It’s Not About Gush Katif (Gaza)

The following is a powerful essay by Shmuel Sackett, International Director of Manhigut Yehudit, the Jewish Leadership Movement in the Likud Party.

Don’t fall into the trap! Don’t spend time trying to figure out how Sharon can be giving away the beautiful communities of Gush Katif in exchange for nothing. Don’t stay awake at night puzzled by what is happening. Furthermore, please don’t e-mail me articles about the new risks to Israel’s security such as the need to fortify rooftops in Ashkelon. Finally, please don’t show me articles about Sharon’s casino idea.

This “disengagement plan” has nothing to do with security. The expulsion of 9,000 Jews from their homes will bring about a serious increase in terror and Sharon knows that!

It also has nothing to do with peace (Resting in peace — yes — but certainly not living in peace). This plan is not about helping Israel’s economy, increasing tourism, boosting morale in the IDF or encouraging aliyah. If anything, this plan is the complete opposite of all those things.

So why is he doing it? Why is Sharon putting everything he has into this plan? As in the final move of a poker tournament, Sharon is betting all his chips on this hand. He has committed 55,000 soldiers (you read that right – 55,000!!!), built massive jails for protestors, approved a budget for this plan of $7.5 BILLION (that’s more than 3 times the entire US yearly aid) and has put every thing humanly possible at the hands of those in charge of expelling the Jews.

I ask again, WHY???

Let’s go back a few years. For the first 30 years of the state of Israel a small group representing just 3% of the population dominated the leadership of the country. These Jews lived in the kibbutzim and controlled 70 % of the political leadership and 80% of the military leadership in Israel. They fought with tremendous self-sacrifice and many lost their lives. What motivated these men and women — mostly non observant — to take these risks? It wasn’t their belief in G-d. It was something else… something that burned inside of them that gave them unbelievable strength and determination. It was the fire of Zionism.

This feeling of Zionism brought them to Israel and connected them to the land. They did not move to the cities. They chose barren land and hilltops and moved their families into tents, bearing brutal weather conditions and disease. These “chalutzim” (pioneers) worked hundred hour weeks in the broiling sun and freezing cold. They built homes with their bare hands. No Arab labor was used — just 100% Jewish workers. They farmed and built industries. When the country was thrust into war these men and women left their families and went to the front lines on the most dangerous missions. Many of them never returned. The ones that did continued to build. They sang songs of Israel and danced until the late hours of the night. All of this was done in the name of Zionism.

The modern state of Israel was built by these brave men and women. I state once again that they represented only 3% of the population but their impact reached way beyond that.

Now comes the sad part. This fire of Zionism… this love of the land… this deep connection and self-sacrifice for their people… was it passed on to their children? Where are the second generation kibbutzniks? Where are the children of these great men and women who built the land and gave their lives? Unfortunately, many of them don’t even speak Hebrew anymore. They live in NY, LA, Florida, India or Thailand. And the ones who stayed in Israel are not riding horses or plowing fields. They can be found in the pubs of Tel Aviv or surfing the internet at some trendy café in Hertzelia.

Ariel Sharon realized he failed. His son is not going to follow in his footsteps. You won’t find Omri milking cows or cleaning chickens. This phenomenon is extended way beyond the Sharon family. Ever wonder what happened to Yuval Rabin, son of the former Prime Minister of Israel and leader of the Labor party? He is selling advertising space in New York City. Moshe Dayan’s daughter chose to stay in Israel but you won’t find her in any place you would allow any of your kids to step foot.

So where is the next generation of kibbutzniks coming from? Where can you find a small percentage of the population connected to the ground, ideologically stimulated and running to combat units in the IDF? Only one place… the settlements.

In Bat Ayin and Yitzhar all homes are built by Jews, no Arab labor is used. In Eli the boys train in special pre-army schools so they are ready to be elite fighters in the IDF. In Tappuach and Elon Moreh many men are shepherds and of course, in Gush Katif most of the people work the ground. These settlements have “replaced” the kibbutzim and have produced men and women who risk their lives just to stay attached to the land.

There is of course one major difference. The settlers of today will also be the settlers of tomorrow. They have large families who generally stay in YESHA after they are married. As a matter of fact, many of the young couples move to even “wilder” places such as barren hilltops and underdeveloped areas without running water or electricity! This is because what ties them to the land is not Zionism but Judaism. The fire of being G-d’s chosen people is burning inside of them and this can never be extinguished. They are not proud Zionists, they are proud Jews with a deep Jewish identity and rich history.

The IDF combat units are filling up with such Jews and already today, close to 30% of all officers are from YESHA. This trend can be seen across the spectrum of Israeli life with Jews from the settlements working in key positions in medicine and technology. And finally, the Manhigut Yehudit movement broke the ultimate barrier when it refused to become yet another right wing party but decided instead to enter Israel’s leading party, the Likud. The move by Moshe Feiglin (from Karnei Shomron) was a bold one, especially when he challenged Sharon and Bibi for leadership of the party. Feiglin clearly said that the days of YESHA people standing on the side are over. The time has now come to lead.

This is why Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres are proceeding, full steam ahead, with the disengagement plan. They look at Gush Katif and Sa-Nur and see their exclusive “big boys club” melting. They look at the idealistic families of Hebron and Bet El and see what is missing in their own lives. They hear the singing of Shabbat melodies around the tables in Psagot, Einav and Kedumim and realize it’s been 40 years since they sang with their kids. They see the vineyards of Shilo, Har Bracha and Negohot and remember how it was when they planted fruit trees back in the 50’s. They see the young men of Karnei Shomron, Efrat and Tekoa running to volunteer in combat units yet they do not see their own kids…

This is the reason for the madness. Sharon and Peres want to break this paradise and blend these Jews into city dwellers with no connection to the land or its history. “Raise your kids in Netanya or Rehovot” says the government “and things will be fine”. True, these are also parts of the Promised Land but they know what will happen. These beautiful cities have become mini New Yorks and mini Londons with temptations all around. Sharon wants us to lose our special connection to the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, the site of the Tabernacle in Shilo and Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem. He wants us all to become white-collar workers and stop growing vegetables from sand. His dream is that when this is done… we will be done as well. When Gush Katif goes, so go our dreams of becoming a nation of farmers. When Hebron goes, so goes our connection to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Sharon has no problem with religious Jews living in places like Bnei Brak or Jerusalem. He is even happy when we serve in the IDF. The problem is when we “crossed the line”. The problem is when we became officers, farmers and politicians in his own party. That was something he could never allow.

In a desperate move, he is trying to give it all away. It’s nothing personal with Gush Katif, just the first step in a chain of actions designed to break our special connection to the Land. But he will not win. Our spirit can never be broken and our commitment to

G-d, His land and His Torah is stronger today than ever before.

May G-d continue to bless us with feelings of love for His Promised Land and His Chosen People forever, and as our parents passed this on to us, so may G-d help us pass this on to our children and grandchildren until the coming of Moshiach!

As I have repeatedly said, I think the disengagement is a mistake for Israel and, especially for the United States. It makes Israel more vulnerable to attacks in its populated cities (Askelon, for example) and allows the jihadists to use the Gush Katif area for recruiting and dispersing suicide bombers and terrorists.

Why is no one listening?

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