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August 31, 2014 / 5 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Gush Katif’

It’s Been 9 Years

Monday, August 11th, 2014

I think I mentioned before that I am not middle of the road. I veer right, on almost every issue, including the one in this post. I hope it doesn’t offend those of you who differ in opinion, and that even if you don’t agree with me, you can still see where I’m coming from. Nine years ago this week, the Israeli government (under the auspices of Ariel Sharon) made 8,000 Jewish residents of Gaza (or “Gush Katif”) leave their homes and businesses, in a unilateral withdrawal from that area. “Unilateral” refers to the fact that the Palestinians made no such counteroffer, and the only concession Israel hoped to receive in return was a peaceful existence. The name of this operation was “The Disengagement”, or as we extreme right wingers refer to it “The Expulsion.” Never in history had Jews been forced by other Jews to leave their homes (in some cases for 40+ years). Here we are 9 years post, and a lot of questions have been answered.                 I can still remember the Expulsion and the year leading to it. I remember reading an article about it in the New York Sun, (remember that fabulous beacon of journalism? A NY paper that actually liked Israel? Miss it) waiting for a friend outside Hunter College on the Upper East Side, crying in the middle of afternoon traffic. The people must have thought me slightly insane, reading my paper, tears streaming down my face, sniffling- truly, I am not the most delicate crier. I remember being in Israel a few months prior, tying an orange ribbon onto my bag, orange being the color of the anti-Disengagement movement. I remember leaving my safe orange cocoon of Jerusalem and venturing into Tel Aviv, where orange ribbons were engulfed by the blue and white ribbons, signifying various degrees of agreement with the Disengagement Plan. I remember the teenagers of Gush Katif; the boys with huge knitted kippot and the girls with flowy skirts and Naot- giving out fliers to cull support for their towns and communities. I remember the human chain- Jews holding hands from Kush Katif to Jerusalem- in solidarity with the cause. And I remember after, images of Jews being wrenched from their homes, their synagogues, their communities. Images of youths spray-painting heartbreaking messages on their homes’ walls: “A Jew does not expel another Jew.” And the crying, so much crying. The children, the parents, the rabbis, the soldiers- pain you can’t imagine, etched on the faces of those who genuinely could not believe this was even happening. Even those who agreed with the disengagement had to feel pain, only it was buoyed by the belief that this, finally, would bring peace with our neighbors. That only by leaving the Gaza strip completely Judenrein, would our Palestinian neighbors be appeased, and we could live in harmony.               I am not saying this to be facetious or callous. I know truly that those who supported the disengagement had every faith that finally the aggressions would cease. Obviously, that is not what came to pass. Nine years of increased aggression later (including thousands of missiles and several ground operations into Gaza) and we have essentially given the Gaza strip to a militant terror group. Democratically elected, Hamas now has a larger and closer launching pad with which to terrorize their Jewish neighbors. Many people now see that it was never about Gaza. It was about shrinking the geographic size of Jewish Israel and ultimately turning Jew against Jew.               Last week, not realizing that it was about to be the anniversary of the Disengagement, I went to the Gush Katif Museum (conveniently located in central Jerusalem, right by the shuk.) There, I relieved that painful period, led by the docent, a former Gush Katif resident. She told me how the greenhouses and agricultural sector of Gush Katif brought in 60 million dollars a year. These greenhouses were left for the Palestinians as an act of goodwill, so that they too could make the desert bloom. Then she told me how every greenhouse was destroyed beyond recognition by those who moved in. She told me how most of the towns the Jews left in perfect condition, remain untouched (saved for the synagogues, which have been desecrated and turned into pig pens). How there is plenty of room for the citizens of dense and overcrowded Gaza City to spread out and live comfortably, but which none of them choose to do. She told me how the citizens of Gush Katif have been scattered to different communities, to varying levels of permanent housing. Many moved to Ashkelon, and I shivered at the thought of them living through the Expulsion and then this past war just a few years later. Needless to say, it was a heavy visit.               So why am I even mentioning all this in a blog post? Well, for one, it is a significant part of my aliyah process, learning the complicated political history of this land. Also, it is almost exactly the anniversary of the Disengagement, so it is on the minds of many Israelis. But probably, it’s because of all this talk of “the settlements.” Many people, good people, kind people, believe that the major roadblock to peace is the “settlements in the West Bank.” That if only we would stop building there, leave, move elsewhere, peace would finally be achieved and our 2 states could flourish into eternity. What is that expression about the definition of insanity? Doing the same exact thing over and over and expecting a different result? Yes, to me that is what blaming “the settlements” is. It is believing that our brothers and sisters, living in Judea and Samaria, are the reason that we don’t have everlasting peace, and that if they just left, all would be well. The 9 years since Gush Katif proves that as tempting as that premise might be, the reality is most likely the opposite. Please take a moment to remember the communities of Gush Katif, and hope that never again shall a Jew be forced to hurt another Jew. Am Yisroel Chai.

