Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How much time is enough time?

I was looking over my original post about the disengagement (see yesterday for the link), and am reminded to blog something I've been wondering about for a while. I'm interested in hearing (respectful) input from others about this.

How much "lead" time is enough for warning Gaza settlers they have to move? How much time is enough time to plan a smooth operation for everyone involved? (Those are two separate questions; the answer to the second, obviously, is "more than Israel allowed for.")

The Israeli Cabinet approved the disengagement less than six months ago. In terms of telling people they have to move, I'm of two minds as to whether this is enough time. On one hand, it took me more than six months just to plan an RV trip for NCSY! Here you have large families, with jobs and school and lives, having to figure out where they will go next - and, in many cases, how they will reconfigure their careers. That's a lot to put on a person with less than six months notice.

On the other hand, it's doable in six months, for most people. When under intense pressure, most people can whip up a new situation for themselves in six months -- it's just that, well, that's a lot of pressure. And, for people whose livelihoods were based in Gaza, there's almost no way to effectively create a new life in that time.

What do you think?

In terms of my second question, I'm of two minds on this also. It's glaringly obvious that there was no way a disengagement would go smoothly with only 6 months notice. There are so many minute decisions to be made, both within Israel and between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, that there was just no way. Security questions. Trade questions. Border questions. Compensation to the settlers questions. Where they'll move to questions. Psychological/ social work questions.

No way.

On the other hand, the way things move in this neck of the woods, I can't much blame Israel for deciding to move swiftly, once they decided to move. The more lead time they gave, the more time there would have been for the opposition to grow and grow and become more and more organized, creating even more obstacles and more problems to deal with for them.

I've often compared the disengagement to a traumatic amputation, along the lines of "cutting off the leg to save the heart." In effect, in moving so fast, Israel was saying "Just do it. Do it quickly, before we change our minds."

But no matter how you slice it or try to justify it, the people suffering the most are the families packing up their bags and getting ready to leave their homes in a few days, knowing that shortly thereafter those homes will be razed to the ground. It's a terrible image (it actually kept me up last night, crying), no matter what your politics are.

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