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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Gush Katif’

Learning from Operation Protective Edge

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

For many, Operation Protective Edge served to highlight the security, the social resilience and the international media coverage issues Israel faces on a daily basis. This week (November 23, 2014) two conferences bravely took it on: Bar Ilan University’s School of Communication in conjunction with the Center for International Communication hosted “The Scholarly & Professional Convention on International Media Coverage of Operation Protective Edge” and The Institute for National Security Strategies (INSS) in conjunction with The Gush Katif Heritage Center hosted “Between Gush Katif and Operation Protective Edge.”

With an impressive array of high profile guest speakers and compelling topics of discussion, these conferences were well worth attending. The Bar Ilan convention focused on Israeli Public Diplomacy and the International Media during Operation Protective Edge. Since I’m convinced most of us consider Economy Minister Naftali Bennett to be the guy scoring the most points for Israel when it comes to the international media, it’s a pity he wasn’t one of the guest speakers. Bennett stands out so much because the international media coverage stinks so badly. However, as Prof. Eytan Gilboa rightly points out, this anti-Israel attitude has been going on for years. Gilboa’s solution is for Israel’s spokesmen to demand the journalists be professional and take responsibility for their utterances. Israel must continuously point out to the western world how biased their media coverage is.

We might all agree regarding the above issue, but there’s a variety of opinions when it comes to “Between Gush Katif and Operation Protective Edge.” In one interesting discussion, former Gush Katif Regional Council head Zvi Hendel pointed out that during Oslo, in the days of the armed Arab police force and the joint security training, the expectation had been for the Gush Katif population to dwindle; they thought people would leave. Instead, the population grew by 20% due to a happy combination of natural increase and new families coming to reside in Gush Katif. Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yellin responded that during Operation Protective Edge his region also continued to grow. The few families that left, he claimed, were those that had been renting for a year or two, and hadn’t become truly absorbed into the community. Additionally, Eshkol has received a major boost from the Gush Katif expellees who have founded new communities in the region.

Another fascinating discussion arose when an audience member asked the speakers their opinion about the Disengagement, and whether their opinion had changed following Operation Protective Edge. Earlier in the conference, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan had stated where he stood. This staunch Likudnik spoke feelingly of the door-to-door effort before the Likud referendum, and his disgust that PM Sharon had carried out a plan his party had voted against. Whereas, Haim Yellin’s didn’t like the Disengagement Plan due to its unilateral nature; he wished for an agreement, not to give away something and get nothing in return. Prefacing his answer by admitting that his views weren’t going to be very popular with the audience, Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council head Alon Shuster revealed that he’d been in favor of the Disengagement Plan and remained so today. He considers that Israel has the right to decide where to draw the borders, and that for moral reasons Israel shouldn’t be in Gaza.

And yet, if there’s no moral reason for Gush Katif, then there is no moral reason for the rest of Israel. Or as former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly put it, “the fate of Netzarim is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

Having destroyed Netzarim, we now need to work doubly hard to reclaim the Israeli narrative. I’m convinced we can do it, and the first step has already been achieved: realizing there’s a problem. Now let’s take steps to fix it.

Shifra Shomron

Terror: US Pledges Support for Canada but Tells Israel to Stay Calm

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

The Obama administration pledged its “full support” for Canada to “to hold those responsible” for Wednesday’s terrorist attack but told Israel “to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions.”

The different reactions say in a nutshell everything you need to know how the United States is feeding what Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called a “worldwide epidemic” of terrorism.

The Obama administration constantly maintains that if Israel simply would stop trying to survive as a Jewish state and hand over more than half of the country to the Palestinian Authority on an Islamic platter, there will no longer be a reason for Arab terrorists to exist.

When a terrorist attacks in Ottawa, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says, “We will continue to work closely with our Canadian colleagues to ensure the safety of all our people, and together to counter violent extremism in North America and elsewhere around the world.”

