Only a donkey doesn't change his mind   

By Moshe Arens


Eight months after the execution of the disengagement plan, involving the

forcible removal of 10,000 Israelis from their homes, amid the ongoing

negotiations for the establishment of a new coalition government, which

envisages the forcible removal of another 100,000 Israelis from their homes, it

is time to take a good look at what has already been done before deciding to

proceed along the same path.


The underlying assumptions of the unilateral withdrawal plan were that any part

of the Land of Israel that the current government assumes should not be included

within the eventual borders of the State of Israel should be cleared of the

presence of all Jews residing there, and that the Israeli government is entitled

to forcibly remove them from their homes there. These are no trivial assumptions

and their validity even when supported by a majority of Knesset members and

approved by a majority judgment of the Israeli Supreme Court is highly

questionable. They run counter to the inherent rights that the Jewish people

have claimed for generations to live and settle in the Land of Israel, a right

that has been confirmed by the international community in the League of Nations

mandate for Palestine. They also constitute a blatant violation of the civil

rights of those Israeli citizens who are being forcibly removed from their

homes; it is a process that is unimaginable in any other democratic society in this day and age. Not to mention that the very idea that the presence of Jews should be prohibited anywhere on this globe, simply because they are Jews, should be abhorrent to any civilized person.


There is no need to think back to the days of the Holocaust to realize that this

runs counter to the most basic of human values, and that no ultimate goal, no

matter how seemingly worthy at the moment, can possibly justify it. The claim by

the advocates of the "inward withdrawal" plan that this is the path toward a

"Jewish democratic State" is laughable. It may very well be the path to



But leaving aside for the moment the question of human values, and the basic

rights of the Jewish people to live in this land, what about the immediate costs

and benefits of the recent disengagement "adventure"?


Gush Katif, the largest and oldest of the "settlement blocs," the settlement

blocs which the advocates of disengagement pretend to have made the subject of a

national consensus, and for which they advance the groundless claim that they

have even obtained international recognition, has been destroyed, its residents

forcibly removed from their homes and deprived of their livelihood. That this

barbaric act is justifiable because it will "save" other settlement blocs is

highly questionable.


Ten thousand Israelis have been made homeless and been added to the ranks of the

unemployed. Six months after the disengagement, most of them are still living in

temporary quarters with little likelihood of being able to earn a livelihood in

their professions in the future. A hundred thousand Israeli citizens living in

Judea and Samaria now live in fear of having to share their fate in the years to

come. And Qassam rockets are falling daily onto the outskirts of Ashkelon,

launched from the area from which Israeli settlements were removed as part of

the disengagement plan six months ago.


The warnings of drastic retaliation by government spokesmen after the

disengagement, and the attempts to halt these attacks by continuous artillery

bombardments have proven useless and damaged Israel's deterrent against

Palestinian terror. In the meantime, the lives of Palestinians living in the

area who have no connection to the launching of the Qassams are being endangered

on a daily basis. This is not making Israel more popular in the world.


And Hamas has come to power in the areas controlled by the Palestinians, no

doubt in large measure due to the Palestinian perception that the Israeli

disengagement, which they see as a retreat under fire, was the direct result of

the terror campaign waged by Hamas against Israelis in recent years.


And the benefits? Israeli demographics have not changed by an iota as a result

of the disengagement, and whatever international approval Israel enjoyed

following the withdrawal, was based primarily on the assumption in much of the

world that this was a first step toward an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines,

and is obviously going to be of short duration. There is no historical precedent

to justify the government's expectation that it will obtain international

recognition for the borders it intends to establish unilaterally. That is not

going to happen.


The Kadima members, who were formerly members of the Likud, when questioned

about their ideological about-face tend to quote one of Moshe Dayan's less

profound aphorisms: Only a donkey does not change his mind. Now that we can

clearly see the disadvantages of the disengagement process, while they

stubbornly insist that they still intend to proceed on the same path, they need

to be reminded that only donkeys do not change their minds.

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