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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Thursday, June 30, 2005
A Democracy Convulses
As the summer Israeli disengagement from Gaza gets closer, tensions rise.

PALM BEACH HOTEL, Gaza Strip. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers raided a Gaza Strip hotel Thursday to remove about 150 Jewish extremists who barricaded themselves inside several weeks ago to protest Israel's planned Gaza pullout.

About 10 busloads of soldiers and paramilitary police raided the Palm Beach Hotel and went room-to-room to remove the extremists, who had stockpiled food and surrounded the hotel with barbed-wire fences. Some squatters were carried out by soldiers holding each limb, and arrests were reported.

No one resisted violently, but several squatters burned tires in protest, with smoke billowing from the hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The opponents were being loaded onto buses by the soldiers.
Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, protesters against the disengagement plan blocked traffic.

These pictures are another reminder of something so obvious it needs to be repeated: Israel is a liberal democracy. If Israel's critics who call it a totalitarian regime were right, these people would be dealt with much more harshly and there wouldn't be any reporters around to document the protest. You ever see protesters blocking traffic in Egypt or Jordan? No? Everybody must be very content there.

I have no right to offer advice since I don't live in Israel. I don't pay taxes there. My house isn't on the line. My children will not serve in the IDF. This is just the humble suggestion of an outsider who wishes Israel well.

Pro-disengagement Israelis: Realize that families who have lived in Gaza for decades moved and built a life there with the encouragement and support of the government. They're monumentally screwed. You should feel bad for them, publicly. I want to see public fundraisers by leaders of the lefty Israeli parties to help Gaza families relocate.

Anti-disengagement Israelis: Lose the references to WWII. You get no sympathy by drawing similarities between Jews deported by Nazis and Israelis relocated by a democratic government. Protest all you want but make sure the nuttier among you don't get violent. I swear, if an IDF soldier so much as sprains an ankle dragging you to a police bus, I and a bunch of Americans are going to come over there and kick your @sses.

Both sides should take a big breath and two steps back. Palestinians won't destroy Israel this summer, but at this rate, Israelis could.
This tears me up. There is no right and no wrong, just us stuck trying to do the best that we can to make peace with people who may try to kill us anyway.
Jack: Just substitute "will" for "may" and I agree 100%. I also agree with Bean that we cannot really offer opinions 'cause our lives aren't on the line.
I am pretty torn on this issue, but just for the record I don't agree on principle that we can't offer opinions. I think Saudi Arabia should let women drive and that it should become a liberal democracy and I don't live there.
I also agree with Bean that we cannot really offer opinions 'cause our lives aren't on the line.

I have no problem offering opinions. What happens in Israel impacts Jews everywhere.

I don't expect my opinion to hold the same weight, nor do I expect to be allowed to vote on this issue, but there is no reason we cannot speak our mind.

When they murdered Daniel Pearl they made certain that he announced he was Jewish. Those animal would do the same to us.

But anyway you cut it, this just sucks.
Jack: I agree. It’s like watching your parents fight. You can’t pick a side; you just want it to stop.

Ball-and-chain: I love you!

Ralphie & Jack: I guess you’re right. We can certainly jawbone about this all we want. But I know that some Israelis (like David of treppenwitz) resent having non-Israelis tell them how to run the country when we won’t make the sacrifice to move there and vote. But if I can tell France that they’re a bunch of terror-appeasing losers, why can’t I give advice to a country I have genuine affection for?
Advice or no advice, we LIVE in a democracy and can discuss anything we want here, including other countries.

This is so painful, watching your own fight. I see both sides, and I just hope they'll find the resolution that won't split the country in half. I think the leadership is doing a terrible job of making Jews feel united.
"..if an IDF soldier so much as sprains an ankle dragging you to a police bus, I and a bunch of Americans are going to come over there and kick your @sses"

Um. Excuse me? First you say you hve no right to offer advice to those who live in Israel, and then you threaten them?
What about the Americans that are being kicked out of their homes by the "democratic" American government to make way for malls? If someone sprains his ankle trying to get them out of their houses, will you kick his ass, too?

Their asses..you know what I meant.
Anonymous: You're absolutely right of course. I was venting some anger and wrote that threat strictly out of emotion without any thought. I have absolutely no intention of flying to Israel and beating anyone up. I think some of our regular readers (both of them!) understood that, but it still doesn't make what I said right.

Just so you understand who I was angry at and who I was threatening (because I'm not positive from your comment that you do), it's the anti-disengagement protesters that tick me off. Let me be clear. In Israeli politics, just as in America, my sympathies are generally with the right wing. But when the wing that one usually sides with crosses a line and goes too far, one is much angrier than when the opposite side consistently does things you oppose. Am I making sense? For example, the Democrats are constantly doing stuff I think is hare-brained. That doesn't upset me. But when Republicans do something I think is wrong, (for example, in my opinion, in Schiavo's case) I see that as a betrayal of their (and my) principles and I'm much more upset.

So I have great sympathy for those who are about to be evicted from their homes in Gaza through no fault of their own. I also have sympathy for those who say that it is a mistake to do so, since it is done with no concessions from the Palestinians and may worsen Israel's security. But more important than the debate over these issues is the general principles of democracy and rule of law. A democratically elected government has decided that Israel is abandoning Gaza. A citizen of that democracy is free to protest that decision, but violent protest crosses the line. I don't want to see cops and soldiers injured by radical members of a side I fundamentally have sympathy for.

That's a much longer but much more honest description of my views, and it involves no threats! Thanks for keeping me honest.
David Bogner, of treppenwitz, posts about the situation. He writes that the tensions are worse than I thought, and are made worse by media and bloggers using thoughtless language to demonize the other side. Read it. It makes me regret even more that I posted while angry. I won't do that again.
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