the Torah. While general social involvement and increased Torah study and practice are both positive things, I think both approaches are misguided. What we need to do is build more. Much more. Had Gush Katif been home to 20,000 settlers, it’s unlikely it would have been uprooted. Had it been home to 50,000 – almost no chance. And the only way you can build, and settle, is to be involved in the political, and military realm. To give up now will only mean more “disengagements” in the future.

  14. And for those people who are reluctant now to say the prayer for the State- I can’t think of anything more foolish. It’s like not saying the prayer for rain during a drought. And to a certain extent, it’s almost like saying that the people praying are the ones who determine the outcome of the prayer – instead of God.

  15. And enough with the hate, and the disunity. We just had Tisha B’Av, and the demons of “sinat chinam (baseless hatred)” aren’t just some kind of superstitious slogan. We’re strongest as a people when we are unified, and as soon as we take each other apart, that’s when the wolves of the world begin to attack.

  16. That means recognizing the good in people, not only criticizing the bad. It’s a simple part of humility, as well as a critical trait even to recognize God. Even Sharon, who’s being most vilified of all, has far more credits than any of us. And I’m not only talking about his role in building up the settlements. And playing crucial parts in Israel’s wars. I’m talking about ending this intifada! Who did it? Sharon!
  17. Whatever you think of the validity of the disengagement, we must not allow the residents of Gush Katif to become refugees in our own country. Having our own State means no more refugees! This is addressed both to the government who needs to spare no effort to find appropriate housing, jobs, etc for the families, and to the settler groups to not prevent the absorption of the families for political gain. We've always complained that the Arabs were immoral by leaving the Palestinians in refugee camps. We must do better!

  18. The last issue is perhaps the most difficult one. And maybe it’s too early to fully discuss it, but it needs to be addressed. Should the right, the settlers, the rabbis, everyone opposed – should they have seen this coming? Isn’t that the sign of wisdom – to anticipate (not predict) the future? If the left has been talking about partition for 70 years – why shouldn’t we believe them? Why should it be assumed that the IDF would fail? Why would the still secular majority succumb to overwhelmingly religious arguments against withdrawal? And if all this is true, and the plan was likely to succeed from the beginning, then was it really fair to make human suffering the main focus of the protest? Who really will suffer in the end from that tactic - that unsuccessful tactic? I think mostly the children. They became active participants, since who is more deserving of compassion than children? I can’t say I know how to have effectively held a protest while conceding the “human suffering” issue and leaving the children out of the game. Maybe it would have been basically admitting defeat. But in the end, isn’t that what happened anyway?