Opening Old Wounds, Disengagement, Part 1

Batya Medad ,

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Batya Medad
New York-born Batya Medad made aliyah with her husband just weeks after their 1970 wedding and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Political pundit, with a unique perspective, Batya has worked in a variety of professions: teaching, fitness, sales, cooking, public relations, photography and more. She has a B.S. in Journalism, is a licensed English Teacher specializing as a remedial teacher and for a number of years has been studying Tanach (Bible) in Matan. Batya blogs on Shiloh Musings and A Jewish Grandmother. ...

Opening Old Wounds, Disengagement, Part 1

On Friday as part of the program I participated in with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, we visited Nitzan, where there is a visitor's center which attempts to explain Disengagement. I wasn't the only English language blogger there. Click to read what Ilana wrote.

Notice that I wrote "which attemptsto explain Disengagement." That's because that entire chapter of Israeli History is so awful and so inexplicable and can't be logically explained, certainly not in a nice way.


The area marked in Green is Gush Katif

One of the younger participants in the tour, which was for Begin Center employees, volunteers, retirees and their families, asked the perfect question. I can't remember her exact wording, but this is the gist of it:

"What was the reason for Disengagement?"

Our guide couldn't give an answer, so I just had to raise my hand. I prefaced my answer by saying that I'm probably the oldest person present, which wasn't countered by anyone. My husband, who is older than me, had decided to stay in the hotel and not join us.

With few exceptions, the other participants were a generation or two younger than me, so I began with a bit of history. After the 1967 Six Days War, besides Jerusalem, the only parts of the Land liberated which were settled by government decree were the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley and Northern Sinai, which actually included what was later called Gush Katif. All of those areas/communities were for agriculture, not for Biblical, historic sentiment.

And in those days, when the Labor Party ruled, the business end of agriculture was a monopoly. Exports were only via Agrexco, which was closely entwined with the Labor Party. The big attraction of Northern Sinai and the Jordan Valley was their climates. Summer fruits and vegetables can grow there in the winter, a potentially very big money maker, especially since Israel is much closer to Europe than the competing agricultural countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

After the surprise 1977 change in the party ruling the government, when Menachem Begin's Likud took over, there were many economic changes. One of them the was end of the monopoly. Agrexco had competition, and the Left/Labor Party was not happy about it at all. The agricultural communities in Gush Katif were doing very well. As our guide told us, 10% of Israel's exports were from Gush Katif, and the numbers were growing.

That was the gist of my theory, and the guide listened and said she hadn't thought about it quite like that.

To continue with what happened here in Israel:

Apparently, the Left had something over Prime Minister Arik Sharon, and like the famous line in The Godfather, it was an offer he "couldn't refuse."

Sharon, the Bulldozer, announced that his government would destroy Gush Katif and hand the land over to the Arabs ruling Gaza. The campaign the residents and Moetzet YESHA organized was totally ineffective. 


Anti-Disengagement protests

Sharon even left the Likud with most of his ministers when the Likud's members voted against Disengagement in a referendum, which he had promised to obey.

The scars of the גירוש Girush, Uprooting, banishment, displacement, exile or whatever you want to use as a translation, are still very painful, even though most of the families have done their best to establish new lives and homes.

Most of the families, if I'm not mistaken, are now living in communities  with their former neighbors. I considered this a mistake then and haven't changed my mind.

Disengagement is in the same awful category of Israeli self-made tragedies, when the government pitted Jew against Jew, Israeli against Israeli as the horrendous Altalena Affair.

I have more to write about this, including a new idea that hit me when I was at Nitzan.

In the meantime, I'd like your reactions to this article. Please feel free to tell me in the comments, thanks.