Middle Israel: By Gaza's fallen fence

Gaza's fence has blown in the wind, exposing what lay beyond, ahead, under and above it.

amotz asa el 88 (photo credit: )
amotz asa el 88
(photo credit: )
Like a balloon in a blizzard, Gaza's western fence has blown in the wind, thus exposing the true substance and dimensions of what lay beyond, ahead, under and above it. Beyond the fence sprawled Egypt. And while the analogy to the fall of the Berlin Wall begged to be made by the ignorant, let alone the tendentious - no one resorted to it, including the most virulent anti-Israelis. Why? Wasn't this partition's collapse reminiscent of its alter ego's? Had this wall not caged thousands, and did not the Gazans, like the Berliners in their time, burst through it like children into a school's courtyard upon a long-overdue ringing of the bell? Did the Arabs on both sides of this situation not belong to the same people, speak the same language, profess the same religion and - once enabled to ignore the fence that had risen between them - fall into each other's arms? Well, they didn't. As they crossed the fallen fence, Gaza's downtrodden saw an Egypt that is as dejecting as its leadership. They therefore took some supplies and mostly headed back to the Strip. There can hardly be a more embarrassing thing for a country than to be shunned even by angry, impoverished and beleaguered refugees. Yet that's what Gaza's people did once in Egypt, as hardly any proceeded along the coast toward Port Said. Sadly, even the utterly desperate find in Egypt none of what the East Germans saw in West Berlin. Egypt would offer them hardly a fraction of the opportunity, dignity and freedom of which Hamas deprives them daily in Gaza. Never mind the Palestinians; even Darfur's survivors, possibly the most abused and destitute people anywhere in today's world, prefer to move on once in Egypt, whose leader this week put on a brave face and said he had to let Gaza's fence fall because "we couldn't let its people starve." Give us a break, Mr. Mubarak; millions starve in your own country every day, every hour, and there is no indication that their plight has subtracted even one minute from your sleep during your 27 years in power. All that bullshit about needing more soldiers to "efficiently" detect the smugglers' tunnels that were being dug under your soldiers' feet fooled no one here; Middle Israelis long ago concluded that you and your regime are out to hammer at the Jewish state, usually passively, and when possible actively, so as to slowly but consistently weaken us strategically. Just as you now see us through Gaza's fallen fence, we, too, see through you. WHILE EGYPT was being unmasked beyond the fence, Ehud Barak was being exposed before it. True, it would be unfair to do any Monday-morning quarterbacking here and say, "I told you so." I am unaware of anyone who said, back when Gaza was placed under partial siege, that it would result in its Egyptian flank's unraveling. The only opposition to Barak's move was either on utilitarian or moral grounds, with some saying it was impractical, and others that it was unjust. No one said it would backfire this way. Alas, Barak's groupies in Labor say he sees what the rest of us don't see, that he is a gifted strategist, and that he should therefore lead this country. Well, maybe it's my eyes, but I saw here neither the gift nor the strategy. This, of course, is not to say that in failing to see the aftermath of his siege Barak was any worse than the rest of us, only that he was no better. And that, in turn, raises a perplexing question about the rest of his baggage: If not for his strategic gift, then why follow him? Does he have a vision for the country's future, an insight about its legal, education, health, taxation or farming systems? Is he a role model in any way, or perhaps a moral inspiration? Even Barak's groupies concede by today that on all these, the answer is negative. Now, even those who didn't realize this earlier know that when it comes to seeing the political results of military operations, he is no better than them; just like at Camp David he was no better than any of us in seeing the military results of his political actions. And so, as he plugged his ears with his fingers while Gaza's fence came tumbling down, all were asking the same question: What, actually, does this man carry that should make us consider following him? And the answer - "nothing" - flashed on his forehead as furiously as an ambulance siren in Sderot. WHILE BARAK'S limited merit as a strategist was being exposed ahead of the fence, Ariel Sharon's status as a visionary was being buried under its debris. Fortunately, Middle Israelis - unlike others - had no illusions about the pullback's relationship with peace. Like Sharon, they backed the move not because it would end violence, but because they felt they were ruling over too many Arabs. Then, however, came Sharon's cryptic reinvention of Egypt's presence west of the Strip, a move that demanded, but lacked, thought, planning and debate, as it involved amending the Camp David Accords' hard-earned Egyptian commitment to keep the Sinai demilitarized. At the time, some thought this was visionary, as it would in due course turn Gaza Egyptian. Maybe some day it will; for now, it has turned Egypt Gazan. Moreover, the mayhem in Gaza offered a grim reminder of how the same visionary launched the settlement project in the first place, scorning Israel's consensus, manipulating its laws, and risking its global position. Finally, hovering above the Egyptian-Palestinian fence's remains, like an old newspaper blown by a distant wind, Omri Sharon's tormented face landed here out of nowhere, as a court rejected his final appeal, meaning next month he will enter jail. The question, therefore, begs to be asked: What if Arik hadn't gone into politics, and spent the remainder of his career tending his beloved sheep on his beloved ranch? Who knows? Still, several things can still be assumed: What settlements we would have had would be everyone's, Egyptian troops would not have crossed the Suez, and Omri would have remained anonymous, innocent - and free.