The fall of Gush Katif – and of Trump

Just as the media coddled Ariel Sharon when he said he would force Jews out of Gush Katif, the media is coddling Hillary, hysterically criticizing Trump for every stupid statement, but treating Hillary’s slithery trail of corruption with gloves.

Tags: Gush Katf
Orit Arfa

OpEds Neve Dekalin, Gush Katif (July 2005)
Neve Dekalin, Gush Katif (July 2005)

Almost exactly 11 years ago, I stood on the sands of Gush Katif, Gaza, doing my best to defend the homes of the good 9,000 people who had been sent by the government to secure the southern border within Gaza, and who loyally fulfilled their mission, creating thriving farming communities in the process.

It was a highly unpopular cause to take upon, as a journalist, as an intellectual, as an average Israeli. Few friends could understand my passionate opposition to an operation that I knew in my heart was morally and strategically wrong, an opposition that took years to crystallize intellectually in the form of my novel, The Settler. The issues at stake were beyond “What is politically wise or expedient?” They dealt with Israelis’ relationship to the state, the system of governance over Israelis and Palestinians, and the philosophical strengths and weaknesses of Zionism.

I sensed back then that Israel would be put in grave danger should it capitulate to terrorists in the form of this extreme act of force against its own citizens. Nearly 10 years later, the majority of Israelis agreed and voted in arguably the most right-wing government in years. Israelis understood that the settlers weren’t “crazy” in warning that Gaza would become a hothouse for Islamic terrorism.

What of the fear of Israeli soldiers dying protecting Jews in Gaza? Dozens died trying to stem Hamas rocket attacks – in more than one Gaza war. Let’s not forget that in 2016, Hezbollah felt emboldened and launched another Lebanon War. The world is not any more in love with Israel than it was pre-Disengagement.


Those “pro-Israel”, conservative pundits whom I was hoping to seek out for a measured, reasoned analysis of this election are instead busy bashing Trump instead of pointing out Hillary’s egregious flaws...Those are those exact same pundits who abandoned Gush Katif.
Eleven years ago, I hardly heard serious arguments or coverage in favor of staying in Gush Katif from the mainstream media. Instead, I read reports mocking the settlers, portraying them as violent, religious fanatics, nuisances to the State, when many actually spoke of the defense of their homes in rational terms.

Living in Gush Katif for three weeks as a sympathetic journalist, I met some fellow secular opponents of the Disengagement who made me feel like I wasn’t crazy. Looking back, I believe the Gush Katif community was too guided by religious faith to effectively communicate their case to the general public or to fight the torrent of state institutions hell-bent against them. (A personal case in point, my novel and music video about Gush Katif are not accepted in religious Zionist community in large part for their secular content.)

I am loathe to compare the impulsive, bombastic, often offensive Donald Trump to the idealistic, innocent, beautiful community of Gush Katif, especially since Trump is, for me, a default choice that fills me with suspicion, albeit less suspicion than does Hillary Clinton. Nor am I doing either camp a favor by comparing the two. Yet, I see similar patterns of discourse on these divisive issues.

Putting aside the problematic personalities of both presidential candidates, this election hinges on one pressing issue: the American stance on radical Islam. The politically incorrect candidate has rightly castigated Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration for whitewashing the Islamic motivations of terrorist attacks on US soil and around the world. European governments have followed their lead, attributing terrorist attacks to “mental disturbance.”

Just as the media, as Israeli journalists themselves have admitted, coddled Ariel Sharon when he announced that he would force Jews out of Gush Katif, the media is coddling Hillary Clinton, hysterically criticizing Trump for every stupid statement, but treating Hillary’s slithery trail of corruption with felt gloves. The imbalanced coverage has created a society in which a person feels intimidated to share his or her opinions. Say you prefer Trump, and you’re a “racist.” Say you prefer Trump, and you’re a “fool.” Say you prefer Trump, you’ll be “unfriended.” Say you prefer Trump, you might even risk your job. Say you prefer Trump, you’re destroying the world with nuclear weapons!

Those “pro-Israel”, conservative pundits whom I was hoping to seek out for a measured, reasoned analysis of this election are instead busy bashing Trump instead of pointing out Hillary’s egregious flaws. Then I realized: those are those exact same pundits who abandoned Gush Katif. It seems they must go with the socially acceptable policy, lest they lose their reputation and possibly their funding.

Then and now, I have to resort to right-wing blogs, freaky conspiracy theory sites, and religious nationalist outlets for the “other side.”

In America’s election, the cause is neither Trump nor Hillary. In Gush Katif, the cause was not only to stay or not to stay. The cause is freedom in the face of a radical, totalitarian ideology that seeks to wreak havoc on civil society and to impose its religious values on “infidels.” As enlightened as Hillary is portrayed, her appeasement of radical Islam actually gives religious extremism and real racism a free pass. As enlightened as the Disengagement was portrayed, it had the exact same effect.

Just as we in Gush Katif had “faith” that Gush Katif will be saved, so too Trump supporters are engaged in wishful thinking that he will win. I have learned to expect the worst, and the worst is Hillary Clinton, whose actions and alliances show that she will make the US and the world extremely unsafe. Unfortunately, I am afraid it will take more catastrophes under four years of Hillary for people to understand.



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