From a diplomatic, military, and economic viewpoint, Prime Minister
Sharons disengagement plan appears to be very sensible. Israel
will be relieved of the cumbersome burden of having to administer
to the needs of 1.3 million hostile Arabs. Removing the settlers
will relieve the IDF of the difficult and dangerous task of protecting
the 7000 settlers scattered in a sea of hostility. The move will
satisy the diplomats at the UN and EU who demand that Israel make
concessions to advance the peace process. It will placate those
who claim that Jewish settlements are the biggest obstacle
to Middle East peace. The US will be pleased that progress
will be made along the roadmap plan and provide Israel
with increased economic assistance. The settlers will be happy to
receive monetary compensation for their losses. In the meantime,
the Arabs will have to demonstrate that they can establish an effective,
stable government while curbing terrorism. While all this is happening,
Israel will strengthen its hold on Judea and Samaria, which are
the important territories. The plan seems logical and reasonable
with something to satisfy everyone. What could possibly be wrong?
Plenty! Closer scrutiny reveals serious drawbacks. The State of
Israel is sending the wrong message to the international community,
which will cause the whole plan to backfire.
By dismantling the settlements, Israel is sending a message that
says, We acknowledge that we have been occupying Arab lands
for over 30 years. We acknowledge that we allowed illegal settlements
to be built in Gaza. Jews have no right to build settlements and
live in Arab lands. The Arabs have a right to insist that no Jews
should live in Arab lands, yet Arabs have a right to purchase land
and homes in Jewish areas. This statement fails to address
the following questions and concerns:
Why shouldnt 2000 peaceful Jewish families be allowed to
live in Gaza, a short drive from major Israeli cities and industries?
Why do tens of millions of Muslims have a right to live in France,
England, USA, and Canada, but Jews have no right to live in any
land controlled by Muslims?
What is the justification for establishing an additional Muslim
state in the area, while further reducing the area in which Jews
are permitted to live?
Why is it permissible for 7000 Christians to live in Gaza, but
Jews should be barred from living there?
What justification is there for the UN to establish a zone where
no Jews are allowed to live?
Is there any other ethnic group in the world that gets this treatment?
How is that different from the Nazi demands that Europe be freed
Shouldnt the Arabs be asked to tolerate the presence of 7000
peaceful Jews living among 1 million Arabs, and provide security
for them? Doesnt Israel do that for its Arab citizens? Shouldnt
the Arabs also be held accountable for their pledges of peaceful
By removing Jewish settlements, Sharon is setting a dangerous precedent.
He is acknowledging that Jews should not live in areas that have
been traditionally Arab and are still Arab dominated. Then, in a
few years, the international community will demand that the same
logic be extended to Judea and Samaria. If Jews have no right to
live in Gaza, then they have no right to live in Judea and Samaria
which is also under illegal Israeli occupation. There
will be pressure from the international community to relocate 250,000
Jews, even if they have to be compensated for their homes. Whats
a few billion dollars to the UN, EU, and the oil rich Arab states?
The result will be that from all the ethnic groups in the world,
only Jews will be barred from living within a few kilometers from
their holy sites. Jews will be unable to live near sites that are
rich with Jewish history, culture, and religious significance. What
justice is there in doing that? Any diplomatic, military, and economic
benefits from the disengagement plan will be overshadowed by the
injustice of removing families from their homes and setting a precedent
for the establishment of Jewish-free zones. Jews will be barred
by the from visiting their holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem, as
they were by the Jordanian Occupiers, in violation of the Armistice
Agreement from 1949-1967. At that time, there was no international
effort to allow Jews to have even minimal access to their holiest
However reasonable it may seem, the Gaza disengagement plan should
not be allowed to progress. It is pure ethnic and racial discrimination
that violates the civil rights of all Jews. It is a giant step backwards.
All people in favor of freedom, democracy, and equality, should
be speaking out against it.
(c) 2004, I. Zwick, NYC
Israel Zwick is commentator on the Middle East based in New York.