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August 19, 2005


Mark Daniels

The Israeli Army seems to be handling the pullout with respect for those being taken from their homes and with deference to laws promulgated by the democratically-elected Knesset. It's a difficult situation, but the IDF is performing in an exemplary manner!

Some Palestinians will insist that terrorism is what forced the Israelis out of Gaza and a portion of the West Bank. Some will point to this withdrawal as being demographically-driven, an action designed to prevent Israel from becoming majority-Palestinian.

There may be some grain of truth to both constructions of reality and to other statements being made.

But whatever the motivations of the Sharon government, it is to be commended for undertaking a very bold action which holds the promise of peace for Israelis and Palestinians and others in the region. I am most impressed.

(Parenthethically, Netanyahu's last-minute resignation from the cabinet, on the eve of the pullout, seemed like a cynical act of grandstanding to me. My feeling is that while some in Likud may applaud him for this, most Israelis will not. He'd had many occasions to register his concerns over the withdrawal and had even voted for it. Why do you think he did what he did?)


As for the "real pain of people who are forced to leave homes and land they have worked and sweated for, with great love and endurance, under fire, no matter what motivated them to go there," I have much to say - too much for a comment, perhaps.

It is precisely what "motivated" them to go there (BTW, with Arik Sharon's thunderous approval, and political support at the time) that is one of the problems in the Middle East, and throughout the world lately: Religious fervor, fundamentalism, the belief that "their" "God" willed it so. This is the same fervor that supports what some term "Holy War." For once a person believes that their deeds are backed by the Divine, why, they can do most anything - even use their own children as human shields: the settlers do that just as other religious extremists do. Religious extremism and fundamentalism is the destructive force at work here. For example in the United States, religious fervor, in the name of a specifically chosen "God" or interpretation of "Him" encourages hate crimes, attacks on gay rights, and the bombing of Abortion Clinics.

Those settlers should never have been allowed there in the first place and they have created enormous problems for over 25 years for everyone. I am moved by the behavior of the Israeli Defense Force with regards to their treatment of these people.

I do wonder, though, if they "hugged" Palestinian women and children in the same way they have been doing for the settlers every time they evicted them before bull-dozing their homes to the ground over and over again.


Very interesting to hear an account from someone in Israel. I think BBC radio (don't have a TV) has done a reasonable job of conveying what your friend describes. I heard one report, in particular, where the reporter played a sound-track for 4 or 5 minutes and described in real time what was happening and how people were reacting. It was very vivid. Like Sue, however drastically I disagree with the settlers motivation, it would be dishonest not to say that I identify with their pain at leaving a home about which they care deeply and where they have created community - ironically, probably in some ways the kind of community I long for and which is so rare today in developed societies.


Yeah Tamar, I like the thought that springs from your comment of a "Hugging Army" or a "stroking police force".
I wonder at the way these kids were prepared, trained for this task. Imagine you're barely out of your teens, hormones screaming through your veins, its hot, they are pouring water and oil and acid and abuse and blows on you, and somehow you manage to behave like Jesus. I would love to have witnessed their training. Did they read the Baghavad Ghita to them? They must have given a feeling of great confidence, fear would have caused them to respond with violence.
I suppose that for a Hugging Law and Order Unit (How's "Jesus police"?) to work there needs to be a common infrastructure of belonging between the police and the policed (a knowledge that "we are basicly the same, we are brothers and sisters and nephews and grandchildren").
For that to work accross "tribal" boundaries one needs really strong philosophy.


Yes, Huw. Really strong philosophy.

We can do it.

We must do it.

We are all really strong.

And we are capable of taking responsibility with great love.

(BTW, I heard an Israeli Officer interviewed on our National Public Radio yesterday morning and he described the soldiers giving some of the people they were evacuating "a hug.")


Well, Tamar they seemed to find a couple of dollops of strong cross cultural, cross tribal philosophy in South Africa when they went through the painful proccesses of the "Truth and forgiveness commission" (is that what they called it? something like that anyway.)
I think that should be held up as one of the great wonders of the world. (A lot better than crumbling old concrete or stone relics of great engineering feats. - Who gives a shit if someone built a pyramid with a thousand slaves and left it standing in the desert.)
There is no solid memorial of the Truth and Mercy Commission (yes I think it was the truth and mercy commission) but what was the greater achievement? To me the answer is clear.


Huw, I think you are referring to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I mention it here:
Yes - I so agree that it should be held up as one of the great wonders of the world. We can learn so much from, build on and improve those types of processes. Thanks for reminding us of that.

Adriana Bliss

I've not commented much on this, but now that I read your discussion here, I feel a little "safer" in saying that I have never understood the settlers chosen path of life, especially the part that involves willingly putting your children in harm's way.

That said, they did have the government's full approval, Jews worldwide were encouraged by the communities and temples to settle in Gaza. I would imagine if I were a settler, I would feel the utmost betrayal by my own government.

I agree, the soldiers have shown an amazing degree of compassion and patience in moving these men and women out of their homes. What a painful experience for all sides.

My prayer is that this move will ultimately bring peace to Israel. Perhaps then the agony of this transition will have been worth it.


Am so pleased you felt "safe" to express your opinion here. Thanks for your comment.

As Adriana talks about not understanding how people willingly put children in harm's way, this is what I meant when refering to using children as emotional shields. Of course the children have no choice - they never do. That's why it is so outrageously tragic that all kinds of different adults use them in their religious or political wars.

This is such an important discussion. I appreciate everyone expressing their views here about this - whether we agree or not, we must keep up the dialogue. A special thanks to Huw.


Like Adriana, I too felt reluctant to comment, until I had read the discussion.

I cried when I saw the settlers being removed from their homes. I imagine how I would feel, forced to leave the home I love on a government's decision. What really reinforces this for me was to watch the army and police and how they also cried at the work they were asked to do.

Then there is also the lump in my stomach when I think of the how Palestinan families houses' are bulldozed in the middle of the night. I have so many conflicting emotions and ask myself the questions: what is this really all about? Is it about government's playing chess with their citizens? When will the game cease? When will all be able to go about their daily lives without fear? What will the effects of this trauma be on the settlers and especially the children? Did they [the children] have a choice? I imagine that a child seeing their parents being "attacked" (i imagine that is how they perceive this) will retaliate, I imagine that this would be almost instinctive, so really there is little "choice".

The idea that any of us act on the "word of god", I grew up in a Catholic Facist Dictatorship - Rep of Ireland - terrifies me. There is no way such a belief can be questioned or called to reason, (I remember it well. It is impossible to reason or question "the word of god". Though I am often tempted to ask, in response to "god wants me to do this", how did the message arrive, email, fax, or phone.

What has emerged from this? That the world can see that it is possible to train an army or police force, in empathy and restraint and understanding. Ghandi must be smiling.

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