Thursday, July 22, 2010

The struggle of Gush Katif: an exercise in futility

This week is the anniversary of the hitnatkut, "disengagement" from Gush Katif. Thousands of idealistic hardworking Jews including some who had already been expelled from settlements in Sinai, were forcibly thrown out of their homes. Then their once thriving settlements were razed to the ground. The Batei Knesset and Yeshivot were left standing. According to Halacha it is forbidden for Jews to destroy a synagogue. So as soon as we left the Palestinians looted them and set them aflame.May we see Hashem avenge his houses of worship that the sons of Yishmael so wantonly destroyed.

None of the purported goals of the hitnatkut were achieved ; certainly not peace. Instead we got a strengthening of Hamas, a major military campaign (Cast Lead) which destroyed much of what was left of Gaza worsening the suffering of its inhabitants. Then there is the endless suffering of the displaced settlers which continues to this day. The government continually reneged on the promises made to them. Many are still unemployed and live in temporary housing.

With passing years, admittedly with the help of Professor Hindsight, it becomes more and more clear that the struggle to resist the hitnatkut was an exercise in futility. Tens of thousands participated in demonstrations against the government culminating in the march  of over 50,000 from Netivot  to Kfar Maimon on the way to Gush Katif. There they confronted the police and the army but after a few tense hours the leaders decided not to escalate the violence and the demonstration fizzled out. Meanwhile hundreds infiltrated across the border to strengthen the resistance of the settlers.They were all removed by the army in the next few days. Naively they believed that these actions would have an influence on the outcome of events. It was not to be.

The fact is the fate of Gush Katif was sealed the moment Arik Sharon succeeded in pushing his plan through the government and the Knessest. That is how democracy works if you don't have or don't know how to use political power don't expect to twist the arm of the government to do your will.

We lived in the Golan Heights for 20 years. In the late '80s Yitzhak Rabin proposed a peace plan which included offering to give back the Golan to Syria. A grass roots movement sprang up called H'am im Hagolan (the people are with nthe Golan) A well organized media blitz brought the message to th nation. At  the same time political pressure was brought to bear on political elements who had connections to or were sympathetic to the Golan settlements. Within a year Rabin decided that it was politically expedient to shelve his proposals indefinitely.

Why didn't this happen in Gush Katif? The main reason is that while the people were with the Golan, the people were NOT with Gush Katif. It was a struggle waged almost solely by the Zionist-Religious sector. With their moral, political and religious certitude they were convinced that the whole country was behind them but when they looked back they only saw their own soldiers coming to take them away.

Rav Tzvi Tau founder and spiritual leader of Yeshivat Har Ha-mor and the "mamlachti" (statism) trend, said that we must strengthen the state not weaken it. As Rav Kook said "the state of Israel is the basis for the Sechina (presence of G-d) in this world. We can take part in the political process, but once a legitimate government is elected it stands in the place of the Jewish Kings as sovereign rulers of Israel/

I only hope that in the coming struggles in Eretz Israel we will have learn our lesson.


  1. David,

    Thank you so much for praying for Nadav.

    This means so much to us. He will be having his first PSA test after radiation on September 8th.

    I just want him to finally be healthy and cancer free. This disease has a way of consuming one's life if you let it, which I try not to do.

    Thank you for letting me speak with you, it is very therapeutic for the neshama.

    Hasya Ya'ara

  2. Dear David,

    Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year filled with lots of simchas and much joy.

    Hasya Ya'ara

  3. I was against the hitnatkut, and most of Israel from what I've read, secular and religious alike--sees that it was a terrible mistake, to no good consequence.

    Have we learned our lesson? I don't know. I feel terrible for those residents of the Gush who sat in their homes, expecting Hashem to intervene the last minute.

    I believe that G-d wants us to fight for Him, and only then will He fight with us.