Wednesday, August 24

The Aftermath of the Disengagement

Those who had been following the various disengagement scenarios in the media have noticed the rapid pace of evacuation of settlements and its demise. There had been fear of widespread resistance and violence. While there were pockets of resistance from the hard-core right wing, which were not even residents and just arrived for the sake of provocation. Much remains to be done in rehabilitation and housing of the settlers within the green line of Israel.

The settlements fell like a pack of cards under the action of the various bulldozers and within ten days - total destruction. Now the big challenges are on the horizon. Where does one go from now?

The soldiers and police acquitted themselves very well indeed. They deserve praise for the restraint shown. Many resisting settlers and their youthful fanatic supporters had exhibited much violence. There were insults, spraying of paint and even acid on the forces. Despite that, there were no serious injuries and the pullout was peaceful and achieved rapidly.

On reflection of the various scenarios observed, the irresponsible behavior of many of the settlers was disgusting and was no credit to their cause. Many had made cynical use of their young children who had undergone trauma as a result. These parents have nobody to blame but themselves for the psychological damage done to their children. They pushed babies into the arms of soldiers while parents went into a hysterical screaming frenzy. At the same time, they cursed their evacuators. The brainwashing of young children to resist and hate is a total disgrace! Suddenly religious fanatics started turning almost every stone and plant into a religious symbol. The establishment of macabre religious rituals dehumanizing the Security Forces who had protected them over the years made horrifying viewing. Cynical use was made of their faith in their opposition to leaving. Many had not taken any responsibility for planning their future and avoided taking advantage of the generous help offered by the government.

Now that their palatial homes are gone, the rebuilding of their lives will begin. There will be plenty work for social workers and psychologists. These settlers, encouraged by the previous governments in the past, were doomed to leave from the day they started building their palatial homes in the Gaza strip. It was shear governmental folly allowing an island of affluent settlers to live in the midst of a poverty-stricken hostile Palestinian population. They had received many benefits and tax reductions from the previous governments in the past as well as army protection.

Many settlers had compared their plight to the treatment of Jews under the Nazis. This was so far from the truth and it will backfire on them. The settlers will receive much compensation from the government in housing and future employment. The theatrics of a relatively prosperous Jewish Community amidst a Palestinian impoverished community was the order of the day prior to the disengagement and its duration was pathetic. They had it very good during the period that they had lived in their "Nirvana".

What will occur on the Palestinian side? How will they react? The Palestinians will celebrate a victory. They will see the disengagement as a first step towards more concessions by Israel. Hamas will be crowing victory and view this step as a hint that terror pays. Mahmoud Abbas has done very little apart from paying lip service to cessation of terror. He will not stop Hamas from carrying out terror attacks. There will be a certain amount of negotiations under fire as Palestinian extremist terror groups will carry on the butchering as usual.

It may not be long before the Israeli Defense Forces will move into Gaza once again to contain the terror. There has been no change in Hamas and Islamic Jihad towards recognizing Israel's right to exist. There are signs that they will be gaining increasing support from the Palestinians. This does not leave room for optimism until they lay down their arms. There is a possibility of violence within the Palestinian camp between the various factions. What may unite them to a certain extent is the partnership that Mahmoud Abbas will give them. The key to peace lies with the Palestinian terrorist groups. As far as they are concerned, the armed struggle against Israel's existence will continue. At least the settlers have been evacuated which will make Israel's borders easier to defend without protecting settlements as well.

Tuesday, August 23

Another view of Marmaris from Mares Hotel in Turkey Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 22

The Disengagement Scenario and Future

Over the last few days, we have all watched scenes of the disengagement on TV, which have left many people with mixed feelings. Some of the scenes are heart rending and others very frustrating. Many settlers have resigned themselves peacefully to their relocation from the doomed settlements while others have put up cynical resistance.

Some settlers have been showing resistance and have been making cynical use of their small children in demonstrating against the inevitable. The masses of rubble of many palatial homes are now the order of the day. Despite supporting the disengagement, one cannot help but feel certain empathy for those who have to leave their homes. Those who have left peacefully and offered no resistance deserve our support and help for relocation in the Israeli heartland. Those who offered resistance and used almost every violent demonstration trick by pelting the soldiers with acid, and insulting those carrying out their duty, deserve punishment according to law.

It was terrible to see the abandonment of pets in the massive exodus from the territories. How could people be so heartless and cruel! Cats, dogs, puppies of all sizes and poultry are left to die of thirst and hunger. This is one of the worst aspects of the disengagement. Nobody cares about them. Thanks to some volunteers with inadequate resources from the animal welfare societies who lack funds, are fighting a losing battle to save these unfortunate animals. Why has the government not given a thought to this? Do pets deserve this cruel treatment?

