The Gaza Expulsion Did Psychological Harm to IDF Soldiers
The writer is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio and regular columnist for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in Hebrew media in translation, and in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. His book on the Vatican and the Jews will be published soon.
Israel was created because of the defenselessness of the Jewish people in exile and the IDF was established to protect Jewish homes and synagogues.
So does a government have the legal and moral right to order the IDF to destroy lawfully-created Israeli communities and exile Jews?
This is the biggest dilemma Israel faces since the founding of the state in 1948.
Since Israel withdrew its citizens and military forces from Gush Katif in 2005, much has been said of the existential threats to Israel’s security in the South. Gaza became a carbon copy of South Lebanon.
But there is another aspect of the retreat that to date has not garnered the public attention. It’s the impact on the Israel Defense Forces.
How were tens of thousands of Jewish soldiers brought to a state where they would march in tandem, look at the surroundings with the frozen stare of a robot, and throw family after family, dignified and humble and patriotic, from their homes and their secure lives?
Thirty percent of the soldiers in the Golani Infantry Brigade live in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. These soldiers laid siege to their parents and brothers and sisters in Kfar Darom, the most demonized settlement in Gaza, founded by Jews even before the establishment of Israel, overrun by Egyptian soldiers in 1948 and rebuilt after the 1967 Six Day War.
What was the psychological impact on these soldiers? The book “Tachlit Re’uya” by Israeli psycologist Ruti Eisikowitch sheds new light on those dramatic questions.
“Soldiers were given ‘mental preparation’ for this operation, which actually means their brains were tampered with, brainswashed”, says us Mrs. Eisikowitch. “The IDF behaved like robots ‘helped’ by psychologists who had planted an ‘emotional disconnection mechanism’ in order to ‘prevent thinking’.
"Soldiers were taught to behave ‘sensitively’, but that included kidnapping babies from their mothers' arms to be able to evacuate the mothers, ‘because every mother will run after her baby’…
"The psychologists didn’t prepare the IDF for an army mission - to protect civilians or their country, but turned the soldiers into a non-thinking police force that harmed its own civilian population”.
This was a population that defended, with their own bodies, the Israeli citizens who live on the coast.
In “Operation Defensive Shield” if the IDF had not had the remote settlement of Har Bracha overlooking Nablus, it would have taken the army four days to enter the city to commence operations, fighting all the way.
The same was true of operations in Gaza.
Yet In Amona, TV crewmen recorded the amount of brute force used against Israelis during the demolition. Adults were thrown to the ground, banging their heads. Blood streamed down their faces, not to mention the systematic humiliation of the rabbis.
Eisikowitch’s book is important not only because she unveils the IDF's psychological preparation, but because she explains that the “disengagement”, which should be call evacuation or expulsion, became possible because of “years of de-humanization of the settlers”.
Former head of military intelligence Shlomo Gazit likened crocheted kippot worn by the National Religious to Nazi insignia.
Prof. Moshe Zimmerman of Hebrew University said he regards Jewish children in Hebron as Hitlerjugend.
The ignoble list is long. Hebrew University Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell and Israel Prize winner (despite saying this before he was chosen) wrote in Ha’aretz that “the Palestinians would be wise to concentrate their struggle against the settlements and strictly refrain from firing on Gilo”.
Judea and Samaria’s citizens have been called “leeches”, “snakes”, “vicious”, “primitives”, “medieval”, “obscurantists”, “corrupt” and “parasites”.
The “disengagement”, however, caused physical, psychological, social, cultural, military and strategic damage to the entire Israeli nation – and it still does.
As far as the expellees themselves, Israel has on its conscience the damage to their well being. Few evacuated families have been relocated to a permanent home and most of the evacuated breadwinners are still unemployed, many of the families did not withstand the strain.
However, Israel is now on the edge of an even deeper chasm when, in the name of governmental legitimacy, a citizen’s army can be used against the most idealistic part of the Jewish people.
It’s like an ecological disaster which continues to poison the entire Jewish body.
The notion that Jews should be forced out of their homes anywhere in the world is offensive. The notion that Israel can order the forced transfer and destruction of Jewish towns is also appalling.
The “settlers” are Jews, Israelis and human beings. Are they treated that way?