Holy and Secular – “I want to present to you the ‘disengagement’ program,” the Prime Minister said. “It is not ‘disengagement,’ it is expulsion!” was the angry reply. But in reality the past two years have demonstrated that the Prime Minister was right. The name “disengagement” is indeed a very good description of the process.
Specifically, “disengagement” is a very appropriate term for the attitude of the country towards those expelled from Gush Katif. “Disengagement” is a very good way to describe the apathy of the government towards 9,000 pioneers who were thrown out of their land. “Disengagement” is an accurate and painful description of the heartless treatment that these people have received, as will be seen be a very small number of examples below.
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“Gentlemen,” the general manager of the Prime Minister’s office declared, “This government’s decision to build a commercial center at Nitzan with 20 stores for those who were forced to leave Katif will be executed within one month!” The store owners were very happy. At long last, they would be given the opportunity to earn a living in an honorable way. Within a few months, they would be able to open their businesses once again.
A month passed, two months, and then the winter and the summer too, and by now almost two years have gone by. The commercial center has not been built. The store owners are still using up their savings, while the area slated for the commercial center stands empty. And what does the government say about this? Well, the government has a very serious problem, one that cannot be solved. Somebody discovered that this area was earmarked for living quarters and not for business. And the government legal advisor therefore decided that it is illegal to erect a commercial center at the site. How wonderful it is to be living in a country that is so strict about maintaining the building laws. This is after all a country where nobody at all ever builds beyond the legal limits to which he is entitled. It is a country where the designation of land use has never been changed unless in accordance with the strict letter of the law.
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“Sign here, sign here,” the farmer was told, “stop being such crybabies.” The farmer hesitated a bit and then signed. He said to himself, “I have no other choice, we must continue on with our lives. I do not know if the land is worth anything, but this is no time to be choosy. We will pick up from the very point we were when we were expelled.”
A few months later, the farmer awoke to some very bad news. The ground was covered by a deep frost, and the crops in the hothouses were completely ruined. When the farmer tried to find out what had happened, he discovered terrible and frustrating facts.
At the time of the expulsion from Gush Katif, an expert was sent by the Ministry of Agriculture to check out the land. He declared, “This area is not suitable for hothouses. Three times a year, there is a frost that lasts for about 15 hours. This frost will do serious damage to the hothouses.” The analysis which was commissioned specifically to guide the expelled people was never given to the farmer. Why should he be told anyway, let him be thankful that he was given some land.
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“Every evacuee who wants to open a new business will be given a grant of $20,000.” This was a government decision passed on 17 January, 2006. This is certainly a generous and gracious grant. It is a pity that so few business owners were able to take advantage of it. The government limited this grant to evacuees who live in a priority A sector of the country. But what about the 90% of those who were expelled who do not live in a priority area? Perhaps G-d has the answer to such questions.
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If the same level of energy and creativity that was invested in expelling the settlers had been expended in rehabilitating them, we would now be in a very different situation. At the time of the expulsion there was no problem in ignoring bureaucratic limits. At the time of the expulsion, it was easy to overcome much more complicated problems than the use of an area meant for urban living as a commercial center. But now, it seems there is no longer any need to overcome the problems. After all, this is a “disengagement” plan. It includes disengagement from Azza and disengagement from the evacuees.
Two voluntary organizations have been established to help the people who were expelled from their homes. “The Committee for those Expelled from Gush Katif” concentrates on problems related to homes, education, social welfare, and youth. And “Taasakatif” – directed by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon – searches for means of employment. If you do not want to be part of the government disengagement from the evacuees, you are invited to make your contribution. More details are available by phone: 1-800-25-25-35.
NOTE: The OU has been collecting, and continues to collect for those expelled from their homes in Gaza.
Reprinted with permission from Zomet Institute (www.zomet.org.il).
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.