Disengagement, as Prime Minister Sharon calls it, or unilateral separation, as former prime Minister Ehud Barak called it, or withdrawal, or whatever other term you like, begins in earnest tomorrow when settlers from Gush Katif will be moved to Nitzanim as part of Israel's pullout from Gaza. Interior Minister Ophir Pines (Labor) gushed about the preparations for the evacuees in Nitzanim, which are, in reality, double wide mobile homes.
Let's be honest about disengagement: this is definitely what Prime Minister Sharon meant by "painful concessions", with an emphasis on the word "painful". It has caused deep divisions in Israeli society and among Jews the world over. The Prime Minister himself called the decision to pull out from Gaza "the most difficult decision" he has ever made and it has resulted in scorn and protest from many who were once his staunchest supporters.
I have been a strong supporter of both the Prime Minister and of disengagement. I have no illusions that it will lead to peace. I don't believe for a minute the current Palestinian leadership is at all interested in peace. (See my blog entry of July 28, 2005.) I have believed the so-called Roadmap has been a non-starter from the beginning because the Palestinians have done nothing to ever live up to any of their commitments. I also believe there is no way that Israel can sustain ruling over millions of hostile Arabs, nor can they fight the terrorists among the Palestinians with little Jewish communities in the midst of Palestinian population centers.
This piece, though, is not for those who support disengagement. It's really for those who do not. Like it or not the Israeli government, in the person of the Prime Minister, in the Cabinet, and in the Knesset as a whole has approved this withdrawal. It is legal, it is a decision that was arrived at by the majority of the democratically elected representatives of the Israeli people, and it has been upheld at every turn by Israel's courts. Polls in Israel show that it is still supported by a majority of Israelis.
Now that disengagement is arrived we need to respect this decision, allow it to happen, and put our differences behind us. Our enemies do not distinguish between Jews who support disenagegemnt and those who oppose. They don't distinguish between religious and secular. We're all Jews and/or Israelis and they will kill us regardless of where we stand politically given the chance. Disengagement is here and all legal and peaceful means to stop it have been turned aside. What the consequences, positive or negative, of pulling out of Gaza will be continue, at this point, to be mere speculation. Only time will tell. The consequences of not remaining united and standing firm against Arab and Islamic terrorism can only be negative.