Friday, October 28, 2011

Amrousi - It's okay to say 'disengagement'

Emily Amroussi
Israel Hayom
28 October '11

If I wanted to lose readers, the surest way to do so would be to mention the word “disengagement” in the first paragraph, and most readers would already start turning the page. The most significant domestic Israeli event in our history occurred only six years ago, but it feels like 600. A human story with octopus-like implications, ignored by art and television, a close-to-home trauma swept energetically under the public discourse, a collective shudder. Its direct results are reported as if they were a report about the weather, a force of nature, while the contemporary context has been erased from the regularly scheduled broadcast.

This week, the word slipped into prime time when Gilad Sharon gave an interview abroad marking the publication of his father's biography, but that was a one-off show. Generally, even an offhand mention of the uprooting is enough to kill any interview: Our time is up.

Pointing out cause and effect is a basic expression of journalistic work, but in the six years of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip they have simply "fallen in Israeli territory." Even during Operation Cast Lead (the Israeli air and ground operation against Gaza in 2008 to 2009), the word was hardly pronounced explicitly. Only 10 months have passed between our flight from there and Gilad Shalit's being smuggled in there -- but shhhh. Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said in an interview this week that the disengagement helped keep Shalit “well-hidden.” Hamad has yet to understand the size of the mistake: Razi (Barkai, a well-known radio talk show host) might stop calling.

I consulted the Internet, the ultimate chronicle. The number of pages dealing with Gilad Shalit is exactly 10 times the number of pages that mention the disengagement. Putting aside the fact that we are talking about one Israeli who was removed from his home, compared to 8,500 Israelis who were removed from their homes (both he and them went sent by the state), and that Shalit’s suffering was infinitely greater, the disturbing thing is the blurring of the causal link between the two. Hands on our ears and our eyes: We don't want to know.

On the day of Shalit's kidnapping, another Israeli was also kidnapped: Eliyahu Asheri, a handsome student at a pre-military academy. He was put into a Palestinian car at the entrance to Ofra by the same organization that kidnapped Shalit, the Hamas Popular Resistance Committees, and murdered by his kidnappers. Asheri was abducted in Samaria, Shalit was kidnapped into the black hole which we created.

The IDF held on to the intelligence about the Asheri kidnapping, knowing which organization was holding him, even before his father submitted a complaint about his disappearance. Within two days, the IDF surrounded a Ramallah office building and captured a man with relevant information. Asheri's body was located 72 hours after the murder, and buried one day later. Four days later, the IDF arrested the murderers, who were convicted and sentenced to two life sentences.

In Shalit's case, for over five years we did not have a shred of information regarding where he was being held, what condition he was in or how to reach him. His abductors were not caught. The disengagement turned the Gaza Strip into a land of limitless possibilities, while handicapping us.

And a word about the public debate on instituting the death penalty for terrorists: We have no choice but to adopt it. Not because we want to, but as a last resort. Last week we read about Cain, who wandered the world as an outcast. In Palestinian society, Cain is a king (and if he killed Jews, he would also get a fat paycheck from the Palestinian Authority). The angel of death must himself be threatened with death.

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