Settlers' Real Enemy: Leftist Gaza Border Communities That Backed Disengagement

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The aftermath of a rocket attack that hit the dining hall in kibbutz Nahal Oz on August 23. Area residents are hardly rushing home following Tuesday's cease-fire.Credit: Ilan Assayag

On Monday the Srugim website, which is identified with the settler movement, published a demand that the residents of the communities near the Gaza border apologize for their unreserved support for the 2005 evacuation of the Gush Katif settlements from Gaza.

“The indictment of the inhabitants of Nahal Oz, who said that they were willing to suffer for the disengagement and have now forgotten their statements, remains in effect,” reads the statement on the website. “You said that you were willing to suffer. Now you must keep your word. We also expect an apology and an expression of regret from you.”

Finally, the settlers can settle accounts with their real enemy — not Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu or Mahmoud Abbas, but rather the inhabitants of the Gaza border communities in general and those from the left-wing kibbutzim in particular, who desecrate the sacredness of the land. As if they were the ones who put Ariel Sharon in power, the ones who elected Benjamin Netanyahu who is not willing to “go all the way,” the ones who do not understand that a homeland is not the same thing as a state within an international border.

The Jewish communities that marked the country’s borders by their presence provoked profound envy and even anger in the heart of the settlement movement, which coveted the title of “pioneering communities.” But their “precedence” turned out to be land theft rather than an act of redemption. All their efforts to be considered “pioneering communities” rather than “settlements” were to no avail. The slogan “Yesha is here” — a reference to the settlements of Judea and Samaria — was withdrawn in disgrace. The attempt to prove that the state invested more in the communities in the south or the north than in the settlements was unsuccessful. They remained the oppressors — they, not Nahal Oz or Netivot. They, not Alumim or Kissufim, threaten any attempt to reach a peace agreement.

Now, the Cossacks who were robbed have found a new ball to kick around. “The leftists of the Negev” are fleeing the Negev, they say with mockery. “The salt of the earth” has turned out to be nothing but floating dust, and the national resilience is crumbling like a ten-story building in Gaza. “Israel handed Hamas a victory photo,” Israel Harel lamented in Haaretz’s Hebrew edition on Monday. Israel? Certainly not. Israel is a strong, resilient, united country, truly “cast lead” — as the last Gaza operation was called.

It’s those kibbutzniks, the miserable cowards, the ones who “have forgotten what it means to be Jewish,” as Netanyahu venomously whispered into Rabbi Yitzhak Kadouri’s ear, the ones who abandon their homes. And the government? It is the one that encourages them, funds their abandonment, folds in the face of the fear of civilians.

The settlers’ anxiety is understandable. An Israeli government that cannot keep the Negev will not be able to defend Judea and Samaria. Those who urge civilians to save their lives by being beyond the reach of mortar shells will encourage them to leave Hebron and Efrat tomorrow, and those who sanctify human life nullify the supremacy of the homeland.

But where exactly is the Jewish homeland? The “cradle” of the Jewish people was established in Ur of the Chaldees. The Jewish nation was formed and crystallized in the desert, and the divine promise draws a border between the sea and the river. All these things are the homeland. And then — treachery.

The kibbutzniks and the inhabitants of Sderot are not willing to be killed even in the Negev. Incidentally, just as the settlers were in no hurry to be killed in their settlements. During the Yom Kippur War, most of the inhabitants of Kiryat Arba and Gush Etzion left their homes, as did all the settlers on the Golan Heights, but who remembers? On the contrary — none of them bothered to nurture the nonsensical narrative that the settlements were a national security belt, a narrative that sanctified and still sanctifies the land over the human beings who live upon it, the state over its citizens and ideology over morality.

This is the same false narrative that dates the start of the attacks on the Gaza border communities to the end of the disengagement. Ask the inhabitants of that region how many Qassam rockets struck them between 2000 and 2005. On the basis of this narrative, residents of the Gaza border communities are being asked to feel deep pangs of guilt because they prefer their own and their children’s lives over the splendid sanctity of holding on to land. The very least they can do is apologize for having supported the disengagement from Gaza.

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