Why Donate to FLAME?
By supporting FLAME, you help fund our ads in national media, like U.S.
News and World Report, The New York Times, The Nation, The National Review, The American Spectator, The Washington Times National Weekly, and others.
You help publish our messages in Jewish publications, both in the U.S.
and in Israel, among them The International Edition of the Jerusalem Post.
Finally, your donation helps us publish our messages monthly in over fifty
small-town newspapers, all across the United States and Canada.
Facts and Logic About
the Middle East
P.O. Box 590359
San Francisco, CA 94159
May 11, 2005
Friend of FLAME:
It seems certain that Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip sometime
this summer. On the one hand, Prime Minister Sharon argues that the
cost of defending 8,000 Israeli settlers far outweighs the
value of maintaining a foothold in this isolated home to some 1.2 million
Palestinians, a great number of them terrorists sworn to Israels
destruction. This logic seems sound, and the U.S. supports the withdrawal
because Bush and Co. see this as a progressive step in efforts to strengthen
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbass credibility and eventually to
negotiate a peace. But, as usual, politics in the Middle East is not
so simple. As the two short articles below illustrate, Israels
departure has profound downsides. As Jeff Jacoby notes in the Boston
Globe, the Gaza pullout not only hurts the stalwart Israelis who
have settled this once-barren land, it also hurts ordinary Palestinians,
many of whom work for the Israeli settlements and are sure to lose their
jobs with the Palestinian Authority takes over. In addition, Danny Rubenstein
points out in HaAretz that Israels withdrawal without negotiated
reciprocity on the part of the Palestinians only strengthens the hand
of Hamas, the murderous terrorist organization sworn to Israels
destruction and to the establishment of an Islamist state from the Jordan
River to the Mediterranean . . . and beyond.
The dire warnings raised in these articles should inform both the Sharon
and Bush administrations as they pursue what some would consider the
easy way out.
by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, May 9, 2005
you know, Sharons plan to abandon Gaza carries treacherous
dangers. To get a clear---and admittedly frightening---picture of
the consequences of Israels departure, I strongly recommend
FLAMEs recent hasbarah message, Abandoning Gaza: Would
Israels withdrawal from Gaza lead to peace?. You
can find this article on our website at http://www.factsandlogic.org/ad_85.html.
This piece, which appeared in publications nationwide, gives a brief
and lucid history of this territory and explains Israel's claim
to it. Of course, as always, if you would like to support the distribution
of perspectives like this in national media, we welcome your tax-deductible
donation. Simply go to http://www.factsandlogic.org/make_a_donation.html
to make your contribution online.
PLOTS OF FLOWERS grow outside most of the homes we pass
as we drive through this small agricultural cooperative in southern
Gaza. I point out a particularly lavish one, and the driver, a gruff
55-year-old, stops the car.
''What are those white ones?" I ask, motioning through the window.
''And those yellow ones with the orange tips?"
From the back seat, Rafi Horowitz, a veteran of four Arab-Israeli wars,
calls out a Hebrew name for one of them. Debbie Rosen, a resident of
nearby Neveh Dekalim and a spokeswoman for Gaza's Jewish communities,
isn't sure he's right. I get out of the car to take a closer look, and
a moment later the three Israelis are in the garden with me, admiring
the flowers and arguing about their names. A consensus is reached on
the begonias, hibiscus, and pimpernel, but the white ones remain an
Rosen knocks on the front door and tells the man who opens it about
the botanical debate underway in his front yard. He steps back inside,
then reappears with a well-worn guide to the flora of the Holy Land.
In it we find a picture of our mystery flower: white bougainvillea.
A visitor would have to be strangely obtuse not to sense the deep
attachment of Gaza's Jews to the land they live on. In places like
Gadid, streets and kindergartens are named for the Bible's seven species.
"Gadid" itself is an old Hebrew word meaning date harvest, and
the names of other settlements, like Pe'at Sadeh ("edge of the field")
or Netzarim ("sprouts"), similarly evoke the agricultural yearnings
of their founders.
When those founders arrived, Jewish Gaza was all yearning and no agriculture:
These settlements were mostly built on barren sand dunes where no one
lived and nothing grew. Today it is a horticultural powerhouse, supplying
two-thirds of the organic vegetables and cherry tomatoes Israel exports,
and renowned for its bug-free lettuce and other leafy greens. Gaza's
legal status may be complicated (it is technically an unallocated portion
of the League of Nations' 1922 Palestine Mandate), but the moral status
of this land is as clear as day: As a matter of justice and sweat equity,
the Jewish homesteaders whose faith and hard work have made the sand
dunes bloom surely have as much right to their homes in Gadid and Neveh
Dekalim as the Arabs have to theirs in nearby Khan Yunis and Dir El
Yet in just 10 weeks, if Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's ''disengagement"
program goes forward, the 8,000 Jews who live in Gaza -- men, women,
and a great many children -- will be expelled. Their homes and property
will be taken over by the Palestinian Authority. And the green revolution
that has transformed Gaza's sandy wastes into a spectacular oasis of
hothouses, nurseries, and gardens will almost certainly come to an end.
But Jews won't be the only victims of Sharon's plan.
