The Shock of Returning Home

Becoming aware of life in this country from up close will shock the returning prodigals from Gush Katif. This is the hour to warn of "return shock," to ease the distress that even heroes might feel.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

Those styling themselves "We, the heroes" from Gush Katif can expect, unfortunately, not one trauma but rather a double trauma. Tears and ink enough to fill a sea have been spilled over the first trauma of the disengagement, whereas the second has not yet been written. After the disengagement, the disengaged will experience the trauma of getting to know the reality in Israel. For decades they lived on another planet, which offered its inhabitants conditions that promote envy. Becoming aware of life in this country from up close will shock the returning prodigals. This is the hour to warn of "return shock," to ease the distress that even heroes might feel.

The disengaged, who have been disengaged from here for too long a time, will swiftly discover that many people in Israel are jobless. They are unemployed. As people from the south themselves, they will immediately discern that the unemployment rates are especially high in the south of the country. Even those who work for their living mostly earn a pittance.

This is not the way things look in the Jewish settlements in the territories, which do not look like everywhere else. Interior Minister Ophir Pines revealed recently that 60 percent of the Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip feed off the government's table. The state has nourished and supported them from its coffers, from our coffers, and there are no unemployed among them, almost. In their new places, they will find out that their country is no longer a welfare state but a profit state, where charity rather than justice prevails.

A surprise also awaits the farmers among the evacuees: They will quickly discover that slaves willing to kiss their hands for a mess of pottage do not dwell in their neighborhood any more. Fewer and fewer Palestinian serfs are allowed to enter Israel, and those who do have permits cannot always come in.

Although Chinese, Thais and Filipinos replace them, today they too are difficult to obtain and cannot always be acquired through bribery. It is not by chance that the Gaza Strip became their place of refuge in recent years, because in the Gaza Strip there is no need for permits and authorizations and there is no need to pay a head tax on foreign workers. Even the Immigration Police have recognized Gaza as a no-man's land.

Lawlessness also prevailed in the areas of planning and construction there. It is important for the evacuees to know that in Israel it is still necessary to obtain permits in order to build. Even the balcony that every house needs is not easy to build here, never mind an entire community; here it is not the usual thing to wake up in the morning and establish an outpost on the neighbor's private land, and if the neighbor calls the police, they come, sometimes, and don't always take the side of the usurpers; it has already happened that they have taken the side of the usurped.

The parents among the returnees will be told, in "The Guide for the Evacuee," that henceforth the education of their children will be a burden on them: No more free education for everyone who comes along and at every age; for day care centers, for example, they will be required to pay a huge sum that is not within the reach of most citizens of this country. Let it be known that only a tiny minority of the children in Israel are offered a long school day deserving of the name, which includes a nutrition program. The evacuees will find it hard to believe: With their own eyes they will see hungry little boys and girls. The greater land of Israel is a land whose inhabitants eat it, whereas the state of Israel is a land that eats its inhabitants. The evacuees, as equal citizens at long last, will not lick honey here for long. The government and the Knesset have already proven that there is no intention, heaven forbid, to throw them to the dogs when the disengagement happens. Everyone understands that the process of weaning from the milk and honey is long and painful. Thus the Jewish settlers' way home is cushioned with apples and padded with emoluments. The public does not look upon this unkindly: It too understands that the mountains are higher on the way back. On his program a week ago, Reno Tsror revealed a stunning figure: In Israel, 20 families a day are evicted from their homes because they have not managed to keep up their mortgage payments. Twenty families are thrown out of their homes into the street every day - minus Sabbaths and holidays, and just plain lazy days - about 100 families a week, about 5,000 a year. Who has heard about this at all, who has wept a tear for them, who has taken an interest in their traumas, who has provided psychologists and caravillas for them? Since "our heroic brothers" set out for the territories, the country has changed beyond all recognition. They became "the salt of the earth" and the country has been covered in sores. This will be a traumatic encounter for everyone, this encounter between the sores and the salt.



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