More than eight years after the “Disengagement,” as Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria was called, the deeply controversial process has finally become the subject of academic study.
Arutz Sheva spoke to Dr. Ron Schleifer of Ariel University, an expert on psychological warfare and military-media relations who is bringing the Disengagement into the realm of academia with a series of academic conferences.
A variety of interest groups from the media, military and politics came together to make the Disengagement possible, Dr. Schleifer said. Today, he said, a similarly diverse group is involved in maintaining silence about the withdrawal and its results – explaining why such a dramatic event in Israel’s history has not yet been the subject of serious research.
The failure to examine the Disengagement is particularly striking in academia, where the most esoteric subjects are analyzed in depth, he added.
There is much to study when it comes to the Disengagement, he said, such as the media preparation for the event, the military preparation, the sociological impact, the economic impact of the Disengagement itself, and its financial implications for the future.
The Disengagement began in academia, Schleifer revealed. In 2002, two psychologists wrote a paper outlining the main points to be followed in the forced relocation of 10,000 ideological Israeli residents of Gaza. The paper made its way through the halls of academia, he said, and by the time it reached Israel’s politicians it had built significant momentum.
Schleifer was asked if he is concerned that the academic conferences he has planned will face accusations of bias due to their location at Ariel University in Samaria.
Nothing will surprise him at this point, he replied, after all the accusations that have been hurled at Ariel University. However, he said, the conferences will be clearly academic in nature, with the focus on objective facts, and without tears or recriminations.
The first of the planned conferences will focus on the role of media in the Disengagement. Among the speakers will be marketing maven Eyal Arad, who was hired by the government to promote the Disengagement program prior to its execution.
Arad will provide a valuable look behind the scenes, as someone who played a key role in Disengagement preparations due to his professional role rather than ideology, Schleifer said.