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Saturday, June 18, 2005


Herzog's Hasbara in NYT

Re: "Moving Forward by Falling Back" By Isaac Herzog

Herzog, concerned about a future "Hamasstan" in Gaza, ignores the violence of occupation. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, "The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies." Much of the forty-two percent of military controlled Gaza serves 6,000 colonists, one half of one percent of the population, while 1.2 million Palestinians, three-quarters who were expelled from what is now Israel or their descendents live on the rest. The colonists consume 1000 cubic meters of water while Palestinians, unlike the colonists, are forbidden from digging any new agricultural wells, must make do with 172 cubic meters. http://www.pchgaza.org/facts/Fact.pdf

Below is Herzog's op-ed in the June 18 NYT. Typical Zionist hasbara for the woefully ignorant US citizen who'd be hard put to distinguish
Gaza from a gazebo.

I recently received a letter from a former high school teacher of mine in Tel Aviv. He was liberated from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by a British Army unit in which my father served. Now, he was criticizing me for working on the government's plan to withdraw from 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and 4 in the West Bank. "How dare you pull Jews out of their homes?" he wrote. "This is just like what the Nazis did to us!"

Unfortunately, I am no longer surprised when a Jew compares me and other Israeli officials to Nazis. It has become part of the rhetoric of those who oppose withdrawal, including the tiny minority who threaten violent resistance. But my old teacher was not threatening me; he was crying out as if in the middle of a nightmare. My father, Chaim Herzog, eventually became president of Israel, and he could not understand how his liberator's son could displace other Jews.

Seen from America, the evacuation of some 8,000 Jews from their homes may seem simple. I have heard it compared to moving residents to make room for a railroad or highway. But, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will see when she visits this weekend, what is happening here is a deeper psychological drama. It brings out fears that are never far from the surface; memories of the displacement and murder of innocent Jews not only during the Holocaust but also in Islamic countries after Israel's founding. And memories of wars Israel did not start, and of terrorist attacks that we fear will never stop.

Israel's cabinet will soon vote on what to do with the Jewish settlers' homes, greenhouses and factories in the Gaza Strip after we withdraw. Some members favor destroying the buildings; they do not want to see Hamas gunmen making victory signs for CNN and Al Jazeera as they walk triumphantly into houses left behind by Jews. Others, myself included, want to leave everything except synagogues and graveyards untouched, because destroying the houses will send a message of destruction rather than peace; it would also be costly and could endanger Israeli soldiers' lives.

But every member of the government understands the painful symbolism involved in displacing Jews, and also the public's concern that Gaza will turn into Hamastan, a region controlled by terrorists.

Yet despite their memories and fears, most Israelis back the plan to withdraw. They know that Israel must take risks like this to set secure national borders, to ensure the future of a Jewish democratic state. They are reassured because Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the founder of the settlement movement, thinks the withdrawal is necessary. And they are ready to give the Palestinians' prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, a chance to show he can be a partner for peace.

Another promising sign is that while the settlers' leaders are telling their followers not to cooperate with the government, every day more and more settlers are coming to my ministry to find out how we can help them find new homes and rebuild their lives.

I hope that our Palestinian neighbors understand what we are going through. They should realize that this withdrawal is not a sign of weakness (as Hamas wants them to believe) but of strength and self-confidence. Israel clearly has other ways to answer terrorism - as shown by our forceful response to the intifada - but we have no other way to end the occupation except to separate from the Palestinians.

This withdrawal should be the first step toward a broader, negotiated two-state solution. To get there, the Palestinian leaders must ensure that terrorists do not disrupt the withdrawal and do not take over the land Israel leaves behind. The Palestinians should also understand the feelings of Israelis like my high school teacher. Mr. Abbas can help now by telling his people, loudly and clearly, that Israel's withdrawal will not represent a victory for armed struggle; it will be a victory for the silent majorities on both sides who don't want their grandchildren to have the kinds of traumatic memories that haunt Israelis and Palestinians today.

Isaac Herzog is Israel's minister of construction and housing.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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