Thursday, July 06, 2006

Disengagement - behind the scenes

Over the next few weeks I hope to devote some of my blogspace to the Disengagement; my personal experiences, the JBlogosphere's opinion from back then, where we are today - and where do we go from here.

In a very disturbing (but not unsurprising) interview with Moshe Yaalon -- the previous IDF Commander in Chief, Yaalon outlines the background that lead to the Disengagement. Were I to write this last year, I would have been branded a Right-Wing Conspiracy nutjob (fine, there are those who still label me that today), but it's crucial to read this and understand how Israel ended up where it is today.

Former IDF chief of general staff Moshe Yaalon said Thursday that Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip is a failure, saying the plan was conceived to save former prime minister Ariel Sharon from political distress.

"There is no doubt that the disengagement failed. This failure emanates from the fact that the disengagement was essentially based on a doomed idea. It was not the result of thorough strategic analysis but the result of a political distress of his who was prime minister then, Ariel Sharon," Yaalon told Haaretz.

Many people refuse to believe even today, that Ariel Sharon could possibly have used the Disengagement as a ploy to save himself politically. Yet, this isn't being posited by settler-pundit Jameel, or an orange flag-waving teenager. This serious indictment comes from last year's IDF Commander in Chief.

Here's one example of many, of what Ariel Sharon used to say about Gaza:

"Those who suggest that the solution is to flee from Gaza are, in effect, proposing that we abandon it when stricken and defeated by terrorism. If we run from terror, it will pursue us, and the Gaza Strip will turn into a terrorists' base, paralyzing the settlements in the northern and western Negev and even beyond." ("Its Possible to Stop Terror," The Jerusalem Post International Edition, Dec. 26, 1992.
Israel is now back in Gaza. This morning, IDF troops took up positions among the ruins of the Northern Gaza yishuvim of Nisanit, Dugit and Elei Sinai, to prevent the Qassam rockets from hitting Ashkelon. Since Ashkelon is a higher class town than Sderot, Olmert had to say that now the Hamas have crossed a new redline. If there were more richer people living in Sderot, Olmert would have probably acted sooner -- his words are depressing, but that's the grim truth.

But I don't blame the JBlogosphere for their opinions last year. They were sold a plan -- one of morality and security, one that attempted to end a serious problem, and it was sold by master Defense Strategist, Ariel Sharon. Who could possibly find fault with Arik -- the defender of Israel...the builder of the settlements. If Sharon decided that the Disengagement had to happen, then he was the man to carry it out.

Speaking to Haaretz, the former chief of staff said: "The process created an illusionary hope that was not planned strategically and practically. The disengagement was mainly a media spin. Those who initiated it and lead it lacked the strategic, security, political and historical background. They were image counselor. They were spin doctors. These people put Israel in a virtual spin that is disconnected from reality using a media spin campaign which is imploding before our eyes."

"The intellectual failure of the disengagement is this: the fact that there is no one to speak to on the other side doesn't mean that we can ignore the other side and the effects of his activities on us. The fact that even the Fatah leadership is not ready to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish state while it says it is committed to the road map peace plan doesnÂ’t mean it is possible to ignore the fact that pulling out under fire is perceived as surrender and encourages terror," he said.

"The Israeli public backed the disengagement because it was blinded and drugged and also because it really wanted to free itself from the burden of the conflict and divide the land. But we have to understand that although we are trying to shake the Palestinians off our backs they refuse to do so and stab us instead. We shouldn't fool ourselves. We live in the Middle East. We cannot barricade ourselves behind walls and fences. There is no such thing as unilateralism. Even when we refuse to talk with our neighbors there is interaction with them.

Our steps affect them. When the steps are withdrawal after withdrawal, after withdrawal, we convey weakness. And he who conveys weakness in the Middle East is like a weak animal in nature: he comes under attack."

A year later, the IDF is back in Gaza. It's crucial that for Israel to survive the next few years, that open debate takes place in Israel's society without "solutions" being rammed down our throats by politicians.

