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Book of Lamentations

The Ninth of Av, anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temples, is traditionally a day of fasting and prayer and lamentation.  But never before have I felt it so deeply, or has its shadow fallen so heavily over my heart as I mourn not only events long past, but those overtaking us even as I type these words.

Even before the Sabbath was out, we gathered in the synagogue to recite the Book of Lamentations, which we do every year.  What frightening and heartbreaking relevance were in the words:

“Remember O Lord what is come upon us.

Behold, see our reproach.

Our inheritance is turned unto strangers, our houses unto aliens….Men said among the nations:

They shall no more sojourn here.”

I can’t help thinking of those sitting in their synagogues in Gush Katif for the very last time, knowing their houses of worship will be bulldozed by their own soldiers.

When I return home, I turn on the television, and the news broadcasts the open meeting of Hamas, all its leaders gathered together, all those who once trembled underground for fear of Israeli reprisals, now openly celebrating, declaring that the “retreat from Gaza” is to their credit, because of their acts; proof that their ways of terror are the right way.  And that they must continue…

Later we hear Abu Mazen say the same.  It’s a victory.  Next they will “liberate Jerusalem.”  In Gaza, the Palestinian celebrations have already begun.  Large inflated balloons in the shape of Kassam rockets grace their celebrations, to commemorate the 6,000 rockets that have fallen on Gush Katif, implying the residents are fleeing.

“All thine enemies have opened up their mouths wide against thee. They hiss and gnash their teeth. They say: We have swallowed her up; Certainly this is the day that we looked for; We have found it, we have seen it.”

President Bush grants an exclusive interview to an Israeli reporter, broadcast on Israeli television.  I listen to the smiling President talk about how the disengagement will now set the stage for the Palestinians to prove they can rule and defeat the terrorist groups in their midst.  And I think: Was this little strip of land, then, all that stood between the Palestinian Authority keeping its part of the Road Map, gathering up the arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the El Aksa Martyrs Brigade, and a dozen more jihadi death squads?

Can any sane person really believe that?

This morning, I turn to the news page of YNet, and learn that the residents of Gush Katif are not planning to wait for the army to politely walk in and hand them eviction notices, telling them that after August 15, it will be against the law for any Jew to remain in Gush Katif.  There is talk of the government turning off gas and water supplies to the Gush.  Already army checkpoints have stopped supplies of food and medicine and diapers from coming through.  There is a shortage, and supermarket shelves are close to empty.  Our synagogue appeals to us to gather supplies to send them, for apparently that is still possible.

The residents aren’t planning to make it easy to for the army.  They plan to lock the gates of their communities, and sit in the roads to block the bulldozers and tanks.  I know for a fact that many people have already packed and left, but some of them couldn’t convince their older children to leave, their seventeen and twenty year-olds, who insist on staying behind to face those entrusted with carrying out the government’s orders to destroy the entire community and hand it over to the Palestinians.

I think of our young sons, our soldiers, sent in to face the determined settlers of Gush Katif, people who have withstood with unmatched bravery thousands of brutal terror attacks, people who will be sitting tired and hungry and thirsty on the dusty roads in the brutally sweltering heat of Gaza in a desperate attempt to ward off the destruction of their homes and communities.

I love them both.  I fear for them both.  I do not want to choose between them.

I think of the terrorist who opened fired in Kfar Darom last night, and how during the military operation ( which killed him) an errant tank shell critically injured a young officer and wounded four of his men.  I think of my people facing each other on this terrible day while in the background our enemies rejoice.

How, how has it come to this?

“She weeps into the night and her tears are on her cheeks.

Among all those who loved her, she has no comforter;

All her friends have betrayed her and become her enemies.”

I wipe away my own tears which fall for everyone in this, my beloved little country, caught up in this strange madness.

God help us through this and give us back our sanity.

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