Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
A Time To Weepby Rabbi Yosef Y. Jacobson
August 22, 2005
I admire my compassionate brothers, possessing a supra-rational faith in the love and goodwill of all of humanity. Even when the Palestinian Authority declares (as it did this week) that Israel\'s evacuation of Gaza will ultimately lead to the return of millions of Arabs to the pre-1948 borders of Israel, and even while the Hamas terror organization announces this week that the pullout of Gaza is "the beginning of the end of the Zionist entity," my brothers still maintain the higher-than-logic faith that leaving Gaza might open a window for peace.
Are they projecting their hopes on the beliefs of others? Listen to this declaration made on Wednesday by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, while speaking ! to reporters in Beirut:
"The resistance and the steadfastness of our people forced the Zionists to withdraw," he stated. "The resistance is capable of ending the Israeli occupation and achieving all our rights. The armed struggle is the only strategy that Hamas possesses.... As long as Palestinian lands remain under occupation, Hamas won\'t lay down its weapons.
"Now, after the victory in the Gaza Strip, we will transfer the struggle first to the West Bank and later to Jerusalem.... We will continue the struggle until we liberate all our lands. This is an important day for the Palestinians and proof that the armed struggle has born fruit.
"Neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip, nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands. We don\'t recognize the state of Israel or its right to hold on to one inch of Palestine. Palestine is an Islamic land belonging to all! the Muslims."
Nor is Mr. Mashaal a lone voice among an otherwise peace-oriented society. Tragically, the Palestinian school system, the sermons in the mosques, the atmosphere in most of the homes nurture this doctrine. All of Israel is one big settlement and all Israelis are occupiers. In their mind, G-d does not want Israel ruled by "Zionists". We may dismiss this as primitive, but for them, it is the will of Allah and they are ready to die and kill for it.
How, then, can leaving Gaza open a window to peace? If you want my entire home, then giving you one bedroom will not solve the problem. Only the evacuation of all 5,000,000 Jews from the Holy Land will assuage Palestinian grievance.
What the retreat from Gaza is likely to accomplish is: a) demonstrate to the Palestinians that terror is profoundly effective and entice them to increase their terrorist activity in order to conquer all of Israel; b) bring the terrorists closer to the \'Green Line\' with easie! r missile access to Jewish cities inside the Green Line; and c) allow Palestinians to construct in IDF-free Gaza a successful infrastructure of terror, which will continue terrorizing Israeli citizens (this is what occurred a decade ago when Israel retreated from much of the West Bank following the Oslo Accords). How will the wall that separates Gaza from the rest of Israel stop rockets and missiles launched toward cities and towns inside the Green Line, as they have been during the last year?
Israel\'s Moral Failure
Instead of demonstrating moral leadership and uprooting the terrorist infrastructure from Gaza, Israel decided to uproot 9,000 of it most beautiful sons and daughters living in that territory. People around the world are watching the forced retreat from Gaza and concluding that "stubborn extremist settler Jews" are the obstacles to peace, rather than the Palestinian gunmen who fire on them even as they are forcibly removed from their homes.
Wh! at exactly was the crime of these Jews? The \'settlers\' of Gush Katif did not steal Palestinian land; they took sand dunes that were never inhabited by Arabs and, through the sweat of their brows, turned them into a paradise and a financial powerhouse. These settlers have often been portrayed as extreme zealots who love soil more than life. Yet, anybody who has spent time in Gush Katif knows that its residents are some of the most decent, loving, intelligent, hard-working, peaceful people you will ever meet. Even when they went down, they chose to fight not with violence or abusive language, but with the power of faith and moral justice.
The question, "So what is your solution to the conflict?" is quite irrelevant here. When a person is ill, doctors don\'t say, "We are not sure what the solution to his illness is, so let\'s just kill him." Just because the situation is complicated, Israel should not be destroying itself by granting victory to Jew killers.
The time is not ripe for analysis. The wound is too fresh. Come, let us instead weep together.
Let us weep for 9,000 of our bravest men, women and children, who sustained horrific terror attacks, shielding Jewish communities inside the Green Line. Instead of being embraced for their heroism, they were expelled from the homes and communities they built over 30 years with so much blood, tears and unity, as though they - and not the Palestinian gunmen - were the obstacles to peace.
Let us weep together with Mrs. Nogah Cohen from Kfar Darom. In October 2003, three of her children were struck in a terrorist bombing; their legs were amputated. Thursday, as her family was being evacuated from their home, she said: "The people who cut off the legs of my three little children will now be rewarded with their home." Nogah, we are crying with you.
Let us weep for a country that lost its soul, its priorities, its raison d\'etre. Instead of p! rotecting its citizens from barbaric bloodshed, it has used its power to forcefully uproot more than 20 remarkable communities, capitulating to terror. It is astonishing: Jews are permitted to live in almost any part of the world, besides one place - in their own homeland. Was this Herzl\'s dream?
Let us weep for the tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers, trained to defend the Jewish people and their land, yet now dispatched to rid Gaza of its Jews and grant their land to those who wish to exterminate Israel. The scenes these poor soldiers have absorbed will likely remain with them for the remainder of their lives.
Let us weep for a world that looks to the Jewish people as a source for moral courage and clarity. Instead of seeing Israel protecting innocent people and standing up to killers, the world watches Israel turn its wrath on its heroes and grant victory to its sworn enemies. To paraphrase Isaiah, \'How has the State of Israel fallen so low!\'
Finally, to our! dearest brothers and sisters in Gush Katif:
Your heroism will remain etched in our minds and hearts forever. Your faith, love, passion and commitment will serve as a beacon of light for generations to come. Your fight was not in vain.
We love you, Gush Katif, now and forever. The glow on the faces of your children lights up our days and will brighten our dark nights. Thank you for being who you are; you are our greatest.
Rabbi Jacobson is an internationally known lecturer on Israel, Torah and Jewish mysticism.