Aza

‘Peace Talks’ in the Works on Anniversary of Gush Katif Expulsion

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Egypt and western leaders are preparing the groundwork for peace talks as Israel reportedly agreed to extend the 72-hour truce with Hamas on Wednesday, the ninth anniversary of the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif in Gaza.

The current ceasefire is supposed to end 8 a.m. Friday.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have rejected extending the halt in attacks on Israel and showed its muscle, at least in its tongue, but it warned it will renew missile attacks.

The war against Hamas was a follow-up to the so-called Disengagement plan executed today, on the Hebrew calendar, with the ballyhooed promises that removing Jews and the IDF from Gaza would make Hamas safe for Israel.

Nine years and 15,000 rocket and mortar shell attacks later, Israel lost 67 soldiers and civilians and again was cast as the villain for “disproportionate” retaliation against Hamas.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told foreign journalists Wednesday that Israel is maintaining the ceasefire and will not sit idly if it is violated, but the advantage is now in the hands of Hamas, unless it really is so stupid to go back to war on Friday.

Hamas has held the truce and continues to do so, knowing full well that it now has everything to gain as international leaders converge in Egypt, calculate the damage in Gaza, place the blame on Israel for defending itself “disproportionately” and turning Hamas into a legitimate entity that will be peace-loving if only Israel would allow Gaza to open an airport under the supposed supervision of the United Nations and if Israel simply would release more terrorists from jail.

That is a sensible demand by Hamas since once the terrorist organization used United Nations’ UNRWA organization, which has institutionalized desire for millions of Arabs through its “refugee camps” to store rockets. It also has been filmed using U.N. ambulances to transport its fighters, complete with machine guns. The IDF has provided aerial photography of Hamas firing rockets next to UNRWA facilities, including schools.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated that “peace talks” should be a direct continuation or the truce.

“Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms,” and anonymous Israeli official was quoted as saying by the London Independent. Egyptian media also reported the extension.

The ceasefire gives international leaders room in the media to make their pitch for imposing a Western-style peace on Hamas, which does not recognize any existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and which categorically calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

But that is just idle talk, as far as peacemakers are concerned,

“We must spare no effort to turn the current calm into a durable ceasefire that addresses the underlying issues of the conflict,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Ban the General Assembly.

His Middle East peace envoy Robert Serry, a long-time supporter of Hamas told the meeting of the General Assembly from Cairo “It would be cynical and irresponsible if, yet again, the outcome of the talks would lead us to the previous status quo.”

Ban brought out the heartstrings, and said, “The massive death and destruction in Gaza have shocked and shamed the world. The senseless cycle of suffering in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in Israel, must end.”

UNRWA chipped in by flying U.N. flags at half-mast across the Palestinian Authority in memory of 11 United Nations staffers killed in the war.

Lost in the verbal volume was the recollection that Gaza once upon a time enjoyed a flourishing economy under the “occupation” until Yasser Arafat’s terrorists, murdering Jews under the euphemism of the Palestine Liberation Organization, helped lead the intifada that began in Gaza.

The Disengagement made Gaza More Dangerous

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

I was surprised to read the following incorrect analysis by a commenter on the Muqata Facebook page where yesterday’s blog post was cross-posted.