The blame for this scenario is the various governments of Israel since the Six Day War of June 1967. The predecessors of the Labor Party - Mapai were no less to blame than the following Likud Governments. A false optimistic vision for the future created an impetus for the settlements. Why were people encouraged to move to areas occupied after the Six Day War? Surely, it was preferable the occupied areas remain closed military zones and a bargaining chip for a future peace agreement! Look at what has happened! Now nearly two generations of settlers have grown up in the Gaza strip with battalions of soldiers risking their lives protecting them from Palestinian terror groups. Now they have to leave with their dignity dented and find new homes. Was it worth it? These settlers were doomed from the start. A hostile Palestinian population who never wanted them as neighbors surrounded them. A generation of young radical Palestinians growing up in poverty and overcrowded conditions had grown up alongside affluent and wealthy settlers. This in itself had increased the animosity of the Palestinians towards them. Many of these radicals have become involved in organizing and carrying out terror.

What is going to happen to the occupied areas of the West Bank? Here the situation is more complex. There is the issue of Jerusalem, which is difficult. There will be pressure to withdraw from the West Bank as well once the Gaza withdrawal is completed.

There is no doubt that more withdrawals are on the horizon compounded with the problem that Hamas and Co are not showing any signs of recognizing Israel's right to exist under any circumstances. Hamas and Co will be major card players in partnership with the Palestinian Authority.

The future scenario will be very grim unless the uncompromising mindset of these radical pressure groups change. If there are withdrawals from the West Bank, it is doubtful if that would get wide ranging support from the Israeli population as the Gaza withdrawal did.

Saturday, August 20

View of Mamaris Harbour from Mares Hotel Posted by Picasa

A view of the sea from the top on Jeep tour not far from Marmaris,Turkey Posted by Picasa

Mares Hotel beach in Marmaris Posted by Picasa

Another view of Marmaris Harbour  Posted by Picasa

A view of Marmaris Harbour, Turkey Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 13

The Armed Struggle, Hamas & Co Style will continue

Already there are hints that the armed struggle against Israel will continue irrespective of the disengagement. Hamas has said that much. There have already been provocative statements even from Mahmoud Abbas. Are we on the threshold of renewed terror after the disengagement, including the possible establishment of an Al-Qaeda cell in Gaza in the near future?

This is not an easy time for Israel. The disengagement decisions are the correct ones from a moral standpoint. However, when there does not seem to be a serious partner with whom to negotiate about the future, many very serious questions and misgivings remain. The withdrawal of settlers within the green line in the disengagement decisions is a necessity for a smooth transition from Israel's point of view. The Palestinian Authority may also hold that view. However, the playing cards as to the future lie in the hands of Hamas who seem to be increasing their influence in Palestinian street. Another point of concern is the fact that they have remained an armed militia with Islamic Jihad. Mahmoud Abbas has decided to appease the terrorist groups by not disarming them. This does not bode well for the future of peace in this area.

To date, Mahmoud Abbas's Security Forces have not shown any signs of controlling the terror. There does not seem to be any hint that there will be an improvement in that situation. This means that the Israeli Security Forces will be withdrawing from Gaza but will have to remain very alert to any escalation of terror that could occur after the withdrawal. The firing of Qassam rockets as well as missiles into Ashkelon will remain a strong possibility.

The advantages of the disengagement are twofold. This is the reason why it should be supported, despite its inherent dangers:

  1. The Israel Army will not be utilized in protecting settlers in occupied Gaza from Palestinian terrorists with great risk to the lives of the soldiers.
  2. Israel's international standing will improve, as the world will view Israel favorably because of her attempt to disengage from the Palestinian areas conquered in the Six Day War of June 1967. Israel will not be seen as an occupier, which has been a very strong propaganda factor, utilized by the Palestinians.

These two factors are very important in justifying Ariel Sharon's position for disengagement. The inherent dangers in the aftermath of the withdrawal remain. The alternative to disengagement would be even worse. The thought of settlers remaining in the occupied areas could create an even worse scenario in the future. More bloodshed and loss of life in continuous clashes with the Palestinians would remain the order of the day.

Thursday, August 11

The Jewish Fascists

How short memories are! In 1933, the Nazi Party under Hitler came into power in Germany. Germany in pre-Nazi times was one of the most democratic countries in the world. The Nazis abused the democratic system in Germany by slogans, rabble rousing, incitement, war mongering and last but not least anti-Semitism.They were elected to power democratically. The results of that are well known! Had Germany banned this lunatic fringe at that time, would there have been an outcry that democracy in Germany is being threatened?

