I am flattered that Yehu Ben Zohar has taken notice of a 47-word comment of mine and made it the basis of his 782-word essay today, "The Daniel Pipes Plan." I am even more flattered that he espies in those slender words an entire "plan." But I regret to tell him that he is all wet.
Here is what I wrote, as quoted in Aaron Klein's "Civil War in Israel?":
Should the [Israeli] government go ahead with the forcible removal of Jewish residents of Gaza, intra-Israeli violence appears to be a distinct possibility. Which in turn makes me wonder why the Israeli authorities do not take quite a different track and merely stop providing security for them.
Here is what I meant: I am dead set against the Sharon plan to withdraw from Gaza, for reasons I elaborated in a column in early February 2004, "Sharon Loses His Way On Israeli ‘Settlements'." Also, in a more recent article, "Israel's Wayward Prime Ministers," I offered an explanation of what I called Sharon's reneging on his promise not to leave Gaza.
Klein asked me, however, not about the desirability of a withdrawal, but about the possibility of violence:
Am doing an article tomorrow on the "possibility of civil war" within Israel over the implementation of the withdrawal plan—specifically clashes from now through any possible IDF removal of citizens in settlements...wanted to put in some quotes from you, if you can send 2 sentences on what you foresee.
My reply indicated my worry about such violence. I then raised the idea that the Israeli government need not forcibly remove home-dwellers – it can instead merely announce it will stop providing security to them.
I would much prefer to see Israelis remain in their Gaza homes, but my proposal offers a simple way to avoid intra-Israeli violence. Faced with the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces, Israeli residents of Gaza can make up their own minds about what to do. Presumably, they will peacefully leave their houses.
This should be done with much advance notice: "On some date in 2005, the IDF will be withdrawn from Gaza. Make your decisions accordingly."
An analogy comes to mind: when severe weather strikes or a forest fire ranges, authorities strongly urge – but do not force – residents of the affected area to leave their homes and help them do so. Should the residents refuse to do so, they thereby take responsibility for their own fates.
My suggestion has another advantage. Sharon's stating there will be "no Jews in Gaza by the end of 2005" strikes me as untoward – an Israeli prime minister promising Judenrein territory? Proceeding along the lines I suggest would mean that Sharon need not make more such statements. (July 8, 2004)
July 11, 2004 update: IsraelNationalNews.com posted the following introduction before publishing the above response.
The management of IsraelNationalNews has posted below the response of Dr. Daniel Pipes to an article entitled "The Daniel Pipes Plan" by Yehu Ben Zohar that originally appeared here. While IsraelNationalNews disagrees with Dr.Pipes' proposal for avoiding intra-Israeli violence, we apologize to both Dr. Pipes and our readers for what was clearly a poorly written article that did not meet the editorial standards of our site, and misstated the case under discussion. We have therefore removed it.
Sept. 6, 2004 update: An article appearing today at EnterStageRight.com again mangles my intent in those 47 words. For the record, let me make clear that I am in no way encouraging the Jews of Gaza to set up a state independent of Israel; I do not endorse "two states for one people." Should the Sharon withdrawal plan be implemented (and I hope it will not be) I think they are best advised to fold up and leave.
Sept. 26, 2004 update: Aaron Lerner of the Independent Media Review Analysis posted today a snippet of Ariel Sharon's proposed Disengagement Plan Law as it is presented (in Hebrew) on the website of the Ministry of Justice.
- Article 27 (A)(2) punishes residents who refuse to leave their homes by the evacuation date with three years' imprisonment. Should those residents have knives (possibly including kitchen knives) or guns in their possession, the jail time goes up to five years.
- Article 27(A)(3) applies this punishment to residents who engage in any form of passive resistance, for example, lying on the floor in their homes so that the security forces must carry them out.
- Article 30(A) states that after evacuation, residents who in any way resist evacuation lose their legal claim to any of their moveable possessions remaining in the area designated for evacuation.
It appears, to put it mildly, that the Israeli government is not following my advice but prefers a recipe for confrontation.
Sept. 30, 2004 update: Noting that I posted (see the Sept. 26 update, above) parts of the proposed Disengagement Plan Law that he had publicized, Aaron Lerner then went on to argue against my idea of letting the Israelis in Gaza leave on their own:
I expect an iron fist to work in the end if they want it to. It may very well leave serious scars but it will work. Those scars will be considerably less serious than the ones that would be left if Israel simply pulls out to leave the Jews to their own devices - if that is what you are suggesting. Under that scenario you have a combination of the Israeli Left wet dream: settlers being slaughtered and then running for their lives - and a likely 2nd outcome: many IDF soldiers going AWOL to aid the settlers.
But let's go beyond the typical Israeli planning horizon and consider how this would play out after the implementation of an IDF pull out designed to leave the settlers to fend for themselves:
#1. Do you really think that it would be possible to stop soldiers from going AWOL to save Jews under fire if Israel actually pulled back and sat to watch a massacre?
More to the point:
#2. Do you really think that an Israeli government could actually sit back and watch such a massacre? And since all the players know this, an announced intention to pull out to leave the settlers to their own devices won't cause people to leave but instead to dig in so as to be able to withstand the initial onslaught until public pressure forces the IDF back in. The IDF would be sent in in hours - not days. And then what? Will the argument be that the settlers "earned" the land with their bravery and blood or that they should all be thrown into the back of trucks and carted away?
If the later is the case then what purpose is served by going through the exercise?
These, admittedly, are strong arguments.
March 21, 2005 update: Douglas Greener fleshes out my idea today in the Jerusalem Post, "What if Gaza Jews could stay?" The heart of his argument reads as follows:
The withdrawal of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] from Gaza will not be met with the same intense resistance among Israelis as is the plan for forcible eviction. People can physically resist being removed from their homes, but there is no way to stop an army intent on redeploying. Nor will this move generate anywhere near the same heated passions. No soldier will "refuse" the order to leave Gaza.
When faced with the end of the IDF's protection, I believe that almost all the Jews living in Gaza will also leave. They are not fools. It's one thing to make a principled (and relatively safe) stand against unarmed Jewish soldiers, quite another to face armed Palestinians motivated by deep hatred. And again, no rabbinical sanction will be given to Jews placing themselves in immediate and unnecessary danger.
There is also no reason to expect that any levelheaded population, used to living in a society espousing democratic and Zionist values, will consciously choose to live in a non-Jewish country whose commitment to religious pluralism, multi-culturalism and minority rights remains in serious doubt.
April 5, 2005 update: To forestall another misunderstanding – I am against the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as explained in my article today, "Ariel Sharon's Folly" – and urge consideration of this alternative approach only in the interests of lessening a potential disaster.