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The Jews of Gaza: Demonization vs. Reality

Photo-essay shows young people talking to soldiers about the planned eviction of all Jews from Gaza
Comments by Jared Israel

[3 August 2005]


In coming days we will be posting articles dealing with the planned, so-called 'disengagement' from Gaza.  In one of the articles, Samantha Criscione shows that, contrary to reports in the media, the 'disengagement' plan originated with the Bush administration, not with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon.

Ms. Criscione notes that the very term 'disengagement' is artful propaganda, suggesting:

a) a gentle process that will

b) remove Israeli Jews from a place where they do not belong (thus accepting, as a given, the claim that Arabs alone have a right to live in Gaza) and

c) disengage Israel from terrorist attack. 

The term 'disengagement' is a soporific, meant to dull opposition to driving 8500 Jews from their homes in Gaza because they are Jews, razing their homes and turning over the communities they built to organizations dedicated to murdering Jews. Think about it. What does it mean that the creation of a Palestinian Arab state requires as a precondition the eviction of all Jews?

As for the pullout disengaging Israel from terrorist attack, does this  idea make sense?  Hamas and Fatah, the main terrorist organizations, have been launching rocket attacks against Israeli civilians inside and outside Gaza for years.  Surely these attacks would only increase if  the terrorists have free reign and most of the trappings of state power in Gaza.

For years Israelis debated the pros and cons of 'land for peace.'  But in this case, the Arab side does not offer even the temporary appearance of peace. If Arab leaders have not suppressed terror during the past three months, when an Israeli pullout was imminent and violence might prevent it, why would they halt terror attacks after a pullout? Especially when the pullout can be - and is being - portrayed as a victory for terror?

In Israel, a growing grass roots movement is opposing the pullout. To isolate this movement, the world media has launched a propaganda campaign, depicting opponents of the pullout as fanatical, die-hard right-wingers and settlers.

Since Right and Left mean very different things in different countries, it is worth noting that in Israel the political spectrum is largely defined by attitude towards the Palestinian Arab leadership and Israeli security. (Thus our posting of the exposé of Britain's sponsorship of Arab fascism, originally published by The Nation, a magazine on the Left, is welcomed by the Israeli Right.) Also, in Israel the political and judicial establishments tend to be on what is called the Left.  And finally, the Mizrahim, the so-called Arab Jews and black Jews, tend to support the Right.

As for Israeli settlers, they've been vilified for years; for many people, the term is synonymous with intolerance and violence.

In fact most of the tens of thousands of people protesting and going door to door nationwide to persuade people to oppose the  disengagement plan aren't settlers.  And as for the settlers themselves, take a look at the pictures below. These young people are from Gush Katif, the group of Jewish communities in southern Gaza. They are trying to persuade Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to evict them and to stop preventing opponents of the planned pullout from coming to their communities to protest the evictions. Do these young people look and act as if they were raised in what the London Times, the Guardian, the New York Times, and the rest of the media portray as a fanatical, racist culture - which the media even compares to Hamas?

Or have we been sold a lie?

-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes


Kisufim Crossing: The Eye of the Storm
15:53 Jul 28, '05 / 21 Tammuz 5765
By Ezra HaLevi
Reprinted from Arutz Sheva

  The young people of Gush Katif have been making their way to the Kisufim Crossing nightly to encourage the soldiers stationed there to refuse to take part in expelling them from their homes.

Sixteen-year-olds Hadas and Tirtza from Netzer Hazani were at the crossing Tuesday night. “We came to speak with the soldiers and policemen to tell them what we feel,” the girls told Israel National Radio’s Malka Fleisher.

“They closed our homes now - friends cannot come visit us - so we came here, to tell them what we think and to hopefully convince them to refuse these orders.”

The girls say that most soldiers do not have strong feelings either way when they first arrive at Kisufim. “They say they do not understand what the pullout is about, but that their officers told them they must take part.”


The girls come to Kisufim every night and line up along the road. Soldiers are stationed opposite them in a long line to ensure they do not step out too far into the road. There the conversations begin. Some soldiers talk with the youth, many put their heads down, unable to meet their gazes, and other look straight ahead.


Whereas Kisufim used to be a three-lane entry point, where residents and visitors would cruise by the soldiers stationed there with a smile and a wave, it has now been turned into a bona fide border crossing. Long lanes lined with large concrete blocks and marked "regular permits" and "without regular permits," along with scores of soldiers and police officers, greet residents and visitors upon arrival.


