There are more than two opposed ideas about the Gaza Strip closing — actually there are probably as many variations on this theme as there are Jews to tell them. The two positions presented here are sensible; they do not agree so much as they dovetail with on another. Each has a good case to make.
The first position says that removing the Jewish settlers is wrong and will lead to further trouble. The second point of view says, no, the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza is proof positive of Israel’s bona fides in the “peace” “process” or whatever it is you care to term the attempts at bringing down the temperature in the Israeli-Palestinian conflagration.
Hugh Fitzgerald, the vice president of Jihad Watch sees the closing of the settlements in Gaza as both unlawful and immoral:
|Israel’s destruction of its own villages, some of which long predate the existence of Israel as a state, and all of which are on land which, by the terms of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, were part of the tiny territory assigned for the sole purpose of the establishment of a Jewish National Home, is nothing less than geopolitical and moral idiocy. (The Mandate’s Preamble states that the Mandatory authority, Great Britain, had to “encourage close Jewish settlement on the land.”)|
He compares Israel’s occupation with other incorporations in times not too long past — including the eventually successful French claim to Alsace-Lorraine and the United States’ acquistion of California. As he points out, Israel was victorious in the Six-Day War. He’s right, too — that was a war Israel neither wanted nor started. The smug, supremacist Arabs thought they had a cakewalk going in. What they did, however, was to change the perceptions of the rest of the world about who was the paper tiger in the Middle East and who was the real panther in the flesh. But now, Israel, in order to appease, is leaving what is rightfully theirs:
|Sharon had an idea. Now the idea has him. He thought that in order to pre-empt pressure from the E.U. and others, he would simply, unilaterally, get out of Gaza. He failed to change course even though it was clear that the Europeans themselves were coming to a new understanding of what Islam, what the Jihad, is all about. And what is still worse, he never made Israel’s case. He never explained, nor did the Israeli Foreign Ministry, that Israel had a perfect right to remain in those villages.|
Fitzgerald doesn’t call it a “teachable moment” but that is what he is describing when he points out the lost opportunity here:
|It was a moment to tell people that these villages were built entirely on sand — on sand that was owned first by the Ottomans, and then by the Mandatory authority, and then by the successor state, Israel, which has the strongest legal, historic, and moral claims. But Sharon, and the helpless, hopeless, Israeli leaders never made any of this clear.|
The mess has been made, so what kind of clean-up and salvage does Mr. Fitzgerald envision?
|There is only one way to retrieve some small victory out of this self-inflicted defeat. It is for the Infidel world to do nothing to disguise what goes on in Gaza… That is to not help conceal in any way the “Palestinians” as they shriek with joy, ululate with orgasmic pleasure, over the remains of those tidy houses and orchards, which they themselves have never managed to create anywhere in the lands that they have controlled.|
Here’s what the light should shine on
|The chaos and the shooting in the air, the whole mess — let it be exposed. No Infidel aid. No infusions of money from American taxpayers to people who hate, and have been instructed to hate, and hate, all Infidels — “the Jews and the Americans” and everyone else who is not Arab and Muslim.|
In other words, accept the inevitable and make sure the results are reported in signficant and detailed accounts to the West. This is a fine idea.Further, the Christian churches so eager to “dis-invest” from Israel can give aid to the Palestinian “victims.” The churches had better not hope for an accounting of their aid funds, however. That’s not how Hamas operates.
The other view, from a long account on Norm’s Blog, is that of Linda Grant. She has been on the ground in Israel for some time, doing her research for a forthcoming book. Ms. Grant is knowledgeable about Israel’s far Left, and found them firm in their conviction that the whole idea was a hoax. They were sure the withdrawal would never happen. Writing before the gates closed, she said:
|On Sunday the army is expected to arrive at the remaining settlements, as part of a deployment of 55,000 troops and police … and those who plan to practise non-violent resistance will be led in handcuffs from their homes. There is only so long the recalcitrant can stay.|
They expect violence from the small far-Right parties, who may try to take on the Army. It is not expected that the resistance will last.
