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Israel′s days of infamy

2005 may go down in history alongside other infamous years - 1290, 1306, 1349, 1348, 1421, 1495, 1492 and 1497.

Those were the years when Jews were expelled from England, France, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Lithuania, Spain and Portugal, respectively. At other times in history, Jews were also forced to leave Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and other parts of the Muslim world.

But the expulsions of August 2005 are in a league of their own.

It's not the first time an Israeli government has forced Jews to leave their homes - that happened in the northern Sinai peninsula when the Begin Government, with Ariel Sharon playing a leading role, demolished the Jewish town of Yamit in April 1982, as part of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.

But it is the first time since the rebirth of Israel in 1948 that a Jewish government, in an act of capitulation to Islamic terrorism and acquiescence to foreign pressure, is dragging Jews from their homes in order to hand over the territory to those still clamouring for Israel's destruction.

And Sharon does so:

  • despite threats by Hamas and other terrorist groups to continue the campaign of violence against Israel after the surrender of Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank;
  • despite the Palestinian Authority's manifest failure to meet years-old commitments to dismantle the infrastructure of terror;
  • despite warnings from senior Israeli defence and security figures that the judenrein Gaza Strip will become a launch pad for increased acts of terrorism against Israel. When Sharon's chief of staff and head of internal intelligence rejected the plan, he had them removed from their positions;
  • despite the fact that Sharon's Likud was elected by an Israeli majority opposed to unilateral withdrawal. He has since shored up his shaky government by forming an alliance with the left-leaning, pro-withdrawal Labor Party; and
  • despite pleas by opponents of the withdrawal to hold a national referendum on an issue that threatens to rip Israeli society apart.

He has instead fallen back on his own history and reputation as a tough warrior in many of Israel's wars, declaring: “No one can tell me about security.” Some opponents of the withdrawal have for months cast around for explanations for the prime minister's behaviour. This is Sharon, after all. The wily old fox knows the Arab mentality better than most. Surely he must have something up his sleeve?

But no - the sleeve, it seems, is empty. Bar divine intervention in the hours ahead, Gaza's gates will soon be closed to Jews, forever.

So it's come to this. The little nation which for decades has been abhorred and admired around the world for its refusal to compromise with terrorists, has folded. Ironically, it's happening even as other countries - some of them long critical of Israeli counter-terror tactics - have begun to embrace some of those same methods, as the reality of Islamist terrorism and the threat it poses to them strikes home.

Shaken by the July 7 London bombings, the British Government has set aside political correctness, tightening stop-and-search procedures, and planning the deportations of hate-spewing clerics and terror suspects who have for years found a haven in Britain. Authorities in Italy have in recent days questioned more than 30,000 people, arrested more than 140 suspects and intend to deport more than 700. From France to Germany to Austria, radical clerics are having to tone down or pack up.

The West starts to take terror seriously even as Israel, pressured by the West, yields to terror. And to what end? If any are in any doubt about the Palestinians' ultimate goal - the end of the Jewish state - they need only listen to the spokesmen of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and some factions of Fatah to be set right.

“Today Gaza and tomorrow the West Bank and later every inch of the land,” Hamas political bureau chief, Khaled Mashaal told the al-Hayat newspaper last week, calling the Gaza withdrawal the “beginning of the end for the Zionist project in the region”.

“Does anyone really believe that, having rewarded the terrorists, Israel will see less terror against Israel in the future?” Center for Security Policy head Frank J.Gaffney wrote this week.

“Common sense tells us that, as the Palestinians obtain billions in financing from the West, arms (at US insistence) from Israel, unimpeded and unmonitored use of a seaport, airport and land border with Egypt, the ability of Israel's enemies to increase the number and lethality of attacks on the Jewish state from behind internationally recognized boundaries will only grow.”

Less than a month ago, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a joint press conference with Prime Minister John Howard said trying to make a deal with terrorists was “a little like feeding an alligator hoping it eats you last”.

Speaking on the same day, Rumsfeld's British counterpart, John Reid, had another metaphor in mind. “Every kid in the playground” knew the idea that the school bully would not come after you if you ran away was completely untrue, he declared.

Although both were responding to claims the Iraq war made Western nations more vulnerable to terrorism, they could just as well have been referring to Israel's intended retreat from Gaza.

More recently, President Bush gave an impassioned defence of the US staying the course in Iraq, arguing in an August 13 radio address that withdrawing American forces prematurely “would cause others to question America's commitment to spreading freedom and winning the war on terror”.

”We're staying on the offensive in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, fighting terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home,” he said.

Alas, Israel does not have that luxury.

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