Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Gaza progress?

I am quite happy that the Gaza pullout has been completed. I did not really expect any positive signals from the Palestinians, but this is rather disappointing - and underscores the enormous change in attitude and culture that will be necessary if there is ever to be actual peaceful co-existence.
Before dawn yesterday, Palestinian gunmen climbed on the roof of the Netzarim synagogue and raised flags of militant groups. They chanted, "God is great," and "We don't want anything to remind us of the occupation."
They then set the Netzarim synagogue ablaze.
Palestinian police stood by and watched, admitting they were outnumbered by the crowds and had little motivation to stop them. An officer who refused to give his name said, "The people have the right to do what they are doing."
See a video here. Can you imagine the outrage and mobilization there would be in the international community if Israelis, G-d forbid, did something remotely like this to a mosque?
Not that such an event is at all likely, since the vast majority of even religious Israelis utterly and forcefully reject any such sentiments:
As videos beamed across the world showing the desecration of synagogues in Gaza, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar said Monday evening that he would consider ostracizing any Jew that damages mosques in retaliation.
"I and other rabbis are considering putting a Cherem [ban] on any Jew that desecrates Mosques or other holy places. "What right do Jews have to hurt the places of worship of other faiths? It is a good thing that the peoples of the world pray to God."
When a Jew is put in cherem he cannot join other Jews in prayer or in meals and other Jews cannot come closer than 2 meters from the ostracized. No business transactions can be done with him beyond what he needs for his substanence.
Rabbi Amar said he did not believe a Jew would dare desecrate a mosque but added, "there can always be a hotheaded person that gets carried away and loses control. So I am warning clearly and loudly that desecration of mosques or the holy places of any religion is absolutely prohibited."
I should note that I think there is a significant difference between the planned and orderly demolition of an unused synangogue by non-Jews in order to build something else in its place and the jubilant burning of other people's houses of prayer.
In the end I feel this whole episode, and other recent events (particularly ironic given this), underscore a positive result that could emerge from pulling out of the West Bank too. Putting the Palestinians in charge gives them an incentive to create a successful society, and gives the lie to the illusion that Israel is to blame for all their misfortunes - making it sound hollow and untrue even to themselves. That is a first step that is necessary if peace is ever to be achieved.

No comments: