With the beginning of the evacuation of the settlements in Gaza and the north of the West Bank, Israel passes a milestone in its history. It’s a deeply controversial one, and we are likely to see a substantial drama played out in the coming days.
In essence, it means that the dream of a Greater Israel is being abandoned. And it is being abandoned by one of those that championed it strongest, namely Ariel Sharon.
There are very solid reasons for this. As the linked article from Sunday’s New York Times point out, the contradiction between the facts of demography and the principles of democracy made it necessary for Israel to re-define itself:
”On Thursday, the newspaper Haaretz reported that the proportion of Jews in the combined population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza had dropped below 50 percent for the first time. This means, many Israelis argue, that unless they yield territory, they will have to choose a Jewish state or a democratic one; they will not be able to have both.”
Israel has deceided that it would like to remain a democracy. That should be applauded and supported by the world.
The evacuation from Gaza is a first step. It’s fiercely opposed by those extremists that see Israel not as a state based on democracy but as based on religious and national myths that today leads to occupation and tomorrow will lead to massive ethnic cleansing and conflict in the region for generations to come.
Today, the leaders of Israel need our support as they face down the fundamentalists and extremists in their own nation.