Eggs cannot be unbroken, a pane of glass cannot be unshattered, and psychological trauma that people have lived with constantly for 15 years cannot be undone. But perhaps important lessons can be learned from a horrible strategic decision made a decade-and-a-half ago.
On August 15, 2005, the IDF began removing every Jew – every man, woman, and child – from the 21 Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip known collectively as Gush Katif. The repercussions of this operation are still felt by the close to 10,000 residents who were displaced from their homes as well as all those who live in cities within the ever-increasing range of Palestinian-Arab rockets fired from the Gaza Strip: Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and now even Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Israeli government called it the “Disengagement.” Most Jews referred to it as the “expulsion.” In essence, it was a submission to Palestinian-Arab groups that have vowed to drive the Jewish people into the sea.
Even before the process of tearing down Gush Katif – and simultaneously empowering Hamas, the PLO, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other genocidal terrorist groups – began, the Zionist Organization of America, which I head, saw it for the tragic miscalculation that it turned out to be. Unfortunately, we constituted the only opposition among the 51 members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. The other 50 supported the expulsion.
In 1994, Israel gave control of 85 percent of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian-Arabs as part of the so-called peace process. The Arabs used their newly-gained territory to attack the Jewish communities in Gaza, but at least the IDF had a presence in Gaza. Not so after the expulsion.
We at ZOA predicted how disastrous the expulsion would be for Israelis. Many if not most of those who were forced to give up their beautiful homes, farms, businesses, synagogues, and schools remain broken from the experience – broken emotionally, broken psychologically, and, in some cases, broken financially.
A great many more have suffered from the over 20,000 rocket and missile attacks originating in Gaza. Israelis have only seconds to run to missile shelters when these rain down on Israel.
Perhaps worst of all are the tens of thousands of Israeli children who suffer from PTSD due to these attacks. Those ages 15 and under have spent their entire lives hearing red alerts and having to race to protective areas.
More recently, Gaza Arabs have launched helium balloons and kites toward Israel with IEDs and flammables tethered to them, endangering lives and burning farms and even nature preserves.
Yet, unbelievably and unimaginably, some people want to repeat the expulsion operation on a much larger scale! What are they thinking? Have they learned nothing? How much more suffering do they want to impose?
Not satisfied with the catastrophic consequences of the Gaza experiment, the Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, the UN – and even, astoundingly, some Jews – want Israel to give up more territory, knowing full well what the result will be.
For the moment, the Palestinian Authority controls areas “A” and “B” and offers handsome rewards to people to murder Jews; incites hatred in its media, schools, and mosques; and claims all of Israel is “Occupied Palestine.” Its leaders refuse to recognize a Jewish state and poll after poll of Palestinian-Arabs taken by Palestinian-Arab pollsters reveals that a plurality to a majority of Arabs living in Judea and Samaria support violence against Jews.
Hamas easily defeated the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip and there is no reason to believe it won’t easily defeat it in other areas that would be placed in its control under any future surrender of land. Should Hamas gain more control or should the Palestinian Authority turn even more violent, not a single Israeli will be safe as Israel would have no defensible borders except perhaps its western border (i.e., the Mediterranean Sea).
There is no good reason now or even in the near future to repeat the tragic mistakes the Israeli government made 15 years ago. Neither the Palestinian-Arabs nor the Arab League, nor even the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have demonstrated a willingness to accept a Jewish state of Israel of any size or configuration.
Israelis are not discs on a checkerboard or numbers on a statistics table. Nor are they guinea pigs. They are people, and they deserve to lead their lives in peace and security – neither of which could be guaranteed if Israel were to give away any more territory.