Ms. Grant says that this last gasp is predictable. When she was in Gush Katif (part of Gaza) it seemed apparent to her that the majority would go while a sizeable minority would be carried out kicking and screaming and a very few might dangerously resist. However what she noted was the response last Autumn of the far Left. It was disdainful dismissal:
|‘You don’t believe,’ they said to me scornfully, ‘that the disengagement is actually going to happen, do you? You poor deluded tourist, we know the government. Don’t believe a word of what they say.’|
They were certain, as rock-hard certain as Leftists tend to be about matters their absolutes. In other words, there is no room for entertainment of an opposite possibility.
|The Israeli far left were certain no disengagement from Gaza could take place. A blog, updated regularly until May of this year, collected articles amassing the evidence that the Gaza disengagement was a hoax – a conspiracy hatched during the period when Sharon was under investigation for corruption during the Greek Island Affair, or to divert attention away from the ICJ’s ruling on the fence. It would be quietly dropped or indefinitely delayed. But it would never happen. And if by any chance it did, it would be derailed by civil war.|
There is some kind of intellectual comfort in knowing that the extremes in any culture deal in paranoia as a way to devalue whatever causes dissonance in their world view. These people sound much like our very own moonbats, don’t they?
Since the settlers didn’t want to go, they made their alliance with the far Left. The settlers were convinced that the will of God and the “better instincts” of their fellow Israelis would provide a way out of the closure of the Gaza strip.
As Ms Grant observes, both factions were living in a dream world. It was not a world which allowed them to gauge realistically the mood of the rest of the country or the commitment of their government to get on with it. As she says, both were “impervious to reason,” even if for different reasons. She describes the emotional climate in the lead up to the locking of the gates to Gaza:
|The settlers believe that God gave them the land in perpetuity and would not permit it to be removed. The far left thought that Zionism was a colonial expansionist movement that would not give up an inch of what it regarded as eretz-Israel, the Promised Land. Not only would it not give up any land, its intention was to acquire more.|
These residents of LaLa Land are impervious, believing the Iraq war to be simply a diversion so that Palestinians could be removed forcibly from the West Bank and shipped to Jordan while the world’s press was looking the other way. Not only that, but this current withdrawal is just a pretext, a cover for the massacre to be perpetrated in Gaza. As Ms. Grant notes—
|conspiracy theory is no substitute for a proper analysis. We do not have to applaud Sharon’s actions or intentions, we merely need to understand what exactly they are…It was…stated clearly from the outset that the Gaza disengagement was part of an overall plan to defuse what was seen as the demographic time bomb, a future in which Jews would be a minority of the population, between the Jordan and the sea.|
|It should now be obvious that the function of the fence was to construct a de facto border, behind which would be a Palestinian state smaller and more fragmented even than in the offer made by Ehud Barak at Camp David.|
|It suits the purposes of Sharon for Gaza to sink quickly into anarchy, for Hamas to rise, for it to become another failed Islamic state, without even the dignity of statehood. Then he will be able to say to the international community, ‘See? How can you do business with these people? They’re barbarim’ – barbarians.|
|We should not mistake Sharon’s plans for anything other than what they are: realpolitik – the scheme of a master tactician intent on political survival. The Sharon vision is that of disconnected, powerless bantustans.|
Grant seems to think that the true significance of the Gaza withdrawal lies in a reality that is seldom discussed here:
|…that both a government and the rest of the Israeli population are at long last prepared to stand up to the power and arrogance of the settler movement who have sought to substitute eretz Israel, the land of Israel, for the state of Israel.|
And what is the distinction? It is the difference between theocracy —living under a Jewish version of Shar’ia Law — and a democratic, secular state:
|The Israeli public backs the disengagement, and so do the majority of Jews in the Diaspora – the Greater Israel movement is effectively dead as any significant force in Israeli society, one with a future. They have lost the argument and are losing the war.|
|Dror Etkes of Peace Now’s Settlement Watch [said]:|
|…Let’s not fool ourselves: there will still be missiles, there will be a long war of attrition after the withdrawal. It will turn Gaza into a prison, yes, but one with fewer guards, a bit less friction, a bit less blood, and a first and a not-even-third world economy a metre away from each other. It will still be hell for the Palestinians, just a slightly sweeter hell. But the withdrawal is a necessary precondition to ignite the end of the conflict and the beginning of reconciliation. Its cardinal advantage is the introduction of history, of real political considerations. [Italics LG’s.] The majority of Israelis are terrified, traumatised people seeking to reach normality and, as in any other society, they are far from being equipped with a good political memory or able to assume real responsibility for democracy.|
So now begins the struggle for the future. It is a struggle which engages all of us. Mr. Fitzgerald thinks it can bring only failure unless we keep the spotlights on over Gaza. Ms. Grant thinks it’s a good opportunity to have a truly secular state.
Time will tell which analysis is the correct one. Or perhaps they both are, with Ms. Grant’s having a more optimistic outcome.
We Americans find it hard to ‘wait and see.’ The Israelis have been playing some tense and traumatic version of this tune since 1948.