Last week, while observing the Gaza pullout, Laurence Simon had a remarkable insight. Let me see if I can paraphrase it here.
Known Muslim terrorists flee into a Muslim house of worship. Solution: surround it, negotiate, bring in terrorist-sympathizers to try to lure them out.
Known Muslim terrorists flee into a Christian house of worship. Solution: surround it, negotiate, agree to let them leave the country freely.
Known Jewish non-terrorists occupy a Jewish house of worship in protest for being forced to move as part of a plan to make a territory Judenrein, as part of the ethnic cleansing of the Gaza strip: send in soldiers and haul them out physically.
The main distinction here seems to be whether or not the occupiers are likely to violently resist. If so, perhaps the settlers would have been wise to fire a few rockets into settle Palestinian areas first.
The other thing that makes me glad I’m not Jewish is the context for the Gaza pullout. Under the numerous “peace plans,” most notably the Road Map, Israel and Palestine are supposed to take numerous steps towards ending the hostilities and eventually arriving at a two-state solution. I don’t have my copy of the Road Map handy, but the last time I checked the wholesale Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is around Step 37 on their obligations.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians are rejoicing in this “great victory” and proclaiming that it was only through terrorism that they won this great concession. Their response is to say that next the West Bank, then Jerusalem, then finally all of Palestine (including Israel) will be theirs.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, Step 1 on the Palestinian list of obligations is to put an end to terrorism. At least it’s on their list of things to do. I’m sure they’ll get to it sooner or later.
One final note: a lot of people have been commenting about what the status of Gaza was before the pullout, and how it was “stolen” by the Israelis. Here’s a quick history lesson:
The Gaza Strip was granted to the Palestinians in 1947 by the United Nations in the partitioning that created Israel, but they never accepted it. It was occupied by Egypt in the 1948 war, and they held it for 19 years, using it as a potential staging ground for a future attack on Israel and generally treating the residents as nuisances.
It was taken and occupied by Israel in 1967, at which point it was formally declared “disputed territory” — land occupied during war to be returned at the conclusion of hostilities. When Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, but Egypt refused to take back the Gaza Strip. There has yet to be signed a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, therefore the occupation was perfectly proper.
After a couple of decades, though, it’s certainly undertandable that Israel would say “to hell with it” and start moving in settlers, and discuss annexing it.