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August 11, 2005

Gush Katif Rally

On Monday, August 15, just as the forced withdrawal from Gaza is scheduled to start, Denver will host a prayer gathering and rally to protest.

My own opinions on the withdrawal have varied, but I think the two major issues are strategic and religious.

From the religious side, I have never felt that Gaza was an integral part of the land of Israel. Certainly the participants in the 1967 war had a much stronger emotional attachment to the West Bank than to Gaza. Even if one does believe that Gaza is part of Israel, there are serious halachic opinions that hold that part can be surrendered to buy peace. In any event, the mere holding of Gaza never struck me as religiously critical.

That said, the forced withdrawal is scheduled to start just after Tisha B'Av (the 9th of Av) on the Jewish calendar, which is the anniversary of the destruction of both Temples, and the Jewish day of commemoration of a whole host of national disasters - start of WWI, expulsion from Spain, that sort of thing. To the extent that Jews believe in Karma (uh, they don't), this just seems like asking for it. It's the kind of thing that, 60 years from now, we add to the list as the beginning of the end of the Third Commonwealth.

Strategically, I think Dan Diker, Hillel Halkin, and Yossi Klein Halevi have laid out the case for leaving as well as anyone. Mark Gerson had an fine, eyes-wide-open piece in the Weekly Standard a couple of weeks back.

The basic idea behind disengagement-as-I-supported it was that, as Gerson put it, "...we are not giving in to the Palestinians; we are giving up on the Palestinians." Draw a line, take the border decision-making away from the Palestinians, and let them sort out their own misery. When they're ready to be responsible, we'll talk. Since we'll have a defensible line of defense, we can decide when to believe them.

Sharon first proposed this in 2003, remember, when the memory of Jenin and the re-occupation of the Weat Bank and Gaza were still fresh. Arafat was living in what was still standing of his Ramallah villa, and the Palestinians were at a low point. To retreat - even strategically - at that point, looked like it could be pulled off. It wouldn't be a retreat under fire, it wouldn't be a repeat of Lebanon. For Israel, it looked as though it made some strategic sense.

The problem is that what's strategic for Israel is only theater-level for the US and the Global Warriors Against Terror. Al-Qaeda sees Israel as a front, not the final ends, and it's already establishing its tentacles in Gaza. If you look at it from their point of view, they're getting a foothold on the Mediterranean, with a lightly-guarded - to say the least - crossing point into Egypt.

The point is that there's simply no reason to believe at this point that Israel can contain the inevitable violence within Gaza. Moreover, Condi Rice and the State Department seem stuck in the same 1990s time warp of bad models. To put it mildly, they're playing Go Fish while the Arabs have already moved onto contract bridge. They have no idea of the structures, motivations, goals, or attitudes of the Palestinians. The State Department seems on the verge of accepting Hamas, if they can only win enough elections. Hamas doesn't want to govern - it wants to wage war.

Given that, this pullout is a grave mistake. It doesn't have to be a catastrophe or a disaster, but you can bet that the EU and whatever part of our diplomatic corps is assigned to the Middle East will be pushing it in that direction.

Posted by joshuasharf at August 11, 2005 11:21 PM | TrackBack

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