Gush Katif: The Way Forward

In the last two weeks we have been witness to a terrible self-inflicted disaster. Any Jew that does not have a heart of stone wept copious tears. However, now is the time to stop crying. To make sure that our energies are focused on positive acts (not weeping, anger, hate, resentment, etc.) G-d is good, and the fact that he gives us life, strength, intelligence and skills means we must utilize them towards positive ends. In this essay we will diagnose and examine the nature of the self-inflicted disaster, and outline a positivist program that for turning the disaster into the ultimate victory.

What Happened?

The scope of the tremendous Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's name) is almost too great for words. Nevertheless, we need to write down a few  facts and keep them clear in our minds - especially since the western and Israeli press/propaganda will try to distort and diminish the magnitude of the crime.

The New Defense/Military Situation in Israel

Israel strategic military position is now greatly weakened, placing all four million Jews in Israel in grave danger. The so-called disengagement was nothing less than leaving the battlefield in time of war in full retreat. Nothing was gained and nothing was even asked for in terms of improvement of Israel's defensive position. The argument that some military experts proffer that this retreat was necessary or that it makes it easier for the IDF to go back in is laughable.

Firstly, all un-biased military experts oppose this retreat. Former Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon (who was recently fired for voicing opposition to the "evacuation" plan) said, "Immediately after the disengagement, we can expect a burst of terrorism" - especially in Judea and Samaria. Former minister Moshe Arens calls it "an act of barbarism that would not be countenanced anywhere else in the western world." He states the obvious, that it is a "prize being given to the terrorists" and it will "most likely bring an upsurge of terrorism with the feeling that terrorism works." Avi Dichter (head of Israeli intelligence GSS, and also fired for his opposition) said that "Gaza will become southern Lebanon" and "Shomron will become the new Gaza." (Haaretz Aug 15,16, Gamla, Arutz Sheva, etc.)

Secondly, it is laughable that the IDF will go back into Gaza. They don't go there now. They had excellent strategic bases in Neve Dekalim, Netzarim, etc. that were superb scouting and listening posts and jump-off points for missions. But "international pressure" kept them from going into Gaza for more than a few hours. Now that it is an international border, they certainly won't enter, especially against a better fortified enemy.

However, we don't have to appeal to experts to understand the obvious stupidity of running away from a battle. Does anyone have doubts about how long Israel would last if it disbanded its Army and trusted the Arabs and the good will of the world? Nothing has changed in the last 50 years; the Arab world still finds Israel an anathema and will be perfectly happy if it were destroyed. Now, it will posses a haven in Gaza to launch their unchanging and never denied campaign to drive Israel into the sea. Gaza would become a terrorist paradise with  its deep-water seaport and airport to bring in weapons, missiles, and terrorists at will. Who needs to go to terrorist camps in Afghanistan, when one can get training by the inventors of modern terrorism (the PLO) in the Hamas-run state of Gaza? The location of Gaza is much better for attacks on Europe and Israel. The "leadership" in Gaza has a long history of excellent terrorist training. No amount of walls will keep Kassam rockets away from the Israeli towns of Ashkelon, Sderot as well as longer range Kassam-2,-3,-4 (17 km), Katusha, and Nassar-3's. Now that Israel has abandoned the mountain-tops of Sa-Nur and Chomesh in the Shomron, the major Israeli cities of Afula, Hadera and even Netanya will come easily in range from there. Security fences will not help; terrorist infiltration will shift to employing Israeli Arabs, or exploiting Arab workers who still need to travel to Israel-based jobs.

Finally, there might still be some people who allow political considerations to blind them to the obvious military/terrorist threat. However, we can use a well-known military technique to uproot this bias. Simply place oneself in the enemies' shoes. They are not at all blinded by liberal, political biases. They see this retreat clearly as proof that "Jihad works." They have announced that it was not Israel's choice that caused this withdrawal, but the "brave sacrifices of the suicide bombers." The machine-gun laced celebrations clearly show us they know this is a win. And they also celebrate the images of crying IDF soldiers. They recognize that when your enemy is retreating and crying, that is a win.

Losing the Psychological Warfare Battle - A Threat to the World and World Jewry

The new bases in Gaza and Shomron will undoubtedly become magnets for all the displaced terrorists from Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of the world. More availability of money (from diverted aid shipments), a more industrialized terror-base, better-trained candidate pool, and most importantly, closer access to Europe and population centers will be key elements in the growth of this new terror haven.

However, a worse message was given by this "disengagement." Military experts know that there are two components to warfare: the physical war and the psychological war. In many ways the second is more important. Once your enemy feels that future fighting is hopeless, you have won. On the flip-side, if you are Napoleon and conquer Moscow but your enemy does not feel it has lost, all the technical and physical superiority will not give you victory.

Very simply then, the Arab and Moslem terrorist now know that Jihad works, and we can expect them to use it more and more to further their aims in more and more places in the world. It is a winning strategy. First in southern Lebanon and now in Gaza. In fact, it is so successful that it can get the "enemy army" (i.e. the IDF) to actually join one's own side and further the aims of the Arab world - i.e. the destruction of Jewish towns and cities and ultimately all of Israel.