When a terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Kerry does not even bother to put his name on the press release. He dictates to Spokeswoman Jen Psaki to say, “We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.”

The United States condemned both attacks, of course.

“We condemn today’s heinous and evil attacks in Ottawa, seemingly aimed at the heart of the federal government itself. The United States has faced this kind of violence firsthand on our own soil, and we grieve with Canada, seared by the memory of our own painful experiences,” Kerry stated.

He even picked up the phone to speak with Canadian Foreign Minister Baird “to express our deepest condolences on this tragic day, and to pledge the full support of the United States to Canada as it works to determine the facts and to hold those accountable responsible.”

In response to the murder of a three-month-old baby, an American-Israeli, Psaki stated, “The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured.

“We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.”

That’s it. No support for the Israeli government “to determine the facts and to hold those accountable responsible.”

No statement that the United States “will continue to work closely with our Israeli colleagues to ensure the safety of all our people, and together to counter violent extremism in North America and elsewhere around the world.”

The United States did not call on “all sides” in Canada “to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions.”

The State Dept. simply cannot condemn terror in Israel without sticking a knife in the victims’ backs.

“Maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions?” What does that mean?

It means, “Don’t get tough with terrorists. Let’s talk about it. Let’s agree that if the Palestinian Authority would be established as a country in place of Judea, Samaria and half of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter, terror would go away, just like it went away when Israel expelled every last Jew and withdrew every Israeli soldier from Gush Katif and northern Gaza nine years ago.

Oh, were there a few thousand missiles attacks from Gaza on Israel since then? No worry. There now is a cease-fire while Hamas re-arms.

“Maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions” – is that what the Obama would have said if the terrorist had struck in Washington?

And want is this “all sides” business?

Official Palestinian Authority media day in and day out educate Arabs that every inch of the Land of Israel will be Palestine and incite youth to “resist” by becoming martyrs. So how does Psaki come up with this shpiel for “all sides to maintain calm.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

The Top 5 Ways You Can Help Gush Katif Expellees!

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

As we’re thinking ahead and making our New Year resolutions, here are 5 easy ways to help the Zionist pioneering citizens formerly of Gush Katif rebuild their lives destroyed in the 2005 Disengagement Plan.

1. Buy orange. Help the Gush Katif expellees by purchasing quality products from Gush Katif: insect-free produce, organic pomegranate wine, olive oil, beautiful artwork and jewelry, books, puzzles and games. The Gush Katif expellees’ population has a higher unemployment rate than the average in Israel, and this is a great way of encouraging those who’ve returned to the work force and opened small businesses.

2. Visit the Katif Heritage Center in Nitzan. This Center tells the history of Gush Katif – its growth, destruction, and building anew. Thanks to technology, one truly travels back in time: once again joining hands in the Israeli chain and experiencing the struggles that Gush Katif residents faced. Feel their pain as the soldiers stream through the community gates and uproot them from their homes. A visit to the Katif Visitor Center shows our spirit and resiliency.

3. Gift a tax-deductable donation. Your generous donations allow us, the Gush Katif Committee, to promote vital Gush Katif projects for the new communities. These include helping needy families, rebuilding vital community structures such as synagogues and youth centers, and providing the synagogues with all their necessary furnishings.

4. Tell your family and friends. Gush Katif is relevant! Operation Protective Edge and its aftermath have made it increasingly clear that we must keep the words ‘Gush Katif’ on our lips to prevent any politician from considering further withdrawals. Remember Gush Katif –may we merit to return.

5. Tour the new Gush Katif communities. Visiting Israel? Living in Israel and looking for a fun family tour? Hire a licensed Gush Katif, private tour guide! Whether you’re headed north, south, or center, there’s a friendly new Gush Katif community waiting to be explored!

May we all be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a healthy and happy New Year.

Shifra Shomron

Neglecting Terror Setting Up Eastern Jerusalem Jews for Expulsion

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Jerusalem Arabs attacked a school bus with large rocks and bottles in the Maaleh Zeitim neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem Sunday morning.

