Real stories about Israeli “disengagement” from the West Bank and Gaza are hard to come by via the mainstream American media, who prefer to feed us our international news in bite-sized, easy-to-swallow chewable tablets of information. A screaming Palestinian here, a defiant Israeli settler there, and a few shots of Ariel Sharon looking all the more like the guy from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” who is so overweight he eventually explodes, and we have ourselves enough disengagement news to last until Larry King’s next interview with Jessica Hahn (who, by the way, apparently gets boob jobs as often as most people get oil changes. Oh, and she slept with Hugh Hefner, but only once.)
So instead I read online versions of Israeli newspapers like Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post. I listen to Israel National Radio, which is so far to the right if it moved any further it would have to change its name to Jordan National Radio. And of course, I follow the blogosphere, reading posts from Israelis and Palestinians and Americans who, like me, wonder what is really going on in settlements like Gush Katif in Gaza, where thousands of people will lose their homes or die trying to keep them.
It doesn’t matter where you come down on this issue; I have my opinions, but I wouldn’t dare assume that I have better insight into what’s going on than the people who live there. I am concerned, however, that the Israeli homeowners in the occupied territories are surrounded not just by Hamas or Islamic Jihad but also by another enemy -- other Israelis.
Left-wing Israelis accuse the defiant settlers of damaging the road map to peace (as if that road hasn’t been damaged enough). Right-wing Israelis demand the settlers stand firm because to do anything less is to dishonor G-d and country. Stay you lose, leave you lose – sounds more like the Vegas Strip than the Gaza Strip.
Passions and opinions understandably run high. On Jewlicious, a writer wrote somewhat lightheartedly about Gush Katif’s organic agriculture industry and how its homegrown lettuce will no longer be available after disengagement. A reader commented, “Screw the Lettuce!!! That’s the least of our troubles, how about the victory going to the enemy! How about the plans the enemy has for the land!!!”
It gets worse than mere attacks on helpless produce. One pro-settler group reportedly placed a “curse” on Sharon to make him drop dead within 30 days. An Israeli blogger called an American Jewish blogger who supports the disengagement plan a Judenrat (derogatory slang for Nazi puppet).
I agree with blogger Lisa Rosenblatt who wrote: “Peace and security surrounding Israel means nothing unless there is internal peace amongst Israelis and all Jews.”
Disengagement begins Aug. 15. Screw the lettuce – and let’s hope for the best.