Israel’s disengagement from Gaza was a dark day in the country’s history.  Watching the forced evacuation of Jews from Gaza was a particularly painful experience for those who have supported the beleaguered country through thick and thin.  I never thought I’d see Jews dragged from their homes in Israel of all places.  To see other Jews do the dirty work made it all the more heartrending.

But far from demonizing the IDF soldiers who took part in the disengagement, I can only sympathize with the impossible position they were put in by their government.  Looking at the images of weeping settlers and soldiers alike, comforting and hugging each other even as adversaries, was incredibly moving.  I can only imagine the agony those soldiers had to go through in following their orders.  It’s a testament to their humanity (something that opponents of the IDF often deny) that they clearly felt it so strongly.

But it was the images of the settlers as they faced the impossible that were the most difficult to watch.  Some even destroyed their own homes in symbolic defiance or left final messages on the walls.  Others practiced civil disobedience and were carried away and placed on buses, all the while screaming and crying.  Some carried on as if nothing had changed, holding Bar Mitzvah parties and dancing in the synagogues only moments before they were forcibly evacuated.  Men tore at their clothes and wailed in protest.  Children, teenagers, and young adults who were raised in the Gaza settlements had to watch their dreams being crushed.  One can only wonder at the bitterness and disillusionment that may be sown in their hearts by the disengagement.  How will they ever learn to love their country again?

To add insult to injury, many evacuated settlers found themselves without a roof over their heads, despite promises to the contrary from the government.  Although they were supposed to be relocated to temporary homes, they were dumped off at cheap hotels or had to stay with friends instead.  Families were split up in the chaos and in some cases, pets left behind.  Belongings that hadn’t been moved beforehand were housed in containers, some of which were reportedly left unguarded.  Considering the fact that the government had months to plan the disengagement, such neglect was disgraceful.  But the kindness of fellow citizens, many of whom volunteered to assist and house settlers in need, softened the blow.

Juxtaposing all this with the images of triumphant Palestinians was almost unbearable. Even as Jews abandoned their homes and gave up land, Palestinians burned Israeli (and American) flags and destroyed effigies.  Masked men marched with rocket launchers, holding aloft little children in full terrorist regalia.  Along with the post-9/11 celebrating, the bloodthirsty culture that has subsumed the Palestinians was never more on display for the world to see.  That Hamas and its cohorts plan to continue their terrorist war on Israel is certainly no surprise.

Anti-Israel leftists celebrated the departure of Jews from Gaza with similar glee.  Far from acknowledging Israel’s sacrifice, they’re already joining in the calls for further concessions.  The truth is, these people have been so indoctrinated with mythology of the Palestinian “cause” that they will never give up their goal of trying to destroy Israel.  Most of them wouldn’t know what else to do without this obsession to give them purpose in life.

The mainstream media coverage of the disengagement was delivered with the requisite sad face, but the overall attitude was one of resignation.  It had to be done because the world expects Jews to give up their homes and livelihoods for “peace.”  It’s just the burden they must bear.  No other group on the planet would be expected to sacrifice this much in the face of naked aggression, but Jews are a different matter.  “They’ve taken a beating in the past and they’ll just have to do so again,” seemed to be the reigning attitude. 

Others gave way to their smugness and even jubilation over the event.  I half expected television news anchors to start yelling, “Yeah, the Jews are gone!”  The usual rumor mill was in operation, evident in the stories of settlers throwing acid at IDF soldiers.  Although the story turned out to be false, members of the media were only too willing to believe it. 

As the disengagement comes to a close, we are left trying to figure out what it was all about.  Bloggers and political analysts such as Charles Krauthammer and David Frum have come up with some intriguing theories, although none explain it fully.

Krauthammer has maintained all along that the purpose of the disengagement was to separate Israel completely from its mortal enemies, the Palestinians.  In other words, the best Israel could do was to wall itself off, respond to incoming rockets and terrorist attacks with maximum firepower, and let the Palestinians stew in their own dysfunctional society for a while. 

According to David Frum, Israel is calling the world on its bluff.  He believes that the countries calling for a Palestinian state, including Arab ones, are taking part in a charade and don’t actually want the real deal.  Faced with a burgeoning mini-terrorist state within their midst over which Israel will have ceded all control, countries such as Jordan and Egypt will reap what they’ve sown. 

Let’s just hope there’s some grand Machiavellian plan behind it all because otherwise, all of our worst predictions could come to pass.  Indeed, there are times when I wonder whether Israel’s ancient history, involving the constant battle to hold or regain control their land, is not the country’s eternal fate.  That small strip of land has been one of the most contested in history and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. 

If Israel is to survive, then Jews have got a long fight on their hands.