Another week comes and while the expelled families of Gush Katif live like refugees, our Jewish leadership pens pieces congratulating the police and soldiers for 'sensitively' expelling the settlers and the settlers for not causing too much problems in the expulsion. The pieces, all of them nearly identical, congratulate 'both sides' as if the family who is thrown out of their home and the men who threw them out are somewhat morally equivalent or as if this was a children's game where both players can be patted on the back for being good sports.
The pieces call for dialogue with the rest of Israel for the sake of unity. Dialogue of course being meetings between various leaders which resolve absolutely nothing but give organizations something to write press releases about. Indeed the spate of 'dialogues' being spawned in Israel like salmon in a river is reminiscent of American Judaism's preoccupation with interfaith dialogue which consisted of meaningless conferences that accomplished utterly nothing. Today after over a century of dialogue, the liberal Protestant Churches, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist are boycotting Israel and the Catholic Church condemns terrorism all around the world except in Israel. What went wrong?
Dialogue as an aim in and of itself is worthless when the fundamental issues remain unaddressed. When South Africa ended a Apartheid they inaugurated the 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission,' Truth preceded Reconciliation because the truth must be spoken before reconciliation can occur. Attempts at dialogue without truth will always fail because without truth, reconciliation becomes a series of hollow platitudes.
The truth must be spoken. A moral reckoning must be made with those who were responsible for the expulsion, those who supported it and those who like the OU, stood by and said nothing. It is a reckoning that must be made in Israel and in America, among secular Jews and Orthodox and Reform and Conservative. We as a people must make a moral reckoning of what we have done and what we allowed to be done in our name.
We must speak the truth that over 10,000 Jews were expelled forcibly from their homes which were destroyed behind them in an act of ethnic cleansing.
We must speak the truth that for the first time ever the IDF was turned against citizens of the State of Israel, its soldiers compelled to commit war crimes or be imprisoned for disobeying orders and that anyone who advocated that soldiers disobey orders and follow the law were themselves threatened with imprisonment.
We must speak the truth that leading up to this the country was saturated with propaganda demonizing settlers, that those protesting against the government were brutally beaten and persecuted and that hundreds of political prisoners from old men to girls as young as 13 charged with 'Avaryanut Ideologit' or 'Ideological Crimes' were placed behind bars and some of them are still there.
We must speak the truth that even now most of those expelled are living like refugees, that along with the homes they grew up in and the businesses they supported their families with, they have lost personal belongings and that their compensation has been pitiful.
We must speak the truth that the looting and burning we have seen, the resurgence in terrorism and the rising strength of Hamas are all directly attributable to the expulsion.
And most of all we must speak the truth that those Jews in Israel and around the world who supported this are responsible for all of this. In Parshat Shoftim which coincided with the departure that concluded the destruction of Jewish communities, we learn that when a murder occurred outside their city the elders of a city were obligated to bring a sacrifice and to gather and proclaim;
'Yodeinu Lo Shofchu Et Ha'Dam Ve'Einenu Lo Rainu; Our Hands Did not Shed This Blood and Our Eyes Did Not See This.'
Our leaders cannot claim this because by supporting these crimes or by remaining silent they have caused or at best stood idly by the suffering of their brothers. We have all seen it and those of us who have supported it are no different than the police who beat old men in their homes and young girls in the streets, no different than Border Police Commander Shaham who shouted to his men.
"They should all burn! Don't even think! Use cannons! Use water cannons and batons! And hit them in the lower part of the body, this is for the protocol!" (so as to avoid visible injuries)
Will we have dialogue with Shaham and with Sharon and with his defense minister who ordered all this? Will we have dialogue with those who stood with folded hands and now pat both sides on the head for their good behavior? Can there be dialogue without justice? Can there be reconciliation without truth? Without any reason to believe that all this will not happen again in the next round of expulsions?
There is no reconciliation without truth and there is no unity without justice. Those who preach dialogue as the solution to all ills are preaching empty platitudes that will neither help the victims nor reform their persecutors. Today the settlers are treated by the Jewish world much as Israel is treated by the world as a whole. Their behavior is only judged acceptable when they comply with their own destruction. Any refusal, resistance or rejection of the destruction of their homes is treated much the same as the world treats Israel's refusal to be destroyed.
Persecuted minorities begin to mimic the behaviors of the majority that persecutes them by finding a minority of their own to persecute. Kids bullied find weaker kids to bully. The cycle isn't broken, instead it's perpetuated. Having given up fighting terrorists and world opinion, the Israeli government has found a minority of its own to bully, the settlers. Reason and dialogue will not prevail here. The cause is embedded in Israel's failure to resist the bullies, turning first to appeasement and then when appeasement fails to bullying their own instead of fighting back.
And that is the truth.