I really don’t know how to feel about Ariel Sharon.
Given the demographics of the Gaza Strip – 9,000 Jewish settlers versus a Palestinian population of 1.5 million and rising – handing over that strip of land to the Palestinian Authority for the eventual construction of a Palestinian homeland appears to make perfect sense.
The evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza was supposedly done for peace. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, must solidify the ruling Fatah movement behind him and strictly inform Hamas that their terrorism will not be viewed by the Palestinian leadership as a vindication of their carnage. If Abbas is able to clearly express the view that Israel is acting for peace to Palestinians, then it might certainly pave the way for peace and isolate Hamas. Anything short of this will constitute a plan for peace best written on toilet paper.
But, as I see it, the whole point behind a war of attrition – in this case, the 1967 Six-Day War that Israel fought with the Palestinians and won – is to establish boundaries. Gaza and the West Bank were militarily enforced capture of land that expanded Israel’s borders. And now, Israel has conceded their right to ownership.
Plus, consider this – do two wrongs make a right? Palestinians were forced off land they considered theirs when Israel was established in 1948, but Arabs in Israel enjoyed more rights in the Jewish state than they did in neighboring Arab countries. Now, 9,000 Israeli citizens have to find new homes within an already tiny Jewish state. If I was a Jewish settler being pulled from my home in Gaza, my loyalty to Sharon would be beyond tested. It would be nil.
Moving past the inanity of giving up land won in hard-fought battle, I sincerely believe that Zionism is not racism – the United Nations confirmed this by overturning their horrendous 1975 resolution fourteen years ago – and I fail to see how shrinking Israel’s borders is going to come to any good. Palestinians will establish part of a homeland on land that is no longer theirs.
The development of a Jewish state in Palestine in the 20th century was an inevitability, given what Alan Dershowitz, in his book In Defense of Israel, calls a “vastly under populated” region in the 19th century, to which European Jews started arriving and settling.
Not that the Gaza Strip or the West Bank (four areas of which will soon also be cleared of Jewish settlers) belongs to Israel proper to begin with. Those lands are not internationally recognized as belonging to any one state. But Israelis have been living in those lands for decades now. For Israel to march in and forcibly remove them is about as insane as kicking all the British out of Northern Ireland to make way for a united Republic of Ireland.
Kicking the settlers out of their homes was the last thing Sharon wanted to do. But he should have stuck by Israel’s claim to the land. Peace may come of this, but I don’t expect it will last, because Hamas and other militant Palestinian terrorists will continue to use Gaza-like aggression until, in the words of USA Today‘s Daniel Piper, “Israel itself disappears.”
Will Sharon or his successor allow the lines of Israel to be beaten back even further? Will they seek to reward terror with more land concessions? (And perhaps the mostly anti-Semitic anti-war movement can advise, with Pat Buchanan, Justin Raimondo and Cindy Sheehan as honorary Palestinian ringleaders.)
The process already appears to have started with the Gaza withdrawal.