Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The evacuation from Gaza has entered its nail-biting phase. It’s causing me real anxiety. I’m truly afraid that the unthinkable will happen. That things will turn violent, and Israeli soldiers will get hurt or, god forbid (did I really say that?) killed.

In fact they’ve already turned violent. I don’t know how violent, but news reports say four soldiers were injured.

So how do I feel about the Gaza settlers? The same way I’ve always felt about them (my cousin, his wife and eleven kids included…). That they’re leeches. That for years they’ve unashamedly and with impunity benefited from the time and the sweat and the blood of the Israeli soldiers (my brother included) that were forced to protect their precious little settlements in that pea-sized principality named the Gaza Strip. That they’ve been content to suck money and resources and mindshare from the imbecile Israeli governments that put and kept them there.

How did this all come about? How did Israel get itself into this mess? The short of the story is that back in 1978, when Menachem Begin negotiated a peace with Anwar Sadat, in exchange for the return of the Sinai penninsula to Egypt, there was this niggling question of the Gaza Strip. The Sinai Penninsula, that was almost 99% of the land that had been taken from Egypt in the 6 day war, was virtually uninhabited. The Gaza strip was full of Palestinian refugee camps.

You can imagine the picture. Begin and Sadat agreeing, Israeli will return the Sinai Penninsula. But what about Gaza?

“I’ll be nice to you” says Sadat to Begin, “you can keep it, as a gesture of goodwill on my part.”

And poor Begin couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feel that he had come out with one prize, the tiny Gaza Strip, with it’s one million or so Palestinian refugees. What a deal.

Of course, in keeping with the ideology of the Greater Israel, the Israeli settler movement felt a need to settle the Gaza Strip. But not all of them, just the most extreme. There were about 8,000 Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip, vs about 300,000 in the West Bank. Why? Because in their heart of hearts even the settlers have to agree that the Gaza Strip is a) much less important, strategically, to Israel, and that b) trying to lord over one million Palestinians in refugee camps is about as nutty as you can get.

But the Israeli right was caught in the same Catch 22 that Begin encountered. If you believe in the Greater Israel, how could they give up even this little strip of land, pathetic as it is, without undermining their purist ideals. It’s about the same argument that pro-lifers have when they say that any kind of abortion is murder, no matter how early it happens in the pregnancy. It’s an internally consistent argument, but it’s effectively indefensible.

What’s the added inanity of this situation? It’s that if Begin had given the Gaza strip back to Sadat in 1978, then keeping Palestinian terrorists at bay and preventing them from shooting missiles from Gaza into Israel would have been Egypt’s problem. Now what do we have? A miniscule little Palestinian enclave, virtually independent from monitoring, with no one but Palestinians there to police it. Great. This is what we’ve gotten for the extra 27 years of settlement.

Now that Israel has finally put its foot down, it turns out these dear settlers may actually be willing to spill Jewish blood for their meshigas. I hope it’s all a bluff and this evacuation passes without bloodshed. If it does, I’ll have renewed faith in the future of Israel.


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