In August, 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a decorated army general, carried out his plan to uproot twenty–two peaceful Israeli communities in Gaza as well as four others in Samaria. This meant the expulsion of close to ten thousand loyal citizens of the State of Israel who had founded their communities with the blessing of the government; those in the south – known as Gush Katif, had established greenhouses that provided food and flowers for export. Most importantly, those entities provided a natural buffer between Israel and terrorists further south.
Despite a controversial national discussion about the possible danger of such action, Sharon assured the nation that this drastic move would benefit the country as a whole, separating citizens from the south and eliminating the need for military protection of Gush Katif’s former residents. The lucrative produce operations were to be left for the new Arab occupants, who would have an economic head start. Most important, Israel would win much desired international praise for this sacrifice ‘in the interest of peace’.
Unfortunately, the history of that time reveals that much less than the promised result was achieved. The trauma of the expulsion from Gush Katif lives on – not only in the memory of innocent families, who were forcibly removed from their homes, but in the failure of officials to deliver promised accommodations – a situation that still exists for many. Those who had praised Sharon for his courageous action witnessed the gleeful burning of the greenhouses and the destruction of synagogues that had been left. The new inhabitants of the once loved land had completed the destruction.
Sharon’s assumption that life would be more peaceful for Israelis was short-lived. The newly evacuated territory soon became a haven for terrorist Hamas– now much closer to their victims. Sharon, felled by a devastating stroke, was succeeded by others whose dangerous concessions to the enemy were rejected. Thewell-orchestrated launching of thousands of rockets on innocents in Israel by the terrorist Hamas during the summer of 2014 must be considered the result of the abandonment of Gush Katif nearly ten years ago.
The lessons of that period and what has followed dare not be ignored! For years, Israel has been under tremendous pressure by outsiders who assume that they know better than the Israeli government what is best for the country. Despite the worsening regional situation with more extreme terrorism spreading and the global peril of a nuclear Iran that threatens to destroy Israel first, the country is under pressure by ‘ friends’ to vacate parts of the heartland to which she has both historical and legal grounds. Not only would that weaken the only democracy and stable country in the chaotic Middle East, the territory in question would become yet another terrorist apartheid entity in a region already infested with countries fitting the same description. This new state would be taken over by terrorists more radical than the ones who took over Gaza.
On March 17th, Israelis will vote; at stake is the choice between two vastly opposing viewpoints for the future of the country. Prime Minister, Netanyahu, who -while not perfect- is a statesman whose address to Congress about the danger of a nuclear Iran was praised even by Saudi Arabia, not considered a friend of Israel. While some accused Netanyahu of promoting war, many understood that he was advocating precisely the opposite- strongest sanctions against Iran to avoid nuclear confrontation. The opposing candidates, Herzog/Livni are willing to cede vital territory and divide Jerusalem, thus acquiescing to the demands of President Obama whose misjudgments have weakened the U.S. and cost him both Houses of Congress. Livni still considers a ‘diplomatic success’ her failed participation, as Foreign Minister under Sharon, in UN Resolution 1701 ; today Israel faces thousands of missiles via Iran’s terrorist proxy- Hezbollah.
The choice must be clear for those who cherish the State of Israel. The left wing Herzog/Livni partnership has clearly not absorbed the lessons of 2005; their platform will lead to a weakened, more vulnerable Israel and another devastating war. Their willingness to comply with the demands of the Obama administration has included a smear campaign and foreign interference aimed at influencing Israeli voters. It is well-known that Obama strategists are working for the overthrow of Netanyahu for a more yielding leftwing government.
As Israelis go to the polling stations on March 17, they must consider what will follow the results of the elections. Those seeking a more secure direction for the country must vote directly for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who offers a stronger stand for a safer Israel. No more national traumas like Gush Katif!