For one family, giving up Gaza ends a dream

The evacuation of 8,500 settlers in Gaza and the West Bank begins Monday. By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Soon to be evacuated and later demolished, the house of Shimon and Sara Snir now sits in shambles.

The painting of a wizened rabbi rests on the salon floor amid a maze of Israeli army-issued boxes brimming with toys and puzzles. A power screwdriver whirs as bed frames are undone. Outside, a ditch has been dug around an olive tree that will be uprooted.

Thirteen years ago the couple followed faith and a dream to Gaza, which they believed to be part of the biblical birthright of the Jewish state. Now, like many of the 8,500 Jewish settlers bracing for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza next week, their family of nine has reluctantly begun to gather up their belongings. The moving truck arrives Sunday...

On Monday they will get their eviction notices and Israel's long-anticipated evacuation of 25 settlements in Gaza and the northern West Bank - a landmark pullback from territory conquered in 1967 and claimed by the Palestinians as part of a future state - will officially swing into motion...

The family, which is eligible for $500,000 in compensation will be fined more than $100,000 if they stay past the 17th, but, they say, money is little solace when you're forced out of home and community.

"Here is where your life is. You build it from start to finish," says Shimon, his skin a rich bronze from years under the Gaza sun. "We won't go like they want us to. They will have to carry us. You have to understand, a person doesn't abandon his house willingly."

He's right, of course -- it's painful and life-wrenching and traumatic ... and yet it never seems to occur to people -- not just Jews or Zionists, but people, that this is exactly what was experienced by the previous inhabitants of that land, wherever it may be.

I find that whatever benefits religion confers upon people, empathy for others not part of the club rarely is among them.


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