ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | An Open Letter to My Judea, Samaria and Gaza Brethren 20.12.04

An Open Letter to My Judea, Samaria and Gaza Brethren

20 December 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Believe me, I understand your anger, feelings of betrayal, frustration and disbelief at PM Ariel Sharon's decision to "disengage from Gaza" and then from the heavily populated Arab areas of Judea and Samaria. As much as we shiver at the term, these areas will become "Judenrein" and will be handed over to the Palestinian Authority (eventually some form of Palestinian State). You invested decades in building a Jewish framework of life, both in the spiritual and physical sense. There is no way that the evacuation of the Jewish presence in the Biblical heartland cannot be seen as one of the most traumatic moments in the history of modern Israel and the Jewish People. All your frustrations and angers are fully understood.

Let me clarify: I too, am deeply involved in building a yishuv (settlement), just that it is in the Galilee. After almost 17 years, much of it spent as chairman of the yishuv council, I can only imagine the abyss to be faced should the government decide for whatever reason to evacuate the community village where I live. It's not about money, nor forever changing government policies. Rather I speak of belief and memory. We believed we were doing not only the right thing, but more so what the Jewish People needed most. We poured our lives and our children's lives into it. How many nights did we spend awake to 2 – 3 AM (if one went to sleep at all) solving financial, social, political and infrastructure problems for the collective good? And our children absorbed what we taught, went to the army and joined special units, halting terrorism with their physical being and a quiet hysteria stirred our essence.

Now we face that very unfortunate moment of truth. Palestinian demographics will bury not only the Jewish presence in Gaza, but in most of the Judea and Samaria, as well. And if we continue, we will become a bi-national state, and lose it all. No more Israel as a Jewish State, no more independence. Or we can hold on and find ourselves living as world pariahs and condemned as an apartheid state. But it will not last for long. World condemnation and economic sanctions will force our collapse.

It is not hard to find culprits. But it is not only Sharon who can be accused of using you and in particular the National Religious Movement. Let us go to the heart of the matter when the Likud came to power in 1977 and teamed up with the NRP in an ideological alliance. Yes, Menachem Begin believed in the Greater Land of Israel. He was aware of Palestinian demography but was sure of a Russian and further North America aliyah. The former arrive out of distress and the latter, well, we see a few of them for holidays and a student program or two. Sharon failed, but the exponential catastrophe belongs to Begin. An ideologue with visions, he was as blind in understanding the Palestinians as Golda, and was as clueless as he was helpless in his understanding of what kept Jews in America. Other voices were ignored and the "National Camp" led and failed. The Land of Israel became more important than the People or State of Israel.

The "Great Correction" and line-up with reality is now in process and unfortunately many of you will pay the most direct of prices. Homes and societies will be wiped out and all that will remain are memories, but without visitation rights. For those who lose it all, there will be no childhood home, or yishuv to visit. There can never be "compensation".

So when Benyamin Council Chairman, Pinchus Wallerstein exhorts his comrades to "disobey en masse the 'transfer' law, even at the price of a prison term" I fully understand and I do not know if I would not do otherwise. One becomes a refugee, even if the objective are the sterling values of keeping Israel Jewish and democratic while chasing an dubious, elusive "peace", it hurts no less.

Many accuse Sharon of an "illegitimate" process, whatever that means. Stop fooling yourselves, both the government and the Knesset voted for the Gaza Disengagement and whatever the Likud Central Committee decided is only a recommendation. Sharon faced reality, he was elected as a leader, not a follower of public opinion or as an unbending ideologue. Leaders are expected to be pragmatic and make tough decisions. In the age of nationalism, the Palestinians will either have their own state or join ours and make it bi-national. Today, even Avigdor Leiberman realizes that. And so do you.

Today we face a new beginning, "The Reconciliation". Borders will be drawn up and we will need to turn inwards. You are ideologues and leaders. We live in a state lacking in Jewish identity, education, a developed economy and much social justice. The objectives of the Land of Israel movement cannot be attained without destroying the State of Israel. It is time to redirect our energies and ensure the continued existence of the Jewish People.

With a blessing for the Jewish future in the State of Israel, Yisrael