The Gaza Strip Evacuation
Two weeks from now, the 9,000 Jewish inhabitants of the so-called Gaza strip will be forced to leave their homes. For the first time in nearly 2,000 years we will witness the deportation of Jews ordered by a Jewish government. In view of our horrendous history, which includes so many deportations forced upon us by the European haters, it seems both absurd and even incomprehensible that the government of Israel should undertake such a move.
Therefore there are those who seek to resist this deportation by any means and who compare it to all those painful expulsions from so many Jewish homes over so many years, ending with the Holocaust experience. Those of us who actually survived deportation can say with all honesty and even after 60 years in America that we have never become assimilated to our new homes but still grieve over the homes of our childhood to this day. Therefore we can well understand the pain of the 9,000 Jews who must now leave their homes on the orders of their own government.
It is for this reason that some of the Jews who live in Gaza offer physical resistance to the Israeli army who have the awful responsibility of removing Jews from their homes. Some of those who intend to physically resist their removal believe that Gaza is part of the Promised Land. This is evidently not so. Ancient Israel never included Gaza. That area of about 140 mi.≤ was in ancient days occupied by the Philistines. It was the scene of Samsonís destruction of the Philistine palace.
Today it is inhabited by 1,300,000 Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. The word Palestinian is derived from the Latin Palestina, which the Romans called the land after they destroyed Israel in 135 C.E. The Romans hoped to obliterate the names of Judah and Israel and therefore resorted to calling the land the land of the Philistines. Hence Palestina. The present occupants are no more Philistines or Palestinians than they are Eskimos. They are in fact foreign Arabs who moved into Israel from neighboring Arab countries in order to take advantage of the Jewish rebuilding of the land they had neglected for 1900 years. Nevertheless, the argument that Gaza was at any time a part of Israel is not historically accurate.
One reason why the removal from Gaza is a problem for Israel is that the terrorists pretend that they forced Jews out of Gaza by their murderous attacks. It seems to some that the withdrawal from Gaza rewards terrorism and will encourage the murderers to commit further crimes in the belief that they can finally drive all Jews out of Israel. Even if this is not so, the withdrawal from Gaza is a propaganda victory for the killers and the terrorists.
The government of Israel, headed by the most courageous prime minister Ariel Sharon, has determined that the pullout from Gaza is in the interest of Israel. Prime Minister Sharon and the majority of the Israelis believe that the price of remaining in Gaza is too high. That price includes not only a vast financial cost but also too many lives of the Israeli soldiers lost to protect 9,000 Jews amidst over a million Arabs. The government of Israel will compensate each family who has been removed with $300,000 and a new home in an area of Israel such as the Negev and the Galil which are now underpopulated and which need new Jewish inhabitants in order to match the size of the Arab population there. Another benefit to Israel which should accrue from this move should be that at least that limited number of reasonable people in the world who take notice of this disengagement will recognize that Israel is making every effort as it always has to maintain the peace. Of course, the Arabs and their friends are already now labeling the removal of Jews from Gaza as some diabolical plot. Once more, hatred knows no reason. Evidently, even the very withdrawal is cause for new attacks upon Israel by our enemies. It is interesting that even as Israel is relinquishing some of its land, the haters, such as the Episcopal Church, are divesting themselves of companies who do business with Israel or Jews.
We who live in America have no say in the decisions of the government of Israel. This is reasonable even if we are called upon to constantly support Israel financially, politically and emotionally. Since our lives are not at stake and we are not wounded by terrorists here we have no right to second guess the decisions of the democratically elected government of Israel. Even if we disagree with those decisions, we are still obliged to the support Israel in every way we can.
One month before his murder of October 21, 1999, Yitzhak Rabin bluntly told the American Jewish community that he was in charge of Israel's foreign policy and that American Jews had no business interfering in the responsibilities of Israel's government. He further said that it was the duty of American Jews to support Israel in every way possible even while staying out of the decisions that the government of Israel deemed necessary for the security of its people. We need to remember that now. Whatever our view of the Gaza pullout may be, our duty is to support a land of which our European grandparents and great-grandparents and all the generations who suffered there so long could only dream. It may well be that the existence of Israel is taken for granted by those who were born after 1948. For those of us, however, who lived through the European nightmares at a time when Israel did not exist and no one helped us and no one spoke up for us, the existence of Israel is a daily miracle. May it last forever.Shalom u'vracha.