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Chutzpah of the Year Award

By Michael Freund
5/11/2009, 12:00 AM

It may only be May, but I think we already have a winner for the 2009 Chutzpah of the Year Award.

Testifying yesterday before the national commission of inquiry into the treatment of the Jews expelled from Gaza, Yonatan Bassi, who headed the government agency which completely mishandled their resettlement, naturally decided to duck all responsibility for his failures and instead pointed the finger of blame at the victims themselves.

Bassi had the gall to declare that the former residents of Gush Katif, who were summarily thrown out of their homes back in August 2005, were "largely to blame for their own predicament" according to Ha'aretz.

He insisted that the government had done everything it could to help them rebuild their lives, and that they had chosen not to cooperate. "The cow," Bassi said, using a rather odd analogy, "wants to feed more than the calf wants to eat."

I had to read his remarks twice, and pinch myself on the arm, to make sure that this wasn't some kind of heartless joke.

The fact of the matter is that there is almost universal recognition that the so-called "resettlement" of Gaza's Jews was ill-conceived, poorly-planned and disastrously-administered. Indeed, at a press conference yesterday prior to the start of the hearings, Doron Ben Shlomi, the head of the commission of inquiry, revealed that some 30 to 40 percent of Gaza's former Jewish residents still do not have permanent housing despite the passage of nearly 4 years since they were compelled to leave their homes. He noted that there are 300 families who are still stuck in temporary quarters, without the means to find permanent housing.

For Bassi to blame these innocent people who were forcibly uprooted against their will is simply unconscionable and pathetic, and it says more about him than it does about those he is trying to defame.

It takes a real man to admit when he is wrong, the old saying goes. Well, I might add, it takes a real jerk to cast the blame on others for his own failings - as Yonatan Bassi has so clearly demonstrated.