Israel is paying a high price for the disengagement: yielding strategic territory to terrorists, establishing another precedent that terrorism pays, violating the trust of Israeli democracy (since it elected Sharon in 2003 on a promise not to withdraw from Gaza), preventing a referendum (on grounds withdrawal was so critical to preserve a Jewish democracy that a vote couldn’t be risked), dividing secular and religious society, destroying the homes, jobs and societies -- including synagogues and cemeteries -- of more than 8,000 citizens (the equivalent of about 400,000 people in a country the size of the U.S.), eliminating the $100 million export economy of Gush Katif, and acquiescing in a Judenrein land -- not even 8,000 could remain -- as an acceptable Palestinian demand.
Perhaps it will have been worth it, creating a more favorable demography within borders more acceptable to the world. Perhaps it will have been a moral and strategic disaster that presaged still more. Perhaps it will be somewhere in between.
No one can know, and each view should be respected. Which is why there should have been a vote.
For the present -- as Gush Katif fades into the large archives of destroyed Jewish communities (and the much smaller archive of self-destroyed Jewish communities) -- it is critical to reflect on what Ari Shavit (a disengagement supporter) writes in an article in Haaretz:
The settlers have been defeated. Their greenhouses are withering. Their synagogues are empty. Their rooms are wide open. Their villages are ghost towns.
Contrary to what was promised, most were not violent. Contrary to what was promised, most bowed their heads before the state and the law. So that now, as they go into what they view as exile, it is possible to begin the soul-searching -- about what happened here.
* * *
[T]here was something anguishing about the way in which the sentence was carried out. There was something chilling in the way Israeli secularism bisected Gush Katif's world of faith over the last year.
The disengagement is a fait accompli. But the significance of this act of total uprooting has yet to enter our consciousness. We do not yet know what damage it has done to both the uprooters and the uprooted, or what imprint it will leave on Israel's soul.
Dovish intellectuals were not here this week. Perhaps they are busy. Perhaps they have more important things to do. But the fact that the chief rabbis of Israeli secular morality did not see fit to make a genuine human gesture toward 8,000 fellow citizens who were forcibly uprooted from their homes is a fact laden with significance. . . .
The hard-heartedness of the intellectual and legal elites in the face of the catastrophe that befell the residents of Gush Katif will not be forgotten. It will seep into the groundwater of our shared lives and pollute it.
The Gush Katif residents were not fanatics; they were not the fascist enemy; they were believers, unfortunate but good-hearted, who devoted themselves with all their might to a false ideal.
They were residents of development towns and moshavim who gave their hearts to a belated and useless Zionist enterprise. They had the right to have the intellectual and legal elites listen to them and offer compassion and justice.
Gush Katif was a world of its own -- a world of work and faith, of patriotic innocence and communal warmth; a world that touches the heart, that was established in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, as this world is being buried in the sand, Israel must sit shiva for it.
For if the entire public does not know how to mourn the death of Gush Katif, its death will poison our lives.
Let us remember.