Private photo
Shlomo Engel
The great betrayal
Shlomo Engel shares sense of post-disengagement alienation that has been marring Independence Day joy
This past Independence Day, I was unable to place Israel’s flag on my car like everyone else does. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it or that I don’t realize how important and significant this day was. I love my country very much. I am amazed by its rapid development and exceptional success stories. I understand and deeply feel the almost miraculous revolution undertaken by the Jewish people, who managed to create a glorious country after emerging from the Shoah’s crematoria.


Yet despite my great love for the State and for the people, and perhaps because of it, I cannot be proud of its flag as I used to be. This was the fourth Independence Day where I did not hang the flag I love so much. I did this after my State betrayed me, hurt me, humiliated me, and threw me away like a useless object.


Less than four years ago, I stood there with thousands of others facing the State’s police officers and soldiers at Kfar Maimon. Less than four years ago, my wife and I stood helpless before the high walls of the Beersheba prison, where the State detained my daughters, the “criminals of disengagement,” and we could not get in touch with them. Four years have not yet passed since I saw with my own eyes how my State razes the Gush Katif community of Atzmona with only two bulldozers. Only 15 minutes were needed to raze a house, and with it destroy life, dreams, and hopes.


Four years have not yet passed since the bitter betrayal of all the powerful, just, honest, and loyal institutions of my State, which I believed would stand by me during times of trouble. The Israel Defense Force, where I served and was wounded and where my son will soon serve, changed completely and from a source of strength in the cruel Middle East turned into the Israel expulsion army.


The High Court of Justice, which I always viewed as a stronghold of justice and protection of civil rights, endorsed without any hesitation the most blatant and crudest blow to the fundamental rights of so many innocent and loyal citizens. The Israel Democracy Institute – the winner of this year’s Israel Prize – did not voice even weak protest against Ariel Sharon, who through a “democratic” move hijacked the Likud party and turned it into a body that implements the notions of Meretz and Hadash.


Deliberate, coordinated effort

If we could only be comforted by disengagement supporters bringing peace to Israel and curbing the bloodshed of 100 years of Zionism; yet even this is no comfort; there is not even one achievement we can boast in the wake of the disengagement folly, and therefore we are not only dealing with betrayal and destruction here, but also with complete foolishness that greatly enhances the sense of alienation and taints the joy of Independence Day.


Just like any other state, Israel too made many mistakes in the past, and it will likely make great mistakes in the future. Yet disengagement is not a mistake in judgment that led to failure, but rather, a lengthy, deliberate, and coordinated effort by the various arms of the State against its most loyal citizens. This is where the deep sense of betrayal stems from. It is difficult to point to a similar move by other democracies where thousands of innocent citizens were hurt and expelled from their homes without any benefit or logic.


I’m hopeful that with the passage of years and through level-headed deeds by my beloved State, I will be able to rid myself of the great sense of alienation that overcame me in the summer of 2005 and again proudly raise the Israeli flag. Perhaps the passage of time will make the great sense of betrayal wane. Yet for the time being, I’ll make do with the traditional family barbecue.


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