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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sharon's legacy

Many Jews abroad feel unbridled admiration for Ariel Sharon. Many Jews in Israel feel utter contempt for him. Here's why - from the Washington Post of all places.
Many of those Israeli evacuees maintain a simmering anger, and hundreds of families who were settlers in Gaza can be found living today in communities such as Nitzan, a kind of upscale refugee village built on sand dunes beside the Mediterranean Sea, just a 20-minute drive from the Gaza border.
“Welcome to my little piece of junk,” said Rachel Saperstein, who knocked on the side of her government-issued caravilla, Israel’s version of a FEMA trailer.
“It’s made of cardboard, you know,” she said.
Saperstein, 73, a retired English teacher at a girls’ school in the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza, has lived in her mobile home for eight years.
“Sharon could have been remembered as a brilliant general, a great leader. But what did he do before he was turned into a vegetable? He destroyed people’s lives,” Saperstein said as she sat in her little temporary home. “He sent Jewish soldiers in to drag Jews out of their houses.”
Here the evacuees kindle a deep sense of betrayal and loss — and they place the blame squarely on Sharon.
“I have very mixed feelings about him,” said Esther Lilintal, 76, whose job in the Gaza settlement was to help newcomers. “Until his turnaround, Sharon was a hero to us. He was much loved. The young men would carry him on their shoulders when he came to visit.”
Some of the residents here expressed open hatred for Sharon. Others have tried to forgive, but said they would never forget.
“When he had his stroke, many people thought, ‘Yes, he is being punished for what he did. He is getting his due,’ ” she said. “I understand that feeling very well.”
Sharon suffered a massive stroke six months after the Gaza withdrawal. He lingered for eight years in a coma until he died Saturday.
Residents here say they wonder what Sharon achieved by pulling out of Gaza. Israel and Hamas remain belligerents. They fought two brief but intensewars in 2008 and 2012. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served as finance minister in Sharon’s government in 2005. He resigned over the Gaza pullout and warned that it was a mistake.
In all fairness, Netanyahu resigned after all the votes had been taken. Netanyahu voted in favor of the expulsion every single time. Netanyahu the elite soldier was courageous. Netanyahu the finance minister under Sharon  was a yellow-bellied coward.
There have been many complaints about how the Gaza evacuees were treated after their eviction. The Nitzan community lacks permanent synagogues. The girls’ high school is not complete. Half the town looks like a California suburb under construction. The other half, with the mobile homes, looks like rural poverty.
“You want to know the legacy of Sharon? It is broken houses, broken community, broken people,” said Aviel Eliaz, 42, a community manager in Nitzan.
Eliaz said that almost nine years after the settlers were evicted, they are still battling government bureaucrats for compensation. He said that families lived with too many kids in spaces that were too small, that hundreds of families still were in mobile homes, that divorce had increased, that children had emotional problems.
“What Israel did to us after they evicted us was the disgrace,” Eliaz said, and he blamed Sharon.
“He planned every last detail of how to get us out” of the settlements in Gaza, “but he never planned for what to do the day after.”
Yes, is a disgrace. And Netanyahu is planning to do it again in Judea and Samaria to keep Masters Kerry and Obama happy.

What could go wrong?

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