A number of people have approached me, asking why I've refrained from writing, expressing an opinion about the current situation in Israel.
In truth, I've had trouble writing for the past year. Gush Katif threw me totally out of kilter. And my thoughts concerning many different sorts of 'leaders' are so severe that I've had second thoughts about expressing myself via the written word.
However, perhaps the time has come to end this self-imposed exile. But I must warn all those who continue to read. What I have to say is not easy to think, not easy to write, and surely will not be easy to read. As found on various internet sites, usually before viewing pictures: Warning: these words may not find favor in your eyes.
There – you've been warned.
The past few weeks have found my thoughts somewhat hybrid – the war and Gush Katif. And not necessarily in that order. A year is a long time, but it's also a very short time. It's difficult to reflect – in order to reflect you have to be able to step back, to view from a perspective – a perspective of time and distance. Gush Katif is still much too close to be able to really step back. And it's not just the pictures. A few days ago I posted almost 250 photographs of mine from Gush Katif. It's difficult to look at them and not cry – it was so beautiful – as I once described Kfar Darom, a Gan Eden, a Garden of Eden, a paradise. How can one, using his own two hands, destroy a paradise?
However, it's not just the pictures. Story time: Numerous times last year, I mentioned my friends from Kfar Darom, the Sudri family. About a month ago, their daughter Tamar (made famous in a picture of her, all orange) visited us. She and her family now live in a monstrously dangerous city – Ashkelon, which has come under fire from Arab-launched missiles, launched not far from Tamar's old home in Kfar Darom.
Tamar sat with us, joining us for a pleasant Shabbat meal, when she told us the following story: She had to travel north, and at her parents' request, went by train, rather than hitching a ride. She sat in a car with two other people, both men, both in uniform. At some point the train came to an abrupt unscheduled stop. Some kind of problem was going to cause a lengthy delay. After a little while the three passengers began playing a word game: each would name a letter and then have to name a place starting with that same letter. Eventually the letter 'Kaf' was mentioned and Tamar immediately said "Kfar Darom," which starts with the letter "Kaf." One of the soldiers exclaimed, "That's not a place. It doesn't exist."
Tamar: "Of course it exists."
1st soldier: "But it doesn’t exist anymore.
2nd soldier: I second that – I helped evict such-and-such a family from Kfar Darom."
1st soldier: "I was there too. I bulldozed down houses. And if I ever find that family whose house I tore down, I'll kill them. Their house destroyed my bulldozer."
Time-out for explanation: Due to the continued rocket attacks on Kfar Darom, the families had to add a very heavy protective substance to their roofs, effectively making them 'rocket-proof.' When the houses were being destroyed, these rooftops fell on the bulldozers, causing them major damage.
Tamar: Oh, really? Which house did you bulldoze that caused such damage to your vehicle?
1st soldier: The house which was … and he described exactly where the house was.
Tamar, livid and barely breathing, whispered back: I lived there, in Kfar Darom, in that house – that was my home.
The two soldiers paled and immediately shut up. The game came to an end. Shortly afterwards the train began moving again. As soon as it came to a station, the two men fled, even though they hadn't yet reached their destination.
Can you possibly image, coming face to face with the person who shredded your house, for no reason whatsoever – bulldozed it, the way you knock down a building of blocks? I certainly cannot. I've told this story to numerous people, but even writing it, it brings tears to my eyes. How can people, Jewish people, be so cruel to their own brethren?
So maybe now others will accuse me of the same cruelty, maybe even worse. So be it.
It is so clear that everything we are facing today in the north (and in the south, which seems to conveniently been forgotten), is a direct result of last year's expulsion and abandonment of Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Years ago, following the abandonment of Sinai and outbreak of hostilities on the northern border, Hebron-Kiryat Arba Rabbi, Rav Dov Lior, said time and time again, one is the result of the other. Israel thought that relinquishment of land would lead to peace. G-d is proving to us otherwise.
Ditto the present.
However today is even worse. Today we are being attacked from the very land we abandoned to our enemies. And to add icing to the cake, the so-called prime minister, in the midst of the battles, proudly exclaims that he plans to continue with the absurdity: the 'victory' over Hizballah in Lebanon will act as a hoist with which he will continue to rid the Jewish people of its G-d-given land throughout Judea and Samaria. So that the enemy will have an easier time knocking down planes entering and leaving Ben Gurion airport.
