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August 04, 2005 - Image 92

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-08-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

World

Quotables

Reaction to the pending Israeli pullout
from the Gaza Strip and the northern West
Bank:

Activists who support the disengagement wait to hand out blue and white ribbons in Jerusalem last week.

COLOR WARS

from page 59

Ayalon said.
"The viability of Israel depends on a Jewish major-
ity living in a land with clear and secure borders.
The disengagement from Gaza is a vital step toward
achieving this vision."
Withdrawal from Gaza ultimately will put Israel
in a position of greater strength, he said. "It's not
just a question of stronger borders — although the
borders will be stronger and more defensible. The
issue is who are we as a nation and where are we
headed. If we don't take concrete steps to preserve
the Jewish and democratic nature of the state, then
eventually we'll have nothing left to defend."
Ayalon was joined by the mayors of towns from
Haifa to Yeroham, the leaders of various political
organizations as well as former Israeli Defense Forces
generals.
"The security analysis says that we cannot afford,
in the long run, to have our soldiers protecting a few
thousand settlers in Gaza," said Gen. Danny
Rothchild, president of the Council for Peace and
Security, an organization of former security officers
committed to influencing Israeli security policy.
"The fact is that we can much better deal with the
security issue when we are outside than when we are
inside Gaza. The P.A. will be able to deal with their
radicals without looking like collaborators," he said,
referring to the Palestinian Authority. "And in the
end, neutralizing Hamas is very much in their own
interest."
A major motivation for the cross-country voyage,
Ayalon said, is to do what he says Israel's leaders
have failed to do: explain and defend the rationale of
disengagement from the Palestinians to Israeli citi-
zens.
"The leadership in this country has not explained
the 'why' nor have they given a clear idea of what
the ultimate vision is," Ayalon claimed. "Our gov-
ernment sent the settlers out there; the least they
could do is explain to them and to the nation why
it's crucial that we bring them back."

The Populist

t rig

The Blue and White Voyage is not Ayalon's first
foray into populist politics. Recently, Avalon — who

8/ 4

2005

60

also is trying to get involved in parliamentary poli-
tics through the Labor Party — took on a joint proj-
ect with Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds
University, the Arab university in Jerusalem, to col-
lect signatures from Israelis and Palestinians support-
ing broad principles for a resolution of the conflict
between the two sides.
For some, the Blue and White Voyage is an oppor-
tunity to counter the images of orange-clad protesters
who oppose the withdrawal plan. Dressed in blue —
the color adopted by the pro-withdrawal camp —
Yoni Barnea, a high school senior from Haifa, said
Avalon's venture was long overdue.
"Orange is a loud color, and the anti-disengage-
ment people are a passionate and well-organized
bunch," he said. "But I believe that they are a mis-
guided minority. Most of us want this. We just
haven't done a good job of making ourselves seen
and heard. It's up to the youth."
In a short speech , Ayalon said it was appropriate
to begin the voyage July 24 — the 17th of Tammuz
— because it traditionally is a day of reflection and
fasting, marking the day the Romans breached the
walls of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
Shortly after beginning his trip, Ayalon walked
into a McDonald's to spread his message. "It's
important to meet people where they are," he said.
Though many of the participants in the cross-
country trip are secular, a contingent from the
Movement for Realistic Religious Zionism joined
them. A Jerusalem resident, Itai Gorov, wandered
into the fray by accident. A religious Jew who hadn't
heard of either the Movement for Realistic Religious
Zionism or the Blue and White Voyage, Gorov was
intrigued. "A lot of people I know are against the
disengagement on religious grounds," he said. "But
I'm in favor of it on religious grounds. It's nice to
know that I'm not alone."
The last stop for the convoy will be Jerusalem,
where many residents oppose the withdrawal plan.
Ayalon and company said they're looking forward to
taking their message directly into the heart of the
opposition.
"Our mission here is discussions, not demonstra-
tions. If, as a country, we can't have a real debate
on the issues that affect our future, then we are
already lost." ❑

Dany Saar,
West Bloomfield
"Although the majority
of the Palestinians in Gaza
may wish for peace, there
is a solid minority of
extremists (Hamas, Islamic
Jihad, etc.) that have a
totally different agenda. At
the top of their agenda is, ultimately, the elimi-
nation of the Jewish state. As long as they
believe in the total elimination of Israel, they
will blame Israel for all of their economic,
social, existence and other problems, and will
continue relentlessly fighting Israel. I believe
that strategically and tactically Israel has a
much better chance fighting them after a clear
and clean separation from Gaza. This is not a
solution that will stand for generations but it is
the best we can, and must, have now."

Eric Rosenberg,
Farmington Hills
"I am absolutely con-
vinced that the Sharon
government is proceeding
on a policy that is deleteri-
ous to Israel's security and
peace interests. Israel is
waving a white flag of sur-
render following a string of military victories,
with a lack of logic that is dangerous for a
country that is nine miles wide. I fear this
capitulation on the part of the Israeli govern-
ment could lead to more military conflict in
the near future, though I pray that I am
wrong."

Barbara Zabitz,
Oak Park
"I think what needs to happen is that the
Palestinians need to have an economic stake in
the future which will give them reason to see
that living in peaceful co-existence is in their
best interests. This could the start of that
process."

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