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Av 23, 5765, 8/28/2005
Here we go again.
In the aftermath of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the Palestinians have wasted little time in getting back to the business of terror.
In just the past four days, a Palestinian terrorist stabbed and killed a young Jewish yeshiva student in Jerusalem, an Israeli border policeman was stabbed in the throat in Hebron by a Palestinian attacker, two Qassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza at the Israeli town of Sderot, and a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up today at Beersheba’s bus station.
This chain of events, of course, comes as little surprise. For months, opponents of the Gaza withdrawal were warning that an Israeli retreat would only serve to whet the appetite of the terrorists, inspiring them to demand more, and more, and more.
And that is precisely what has occurred. Is it any wonder that senior Hamas bomb-maker Muhammad Deif took the unusual step the other day of releasing a video in which he said, “Today you leave Gaza in humiliation. But we promise that tomorrow, all of Palestine will turn into hell for you.”
It is time for Israeli policy to stop being guided by wishful thinking and by the fantasies of the left, and to start facing the reality that our foes can not be appeased, only defeated.
Av 18, 5765, 8/23/2005
Once again, the media got the story completely wrong.
For weeks, we were told endlessly and repeatedly about how the "extremist settlers" would use violence, even gunfire, to prevent the Gaza withdrawal from taking place. Pundits and commentators had a field day, competing with each other to paint ever darker scenarios about the lengths to which the "gun-toting Jewish militants" would go to thwart the planned retreat.
And then, in one fell swoop, the media and its calumnies were revealed to be little more than ignorant propaganda.
Under incredibly trying circumstances, the Jews of Gush Katif conducted themselves with dignity, showing their fellow Israelis and the rest of the world just how wrong they have been to demonize and delegitimize them as "fanatics" and "extremists". There was no gunfire, only tears and prayer and hope that one day they will return.
But don't expect any mea culpas from the media, which is more interested in ratings than in truth. The bottom line is that the Jews of Gush Katif left with their heads held high - unlike most of the reporters who covered them.
Av 15, 5765, 8/20/2005
In light of what happened in Gush Katif over the past few days, it might seem tempting to yield to despair.
These are difficult times for Israel and the Jewish people, but we can not and must not succumb to despondency. G-d is on our side, our cause is just, and eventually we will prevail.
We must hold our heads up high and march forward, nourishing the dream and working towards the day when Gush Katif will once again return to our people.
On this theme, I wrote an article that ran in the Jerusalem Post a couple of days ago, and it appears below. The bottom line is very simple: if we stand strong in our faith and firm in our belief, Jewish Gaza will again be rebuilt.
The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2005
Jewish Gaza Will Be Rebuilt
Jewish Gaza Will Be Rebuilt
By Michael Freund
The siege of Gaza Jewry has begun. It is hard to believe that we have reached such a point in the nation's history. After so many years of struggle and sacrifice, those once celebrated as pioneers by successive Israeli governments are now jeered at as they face expulsion from their homes.
Yesterday's heroes have been transformed into villains, with Gaza's Jews demonized as obstacles to peace and treated with contempt by much of the media.
Withdrawal under fire, once derided as capitulation to terror, has now become government policy, as the Palestinians celebrate their success in chasing out the Jews and speak of Jerusalem as now being within their reach.
And, in an unprecedented move, the Israel Defense Forces have been deployed against the citizens of their own state, with the express purpose not of defending the Jewish people but of exiling them from parts of their ancestral patrimony.
Is this the end of Zionism? Could it be that the 2,000-year old dream of the Jewish people to return to all parts of our land has been vanquished?
Some Israelis certainly seem to think so. In an article this past Monday entitled "The dream is over," Haaretz commentator Yoel Marcus wrote with barely concealed joy about a "farewell to the idea of Greater Israel," going so far as to label those who still cling to such a vision as "Land of Israel lunatics."
Veteran journalist Nahum Barnea, in a July 1 column in Yediot Aharonot, went a step further, asserting that " Israel can live without Gush Katif. It can even live without Jerusalem."
But I, for one, refuse to call it quits. Despite the heartbreaking scenes from Gush Katif over the past few days, and the folly of the government's withdrawal, this is no time to yield to despair or give up hope.