No one was injured although the attackers managed to smash the windshield of the bus, which was taking the children to their school in Jerusalem,

Border Police rushed to the scene, but – surprise but no surprise – no suspects were found.

Jews living in eastern Jerusalem have frequently complained of lack of police protection and of a soft-glove approach by courts when anyone is arrested and indicted.

Dozens of Jewish motorists and passengers have been ambushed several times in eastern Jerusalem the past several years, as reported here last week, here and here last month, and here in July.

Allowing Arab terrorists to rule the roads in Gush Katif in 2000-2005 was one of the factors that incited public opinion to favor expelling 9,000 Jews from 19 communities in Gaza in the summer of 2005.

Establishment media constantly claimed that the IDF could not protect their safety and that trying to do so cost the lives of soldiers as well as civilians.

The same cockeyed logic was behind the withdrawal of the IDF from the security zone in southern Lebanon in 2000, when Ehud Barak was prime minister.

Six years later, after Hezbollah exploited the total vacuum of intelligence and Israeli soldiers on the ground, it killed 121 IDF soldiers and 43 civilians in the Second Lebanon War.

More than 400 civilians were hospitalized in massive Hezbollah rocket and missile attacks, and nearly 900 suffered trauma. Approximately 6,000 homes sustained damage while 1 million residents spent much of their time in bomb shelters.

Following the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, hams bombarded Israel from the Negev to the Galilee with thousands of missiles and rockets, and Israel still has not achieved a long-term cease-fire agreement.

Constant attacks on Jews in eastern Jerusalem, with the help of Israel and foreign establishment media, could set up another scenario for the repeatedly failed strategy of offering “peace” by telling Jews the cannot live where they want in Jerusalem.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

The Tragedy That is Ignored

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

There is no routine in continuous fire and danger of attack from Gaza, while our entire country is attempting to continue to live a “normal life” the attacks continue including the UN and media attacks along with the dangerous anti-Israeli attacks around the world.

Here in our country there is much attention, and rightfully so, given to the civilian residents of the communities in the south, especially those close to Gaza. The same residents that are under attacks and sadly have lost precious lives have made a decision to leave their homes on the most part in order to be safer. (safer because the attacks basically are all over Israel).

These same residents of what we term, “around Gaza” (otef Aza) speak about the last 14 years of attacks from Gaza and the continuous impending dangers that they face.

With all due respect and acknowledging this situation, there is one literally fatal aspect of this unacceptable situation which is ignored. Nine years ago these same residents of the communities around Gaza were busy demonstrating and calling to destroy our thriving communities in Gush Katif and to deport all of our families- “get our soldiers out of Gaza” was the slogan along with “a solution for each resident”.

Not one of the these people has had the honesty and courage to admit that the dangers we are facing today and indeed during the last 9 years are due to the destruction of Gush Katif and the Hamas take over of Gaza.

Not one of them remembers or mentions the tragic impossible situation of us having to remove our loved ones from their graves in the Gush, and re-burying them – opening old and new wounds in this horrific nightmare forced upon our families because of the destruction of Gush Katif.

This Thursday we shall again meet for the 17 memorial of our beloved young hero from Netzer Hazani, Yochanan Hilburg HY”D who fell in the Navy Seal tragedy in Lebanon. My beloved friends the Hilburg family along with Yochanans’ friends from the Navy Seals and from the Gush will again meet .

During all of the years of attacks on our communities both rockets, mortars, shootings, explosives NONE of our residents in Gush Katif either wished to leave or left. On the contrary, the determination of our families and love of the Land had more familes moving in all the time including groups who came to strengthen our families.

How we remember the groups of demonstrators holding up the cursed signs outside of the same communities who are under attack still today. “Get our soldiers out of Gaza!” ” Leave Gaza and bring quiet and peace.”