What is the difference? The Jewish Fascist movement Kach (and their racist offshoots including various tsitsit and kippa-cladded pseudo-religious louts) does not espouse to democracy but abuses the democracy system of Israel as a means for their ends. There is no doubt that if Kach would be legal and gain power, there would be no democracy in Israel and many people would suffer because of their abuse of power and not being Jewish.

The prevention of these louts from carrying out racist incitement and violence serves democracy. Many of these extremists will be joining the opposers of the disengagement in demonstrations at the 11th hour before the deadline on the 14 Th August. There have been macabre prayer services at the Western Wall and the masses of people that gathered were frightening.

The biggest danger to Israel these days come from these right wing extremists. They are the lunatic fringe and are involved with incitement. Those who are involved in the incitement to flout the law are rabbinical leaders whose influence amongst the right wing religious movements is high. Former chief rabbi Avraham Shapira is a case in point. Another prominent religious Zionism rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, has also goaded the soldiers not to carry out army orders. There is an inherent danger in these pronouncements. It gives legitimacy to anarchy and does not serve the purpose of democracy.

Nobody denies that the settlers who have been living in Gush Katif are experiencing trauma. Nobody wants to be evicted from his or her home. However, these people are to be compensated and are not being left in the wilderness. They are paying the price for the follies of past governments who had legalized and encouraged settlements in areas that are not and never were part of Israel.

The worst and most dangerous aspect of disengagement is the cynical use made by the Jewish Fascist movements to violence and breaking the law. The violence can endanger lives and does not serve any purpose. The disengagement is legal and was passed by the Knesset and upheld by the High Court of the land. This being so, citizens must obey the law despite their right to protest their opposition peacefully.

Saturday, August 6

A Despicable Act

It is predictable that an extreme right wing religious zealot would indulge in a terrorist act. The indiscriminate shooting witnessed on a bus in Shfaram is despicable and ought to be condemned in the strongest terms. This terrible tragedy is horrifying.

There is no difference in this abominable act by a Jewish terrorist and the suicide acts of Palestinian terrorists. This despicable human being, Eden Natan-Zada, received his just reward. People say that the fatal lynching that he received was barbaric. If a surviving Palestinian suicide bomber would have been lynched would this be less barbaric? There is a definite double standard here.

Terror is terror and this evil act cannot be condoned any less then the despicable terrorist acts committed by Palestinian terrorists.

Kach and company are alive and well. Their fanatic rabble-rousing rabbis are behind them. This is another aspect of the orange adorned extremists. These extremist firebrands hide behind their fringes (tsitsit), long sidelocks (peyot) and large knitted kippot. Under all these symbols are racist monsters that are closer to fascism rather than democracy. There is a frightening trend in Israel that is making cynical use of democracy and breaking the law at the same time. The newly religious as symbolized by this despicable terrorist, Eden Natan-Zada , is the beginning of a trend, which will gain ground if not nipped in the bud. Tapuach, a settlement beyond the green line, seems to be a breeding ground for this kind of trash. They believe in following the footsteps of the late arch racist, Rabbi Meir Kahana.

This is a breeding ground for the dregs of Jewish Society, whose contribution to Israel is nil. The cynical use of terror to side track the security forces from Gush Katif is horrifying. We must not fall into the trap of trying to find a psychological reason for this kind of terror. This would mean a form of justification. The same ploy was used by anti-Zionists on numerous occasions to try to find psychological reasons for Palestinian terror.

It seems as if we are on the threshold of a "Jewish Hamas" or "Jewish Jihad" style terror group hiding under orange ribbons and Jewish symbols. Many call this the lunatic fringe on the right.

What is incomprehensible is the Israel Army's inability to disarm a soldier who was AWOL. There was no attempt to trace this deserter, especially if he was armed and potentially dangerous. According to reports, the family of Eden Natan-Zada had appealed to the army to disarm their son and their pleas were ignored.

Now is the question of burial. Perhaps it would be a good idea to cremate this terrorist's body and flush his ashes down the toilet! This should be the fate of all terrorists no matter from where they come.

A dangerous precedent has occurred under the orange right wing lunatic fringe. There are many potential right wing zealots waiting in the shadows poised for committing another frightening terrorist act.

Wednesday, August 3

A Theocracy in Israel - God Forbid!