One might ask: if G-d is trying to teach us a lesson, why must the innocent suffer? All those in the north, now without homes, having fled, or somehow living in bomb shelters? Tens and hundreds of thousands of people, refugees in their own land. It seems so cruel.
Where were all these, tens and hundreds of thousands when thousands of rockets fell on Kfar Darom, Neve Dekalim, and all the other communities in Gush Katif? Where was Israel radio when terrorists plagued Gush Katif, day after day. Where were 'good Israelis' when a criminal decision was made to uproot thousands from their homes. No noise, no protest, no nothing. Just quiet. And amongst many, happiness. 'Ah, at last. Finally. Now maybe we'll see the beginning of peace with our neighbors.'
I have trouble finding any sympathy in my heart for the communities to the north of Gush Katif, who have been coming under Kasam rocket fire – all the left-wing kibbutzim and moshavim, who couldn't wait to see the trucks full of furniture leaving Gush Katif. Did they really think that it wouldn't happen to them? Where are they now?
And I have trouble finding sympathy in my heart for the hundreds of thousands up north who have no where to go. Where were they when Eretz Yisrael was being ripped apart? Where were they when other Jews were being torn from their homes and stuffed in hotel rooms like cattle. Where have they been for the past year, while thousands of people have been left unemployed, their livelihoods destroyed, at the drop of Sharon's proverbial pin, the decision of a madman, who thought that the destruction of Gush Katif would answer all his problems. To the contrary. Gush Katif brought about his downfall. His successor thinks it can't and won't happen to him? Let's wait and see.
The country, the people, have to learn a lesson. As the saying goes, when you play with fire, you get burnt. We keep playing, and we keep getting burnt, but then we go back and make the same mistake again.
The ironies of the war are too great to be overlooked. Mr. Mustache, Mr. Peace himself, trying to lead the charge into Lebanon, as Defense minister. I have no sympathy, none whatsoever, for those supposed leaders, whose terms of office will almost certainly come to a swift end as a result of their overwhelming ineptitude. Leading the troops into the Gusk Katif decimation, Ehud Olmert and Tzippy Livni thought that following in the footsteps of Sharon would be easy. They are starting to learn otherwise. As soon as the war ends, and the enormity of their mistakes is realized, they, together with Peretz, will fall from public office, never to be heard of again, except perhaps in the history books, where they will be shamed and ridiculed.
Why? Because Israel has lost a war to group of terrorist guerrillas. Not to a foreign power, not to the Syrians, Iranians, Egyptians, rather to Nasrallah and Hizballah. There's no way around it. We lost this one. Even if the seeming 'end result' is spun out into a major PR victory. Why? Because Nasrallah has shown the whole world how a small group of guerrillas can turn Israel upside down, how they can kill Israelis, soldiers and civilians, and force hundreds of thousands from their homes. It makes no difference if Nasrallah survives the war or not. He has won. He has proven, following in the footsteps of Arafat, that Israel is not invincible. If he can do it, anyone can. It is truly miraculous that our surrounding neighbors have not yet taken advantage of our unbelievable weakness and joined the party. Why not? The present Israeli leadership, totally inexperienced, totally stunned and dizzied by the ferocity of the Hizballah rocket attacks, wouldn't know how to respond to coordinated Syrian-Egyptian-Jordanian attacks on Israel. All we have left is to pray to G-d in heaven that this catastrophe ends before our enemies can get their act together.
Yet, with all of the anger and bitterness towards these 'leaders,' there has to be a small small space left for pity. After all, our people are dying. A friend of mine came into my office earlier today and presented me with the following parable: The village fool was standing in the town square, really making an idiot of himself. Amost all the villagers stood around, watching, laughing and joking, enjoying the show.
Except for one person, who stood back, crying. One of the villagers approached him and asked, 'why aren't you joining us, watching the fool make such a fool of himself?
He answered: "Yes, but he is OUR fool!"
The fact that we, Am Yisrael, in Israel and around the world, allowed Gush Katif to fall, that we allowed the Northern Shomron to fall, that fact that we allowed Olmert to be elected Prime Minister, that fact that we allow him dare say that this war will act as a hoist to Gush Katif, Part Two –