Yesterday, I put forward the idea that it is time we return to Gush Katif, and either way, the army will need to be there in key position, even after this operation ends.

Reader Yoni Rubin took exception to that idea, claiming that the war of attrition in Gaza would have resulted in far more murdered citizens if we stayed.

Yoni Rubin jameel, those who look at the disengagement that way today don’t realize what we gained from it. had we stayed in gaza, the pattern of dead soldiers and citizens being murdered would have continued (they were being killed at a rate of something one or two per month on the good months). we would have lost far more than we lost in all of the operations combined. the disengagement was executed in conjunction with the building of the separation fence in the west bank and the two have solved the far more deadly problems we had previously, ie suicide bombings. they were firing rockets and building tunnels long before the disengagement and those are the two threats that have cause the least damage thus far.

With all due respect (because he seems to be a good guy), Yoni’s numbers are numerically correct, but his conclusions are invalid as he quotes his numbers in a vacuum and out of context from all the other terror attacks going on at the same time.

Commenter Moishe Pupik (what?!) points out that when you compare Gush Katif terrorism fatalities to the terrorism fatalities the rest of the country was dealing with, you see an entirely different picture.

Pupik’s first point is that in proportion to the number of overall fatalities by terrorism the rest of the country was facing, Gush Katif was in better shape and even trending down in relation to what the rest of the country was suffering.

But more importantly, his second point is that after leaving Gaza, while the overall number of people in Israel being killed by terrorists dropped (for reasons that had nothing to do with the Disengagement), there was a significant proportional increase in deaths caused by Gazan terrorists in relation to the rest of the country, and actually reaching a historical high.

Moishe Pupik The problem with that argument is that you are talking about a period starting around 1991, where 1500 or so Israelis were killed by terrorists, at a rate of 11 a month.

You might as well make the argument that if we weren’t in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (where far more Israelis have been killed by terrorists) all those people wouldn’t have been killed either.

Let’s compare the numbers of Israelis killed by terrorists (soldiers and civilians):

1993-1999: 37 Israelis were killed in Gaza out of 260 total killed in the country (14%).

2000-2005 120 Israelis were killed in Gaza out of 1356 total in the country (9%).

2006-2014 (Despite no longer being in Gaza) The Gazans have managed to kill around 60 Israelis out of 177 Israelis (34%).

So I’d say the percentages were far better back when we were in Gaza, than after we left.

Talking about 1 murder a month in Gaza sounds horrifying, but when you consider that Israel was averaging 19 murders per month (on average) from terrorism between 2000 to 2005, it puts that number into a different context.

And worse, when you consider that 34% of all fatalities by terrorism since the Disengagement originated from Gaza, compared to the previous high of 14%, it throws that argument out the window.

It’s Time to Go Home

Saturday, July 26th, 2014

As the IDF cleans up Gaza from the terror tunnels, and destroys the rocket launchers, it’s considering the next phase, which is the eradication of Hamas itself.

Meanwhile, the world is eagerly looking forward to the next round of financing of Gaza, with the US and Qatar already promising $47 million dollars in aid. Which is of course a bad investment, because if nothing radically changes on the ground, it’s only a matter of time, before the IDF will need to destroy everything again in the battle against Palestinian terrorism.

So what’s next?

There’s a stupid line that often repeated: Israel can’t get rid of Hamas (or Arafat, or the PA…), because whatever replaces it might be worse.

It’s a stupid line, because we have the option and the ability to decide what will replace Hamas. The question is, do we have the will to make it so.

What’s clear is that the IDF will have to stay in the Philadelphia Corridor that separates Gaza and Egypt.

The Palestinian Authority certainly can’t be trusted to guard the border, just as they can’t be and aren’t trusted in Judea and Samaria (just last week, a weapons shipment was caught as it was being transported across the Dead Sea).

It’s also clear that the IDF will need to stay inside Gaza too (whether we do or don’t is another question).

But as we are almost 9 year to the day that the Jewish residents of Gaza were expelled from their homes in the Disengagement, maybe it’s time to consider something else.

