The forceful expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes by the Sharon government is a policy internally destructive and unsurpassed in its cruelty in the nearly 60 years of Israel's history. Whole families, in some cases three generations, will see their homes, their communities, businesses and farms, surrendered to the enemy; the very Arab terrorists who for years have murdered and maimed their loved ones, and have sworn to destroy Israel. We are witnessing a crime of historic magnitude.
Asher Zelig FriedAsher Zelig Fried is author of The Israel Narrative, a commentary on current Israeli and Jewish affairs, and is a frequent contributor to Jewish publications in Israel, the U.S. and Canada.
The army, the pride of the nation, has been used by Ariel Sharon to tear Jewish families from their homes. The army that defeated five Arab armies in 1948, that saved the nation in six days in 1967, and again in 1973, whose heroes and victories are legendary, will be used to unearth graves of Jewish martyrs, to blow up shuls, yeshivos and mikvahs.
Scenes, broadcast around the world, of Jews crying and of Arab masses cheering demonstrate just whose victory this is. And with a whetted appetite, the terrorists have declared their march on Jerusalem and all of Israel. Ariel Sharon - the savior of Israel, the great military genius - has betrayed his people.
He was elected to office by those who believed in his integrity, in his record of support for settling the land of Israel, and his promises to protect those settlements. But once in office, he turned against those who elevated him, he reversed himself on virtually every position he proffered and adopted the platform of the defeated opposition. He did so with an intensity and ruthlessness characteristic of his demeanor as a general in battle.
One dared not oppose Sharon. All who did were soon disposed of. He fired those in his administration who questioned the security aspects of his plan. He fired the Chief of Staff of the IDF, General Moshe Yaalon, who stated, "Immediately after disengagement, we can expect a burst of terrorism." He denigrated the warnings of former director of the Shin Bet (General Security Services) Avi Dichter. Dichter commented, "In the Gaza Strip, an army of thousands of people who belong to Hamas are building on the model of Hizbullah in Lebanon." Sharon twice disregarded the majority of his own Likud party, who voiced their opposition to his plan with the expectation that so strong a statement would move him to further consideration. He continued to embrace the very plan he was elected to oppose.
Sharon's plan, now in its implementation, has disgraced the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Not since the Holocaust has the world seen such scenes of Jews being thrown out of their homes, off of their lands, on the road carrying their belongings, of Jewish men, woman and children bitterly crying, and such pity. He has pierced the souls of our heroic soldiers. Many have broken down crying and many more have refused orders than was reported. One wonders how they will ever overcome their feelings of personal shame for what they were forced to do.
Even more disgraceful is that these horrific actions were initiated by a Jewish government in the land of Israel. He has turned Jew against Jew, brother against brother, young against old, and the army of Israel against its own people. He has further widened the already painful religious/non-religious divide.
Virtually every attempt at legitimate protest against Sharon's plan, even peaceful protest, was stymied. Protesters believed their right to assemble would be protected by the democratic principles so broadly espoused by the Israeli government. But Sharon blocked the roads, stopped their buses and forbade their assembly. He put the police on them, arrested their leaders, brutalized and incarcerated teenagers for inordinate periods of time.
Still, many persevered and made it through the blockades, some by car and some by walking long distances in the blazing sun. Young and old from all over Israel, mothers and little children, religious and many non-religious assembled peacefully at Kfar Maimon, where they sang, danced and learned Torah for three days. But the commander of the police's Negev District, Nisso Shaham, doing Sharon's bidding, had a different point of view. He was recorded instructing a subordinate to "turn the water cannons on them." He was further recorded saying "beat them [the demonstrators] with truncheons, low down. Let them burn...."
Even Sharon, as dictatorial as he is, could not have effectuated so devastating a plan without the collaboration of several major governmental institutions. He needed the support of a majority of his cabinet. Most members would not oppose him; they served at his will. Perhaps they valued their positions of power too much. Those who spoke of the danger of his plan were either fired or resigned. Natan Sharansky called the plan "a tragic mistake that will exacerbate the conflict with the Palestinians, increase terrorism and dim the prospects of a genuine peace," and resigned. Yitzchak Levi and Effie Eitam of the National Religious party also resigned. Only Binyamin Netanyahu, with his pathetic "I voted for the plan, but I don't support t it," avoided being fired. Ultimately, his 11th-hour resignation was valueless. It would be comical were the situation not so deadly serious.
Sharon also needed the support of the Knesset. Of course, he was fully supported by its traitorous Arab members and by the Labor party, which has become a cesspool of corruption. He also received support of an as-yet untold number of paid-off Likud members, and others whose vote is readily available to the highest bidder. Apart from a scattering of those members still loyal to the foundation positions of the Likud, and a handful of religious party members, Sharon encountered no viable opposition.
Another of the "venerable" Israeli institutions, the Supreme Court, ever sensitive to any real or imagined breach of Arab rights, did not find dispossessing 10,000 Jews of their homes, their land, their businesses, indeed their entire communities, a breach of their rights. Apparently, much of the "enlightened" Israeli media was not much bothered by it either. One wonders why they fastidiously advocate the right of over a million Arabs to live freely within Israel, but would not advocate the right of a single Jew to live in an Arab area.
It is hard to fathom what good could possibly result from the terrible events we have borne witness to. Clearly, every Israeli concession is viewed by the Arabs as a demonstration of Israel's weakness. US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, the New York Times and numerous others have already commented that the evacuation of Gaza is just the beginning.
Does anyone really believe that Israel's tortuous sacrifices will make any difference to the US, the United Nations, the European Union, or any of the many countries and organizations that continue call for further Israeli withdrawals? Will Israel's actions against her own people strengthen her position when pressure is applied to withdraw again, this time from Judea and Samaria, from Gush Etzion and Ma'ale Adumim, and indeed, from Jerusalem?
Beyond the personal tragedies, beyond the creation of a new and extremely serious security situation that top security officials are now predicting, beyond the economic disaster and end to the Gush Katif produce we have come to love, we, as a people, and Israel, as a country, must move forward. In the Book of Esther, when Esther demurs at Mordechai's instruction that she confront the Persian king, Mordechai admonishes her by saying, "For if you keep silent at a time like this, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from some other place, while you and your father's house will perish."
We must hear the cries of our brothers and not keep silent at a time like this. Our voices must be heard abroad and in Israel. Let us find comfort in knowing that no matter how difficult our trials are, the destiny of the Jewish people is assured.