Monday, August 22, 2005

An excellent analysis of the whole Azza withdrawal fiasco can be found in the essay by Josh Ragen posted on Jeff Woolf's blog.

The two most significant aspects of the Azza withdrawal are the human tragedies and the failure of all of Israel's major institutions. In this post and the next I'll discuss these aspects, respectively, and in the one after that I'll outline what I believe needs to be done.

One of the true gedolei hador (affiliated with the Haredi world) was in my house this week and several of those present were lamenting the uprooting of Jewish graves and the destruction of batei knesset in Azza. His response, with which I agree entirely, was that these are minor issues compared to the suffering of families uprooted from their homes. (He also lamented the fact that a certain elderly Rosh Yeshiva was recently shlepped all the way from Benei Beraq to New York and Chicago but couldn't find his way to Nevei Dekalim to show support.)

Try and imagine every family in Teaneck simply being thrown out of its home and left to its own devices. What is being lost here is not simply four walls and a roof but an entire fabric of life. Each house is a home, each shul is a focal point of community life, each business is an organism painstakingly grown over decades. None of this can simply be reconstructed elsewhere. Those who are evicted cannot choose if and when they will move elsewhere. They can't choose under what circumstances they wish to move. They can't sell their property because it is being destroyed and would in any case be worthless.

Those who signed up for government assistance are no better off than those who didn't. The horrendous caravans that they were promised are tiny, crowded close to each other, too cheaply constructed to withstand winter weather and are not even ready. There is no single place with sufficient housing available that communities can stay together. The compensation they are supposed to receive is woefully inadequate to even begin to reconstruct the lives they lead and they don't even know when they will actually receive it. (And the cost of their own eviction -- containers, moving vans, rent for the caravans, applications, etc. -- is being deducted from the compensation.)

In some cases, insult was added to injury. Those exiled were thrown on buses and then dumped at various shelters. Often children and parents were separated and dumped in different cities. In some cases, they were dumped on the side of the road in middle of nowhere. In one Kafkaesque case, a fellow named Nimburg was under house arrest in Nevei Dekalim after having been arrested at a demonstration last March. He was evicted from his home, dumped in Jerusalem and then arrested for violating the terms of his house arrest. (You can't make this stuff up. I'll discuss the civil rights aspects of all this in my next post.)

Anyway, if anyone can pull through a tragedy like this, it is the courageous Jews of Azza. Last night, I went to the kotel to join those who were there to greet the families exiled earlier in the day from Atzmonah and Katif. Past midnight, thousands and thousands of people continued to stream into the area of the kotel. As the exiles arrived, tired, bedraggled, with children and babies in tow, the crowd parted slightly to let them pass. As they passed the crowd sang softly: ki lo yitosh hashem amo ve-nachalato lo ya'azov. Words are inadequate to transmit the power and dignity of the moment. I can only say that the people there -- the exiles and those who greeted them with songs, with snacks, with hugs -- are the kindest, most authentic, most dignified people I have ever seen. It was an honor to stand among them.

[If you object to nasty screeds skip this paragraph: It astounds me that there are some bloggers who can be so insensitive to the suffering of others that they compare this eviction to people who come on aliyah under circumstances of their own choosing. I appreciate the democratizing influence of the blogosphere but there is a downside to it. Any unhinged, never-been-kissed nerd with a big mouth is liable to discover that behind the cloak of anonymity provided by a blog he can actually get some attention. This seems to act like a narcotic and pretty soon he's publishing every half-baked, uninformed, insensitive, glib "idea" that passes in the vicinity of his consciousness. Please don't encourage these people. End screed.]

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't we have prevented much of this pain with some adequate planning and advocacy on behalf of those who were to become homeless? We already know the dehumanizing bureacracy of the Israeli government. Why didn't anyone negotiate for better compensation packages and acceptable housing?

4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on this post and the last post, I believe I took a course named logica matamatit or something like that of yours in Bar Ilan.

11:55 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

Ben

All I know is that the volunteer planning group that does the logistics for the annual Alyn Hospital Bike ride in Israel could have done a lot better than the disgraceful and insensitive job being done by the state agency charged with the job. It's appalling.

8:11 PM  
Blogger Tzvee said...

I'm not in favor of disobedience to the decisions of a democratic government. I'm sorry that you have such a narrow and one sided view of this matter. This was undertaken to save the lives of soldiers and settlers, to save countless millions of dollars and we would hope, to benefit the Gazans. Yes, there were real reasons for this process, deliberated on by sane and savvy leaders.

5:07 AM  
Blogger bar_kochba132 said...

Tzvee- I see you are one of those who is willing to throw out all your principles about democracy, trust, public accountability, etc, as long as your leader destroys settelements....believe me, if the fellow you voted for betrayed his promises to you in return for bribes, like Sharon did to his voters, you would be calling your man every name in the book....don't give me this hypocrisy about the "democratic decisions" of the gov't and its "sane and savvy" leaders whose blatant corruption you conveniently chose to ignore.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous bsd said...

"Any unhinged, never-been-kissed nerd with a big mouth is liable to discover that behind the cloak of anonymity provided by a blog he can actually get some attention"

give us another post on your practice with lingerie shopping! your opinions on women's dress! Pot, kettle.

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"[If you object to nasty screeds skip this paragraph: It astounds me that there are some bloggers who can be so insensitive to the suffering of others that they compare this eviction to people who come on aliyah under circumstances of their own choosing. I appreciate the democratizing influence of the blogosphere but there is a downside to it. Any unhinged, never-been-kissed nerd with a big mouth is liable to discover that behind the cloak of anonymity provided by a blog he can actually get some attention. This seems to act like a narcotic and pretty soon he's publishing every half-baked, uninformed, insensitive, glib "idea" that passes in the vicinity of his consciousness. Please don't encourage these people. End screed.]"

The rhetoric surrounding the disengagement - even from those who didn't make Holocaust comparisons - has been INSANE. They speak as though they are living in Czarist Russia. It's not surprising that there's some trivialization of their experience in reaction. You don't seem terribly sane on this topic either. Living in Israel seems too often to totally warp perspective. That blogger was trying to bring a dose of reality to the picture. He is closer to accurate than the other side has been.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

bsd,

You realize, I hope, that all those posts are coded messages regarding the imminent arrival of the messiah.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

anonymous,
I suppose I do lack perspective. I suffer from the disadvantage of not getting my information filtered through the LA Times. I'll consult you when I feel the need for a dose of sanity.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

given that you've guessed my background incorrectly, I think my diagnosis is correct.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You realize, I hope, that all those posts are coded messages regarding the imminent arrival of the messiah."

You are smug, arrogant and obnoxious. Not schizophrenic.

6:57 AM  

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