Soldiers are relieved of their duties as often as every fifteen minutes, a move the Kisufim youth say is aimed at preventing them from engaging in deep conversation with their brothers and sisters in uniform. “Many of them have told us that they will not obey the orders [to expel the Jews of Gush Katif from their homes] – that they simply can’t,” the girls said.

Gush Katif residents, on leave from serving in the IDF, or recently released from service try to engage the more senior officers posted at the crossing. Many are familiar faces from their own service. "I served in the army just like you. I risked my life protecting you and your family. Now you are checking my parents’ IDs as you get ready to march in a drag them out like they are wanted terrorists,” said a soft-spoken recently discharged N’vei Dekalim resident, speaking with a commander.


The officer looked at first uncomfortable, then began to explain that the defense establishment believes the best defense of the country is the withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. “Get off it,” the young Gush Katif resident scowls, “I see in your eyes you don’t believe one word of what you are saying – you heard Boogie [recently retired Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon], your heard [outgoing General Security Service Chief] Avi Dichter, you get the intelligence briefings - you know nobody thinks this will bring anything but more terrorism in the streets and on the buses.”

“Correct,” said the officer, “but what good does refusal do?”

“I believe the soldiers are being moved,” said Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg. “We hear it from them and we can hear the officers talking on the other side of fences. We can hear how much they are scared of our message. The soldiers have a pure Jewish heart and they know what they have been commanded to do is immoral and they agree with us.”

“A segment of the IDF is already willing to refuse and pay the price,” Sternberg added. “Part is using gray refusal – not obeying the command as it should be and even working against it. We believe that the routine conversations at night are exhausting – exhausting them from expelling Jews.”


Meanwhile, night after night, the teenagers of Gush Katif take Kisufum Crossing by a storm. Three teenage girls plead with an officer to think of his sisters and mother. "Would you drag them out of their home or allow your fellow soldiers to do so? We are no different than you are," they cry.

Loudspeakers broadcasting the words of refusal icons and even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon play constantly. “Yes I am refusing orders!” IDF Corporal Avi Bieber is heard declaring. “They are beating Jews here, that’s what is going on. This is not right, this is not justice.”

A decades-old recording of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lauding the right of soldiers to tell their commanders that they cannot fulfill orders to destroy settlements was also broadcast repeatedly.

Meanwhile, a large tent has been set up at the side of the crossing, serving as a Torah study center for those on both sides of the barricades. Aaron, a Yeshiva student from Rechovot, sits in the tent studying Talmud. “This tent is not only for me and my friends. Many soldiers and cops come and learn with us as well,” he said. “Because it is such a tough situation, we must learn together and realize that love of fellow Jews is the main thing right now. We must remember we are brothers while not compromising on our core values.”

Aaron is certain that even senior officers in the IDF are being won over. “I had an argument with a big officer, and after two hours he said to me, ‘I agree with every word you said.’ ”

“I was speaking to a female officer and fifty people crowded around and listened to our conversation,” he said. “She asked me if she could speak to me alone for a moment. I said ‘sure’ and she came to this tent and said to me, ‘What the heck do you want me to do?! You convinced me, but what do you want me to do?’ I told her, I don’t want you to do anything. I want you to just think what you are going to say to your child and grandchildren – and do what you would want to be able to tell them.”

Elisheva Fuchs, a young lady doing her national service in Gush Katif was also at Kisufim. She runs summer camp for second graders during the day and comes to the crossing to talk with her fellow servicemen in the IDF in the evenings.

“We speak to the soldiers and try to convince them that what they are doing is not human,” she said. “You can’t just stop people from getting to their homes which they have lived in for 30 years.”

“It is very difficult for soldiers, but they must know how to do the right thing. If you believe that something is not right, then you just can’t do it,” she added.

Fuchs said that her parents decision to leave America and make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) is comparable to the decision faced by the soldiers. “My parents came on Aliyah in order to do something important. People in America – they live – but basically, life is the same thing all the time. I was in Canada last week for ten days and I couldn’t believe the people there. All they do all day is speak about clothing and work and the millions of dollars they spend on cars - and it's crazy. Nothing meaningful.


“To stand up for what is right and to come on Aliyah – these actions change things. If people refuse to fulfill an unjust order, if people come on Aliyah - it will change everything.”

Hadas and Tirtza end their conversations each evening with a blessing. “We bless them that no matter what they do, they do it with a whole heart, so that they will not carry feelings of guilt with them for the rest of their lives.”

Click here to listen to the full Israel National Radio coverage


(Photos: Yishai Fleisher and Ezra HaLevi)

(C) Arutz Sheva * Reprinted for educational purposes and fair use only


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