I was wrong.
Ten years ago, when I heard Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was considering pulling the Israeli army and settlements out of Gaza I was happy for three reasons. First, countless Israeli soldiers and civilians died in Gaza and this would stop it. Second, citizens settling in a territory that their government didn’t own is according to international law illegal and I think immoral. Lastly, disengagement would be a grand gesture to the Palestinians that we Israelis seriously want peace and it would, I believed, motivate them to become true peace partners with us.
Don’t get me wrong. Israel won Gaza in a war that was thrust upon us. We had the right to keep it and settle it. But in order to legally and morally do so we would have to annex it. And to annex it means to apply the rule of law equally among all inhabitants and giving everyone civil rights which included the right to vote. And this is where Israel was guilty of trying to fry its felafel balls and hold them too. You can’t do both.
So when Sharon decided to pull out, I was happy. No more military rule for a million Arabs, granting them freedom. No more illegal Israeli settlements. No more casualties of Israeli soldiers (thank God I never had military service in Gaza) and civilians. And no more demographic time-bomb by the beach. And the icing on the cake would be that the disengagement would increase the chance for creating a true peace partner.
But my right-wing friends kicked, yelled and screamed at me. They said if we were to pull out of Gaza it would become radicalized. It would become “Hamastan.” They claimed it would become a terrorist enclave launching attacks on Israel, smuggling weapons into Gaza, firing missiles on Israel, and even – I specifically remember one prescient person telling me – they would kidnap Israeli soldiers and hide them in Gaza and we would not be able to find them.
I scoffed. If they dared do any such thing Israel, I asserted with the swagger of a general, we would go back into Gaza with an iron fist and pulverize them. And, we would have the backing of the international community to boot.
Well Gazans did not appreciate that we pulled out of Gaza. It was not a step towards reconciliation. It was not a step towards Statehood for a State that wanted to be a peace partner with Israel. They destroyed the greenhouses, they voted Hamas into power, they smuggle missiles into Gaza, they launch rockets into Israel, and they kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers. We all know what Gaza has become.
I was wrong. I think it is important to admit that I was wrong and the right-wingers were right. I would love to hear from my right-wing friends, however, that are wrong about something. About anything. Just once in a while.