Friday, August 19, 2005


The exodus from Gaza is nearing completion.  Some settlers have gone quietly, perhaps not happily but resigned to the reality that something has to give if the Israelis and the Palestinians are ever to dwell alongside each other in peace they both deserve.  Some are resisting (augmented by outsiders, ultra orthodox religious fanatics from the West Bank and elsewhere including from the United States).  There has been talk of how wrenching this experience is for many of those involved including the police and IDF personnel – the little guys on the ground are always left to do the heavy lifting.  I would be insensitive not to recognize their pain but find it difficult to empathize with it.  These settlements should never have been, nor should those on West Bank.

To be sure these occupations are the byproduct of a war that Israel neither wanted nor started.  That it treated these territories as booty, retained them for more than three decades and that it gave in to religious zealots who demanded they be annexed, is another thing altogether.  Occupation wherever it happens is a bad thing, destined to play out badly.  Some will suggest that, like it or not, events have a way of taking over and they are not easily, if ever, be undone.  But I don’t buy that notion. The fact is that we’ve all become victims of religious militants.  Israel all the more so by people who from the start refused to recognize the constituted State’s legitimacy – that is until it suited their purposes.  Among these were those goal has always been a theocratic (orthodox) Jewish state.  Even the more “moderate” among them always had a price for their participation in the coalitions that have always been necessary to govern. Ultimately the more radical elements forged an unholy alliance with the political hard right.  Sound familiar?  The fundamentalist religious agenda played well with Likud’s (a party with pre-state terrorist roots) aggressive hostility toward Arabs.  The two found real karma in their personalities and their objectives.  The ultimate expression of their alliance, the Gaza West Bank occupation settlements.

It’s time to move on.  Sharon seems to have come to that conclusion though it’s hard to forget the pivotal role he played in getting us to this place. Some still feel his aggressive grandstanding near the Temple Mount in the waning days of the Barak administration helped ignite the most recent Intifada.  It’s time to move on which is unquestionably hard.  IDFers cry with the unsettled which is only human, but let’s also do some crying for the many frustrated Palestinians caught in the political and violent crossfire all these thirty plus years.  I celebrate the exodus from Gaza.  Next, the West Bank.  If so, can peace be far behind?  Unsettled, that has a nice ring to it.

Israel was founded on the assumption of partition, that sharing of the land in which both Jews and Arabs had real, albeit different, history was fair.  You can point fingers especially at the Arab governments who used the Palestinians as pawns from the moment the United Nations acted, but where does that get us?  Certainly not to the peace and normalcy that ordinary citizens on both sides so desperately want, and that the world (including you and I) so desperately needs.

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