Op-Ed: Gaza Retreat Plan is a Mistake by Morton A. Klein, National President of the ZOA
March 29, 2004

Op-Ed: Gaza Retreat Plan is a Mistake

by Morton A. Klein, National President of the ZOA

The proposal for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza defies logic. Since Israel’s goal is to protect its citizens against Arab terrorism, rewarding the Arabs with territory when they have not halted their terrorism will only increase terrorism because it will prove to them that violence pays.

The way to give the Palestinian Arabs an incentive to stop their terrorism is to demonstrate that there will be serious, meaningful, and long-lasting consequences for their actions. Instead of giving them land, Israel should be taking more land. Anything less guarantees more bloodshed as the terrorists, emboldened by their victory in Gaza, set their sights on the rest of “Palestine” because, as they say in their media, in their schools, and on every Palestinian Authority map, all of Israel is “Occupied Palestine” in their eyes.

Those who advocate surrendering parts of Israel to the Arabs used to call it land for peace. But now that we see the Arabs have no intention of fulfilling their promises of peace, the idea of giving them land can no longer be called “Land for Peace.” A more accurate term would be “Land for Nothing.”

What makes the current talk of retreat even more alarming is the call for the mass expulsion of Jews from their homes and towns in Gaza, as well as some in Judea and Samaria. Whenever someone has advocated the transfer of Arabs out of those areas, he has been denounced as a racist. Yet for some reason the transfer of Jews is considered acceptable, even desirable. This is rank hypocrisy.

If Israeli officials decide to proceed with a unilateral withdrawal, they will risk tearing apart Israeli society if they proceed without a clear majority in favor.

Such a withdrawal is no small matter. Ending Israel’s presence in territories that have been an integral part of the Jewish homeland since time immemorial is no small matter. Moreover, such a withdrawal will have important ramifications for Israel’s national security.

In many countries, a referendum is held prior to a major national decision such as relinquishing territory. National referenda often require approval by what is called a “special majority,” since a simple majority could mean one side winning by the slimmest of margins, leaving the nation badly divided.

For example, in Italy, Ireland, and Lithuania, a national referendum requires a special majority of 50% of eligible voters, rather than just 50% of those actually voting.

One should also consider the referenda French Prime Minister De Gaulle held on withdrawing from Algeria in 1961-1962, even though Algeria was far away from France, Algerian terrorists posed no threat to the French homeland (unlike what Israel faces) and Algerian territory had no historical or religious meaning for the French people. DeGaulle announced he would not proceed if the referenda one held before the withdrawal, and another afterwards were approved by a “feeble, mediocre, or uncertain” majority; approval had to be “frank and massive,” he said. At the first referendum, voter turnout was 76%, and 79% of them voted yes; the second time, turnout was again 76%, and 91% voted yes.

Anything less than such a broad consensus, as determined in a national referendum, would leave Israeli society severely polarized. And that is too high a price for Israelis indeed, for world Jewry to pay.

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