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Dovish Israeli Communities Under Fire By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, June 16, 2008

With Israel’s security cabinet voting Wednesday to once again put off a military operation in Gaza despite daily rocket and mortar barrages, a bright spot in the depressing situation is the continued resilience and activism of Israelis living in the Gaza-belt communities.

After some of them demonstrated outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Wednesday while the cabinet was making its decision, the Gaza-belt residents were infuriated to learn that the government had again opted to leave them to their fate. On Sunday, in protest of Israel continuing to funnel goods to the entity that’s attacking it, a group of the residents were able to block 18 of 35 supply trucks from entering Gaza through the Sufa crossing.

In recent weeks, in addition to the usual rockets, there’s been an increase in mortar fire by the Gaza terrorists against smaller Israeli farming communities in the region, including left-wing kibbutzim that generally supported the 2005 disengagement. The last three fatalities of the terrorists’ fire have in fact been kibbutzniks: on May 9, 48-year-old Jimmy Kadoshim of Kibbutz Kfar Aza; on May 12, 70-year-old Shuli Katz of Kibbutz Gevaram; on June 5, 51-year-old Amnon Rosenberg of Kibbutz Nirim.


On Sunday, June 8, Israel’s deputy defense minister came to Kibbutz Nirim to pay his respects to Amnon Rosenberg’s family. An hour later Nirim was hit again, this time by a Qassam rocket that wounded a Thai laborer.


Whatever their hopes and delusions regarding the disengagement, in which Israel destroyed all its farming communities within Gaza and removed its military presence, the kibbutzniks now generally share the hawkishness of the other Gaza-belt residents.


One of them, Shai Hermesh of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, is a Member of Knesset from Ehud Olmert’s ruling Kadima Party, and he blasted Wednesday’s cabinet decision for failing to “take into account that the people here are under threat day and night” and said a war leading to a truce was clearly preferable to another bogus “truce” with Hamas leading to a bigger and more costly war.


Not that hawkishness and kibbutzim can’t go together; traditionally they made a hugely disproportionate contribution of officers and elite soldiers to the Israel Defense Forces. Now a new survey finds that, though much fewer of them are becoming officers, conscription rates among kibbutz youth remain extremely high even at a time of some falloff in the rates among youth from the large cities.


A patriotic devotion to land settlement and army service is indeed a legacy of the century-old kibbutz movement that remains alive. There is also, though, its other legacy of shallow, “progressive” ideology, rooted in socialism, that has also made the movement a prime contributor to Israel’s left-wing elites with dire results since the Oslo appeasement era began about fifteen years ago.


Two of the most egregious Osloites came from kibbutz backgrounds. Former prime minister, defense minister, foreign minister, and finance minister (and current president) Shimon Peres was the first major Israeli politician to anoint the genocidist Yasser Arafat as a friend and peace partner. Former prime minister (and current feckless defense minister) Ehud Barak offered Arafat Gaza, almost all of the West Bank, along with key parts of Jerusalem in an astounding gesture of surrender that helped precipitate Arafat’s “Second Intifada” or all-out terror war against the Israeli people.


It was that “progressive” mindset that apparently led the Gaza-region kibbutzniks—who, seemingly, given their presence on the ground, should have known better—to buy the idea that a total unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would get the Palestinians there to stop their aggression and start peacefully building their lives.


Now that the Gaza-belt kibbutzim—along with the other small communities, the town of Sderot, and the city of Ashkelon—find themselves facing the nonstop terror of the Hamas regime that the Gazan population elected, they’ve joined in the demand for serious military action.


It’s not so much hypocrisy as an ongoing confusion that goes beyond the kibbutz movement to Israel as a whole: how to uphold enlightened moral principles while being realistic about evil.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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