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Is Deporting Jews Acceptable When Israel Does It?
By Lisa Liel August 5, 2005

If all goes according to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plans, the Gaza Strip will be emptied of Jews by this time next month. It is tempting to say "cleansed of Jews", but the term has such negative connotations that I hesitate to use it.

The shocking thing has been the absolute silence from human rights advocates. After all, what PM Sharon plans is the mass eviction of a significant population from their homes -- homes in which they have been living peacefully and lawfully for years; homes in which they have built businesses and raised families. Homes, in short, where they have built a life.

The victims of this eviction will be transported to other places, which, they are told, will be safer for them. And arguably, they are without democratic recourse.

In the State of Israel, which is so often touted as "the only democracy in the Middle East", PM Sharon won the last elections by a landslide. It was a one-issue race, and the issue was giving Gaza to the Palestinians. This election was the only chance the Israeli electorate has had to express its will concerning this plan, and the overwhelming majority of the citizenry said: "No".

Not only does the Prime Minister have no mandate for such an unprecedented move against his own people, but he has a solid mandate *against* it. And when his own party, the Likud, demanded a referendum, Sharon, confident in polls which predicted a large margin of victory for him, agreed. More than this; he agreed to accept the results of the referendum as binding.

When the Likud referendum went overwhelmingly against Sharon's plans, he reneged on his public agreement to accept the results. After effectively disenfranchising the Israeli public as a whole, he had also disenfranchised his own party.

When Sharon brought the plan to his handpicked cabinet for approval, he once more found himself in the minority. And so he did what any dictator with a token cabinet would do: he fired ministers who opposed his plan, and then announced with all the sincerity of Leonid Brezhnev after a Soviet election that the cabinet had voted in favor of the plan.

Why are the human rights advocates not up in arms about this?

Perhaps it is a matter of numbers. After all, we are only talking about some 8,500 men, women and children. But consider: the population of the State of Israel is roughly 6.9 million people. The US population is approximately 297 million people. The 8,500 Israelis facing deportation are the equivalent of about 366,000 Americans.

The population of Miami is 363,000. The population of St. Louis is 348,000. The population of Pittsburgh is 334,000.

Think about those numbers. Picture them in your mind, because that is what 8,500 people means in Israel. Or since all of the deportees are to be Jews, perhaps we should consider only the Jewish population of Israel, which is only about 5.26 million. That would make the victims of this eviction equivalent to 480,000 Americans. Comparable US cities include New Orleans, Las Vegas and Cleveland.

Imagine the US government announcing that the city of Cleveland, Ohio, was to be evacuated in its entirety, and the area turned over to al-Qaeda as part of a deal to encourage them not to attack us again. Now imagine that this became the sole issue of substance in a presidential election, and that the most vociferous opponent of the plan won the election by a landslide on the strength of his commitment to oppose any such thing, ever.

And then imagine the victorious presidential candidate announcing that he was going ahead with the eviction anyway.

This is the reality of PM Sharon's "disengagement" plan, due to take place next month, with the approval of the US government.

Why are the human rights advocates not screaming themselves hoarse about this?

Certainly it can't be because the Israeli government is behind the plan. That has never stopped these advocates from attacking Israel in the past over offenses real and imagined. When the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin deported 415 terrorists to Lebanon, the world went into a tizzy. You would think that the fates of over 8,500 men, women and children might merit a protest or two from the self-appointed defenders of the downtrodden.

Could it be because they find silence to be politically expedient in this instance? Could it be that they are willing to countenence any abuse of human rights, by any non-democratic means, provided that it leads toward a goal of which they approve? Such an accusation is a strong one, and it would be nice if there were some more charitable interpretation of the silence from these activists for (some) human rights.

Maybe people haven't grasped the magnitude of the crime about to be committed against an innocent and law abiding population. Maybe.

Copyright © 2005 by Lisa Liel

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