To be sure, Zionism suffered a terrible blow this week as the Jewish state unilaterally retreated in the face of terror. While many on the Left may be cheering this move, anyone with even an ounce of human, Zionist and Jewish dignity still remaining surely recognizes just how painful and traumatic this turn of events is for the Jewish people.
But this is hardly the first setback we have suffered in our long and sometimes torturous return to Zion, and it is almost certainly not the last.
Indeed, every ideological movement inevitably encounters stumbling blocks and impediments on the road to reaching its goals, and Zionism in this regard is no exception. The real test of a movement's strength lies not in whether it can avoid such difficulties, but in its ability to get up after a fall and continue marching forward.
TAKE GAZA, for example, from which Jews have been expelled seven times in the past two millennia. The Roman governor Gavinius threw out Gaza's Jews in the year 61 CE. Subsequently, they were exiled by the Crusaders, Napoleon, the Ottoman Turks, Arab rioters in 1929, the Egyptian army in 1948 and now by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Each time, however, the Jews eventually returned, guided by their determination and their faith that this land truly does belong to us. They rebuilt Jewish Gaza, the land of our ancestors, and I have no doubt they will do so again one day, once the situation permits.
Economists like to speak about what they call the "elasticity of demand," which is essentially a measure of how consumers respond to changes, such as price.
I would argue that Zionism and the belief in Greater Israel is essentially inelastic, meaning that even in the face of setbacks and defeats the Jewish people will continue to cling to the justness of our cause.
People on the Left such as Marcus and Barnea might very well differ, but their perspective is ultimately narrow and shortsighted, and it ignores the long sweep of Jewish history.
For even in the darkest and most foreboding periods of the Exile, Jews never doubted that they would one day return. Massacres and pogroms, Inquisitions and expulsions never broke our collective spirit, and neither should the events of this week.
The fact is that Sharon and the Left may be able to withdraw from Jewish history, but they cannot withdraw from Jewish destiny. They can bend and twist and stretch classical Zionist and Jewish beliefs, but they cannot break them.
For even in the face of uncertainty the dream of return lives on. It might take years or even decades to achieve, but of one thing we can all be sure: The Jewish people will eventually bounce back from this fiasco, just as we have throughout the millennia.
And soon enough, the sand dunes of Gaza and the hills of northern Samaria will once again most assuredly be ours.
Av 14, 5765, 8/19/2005
The scenes of the past few days have been nothing short of frightening.
The sight of Israeli soldiers dragging Jews out of synagogues, or young Israeli children weeping on buses as they bid farewell to their homes, should leave us all shaken to the very core of our being.
It would be easy to point the finger at Sharon, at the Likud, at the Government - and they surely are to blame for inflicting this disgraceful expulsion on our brothers and sisters in Gush Katif - but as believing Jews we know that it is not all that simple.
We know that if G-d has allowed this to happen, it is because WE are doing something wrong, something very, very wrong, that warrants reflection, repair and repentance.
Each of us, as individuals and as communities, must examine our own deeds and our own behavior, and correct whatever it is that we are failing at. And we should make sure to channel the anger, the bitterness and the fury that we feel into positive and productive efforts aimed at one goal and one goal only: to heal our people and our Land.
Shabbat Shalom - and may the scenes of this past week in Gush Katif never again be repeated.
Av 11, 5765, 8/16/2005
If remarks made by a senior Hamas leader the other day are any indication, then Israel’s planned withdrawal from Gaza is already providing terror groups in the region with a great deal of encouragement to continue with their lethal and inhumane struggle against the Jewish state.
Speaking to the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Hamas chieftain Khaled Mashaal could barely conceal his glee over the prospect of an Israeli retreat. The withdrawal, Mashaal said, is “the beginning of the end for Israel”.
“Resistance is a strategic choice,” he added, “because the withdrawal from Gaza is the first step on the way to completing the liberation.”
It would be easy, of course, to dismiss Mashaal’s remarks as the little more than exaggerated posturing by the terror group he represents, which wants to claim credit for chasing Israel out of the area.
But that would be a mistake, because what matters here is what lesson groups such as Hamas are drawing from the Israeli retreat – and it is clear from Mashaal’s comments that they view it as tangible proof that they are making progress in their plan to eliminate the Jewish state.
You can tell a lot about a political or historical event by looking at who’s celebrating it – and in this case it should be obvious that anything which gives Hamas encouragement is most assuredly a dangerous and foolhardy mistake.