Today is Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both the first and the second Temple, as well as various other disasters in Jewish history. Tisha b’Av, of course, is a fast day. Sometimes I barely notice it, but this time I find myself very uncomfortable although it’s still early.
The evacuation of Gaza’s Jewish residents in 2005 began on the tenth day of Av. It’s been said that it was originally scheduled for Tisha b’Av until someone noticed, but I’ve been unable to verify that. It is a fact that the original name of the operation to uproot the settlements – chosen by an IDF computer at random – was zohar ha’rakia [heavenly brightness], which is a phrase from the el ma’aleh rahamim prayer that is recited when praying for the dead at funerals and on Yom Kippur. When someone pointed this out, the name was changed to the less-upsetting avnei derech [milestones].
Last month the Knesset ordered an inquiry into the treatment of the evacuees, 28% of whom still had not found permanent housing three years after being removed from their homes. Many claim that they have not received the compensation promised by the government. And many of them are still unemployed — they were, after all, farmers in Gaza — and, ironically they are being sued by their former Palestinian employees for ‘wrongful dismissal and non-payment of workers benefits’!
It’s hard, perhaps, for those of us who do not live in Israel or even for secular Israelis to understand the feeling of betrayal felt by the Religious Zionist component of Israeli society, who saw residents dragged from their homes by their own army and police, and watched Palestinians burn the synagogues and destroy the farms and hothouses that they had built over the past 30 years — which they were encouraged to do by successive Labor and Likud governments.
One can speculate that this violation of trust did as much or more damage to the fabric of Israeli society than the rockets which have fallen on southern Israel since then.
And Israel still has not paid the price of the coming confrontation with Hamas which the IDF’s abdication of control of the Egyptian border has guaranteed will be a high one. There’s no question that the ‘disengagement’ from Gaza — both in concept and execution — was a huge fashla [f—up], no less important than the Second Lebanon War in 2006 (which also spanned Tisha b’Av, by the way).
To absolutely put the icing on the cake, the Israeli government has just issued a postage stamp commemorating the settlements of Gush Katif, formerly located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Here it is, with the names of the settlements at the bottom. Under the picture of children happily playing is a verse from the prophet Amos, which translates (I am not making this up, as Dave Barry would say) as follows:
And they shall never again be uprooted from their land