Even today, after 9 years when I head for the Cemetery in Nitzan my car wishes to continue to our Cemetery in Gush Katif. Standing with my beloved friends over the graves of our loved ones is even more heartbreaking since the destruction of Gush Katif.

How Yochanan loved those beaches and the sea shores. How we all loved the beaches – the agriculture – the beautiful synagogues – the thriving communities -the traditions such as the race in memory of Yochanan that used to be held on the familiar roads of the Gush.

I know that this will sound insane but we do wait, hope and pray to return to Gush Katif to rebuild as we did in Gush Etzion. But in the meantime we will never forget our loved ones who fell to protect our Land and will continue to embrace our beloved families who were forced to live this extra nightmare of re-burying our fallen and dead because of the wanton destruction of Gush Katif.

Yehudit Tayar

A Not-So-Happy Anniversary

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Israel had an anniversary of sorts this month. It was by no means a celebratory event.

There was no excitement, as there is with Yom Ha’Atzmaut, when we commemorate the occasion of Israel’s birth as a nation in 1948. There was no exultation, as there is on Yom Yerushalayim, when we remember the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. In fact, many people failed to note that there was a date on the calendar worth remembering.

This month marked the ninth anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In August 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon oversaw one of the most dark and disturbing chapters in Israel’s history when he ordered the expulsion of approximately 9,000 Jews from Gaza. Entire communities were uprooted, over 2,500 homes were destroyed, and countless families were displaced.

The images of Jews forcibly removing fellow Jews from their homes left an indelible mark on the psyche of the Jewish nation. Watching men and women, young and old, weep as they were escorted from their homes was especially painful, and seeing children forced to leave the only homes they had ever known was absolutely heart-wrenching.

We watched with horror as Jewish residents who refused to leave willingly clashed with the Jewish soldiers tasked with evicting them from their homes. As the residents barricaded themselves inside synagogues and climbed atop the roofs of their homes in acts of defiance, we shuddered and wondered how the situation has spiraled out of control so quickly.

Ultimately, every Jewish resident was evacuated from Gaza and shortly thereafter the Israel Defense Forces completely withdrew from the area, thereby ceding control of Gaza to the Palestinians.

Following the expulsion from Gaza, the situation for the former residents worsened considerably. The financial compensation promised by the Israeli government never fully materialized. People were relocated to temporary domiciles. The unemployment rate among the residents skyrocketed. The sociological ramifications of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza were quite dire.

The political consequences, as we know, were calamitous. Although Prime Minister Sharon believed the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would improve Israel’s security and burnish its reputation in the international community, his dream never materialized.

Hamas took control of Gaza and quickly turned it into a hotbed of terrorism. What had just recently been vibrant bastions of Jewish life morphed into the main command center for Hamas’s jihad against Israel.

Over the past several weeks, more than 3,300 rockets were fired from Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Those are in addition to the 11,000-plus rockets fired at Israel from Gaza since the withdrawal in 2005.

In addition to Operation Protective Edge, Israel was forced to embark on Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 in response to relentless rocket fire from Gaza. In 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in an effort to impair Hamas’s ability to launch rockets at Israeli cities.

While hindsight is 20/20, at this juncture it is easy to ascertain that the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security. The fact that over 5 million Israelis live under a constant threat of rocket attacks emanating from Gaza is a stark and scary reminder of how vulnerable Israel has become after it chose to vacate Gaza.

Rather than questioning Sharon’s decision to leave Gaza devoid of any trace of the Israeli presence that existed prior to the withdrawal in 2005, we must look to the future and ask: What now? What happens next?

The reality is that over the past several weeks we’ve witnessed the increased firepower that Hamas has amassed, including long-range rockets that can strike Israeli cities that until now had been considered out of harm’s way. We saw the callous disregard Hamas has for human life and the intense hatred it harbors for Israel.

N. Aaron Troodler

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.


Jordana Brown

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/jordana-in-jerusalem/its-been-9-years/2014/08/11/

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