It would not be in the interests of Israel if people lose faith in their secular government and elect a theocracy ruled by rabbis because of disillusionment or despair. This could easily result in the country losing its democratic character very rapidly. Today establishment Judaism has become the monopoly of the right wing largely settler movements. Their rabbis are charismatic rabble-rousers and could gain massive support by many people. Another very important point to remember is that Orthodox Judaism is the antithesis of democracy. The voice of moderation in Judaism has become almost non-existent.

Judaism, as practiced in Israel, does not accept different interpretations even within the various streams of Judaism. A case in point is the non-Orthodox streams such as Reform (Progressive) and Conservative Judaism. The Orthodox establishment does not recognize these streams and they are unable to marry couples legally or be involved in the conversion of non-Jews to Judaism. In fact, members of the non-Orthodox streams are regarded with much contempt.

Israel would slide into a form of fundamental Judaism with very strict interpretation of Halacha. There would be no place for secular Jews in this country. The government could introduce heavy fines for people who ride on the Sabbath or do not observe Shabbat according to Halacha (Chilul Hashabbat). Laws according to Halacha for festival observance would find itself in the statute books and these provisions enforced by a non-Jewish police force on the day of these festivals of observance. The provisions of these punishments would be according to the Torah. Heavy fines and prison sentences for "non-penitents" will be the order of the day. Is there any place for democracy under such a system? The country would slip into a legal system not that different from fundamental Islam. People who see their salvation in a Halachic state are not aware of its implications.

The introduction of a system of discrimination towards non-Jews could occur and their status in Israel would be in question. Rules of modest dress would be introduced - maybe not the "burkha" for women but certainly dress that would cover their whole bodies. There would also be limitations on women's freedom.

Those who wish to convert to Judaism (it would be difficult to imagine that under these macabre circumstances there would be such people) would find it impossible. Israel would be cut off from the modern world and her contribution towards the planet would be negligible. The educational system would suffer, as a narrow school curriculum based on Torah studies would become acceptable. The economy would suffer, as there would be no competition. Israel would be dependent on economic aid from the Diaspora.

There would be a police service manned by non-Jews on the Sabbath whose purpose would be to enforce Shabbat laws. The ramifications of a fundamentalist Jewish state would be scary. Those secular Jews who have the means would leave en masse.

Admittedly, many readers could view this article correctly as a total exaggeration. Nevertheless, its purpose is to illustrate the direction that Israel could find itself if ruled by rabbinical extremists.

There should be total separation of state and religion. This would ensure prevention of erosion of democracy and that people of all faiths as well as secular people do not have curtailment of their basic human rights. Freedom of religious belief would not be in jeopardy.

Tuesday, August 2

After the Pullout - What Then?

At this time and place, not much thought given for the future. This applies to both Israelis and the Palestinians. There does not seem to be any "contingency plans" on either side. Is there any cause for cautious optimism? The Palestinian side is in disarray. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority chairman, has not given any indications as to what will be done with the territories that the Palestinians will acquire after disengagement. Israel has not given any indication as to what plans she has for her citizens either.

All that remains is speculation. The territories vacated by Israel could fall into the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and their terrorist allies. This would bring terror closer to Israeli towns such as Ashkelon and possibly Ashdod. Mahmoud Abbas will do very little to reign in the terror. He has done nothing in the past and there is no sign that the future will be any different. The settlers will not be in Gush Katif anymore and this will make the situation less complicated when it comes to defending Israel's borders.

It is quite possible that Israel will return to the Gaza Strip because of terror attacks against her from the Palestinian terror groups. The possibility of returning to square one is high.

However, if by some miracle, the pullout is peaceful, Israel's standing in the world will rise. The world of nations will view Israel in a positive light because of her attempts to end the occupation. This could result in weakening of support for the Palestinian position. Israel will also have to change her attitude towards the Palestinians and help them economically by encouraging investment in the territories as well as joint Palestinian-Israel economic, education and health projects. This is dependent on a cessation of Palestinian violence against Israel.

There has been gross neglect in Israel in the social and economic sphere because of the pre-disengagement tactics of the government. After the disengagement, the government must be more active in improving education, lowering the crime rate, which has increased at an alarming rate, as well as encourage projects for Israel's economy. Unemployment has become a very serious problem as well as salary erosion. The government has to address very serious problems. Polarization because of the disengagement has to be rectified by encouraging dialogue between the anti- and pro-disengagement parties. There should be emphasis on the fact that Israelis are still one people despite their political and religious differences. It is important that a healing process has to follow between the two sides and the settlers who have returned must be encouraged to be part of the rebuilding of trust between the opposing sides.