Legislation Begins for Gush Katif Museum

MK Uri Ariel's bill for a Gush Katif Remembrance Center has passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset.

Hillel Fendel ,

Brothers in Gush Katif
Brothers in Gush Katif
Miriam Tzachi

MK Uri Ariel's bill for a Gush Katif Remembrance Center has passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset, and is ready for its next stop: debate and formulation in the Knesset Education Committee.  No date has been scheduled for the committee debate, however, and it could take weeks.  To become law, it must then pass another vote in the Knesset, be sent to committee once again, and then pass its final readings.

The National Union MK's proposal, which was seconded by 27 MKs from various center-right parties, was originally opposed by the government.  However, Minister Yitzchak Cohen of Shas, a coalition party, appealed this decision, and the government then decided to support the bill.

Along the Lines of the Rabin Center
The proposed bill calls for the establishment of an institute to operate along the lines of the Yitzchak Rabin Center, which was established by Knesset decree to commemorate Rabin's life, values, and legacy. The Gush Katif Center will have a research institute, an archives section, and memorial sections for the 21 communities that comprised Gush Katif and were destroyed in Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan in 2005.

In addition, the Center will run educational programs, hold daylong seminars, provide outlines for classes on Gush Katif, display exhibits, and sponsor educational activities for schools and IDF soldiers.  The research institute will invite researchers to write masters' and doctoral theses on issues concerning Gush Katif's agriculture, daily life, security challenges, response to the expulsion, and more.

The proposed law stipulates that all material connected with the settlement and destruction of Gush Katif be transferred from State archives to the new Center.  The institute will be built and funded from State funds, and the State will also allocate a suitable piece of property on which to build it.

Even Those Who Supported Disengagement
MK Ariel explained that the Center should be welcomed even by those who supported the Disengagement: "Even they admit that the Gush Katif settlement enterprise was a paradigm of Zionism, pioneering, and practical idealism. We must preserve the spirit that was revealed by the pioneers of Gush Katif, and express our great appreciation for their actions. This will fill a national, educational and historic need of the entire Nation of Israel. It will be an expression of admiration for the expelled residents, and is even likely to help in their rehabilitation."

"It is important during our 60th anniversary celebrations," Ariel said, "that we do something to remember and eternalize what was Gush Katif.  Every act of deepening our roots in the Land is guaranteed not to be forgotten."    
The Gush Katif Residents Committee welcomed the new proposal, and thanked the MKs involved. 

Who Determines the Content?
Some concern has been expressed as to the content to be featured in the museum, and are urging MK Ariel to ensure that it be determined by people close to Gush Katif.  That these concerns are not groundless can be seen in the prototype for the new museum, namely, the Yitzchak Rabin Center - whose website states that it memorializes "the life and values important to Yitzhak Rabin - democracy, tolerance, social responsibility and peace..."  No mention is made in the mission statement of the 27 years Rabin spent as soldier and commander-in-chief of the Israel Defense Forces and its forerunner, the Palmach, fighting against the Arabs for Israel's existence. Nor is mention made of the hawkish views Rabin represented for most of his years in the Labor Party.