Opinion: Why Gush Katif Still Matters
The expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their homes five years ago was not a localized event in the Gaza Strip and Northern Shomron. It was a national implosion, a national disgrace. It caused enormous physical, psychological, social, cultural, military and strategic damage to the entire nation – and it still does. Like an ecological disaster, its foulness still seeps through our foundations, and continues to poison us.
Undermined by enforcing a political agenda, the entire political system, the media and judicial institutions refused to act responsibly. Basic civil and human rights of Jews were abandoned. Those responsible for welfare and proper compensation misled and lied; led by SELA, the Disengagement Authority, our country was in denial.
Our own political leaders, along with many spiritual leaders - those for whom we voted, in whom we trusted - failed to organize and prevent this catastrophe. Ministers who disagreed were fired; public debate was suppressed.
The Knesset was impotent and negligent; they did not insist on proper procedures, to which all citizens are entitled; and no one was held accountable.
Our IDF, in which we and our children serve, in which we believed, were brainwashed and turned into zombies; those who refused to participate were heavily punished -- a misuse of the IDF which was illegal and immoral.
The media protected Arik Sharon and those who planned, organized and carried out the pernicious plan because they agreed with his agenda. The perpetrators were even honored and promoted. Military and strategic advisers who disagreed with Sharon remained silent in order to keep their positions.
We believed that those we elected, and the institutions of government were fair and honest. We were wrong.
The expulsion and destruction of 25 Jewish communities is a symbol of national betrayal. The same toxic thinking led to the removal of Jewish communities from Sinai in 1982 and the Oslo Accords, which brought PLO terrorists to power and caused the slaughter of thousands of Jews, as well as the wounding of tens of thousands more. The product of corruption, deception, greed and arrogance, Disengagement is an example of cruel indifference and the abuse of power. We are still stuck there.
The Disengagement left a deep wound that will not heal, not only because lives and homes were destroyed, but because it was immoral, unjust and irrational. The knife of perfidy is still in our spiritual guts; it is an ongoing trauma of our neshama – not just the people who suffered physically and mentally, but a national deception. The Disengagement, Hamas and Hezbollah remind us, symbolizes not pride and victory, but our shame and defeat.
The tragedy of the policy of retreat – unilateral withdrawal – still advocated by people like DM Ehud Barak -- is that it accomplished nothing.
Billions of dollars were wasted that could have been spent to improve roads, which would have saved hundreds of lives every year, improve our educational and health systems, build a fence along the Egyptian border to prevent smuggling and illegal immigration, provide public housing, and build an efficient rapid transit system.
Imagine the billions that would have been saved and more billions earned every year by implementing such projects!
Obsessed by the task of destroying Jewish communities and brainwashing the public, PM Ariel Sharon's government neglected Israel's security, endangering us all.
For example: they failed to respond to Iran's nuclear threat - which in 2005 consisted of only one facility; they failed to prepare the IDF for the threat from Hezbollah – which led to Israel's failures in 2006; they failed to protect Israelis near the Gaza Strip from bombardment, failed to stem the rise of Hamas in Gaza, and failed to stop the proliferation of smuggling tunnels, thereby setting the stage for the incursion into Gaza in 2009.
Those who planned and executed the Disengagement, those who supported it, and especially those who volunteered to help, along with those who remained silent, are all responsible for this trauma. While talking incessantly about peace with Arabs, they ignore the need to make peace with their fellow Jews. Yet, there has been no inquiry, and no investigation; no one was blamed, punished, or even took responsibility for this failure.
An official commission was convened because nine Muslim militants who tried to murder IDF soldiers were killed aboard a Gaza-bound ship; yet, no commission was assigned to investigate the national tragedy of Gush Katif.
The Disengagement was a denial of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael; it was part of an anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish and anti-democratic plan of unilateral withdrawal that began with the Oslo Accords (1993), the retreat from South Lebanon (2000), and continues with the arbitrary and discriminatory destruction of Jewish homes in Judea and Shomron.
Had they learned something from these mistakes, it would make the sacrifices bearable. Instead, they pursue the same policies, as if nothing had happened.
Yet, we are not helpless. We can resist brainwashing and resignation by supporting Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem. We can insist that Eretz Yisrael ("Palestine" as it was called by the League of Nations and in the British Mandate) is the national homeland of the Jewish people; Jerusalem is our spiritual and national capital. We will not be broken.
That is the meaning of Gush Katif today.
The Gush Katif Museum is located at 5 Sharrey Zedek St, near Agrippas (near the IBA), in Jerusalem.
It is open Sunday through Thursday: 10-18:00 and Friday: 9-13:00. Info: 02-625-5456
The author is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.