At Tnuvot Katif, a large produce-packaging plant here, I watch for a
while as about two dozen workers, most of them local Arabs, get heads
of tall leaf lettuce ready for export. More than half of Tnuvot's 127
year-round employees are Arab; they in turn account for about 2 percent
of the 3,500 Arabs employed by Gaza's Jewish firms.
During a break in the shift, I ask some of workers if they like their
jobs. They shrug. But when I ask what they think of the plan for
Israeli withdrawal, they grow animated. If the Israelis go, they tell
me through an interpreter, they'll lose their jobs. If the plant shuts
down, they'll be out of work, and if the Palestinian Authority takes
it over, they'll still be out of work -- their jobs will go to workers
with better connections to the PA's ruling thugs.
''If that's how you feel," I ask, ''why don't you oppose the disengagement
publicly? Why don't you tell the PA that you want your Jewish neighbors
When my question is translated, the men look at me as if I'm crazy.
''It's forbidden!" replies Randoor, the only one of the workers
who would give even a first name. ''We're not allowed to say that!"
I press him: Why not? What would be so bad about saying that Jews and
Arabs should be able to live together? But Randoor shakes his head and
crosses his wrists, as if being handcuffed. ''They might put us in jail,"
he says. ''They might call us 'collaborators.' " In the jungle
that is Palestinian society, being called a ''collaborator" can
be a death sentence. Indeed, the PA's newly elevated security chief
-- a cold-blooded killer named Rashid Abu Shabak -- is known in Gaza
as the ''collaborator hunter."
Politicians and pundits are applauding Sharon's planned retreat, yet
a simple lettuce-packer like Randoor seems to grasp what they cannot:
The lives of Gaza's Arabs will not be improved by expelling Gaza's Jews.
Danny Rubinstein, HaAretz, May 9, 2005
Following the publication of the results of the second round of Palestinian
municipal elections in Gaza, it can be said with certainty that barring
any change in Palestinian public opinion in the coming weeks, the evacuation
of Israel from Gaza will leave control over the Strip in the hands of
The Hamas victory in the municipal elections in Gaza was impressive.
The organization won a clear majority of the seats on the city council
in Rafah, which has more than 100,000 residents, in Beit Lahia, with
40,000 residents, the El Bureij refugee camp, with some 30,000 inhabitants,
and in the smaller town of El Murqa.
True, there was a mixture of local affairs, rivalries and competition
between clans in the municipal elections in the territories, and the
identity of the candidates was of far greater importance than their
political positions on the issues. However, even if this is taken into
account, it is impossible to ignore the outright Hamas victory.
One of the signs of the victory is that the Fatah activists in Gaza
have not yet grasped the fact that they are losing their positions of
power and control. When the results became known, particularly in Rafah,
Fatah supporters took to the streets and announced there was voting
fraud and that they would not allow Hamas to control the city halls.
It is difficult for them to accept their loss.
This difficulty is the result of the Fatah movement having been the
ruling Palestinian party for years. Its activists grew accustomed to
being in positions of power. They got used to the pleasure provided
by power - and for years, their control in Gaza was self-evident, even
more so than in the West Bank.
The question therefore is how did Hamas win so clearly and why was Fatah's
loss so painful. True, Gaza is the birthplace of the Hamas movement,
which grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Strip, with links to
Egypt. But that is of no importance. One must add in the economic distress
in Gaza, which is much worse than in the West Bank - and as the backdrop
of this distress, there were bitter complaints about corruption in the
public administration, meaning among Fatah activists, who should be
replaced by Hamas activists with their image of simplicity and honesty.
Moreover, in Gaza, Hamas - much more so than in the West Bank - appears
to have fought, made sacrifices and won the Palestinians their victory
in the form of the Israeli withdrawal from the Strip. Fatah and Palestinian
Authority spokesmen in Gaza are not able to cope with the argument that
during the entire period of the peace process and negotiations with
Israel, they failed to do what the Hamas Qassams and mortars managed
to do - force Ariel Sharon to retreat from Gaza.
The picture from the Israeli perspective could even be worse
because Hamas is perceived in Gaza as being on the verge of receiving
the Gaza Strip, without anything given to the retreating Israelis in
Officially, at least, there has been no change in the Hamas position.
It does not recognize the State of Israel and supports the continuation
of the armed struggle. Hamas publications continue to refer to Israel
as the "Zionist entity" and to the "occupied territories
of 1948." Palestine in its entirety is defined as belonging to
the Waqf, and therefore no concessions are possible.
It is possible that sometime in the future, Hamas will change these
positions. But it is almost certain that the heads of the religious-political
movement won't do so without getting something in return - recognition
of their movement and readiness to accept them as negotiating partners.
There does not seem to be any chance of that now - and certainly not
soon. Meanwhile, Hamas is marching down a paved path, relatively certain
to get the Gaza Strip from Israel as the fruits of victory.
If you'd like a printer-friendly, text version of this newsletter click the button below.
You are receiving this email because you have requested news, facts and analysis about Israel and the Mideast conflict. If you DO NOT want to continue receiving free messages like the one below, go here.
How many times have you heard someone lament that Israel doesnt
have good public relations? By supporting FLAME, you help one of the
worlds most powerful information efforts to spread the truth about
Israel and the Middle East conflict. Please note that because FLAME
is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, your donation is tax-deductible.