To me it is clear that it’s time to correct the evil done to our fellow citizens and to ourselves, and return to our homes in Gush Katif and Gaza.

To begin with, the US, the EU, Qatar and everyone else should be clearly told, don’t waste your money rebuilding Gaza.

Before the war, 70% of Gazans wanted to leave. I’m sure that percent is even higher now.

Use that international aid to relocate them. They want to leave. Help them in the way they actually want to be helped, not in a way that perpetuates the conflict.

Why throw more money into a bad solution that maintains the problem, when there is a clear solution, that all the parties want, that will end the conflict?

And secondly, once this war is over, the Jews should go down to Gaza and reclaim their homes and businesses they were brutally uprooted from in 2005.

The Gazans want to go, and the Jews want to go home. There is a peaceful solution.

How about trying something different for a change.

JobKatif: Strength for Those in Need

Monday, July 21st, 2014

It has been nine years since Israel’s disengagement from the Jewish settlements of the Gaza Strip. About 500 people still remain without jobs and stability, a dire predicament exacerbated by the current turmoil in Southern Israel, where many of the evacuees went to rebuild their lives. JobKatif continues to bring relief to thousands of these unemployed and underemployed families through vocational training, employment placement, counseling and coaching.

Itzik, a restaurant owner in Southern Israel, finds himself paralyzed this summer. Normally, his café and catering company are bustling with customers. Yet this summer, because of the constant barrage of rockets targeting the region from Gaza, people are barely leaving their homes, let alone going out for a meal.

For Itzik, surprisingly, this is not grossly traumatic. While his business is suffering and he is concerned about sustaining his family and paying the bills, he remembers all the struggles he faced before he could even open his business. Itzik and his family are just one example of the thousands who relocated to Southern Israel following the Disengagement of 2005.

Nine years ago, the Israeli Government decided to withdraw the Jewish settlements of Gush Katif in Gaza. These families lost everything: their homes, communities, businesses, synagogues and more.

A majority of these people relocated to towns and cities in the South of Israel, which for years has been targeted by rocket fire from Gaza. Today, Israel is in a state of emergency; at least 70 percent of Israeli residents are at risk of rocket fire from Gaza and have had to experience the horror of the Code Red Siren, which gives seconds notice before a rocket strikes.

Aside from the obvious distress that this situation brings, income is down by nearly 90% for businesses in the South. Many people are unable to go to work; children are staying home from school and camps. Much is left unknown.

Making ends meet Prior to 2005, Itzik lived with his wife and five children in Moshav Katif. He worked in a marketing department in Beer Sheva and enjoyed the rural community life in Gush Katif. Following the Disengagement, his life began falling apart.

“I was at home for nearly a year,” Itzik recalls, “I wasn’t able to hold down a job for more than 3-4 weeks, tops. Our whole financial situation deteriorated, until there was not enough money for food. You are dying to work, but you simply can’t.” Like many evacuees, there was trauma and gaining stable ground seemed worlds away.

He and his wife dreamed of opening a catering business. Slowly, they saved money and recruited customers. “I remember the first Shabbat meals that we did,” he said. “To save money, I recruited our kids to help us. The business began to turn a profit, but it was slow going,” Itzik says with a smile.

In 2009, Itzik was contacted by the staff of JobKatif, an organization established for the sole purpose of assisting Gush Katif families left bereft of their livelihood to become financially independent. With some funding and advice from professionals, Itzik and his wife purchased a restaurant.

“JobKatif was a true and faithful ‘shaliach,’” he admits. “They helped us and thanks to all their support, we are where we are today. They believed in us.”

Eight-three percent of former Gush Katif residents are now employed.

However, there is still more work to do, especially as the situation in Southern Israel has become more severe.

Some 500 individuals from Gush Katif still remain out of work. Because of the security situation in the South, even JobKatif needed to temporarily shut its training centers and counseling programs because people were just unable to attend. This year, the Israeli government renewed their commitment to these important endeavors and has promised to match up to 75% of the programming costs to help Gush Katif families find meaningful employment. But these funds are returned retroactively and dependent on JobKatif raising money from donors.

