Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry about the Disengagement...

I wanted to blog on Tisha B'Av about it being 3 years since the "Disengagement", but the post didn't materialize.

Then I saw an article last week -- a letter from a soldier, "Maayan" who participated in removing people from their homes in Gush Katif. I wanted to translate and didn't have the time. Arutz Sheva translated it and saved me the effort. The soldier, from a left-wing kibbutz who had never stepped foot inside a settlement till she was sent to evacuate it -- publicized her story -- a request for forgiveness, in an interview with Yedidya Meir on the Kol Chai radio station.

The whole transcript in Hebrew is here. Parts of it are translated into English here (via A7)
"It began when we were sent to Bdolach to help pack up the nursery school. I was simply amazed to see the entire nursery still there, with all the toys and all the games as usual, despite the fact that they were supposed to be evicted three days later. Nobody had packed. While we were packing, a woman came and yelled at us, 'Go away, don't pack, who gave you permission?!' I wanted to talk to her and ask her why she was angry at me.

"Suddenly, she asked me, 'Do you know what they are planning to do with us, or where they're planning to take us?' I didn't have the answer, but I was sure that someone else did. I told her, 'I'll make sure that someone will take care of you. The State certainly has a place for you to live.' I was sure that if this turned out not to be true, we as an ideological movement and as citizens would organize to protest such a thing.

"Three years is not a short time, and things should have straightened out already. But year after year we see that this is not the case. I'm very ashamed to look these people in the eyes. I am ashamed that I represented the values of the State, while the State forgot these values."

Later, apparently the same day, Maayan's army unit was taken to another town-to-be-destroyed, Kfar Darom:
"We entered Kfar Darom. This was the first time I was in Gush Katif. I saw that it looked just like a Kibbutz - large lawns, very nice one-floor houses. I had always thought that 'settlers' meant caravans and poverty, but suddenly I saw how beautiful the place was.

We got to the houses of the families, and then it became very, very hard. The pain that was there, we also felt. We waited for a long time outside the houses, watching from the side as the officers went in and tried to talk with the families. There was one family that decided to leave on its own, but they had an 11-year-old boy who refused. He just yelled and cried and sobbed.

"At one point, his father and brother said they refused to let any soldiers come into their house, and that they would take the boy out by themselves. When they took him out, he simply cried and screamed and kicked. I could see that this was no show. He was doing this in his father's arms. He cried and asked, 'Why are you doing this? How can you leave the house?! Why are you listening to them?!'

"It was a traumatic experience. My [girl]friends started to cry, for the first time. One of them next to me said, 'You'll hear these cries of his as you're giving birth.' It was truly jolting. The cries of that boy are with me every day. They really are."

This reminds me of a post I wrote just after the Disengagement...
Gush Katif, Shirat Hayam. 18-August. The IDF and police have totally surrounded the Beit Knesset of Shirat Hayam, so that a sea of black, blue, and green totally hides the sand in all directions. Atop the shul's roof, is the loudspeaker poll, which allows for 360 degree announcements (which used to be used for security purposes). One of the newer residents of Shirat Hayam. who moved into a tent, 1 month earlier -- Moshe Feiglin, takes the microphone and addresses the soliders.

"I want to tell you a story which happened in the Shomron hills last year. As many of you know, the Israeli government has declared war on many settlements and outposts over the past years, and has used trememdous force to accomplish this objective. In one outpost, Border Police destroyed the house and expelled the family living there. Yet, something happened. One of the border policemen later on decided to be "chozer b'tshuva" and become closer to Judaism. He asked his rav, how to repent for demolishing a fellow Jew's home. His rav replied that he needed to find the family of the home he demolished, and ask their forgiveness. After searching for some time, he located the family, and explained his predicament. The family didn't forgive him, and the dejected policeman returned back to his rav for additional guidance. His rav told him that he would have to rebuild the home for the family.

For the past year, this policeman has left his job, and is building a home for this family, with his own 2 hands, brick by brick.

Soldiers and Police - I ask that you bring a pen and paper with you to every home you "visit" in Gush Katif, and write down a contact number for each family. For the day will come when you too will want to repent for what you are doing now, and you will need to find each family individually, and beg for forgiveness, and maybe even have to personally rebuild these homes.
Its been a G-d awful 3 years.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


chardal said...

I live in a community with about 200 families from Gush Katif. Only now are the first permanent houses starting to be built. And my community is considered the "success story" of all the various places where Gush families were expelled to.

I don't see how we can forgive or forget.

Frankly, when that which was destroyed will be restored, then we can start talking. Until then ... Lo Nishkach veLo Nislach!

Eliezer said...

On Tisha B'Av a number of shuls in Ramat Beit Shemesh were having "appeals" for Gush Katif, it wasn't until today that I realized the connection, and remembered that it was right after Tisha B'Av that year that they began the expulsion from Gaza.

I can only wish and daven that the people who were destroyed there can rebuild themselves (as I put not much faith in the gov't to help them).

Anonymous said...

Move Over Spinka - The Chilul Hashem of the year just hit:

(No names or LH in article - do your own research)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Hillel Fendel, from Israel National News wrote:

"The weekly B'Sheva newspaper found the Ethiopian family from Kfar Darom described above [in the article you quote], living in the temporary site in Shomeriya. The father, Avraham Simon, was asked to comment on the soldier's request for forgiveness, and said: "We're not yet in our permanent homes; we have not yet reached our 'rest and inheritance.' To come and say to us 'we're sorry' without doing something to repair what they did, has no meaning. The soldiers who feel bad about what they do have to tell their commanders in that well-oiled machine that they will not take part in another expulsion, and they must go the people they threw out of their homes and see what they can do for them, and they must educate their future children not to take part in something like this."

This is not an issue of an individual soldier, Avraham said, "but rather a national correction that must be made. The Nation of Israel has to know that if someone destroyed an area in the Land of Israel, it doesn't get solved just by saying 'sorry.' When it comes to the destruction of the Land of Israel, there is no forgiveness!"

RivkA with a capital A said...

I read this story, a few days ago.

Like you, I couldn't help but hear Moshe Feiglins words ringing in my ears.

Good post.

bec said...

what a sad day for our people that we've turned into our own oppressors and have done to our own what many have done to us for thousands of years. even sadder is how few of our own people and fewer of our leaders (i don't think there have been any, actually) have stood up and apologized in word or in deed for the wrongs they have perpetrated against our own people.
how can we expect moshiach to come until we can make peace in our own home with our own people?

Anonymous said...

These soldiers also participated in a major Chillul Hashem by helping giving away Eretz Yisrael to our enemy.
The only way these soldiers can be truly forgiven is if they undo their Chillul Hashem by reconquering Gaza and Northen Shomron and rebuild the houses and communities in the exact same locations where they were.

Without this done, these soldiers can not be forgiven.

the sabra said...

Interesting that you are the Master Forgiver suddenly.

Jack Steiner said...


Lady-Light said...

Jameel, I hadn't seen this Ynet article but it really hits home. I'm sure that many of the soldiers who participated in the hitnatkut still think they 'followed the law.' Some did refuse, however, or at least questioned the government's policy while they were doing it, but felt they had no choice. Others' consciences are bothering them and they are questioning themselves in the years after.
This will only be rectified (-my soul agrees with tz) by a new government with a mindset to rebuild the Gush residents' homes and lives. I might write about this and link your post.
Thank you for this post.
(and Jack, I see you are really a man of few words...)

Anonymous said...

Al eileh ani bochiyah...


Rebecca said...

Today we have higher buildings and wider highways,but shorter temperaments and narrower points of view age of conan

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