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Thursday, July 15, 2004

"Who will help David Hatuel to fold up all his memories into suitcases?"

Excerpts from a speech delivered by MK Gila Finkelstein (National Religious Party) in the Knesset, on July 7, 2004
The subject we are dealing with is very painful, perhaps the most painful in the history of the State of Israel: the uprooting of thousands of Jews from their homes and the land on which they built their lives and families over the course of decades.  How symbolic it is that this session is taking place as we begin the "Three Weeks" mourning period during which we grieve over the Destruction of the Temple and the onset of the Exile...
Fellow Knesset Members, it is only natural that a tense argument also rages around the question of who will carry out this dreadful evacuation [- the police, or the army]? Who will be the ones to enter the homes and remove their inhabitants?
Who will lift up the three Cohen family children - those heroic youngsters from Kfar Darom who lost legs [in a murderous Palestinian terror attack on a school bus - ed.] - and take them out of their house, the house to which they returned after the attack when they made a courageous decision to show that terrorism had not won?
Who will knock on the door of Chana Bart - that gentle but determined woman who defeated terrorism, who managed to give birth even after she was so seriously wounded - and ask her to wheel herself over in her wheelchair to the special bus waiting for her outside?
Who will help David Hatuel [whose pregnant wife and four children were murdered by Palestinian terrorists] to fold up all his memories into his suitcases?  And who will pile on to the evacuation trucks all those men, women and children, our brothers and sisters, the flesh of our flesh?  This will be an impossible psychological burden, one that is liable, Heaven forbid, to be the lot of both the evacuees and the evacuators!
I shake as I imagine the unit that will come to remove the dead from their graves, including the victims of murderous Arab terrorism.  On whom is it possible to place such a terrible mission, accompanied by its psychological tensions and eternal scars?
I'm unable to find an answer to this question: On whom can the mission of emptying the homes be placed?  Of taking the pictures down from the walls, and of removing the mezuzuot from the doorposts? What about the Torah scrolls and the synagogues?  Who will make the final check to ensure that nothing was left behind, before the bulldozers come in and turn the life and vitality that was there into a pile of ruins?
The Defense Minister says that the soldiers are unable to bear such a burden.  He is right!  The job of IDF soldiers is to wage war against the country's enemies, and to maintain security and peace for Israel's citizens.  How can we give them the job of evacuating and removing pioneer settlers?
The Minister of Public Security declares: The police are also unable to bear this load.  And he too is right! Policemen are not made of different human material than anyone else.  They too will not be able to withstand the emotional and psychological pressure.
Both of them are right! Because neither the soldiers, nor the police, nor any Israeli could stand up to this job without having its sights and sound pursuing him for the rest of his life!
I have been informed that a special unit is being established for this evacuation mission.  The hidden and not-hidden assumption is that if we train a special force, and provide it with "mental preparation," and guide and train it for a few months - in the end, this unit will be able to carry out this mission without batting an eyelash.  These soldiers or police will be able to separate absolutely between their emotions and the beliefs on which they were raised, and the mission they must carry out.
To this naive and problematic idea, I say the following, as one who has been involved in education for many years:
Do not destroy the souls of our youth!  Don't destroy the souls of our soldiers and our policemen, don't try to turn them into unfeeling robots, and don't teach them how to evacuate Jews from their homes without emotion.  If you do this, you will destroy their souls from within - the souls of the soldiers and policemen, and the soul of the entire society.
I am sure that my words are not foreign to those on the Left.  They have said... countless times, "The occupation corrupts." ...  
I would like to say, "The expulsion corrupts," at least to the same extent, if not more.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I propose that the task of evacuating the residents be placed neither on the police nor on the soldiers. It should instead be buried altogether.
We must not forget that the government has not yet decided to evacuate Jewish communities.  The opposite is true: the decision specifically states that it does not include the evacuation of communities.  I therefore propose that these towns not be evacuated, that blossoming locations not be turned into ruins, and that our security forces not be turned into a force of destruction.
Thank you.