Pro-Disengagement does not mean anti-Israel.

Yet seeing the current security situation in hindsight, the government's intentional miserable treatment of the displaced settlers, and Olmert's planned "convergence" that doesn't offer any security solutions -- everyone needs to take a step back and honestly re-evaluate what really drove the Disengagement in the first place.

** Article from Haaretz reprinted in English by YNetnews.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Ari Kinsberg said...

"Since Ashkelon is a higher class town than Sderot, Olmert had to say that now the Hamas have crossed a new redline."

Do you think he would have gone into northern Gaza had he not already gone into the southern part to look for Shalit? I think it is only because he was already in the strip anyway (i.e., the world is already condeming him anyway) that he established this buffer zone in the north. Had Israel not already gone into Gaza I think he would have waited till a kassam fell in northern Tel Aviv.

kasamba said...

Great informative post- as usual!

Oleh Yahshan said...

as one who "supported" the Dissengagement last year (Support is the wrong word but for lack of a better one), I will be the first to admit that It failed.
It failed because the Basic element that was came as part of the deal was the Security element. And when Israel stood by idely while Kassams were falling on Sderot, that was the first sign of failure.
Israel Ran a long hard race, it sweat, and was in pain, and all seemed that it was going to come in first place. But then a few hundred meters before the End, it Stopped. It decided it didn't want to win (as olmert said), and it never crossed the Finish line. Now a year latter after the Race has been over for 10 months, it decided to walk across the line. Of course by now that line means nothing, and after sitting on the track for 10 months looking at the finish line but not going there it has made the line it's new Enemy. It wasn't ever that it couldn't cross it, it just didn't want to. It thought the line would come to it, all it had to do is wait.

Now we are getting ready to start an even Longer Race, a Harder one, without Having finished the previous one.

Carl in Jerusalem said...

First, a technical point. You write "** Article from Haaretz reprinted in English by YNetnews." I was wondering why I couldn't find the article on HaAretz's web site this morning. I guess that Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily didn't want its English language readers to know about it.

Second, I disagree with your absolving the J-Blogosphere for going along last summer. This has played out EXACTLY as those of us who opposed it said it would play out from a security standpoint. The only thing we didn't foresee was the 'Palestinians' being stupid enough to call attention to their bloodlust by electing Hamas. The smug arguments about how 'Arik' couldn't possibly be wrong and how he was making a 'defensible' border make my blood boil even when I read them a year later. We owe it to ourselves and to those who spend significant parts of their days reading our blogs to be questioning and incisive. Those who accepted the package that Sharon sold them last year were anything but questioning and incisive. Let's not let Olmert pull off the same thing.

yitz said...

Have you noticed that your ole buddy Rudlauer has been silent for weeks????

Olah Chadasha said...

Hey, buddy, you already got an apology. I'm not giving another one... Alright, I'm sorry. You were, for the most part, right, and I was, for the most part, wrong. Happy now? Just kidding. I have a problem with Yaalon's interview, but I agree with your evaluation, except for the Sharon using the Disengagement to mask his legal issues. I still disagree with you on that one. Based on what actually happened, I don't see how that statement holds merit. But, we're copisetic (sp?) on everything else.

The Jewish Freak said...

I am unable to think of politics at all these days. The kidnapping of Gilad, and the death of Yehuda today weigh too heavily on my mind.

I told you so said...

"the Sharon using the Disengagement to mask his legal issues". They didn't indict him on Greek Island affair and Supreme Court judge has said, the only reason for this vote was they didn't want to spoil his "disengagement" efforts. In any other way he WOULD have been indicted and persecuted for it.

YMedad said...

I'm with Carl. I certainly wasn't mistaken and I think I was blogging last year, furiously and fiercely, anti-disengagement (as was my wife) including articles in NY's The Forward and other places so this statement -"But I don't blame the JBlogosphere for their opinions last year" - should be edited.

daat y said...

It makes your blogging all worth it-dayenu.

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