The Damascus Road. An apt illustration of how "Let's pretend" is a dangerous game to play in diplomacy in the region. The Damascus Road. An apt illustration of how "Let's pretend" is a dangerous game to play in diplomacy in the region.

Disengagement and disaster

When I was in Washington in April 2005, a full-page ad by the Anti-Defamation League appeared in the Washington Jewish Week. It said: “Mr. Sharon, American Jews support your Disengagement Plan.” Apparently, so did a large majority of the public. But why?

Perhaps the basic reason is IGNORANCE or DISINFORMATION. Let’s remember that a whopping 70% of Israelis opposed a Palestinian state in the 2003, elections. In 2005, however, they failed to see the connection between Disengagement and a Palestinian state – which Sharon advocated. So what’s going on here?

What “disengagement” really meant in Gaza

Israel, Judea-Samaria, and Gaza. Disengagement from Gaza was a mistake born of a lie.
Israel, its neighbors, and disputed territories. Graphic: Central Intelligence Agency

First of all, the very term “Disengagement” is deceptive, a euphemism for expelling thousands of Jews from Gaza and Northern Samaria, and turning this land over to Arab terrorists.

Second, AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, characteristically apes the position of Israel’s Government, and the assimilated Jews heading the Conference of American Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, also supported Sharon’s disengagement/deportation policy.

Hence, it was only natural for [the then] President [George] Bush and the American Congress to back that withdrawal policy [and do so to this day]. They are not going to be more Zionist than Sharon [or his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu].

Also significant, the American media, like Israel’s, are dominated by left-wingers who are pro-Palestinian even though the Palestinians support  terrorism.

Two reasons why Americans might support disengagement

Actually, one can explain the American pro-disengagement attitude in terms of two basic factors.

First, the Americans believed that most Israelis supported Disengagement, and since that supposedly represented the will of the majority, it was deemed democratic.

Second, Americans had the image of Sharon as a great hero who would never pursue a policy that would endanger Israel. So while I was in America in April 2005, I had to explode two myths – the myth about Israeli democracy, and second, the myth that Sharon was a super-patriot. Not easy.

However, when all is said and done, the problem begins in Israel. Last week [June 21, 2005] Caroline Glick [referring to Sharon] wrote an article whose headline was “A coward for prime minister.” [Wow!] But ponder this …

Apparently, her article was prompted by a new book, Boomerang, which was published in Hebrew two weeks [earlier]. The authors, left-wing commentators Raviv Drucker and Ofer Shelach, reveal how Sharon came to make the decision to withdraw from Gaza and Northern Samaria. “Their findings,” Ms. Glick says, “are devastating.” She writes:

Based on interviews with senior government and military officials, Drucker and Shelach report that Sharon’s decision in December 2003 to abandon his electoral platform, which opposed the unilateral transfer of land to the Palestinians, and [which] rejected the notion of expelling Israelis from their communities in the Gaza Strip or Judea and Samaria.

[Glick went on to contend that Sharon’s disengagement decision] stemmed from considerations that had absolutely nothing to do with Israel’s national security interests.

In fact, Sharon’s [reason] for adopting the radical left-wing plan had been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters in the January 2003 elections, [and was motivated by] his desire to avoid indictment for his role in corruption scandals for which he and his sons Gilad and Omri were under a police investigation.”

Ms. Glick obviously believe[d] that this was the case, and so do I, if only because in June 2005, the heads of Israel’s security echelons, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze`evi-Farkash, head of IDF Intelligence, and Avi Dichter, Director of the Shin Bet (General Security Service), testified against withdrawal before the Knesset defense committee.

Moreover, ex-Deputy IDF Intelligence Chief, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, admitted that “The Israeli government has not succeeded in producing a single serious argument that can refute objections [to disengagement] and [that] justify the grave step that [he] is taking.”

Besides [and Glick aside], common sense and [the by then] 12 [murderous] years of Oslo indicated that abandoning or retreating from any settlement rewards and encourages terrorists and gives them a larger base for military operations against Israel. It plays into their phased strategy to destroy Israel piecemeal.

Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, the Sharon Plan was legalized by the Supreme Court, which ruled that Gaza and all of Judea and Samaria constitute “occupied belligerent territory.” This was not just a judicial error; it’s also a judicial falsehood, because no nation other than Israel has any title of sovereignty over this land, as the decisions of an earlier Supreme Court had recognized.

So how can you expect Americans to understand what disengagement [from the land in question] is all about? What produced this calamitous decision was actually Israel’s system of multiparty cabinet government, which consists of five or more rival political parties having conflicting partisan interests and whose leaders have diverse personal political ambitions  [In other words, the Gaza withdrawal was not a rational policy decision, but a consequence of a flawed system of government [but this was beyond the mental horizon of the otherwise perceptive Ms. Glick].◙
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history, Israel, Middle East

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