Over the past nine years, 2,500 people have found employment because of JobKatif. Among these people, 570 participated in vocational retraining courses. At least 200 small businesses are operating because of JobKatif’s start-up funding and guidance. Another 202 students now are studying in colleges and universities across the country, thanks to scholarships provided by Amutat Yedidut Toronto. To assist those remaining without work, JobKatif developed customized programs tailored for specific populations. These groups include: Bnei Menashe (Jews from India), small business owners on the threshold of success, people over 55 years, individuals with challenges, students and employed individuals who are dissatisfied with their jobs. The organization has over one year left to accomplish its goals.

“We have nearly accomplished our mission of assisting all Gush Katif evacuees to earn a living so that they can support their families with pride and dignity. As they once did in Gush Katif,” says Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, founder and chairman of JobKatif. “We have made so much progress and with continued support, we can make sure that the burdens are eased and our brothers and sisters can live with peace of mind and stability.”

As it moves towards completing what it set out to do, JobKatif is seeking partners from across Jewish communities worldwide to join in relieving the struggles of unemployment in this difficult time. To contribute to JobKatif’s Shabbat Chazon campaign, tax-deductible donations can be sent to JobKatif 71-47, 171st St. Flushing, New York 11365 or online at www.jobkatif.org. For more information, please contact info@jobkatif.org or +972-2-547-4548. All donations will be matched 3:1 by the Israeli Government.

Olmert’s Legacy

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heads off to jail for corruption, one tries to consider which event will best define Olmert’s legacy.

His role in destroying Gush Katif? His abject failure in the Lebanon war? The Holyland Towers? Simply being the first Israeli Prime Minister sent to jail?

I think Olmert will best be remembered for his attempt to follow up on his success in destroying Gush Katif, by trying to violently destroy the Jewish town of Amona in 2006.

Amona Photo by: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Amona
Photo by: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Amona Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Amona
Photo by: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

What do you think is Olmert’s Legacy?

Begin’s Palestinian ‘Genie;’ It All Started With ‘Autonomy’

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Way back when, almost thirty-eight years ago, when Israel’s great electoral “Mahapach,” electoral upheaval of 1977 happened and Menachem Begin’s Likud was elected to power the very first time after twenty-nine years of Labor rule, absolutely nobody expected davka him to make revolutionary policy decisions that would facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian State in the very heart of the Historic Biblical Jewish Land of Israel. Sorry for that very long opening sentence…

Yes, the supposedly Right, pro-Jewish rights in the Land of Israel Menachem Begin’s revolutionary “give the Arabs autonomy” policy opened the door to the security and diplomatic Hell that the State of Israel now suffers.

Until Begin began his policy of withdrawing from Land liberated in the 1967 Six Days War, today’s scenario was totally unthinkable.

While Menachem Begin had been in the Opposition, the Leftist Labor leadership never dared proposing withdrawing from any of the Land and certainly not destroying Jewish communities. But just over a decade after Israel’s totally miraculous victory in the 1967 Six Days War, Begin not only handed Egypt’s Sadat the Sinai on a silver platter, he turned thousands of Israelis into refugees, giving away their homes, communities, businesses and farms.

I’ll never forget the bombastic statements he made afterwards claiming that this decision will preserve Israeli rights to the rest of the Land of Israel and his promises that the new communities established in places like Gush Katif were guaranteed as permanent and Israeli. But we all know what happened since then. Begin’s successors in the Likud, Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert came up with Disengagement and destroyed those very “replacement” communities in Gush Katif.

Even worse, the pressure on Israel to withdraw from Judea, Samaria and neighborhoods in Jerusalem have only gotten stronger.

Evil Genie Another part of Begin’s revolutionary policy, giving the Arabs “autonomy” has already turned them into a de facto and in many cases now a de jure country called Palestine.

That Palestine “genie” has grown and can’t be controlled. It will take a very brave and strong Israel to destroy it. Unfortunately, I don’t see any Israeli politicians with the guts to do it.

Visit Shiloh Musings.  / Batya Medad

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