Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Gaza Pullout

I came across 2 excellent articles in the WSJ today about the Gaza pullout. While we could argue who owns the land all day long, ultimately the way the IDF handled a very tense situation should be applauded. The key idea I see is
Ultimately, the settlers were either escorted or carried, sobbing, onto buses. But their rabbi, stressing the need for closure, requested permission to address the soldiers, and the battalion commander remarkably agreed. So it happened that 500 troops and 100 settlers stood at attention, with Israeli flags fluttering, while the rabbi spoke of the importance of channeling this sorrow into the creation of a more loving and ethical society. "We are all still one people, one state," he said. Together, the evicted and the evictors, then sang "Hatikvah," the national anthem--"The Hope."

It's an incredibly heartwrenching scene, just like what happened to the Palestinians. Again, ordinary people are being evicted from their homes and it's tough to see. There was a bit of a difference between the Israeli settlements and their Palestinian neighbors, and that was that the Israelis had some semblance of property rights. While the kibbutzim were owned by the state, the people there had yards, houses, and so forth. On the Palestinian side, the UN and the PA have crammed their people into refugee camps (for over 50 years!) and George Melloan's view on these places is pretty spot on:
The concrete hovels in these camps long ago became breeding grounds for Arab radicalism. The militant Arab socialist states that gained ascendancy under Soviet tutelage in the 1960s and 1970s wanted it that way. Yasser Arafat, chosen by these outsiders to "lead" the Palestinians, never deviated from his goal of mobilizing the discontented wards of the U.N. to drive the Jews into the sea. The Palestinians, in short, had few chances to express their own individuality and creativity unless they were lucky enough to escape the camps and find homes in the Arab emirates, Britain or the U.S.

Ultimately, this chapter in the story of Israel is over, but another one is beginning. Will Sharon's pullout from Gaza make things better or worse? Will Abbas step up to the plate and do what Arafat couldn't/wouldn't? At the moment, while Abbas looks better, I don't know if he can or will control Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Al Aqsa, but only time will tell.

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