Emotions are running high about Israel’s disengagement and pullout from Gaza. Among others, The Head Heeb has been particularly insightful.
This is a momentous time, and it’s hard to make sense of all of these stories and pictures.
Crying children, mothers, and soldiers. There’s no doubt that the pictures of— and I stress the word “pictures” — forcible eviction of Jewish people from their homes are disturbingly reminiscent of the events of World War Two. A ruling narrative about Israel is that Jews should always feel at home there.
But Gaza, politically anyway, isn’t really Israel, it isn’t really any country yet, and the settlers moved there knowing that, and that it would inflame an already dire situation between themselves and the Palestinians. For some, I believe, a hatred of Palestinians overruled any sense of injustice. For most, the religious history of the place made their actions that much holier.
It’s impossible to force a secular argument on a religious claim; the two are incompatible. But I do it anyway because I believe in secularism over religiosity. I think we’d all be a lot better off without all of this fundamentalist hostility. And I think that the only way Israel can remain in its present form is to maintain it’s secular roots and not give in to fundamentalism, on the Palestinian or the Israeli end.
These pictures are emotional, for sure, but let’s remember the context: the settlers moved to a place outside of the safe environs of their country. They’ve been allowed to stay by successive Israeli governments that were sympathetic to them, but their existence was always precarious and it can be argued that the very existence of these settlements caused Israel more security headaches than anything else.
It’s a shame these people have to leave their homes, but it’s time for progress to begin, finally.
*I’ve always thought it would be funny to begin every sentence with, “As a Jew…” For example, “As a Jew, I loved The Wedding Crashers this weekend,” or, “As a Jew, I felt groggy this morning.”