Yassam'niki (the new Israeli Cossack)Furthermore, we saw another very disturbing trend in Israel these last weeks. A special riot police force has been employed against Jews called the Yassam. They dress totally in black, have special helmets, and have no name-plates so they can operate without legal constraints. They have been specially trained in hand-to-hand violence (bone crushing, jamming fingers in the face, nose, etc) as well as how not to leave identifying marks of damage. In the last few months they have been deployed frequently in KGB-like actions to suppress Chassidic Jews, hilltop protesters, and of course in Gaza. Sometimes they break up non-violent protests by riding in on horse-back swinging clubs (similar to how the Cossacks would carry out a pogrom). They are a wonderful psychological suppression force that currently is mainly used not for true riots, but rather to suppress legitimate political demonstrations and protests.

The use of these "police" (who seem to be for the most part non-Jewish Israelis) to carry out pogroms against Jews, as well as use of the army to drag people out of their homes and to destroy Jewish homes and shuls, sends a very clear message to Anti-Semites around the world. For hundreds of years pogroms were carried out across Germany, Poland, France, Russia, Iraq, Syria, Morocco by anti-Semites against Jews. What did they do? They dragged Jews out of their homes, destroyed homes and shuls. In the last hundred years, we have not seen much of this: it became taboo. But at a deep psychological level the taboo is now broken. They have seen Jews do this to Jews! Hey, that means even Jews agree that some Jews deserve this treatment. And the justification can be quite minor, i.e. that they live in the wrong place, or too close to us.

Lastly, we have now seen how a political clique in the Knesset can destroy the political base of its opponents. It is very simple. Just create a political coalition in the Knesset, and then order the Army to destroy the homes in the heartland of the parties that oppose the coalition. The families will be in havoc and chaos for years, and this will greatly decrease the power-base of opposing political parties. Why else was the Likud/Labor faction in such a rush to carry out this destruction? Would it really make a difference it they waited another year till new towns could be created?

The Roots of the Problem

Up till now we have examined the external aspects of the disaster in detail. But to really diagnose the problem, and then to come up with the solution, we have to go to the roots of the problem. Our rabbis tell us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam (causeless hatred). It was the fragmentation and fractionalization of the Jewish people that brought about this destruction. As long as this continues, we will continue to remain in Golus (exile). Nowhere is this golus felt more strongly now than in Israel, where deep splits and hatred are emerging between religious and non-religious Jews, as well as liberal vs. conservative, and all other sorts of fissions.

It is these splits and fissions that foster the growth of terribly negative stereotypes and hatreds of one's fellow Jews. There is propaganda that tomato growers are "fanatical settlers." That non-religious Jews are no better than non-Jews. Outlandish claims appear in newspapers that it is kosher, legal and democratic to defeat one's political opponents by the raw use of force to destroy their towns and cities. That it is permissible to use physical violence against one's fellow Jew, in uniform or out of uniform.

An Outline for a Solution

As we stated at the beginning of this essay, our aim is to provide a positive, forward looking framework for solving this problem. The problems that we have described in this essay might appear grave. However, there is also great reasons for optimism. At the core of every Jew is a indestructible G-dy soul, and all we have to do is uncover it. What follows is an outline for a solution. It is not comprehensive because every Jew must contribute their own talents to helping solve the problem.

Firstly, we have keep things clear in our minds. Their are many problems in Jewish and Israeli society. Not everyone pays their fair share of taxes, not everyone contributes to military duty equally. But we can't let anyone side-track us about these issues. They are secondary. First of all we have to know that we are under attack in in the midst of a war. The first thing has to be to fight our enemy in a united front. The other issues should also be addressed, but if we don't get this first issue correct, there will be no Israel.

Secondly, as we pointed out in the last section, the root of the problem is Sinas Chinam. It is the internal Jewish battles that are destroying us. When we are united, we have nothing to fear from external enemies. There are two  elements to uniting the Jews: 

  1. We cannot be united except with truth. That truth must be rooted in Torah (G-d's Truth). We have to use the Torah's perspective on how to look at the political, military, and psychological war that is being waged against us (as described at length in the earlier sections of this essay).
  2. More importantly, our Rabbis told us that the cure for Sinas Chinam is Ahavas Chinam. Simply we have to redouble our efforts in Ahavas Yisroel (Loving one's fellow Jew).

We must break down these barriers to dialog. Every Jew must feel the family ties that bind us all together. What we talk about is not as important as that the words come from the heart. Everyone we talk to has to actually feel that when we are talking to them, that the underlying emotion is love regardless of the words.

Even when there is rebuke to be given for acts that must be stopped - the underlying Ahavas Yisroel must come through (see the essay titled: On Giving Rebuke: A Guide to the Hypercritical and Hypersensitive, (

There is no magic formula of words, points, or facts that we can use that will crush the hatreds. Because, at their roots, this is not a intellectual thing. It is an emotional problem. Thus everyone can help, and the only requirement is that one speak clearly and simply from the heart.

The reward will be great. For when the Jewish people are truly united with one heart, we will be a fitting vessel for the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days, and the end of this dark bitter golus.

The Author is the Chief Scientist at a U.S. Army funded think tank in Massachusetts, USA.