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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bounced checks may have a silver lining

During the year preceding Israel's disengagement from Gaza, I was shocked to hear all rational discussion of the move's pros and cons being shouted down in the name of patriotism and 'the greater good'.

Those (real) patriotic Jews who used their sweat and blood to build thriving Israeli communities in Gaza (at the behest of their government, I might add… not against its wishes) were suddenly being painted as subversive elements who represented the very antithesis of patriotism (ironic, isn't it?).

Anyone who tried to put on the brakes to slow the run-away Sharon locomotive was told that they needed to simply accept the government's more-than-generous offer of compensation and "move back to Israel". 'Father knows best', was the theme of the day.

Amazingly, at the time there was even a fair amount of griping heard from certain quarters who felt that the compensation packages being offered were too generous and that it wasn't fair that the Gush Kativ evacuees should be able to look forward to brand new 'luxury villas' when so many 'real Israelis' were living in crowded apartments in Israel's center.

Well, here we are several years after the dust has settled on the Gaza disengagement, and the evacuees (both those who left voluntary and involuntary) have been almost entirely abandoned. The promised housing and employment solutions never materialized, and even the meager financial compensation has been hopelessly mired in endless red tape and confusion.

As if to add insult to injury, the Palestinian workers who were previously employed by the Jewish farmers of Gush Katif are now starting to sue the indigent evacuees for 'wrongful dismissal and non-payment of workers benefits'… and our government (which was entirely responsible for the mess) won't even pay for the mounting legal fees to fight such frivolous suits!

One would think that those who pushed so intensely (and vocally) for these evacuees to do the patriotic thing and blindly follow their government's orders would now be at the forefront of those looking into why the government has essentially abandoned these Jewish refugees. But one would be wrong.

While I am not particularly surprised by the deafening silence from the 'You have to trust the government and do what is necessary for the greater good' crowd, I'm a little sad that the nation as a whole seems to have such a short collective memory.

Each time some politician starts making noise about giving away Judea and Samaria (the 'West Bank'), their shiny new plans all begin with dangled promises of 'Judas gold' offered as incentives to 'settlers' (I giggle when I think of us suburban yuppies being called 'settlers'... as if we're out draining swamps and planting Eucalyptus trees!) to leave our beautiful homes and communities voluntarily.

Happily, this time around there are no takers. While the nation as a whole may have conveniently forgotten the broken promises and the thousands of Gush Katif evacuees who are still unemployed and living in temporary living arrangements… the so-called-settlers have not (the latest calls for a State Commission to investigate the broken promises not withstanding).

The memory of the government's bad check (and bad faith) is still quite fresh in the minds of those who are now being offered 'incentives' to move.
Moreover, the names that were used to try to discredit the population of Gush Katif ('right wing fanatics'… 'religious zealots'… 'gun-toting settlers'… 'Messianic militants'), drape poorly on the shoulders of the much more heterogeneous population of Judea and Samaria. This time around it will be much more difficult to use the anti-religious card (though I'm sure they'll try) to divide and conquer, and even harder to convince anyone to 'just trust the government and do the right thing'.

Bouncing checks is usually considered a bad thing because of the negative impact it has on the recipient as well as the erosion of confidence it engenders in anyone else who might be offered a similar promissory note. But in retrospect, I think the Sharon/Olmert government's kited checks and broken promises to the Gush Katif evacuees may actually play an enormously positive role in the way - and more importantly, pace - that things evolve in Judea and Samaria.

Regardless of how many (if any) communities the government wants to uproot in pursuit of a final status agreement with the Palestinians, nobody can reasonably expect anyone or anything to move quickly or without serious deliberation.

Like the new draconian banking regulations that are coming into fashion in the U.S. after years of playing fast and loose with promissory notes, the reckless fiscal record of previous Israeli governments towards the Gaza evacuees will (hopefully) force everyone to perform the necessary 'due diligence' before running headlong into new agreements where someone (or everyone!) might get screwed.

Posted by David Bogner on July 31, 2008 | Permalink


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I must say, despite the fact that I was 100% certain that the expulsion would lead to less security (ask the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon...), I am shocked at how badly the former residents were and continue to be treated. I really expected the government to at least mostly live up to their financial promises. (Shows how naive I am, I guess)

But hey, at least the Arabs got help in destroying Jewish families and lives...

Posted by: triLcat | Jul 31, 2008 11:46:05 AM

I remember the heady hopes for peace in the wake of the Expulsion, and the overconfidence many placed in Sharon as a former hardliner-who-must-know-what-he's-doing-right?

Except for the hopelessly delusional and die-hard Far Left, I don't think any rational person in Israel today can truly believe that forcing out the Jewish population of the West Bank will accomplish anything other than All-Sderot-All-The-Time. We have withdrawn in the name of "peace" from both Lebanon and Gaza, and all it has produced is more war.

Posted by: aliyah06 | Jul 31, 2008 1:23:21 PM

David - Bounced checks have little effect on the the credit offered to Kadima, Labor, or the disengagement supporters by the Israeli populace.

Heck, how could Olmert still have supporters after what he's done? And yet, he still has supporters...

This country has the shortest memory span on record.

Posted by: Jameel @ The Muqata | Jul 31, 2008 2:45:48 PM

Dave, how many times do you feel like going into the Knesset and just yelling "Stooooooop!"? On a lighter note, we have Larry Derfner again today, as confused as ever. Have a nice day!

Posted by: Marsha, regretfully back in Stamford | Jul 31, 2008 3:32:50 PM

i know you are kidding about those lawsuits, right?

"I'm a little sad that the nation as a whole seems to have such a short collective memory."

oh,don't worry know. a new stamp has been issued to commemorate gush katif:

A Stamp to Commemorate Gush Katif?

Posted by: Lion of ZIon | Aug 1, 2008 10:46:48 AM

Israeli suburbanites are "settlers" - terrorists are "activists" - jailed murderers are "prisoners" - why do we never get to make up the language?

Posted by: psachya | Aug 1, 2008 10:17:52 PM

I was shocked to hear all rational discussion of the move's pros and cons being shouted down in the name of patriotism and 'the greater good'.

but isn't that what the "right" do all the time?
"send your sons and daughters to the army to occupy Hevron in the name of patriotism and the greater good"

after you being quite atrociously accused last week of dividing the nation, hoped that you know how it feels to ba labelled a divider


Posted by: asher | Aug 3, 2008 1:10:31 PM

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