Peace in the Land of Sojourn

When Ariel Sharon, facing strong international pressure, proposed a withdrawal of settlements from Gaza, the settlers’ response was predictably hostile.  For some, the motive is predominantly economic—the settlements represent affordable housing; for others, nationalist politics is the driving force: Israel, they say, is Israel, and no part should be subtracted.

These arguments can be countered by political and economic arguments, and compensation can be provided to the displaced settlers, but one argument cannot be dealt with by either reason or money, and that is the argument of divine will: God gave the land to Israel, and what God has given, no mere man can take away.  For example, in the spring of 2004, with the May 2 Likud referendum on the retreat plan looming on the horizon, residents of Gaza’s Katif Block released a short video to show that the plan betrayed the settlers who risked their lives to live in the strip.  The video featured the intransigent settlers singing: “Fear them not, for the Lord thy God He is with thee.”

Opposing the settlers is an array of Arab nationalist and Islamic militants, especially members of Hamas, which is headquartered in Gaza.  Hamas wears many faces, and, in the United States, it has raised money for helping Palestinian children, but the Hamas Charter, written in 1988, does not conceal that its goal is to “raise the banner...

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