Friday, August 12, 2005

Shed a tear for Greenwich

In just three days, several thousand people will have the opportunity to live the Zionist dream, leaving their homes in chutz la'aretz and traveling a few miles by air-conditioned bus to their new homes in Eretz Yisra'el. Right now it is popular (not just among the orange crowd but among the more-nuanced-than-thou orange-and-blue crowd) to bewail their fate.

While we're doing that, we should also mourn the residents of these four towns. I wasn't in Massachusetts in the 1930s, so I don't know whether they tied orange ribbons to their Model T's or sent their children to block the roads. But if they didn't, it makes me wonder if what's happening right now isn't actually a general opposition to eminent domain, to the idea that the government has the power to seize private property (with just compensation to the owners) when this is necessary to serve a legitimate public purpose. There must be something else going on, since the handwringing over the residents of Gush Katif losing their homes seems to far exceed the handwringing for the people of Prescott, Massachusetts (or, closer to home, for the working-class Jerusalemites who lived in what is now the gentrified ghost town of Kfar David). If you disagree with the reasons for the disengagement, then say so, but fixating on the plight of the settlers is disingenuous. A long-term solution for the region will inevitably require some people to move around.

So let's shed a tear for Greenwich MA, and wish the residents of Gush Katif a mazal tov on their new homes.


  1. This reminds me of a similar b&w photo exhibit that i randomly saw at SFMOMA in 2003 by Dorthea Lange and Pirkle Jones, "Death of a Valley," documenting the evacuation and flooding of the Berryessa valley in CA. There's a link to a studio360 broadcast (and 2 photos from it) but unfortunately not much else online -

  2. Hi Ben,

    I think that my acquaintance, Chayyei Sarah, did a good job of explaining why this is different than Greenwich, MA. Here is her post.

    Maybe you disagree with the particular religious Zionist sentiment expressed by many of the settlers, but this explains it from their side. Although, interestingly, the latest Jerusalem Report says that many of the hardline protesters live in the West Bank and only poured in Gaza recently, while the settlers who actually live in Gaza have been more willing to accept reality as it currently stands.

  3. That post wasn't so clear. What I meant, at the end, with the Jerusalem Report thing, is that if the people who seem most upset are not the people actually leaving their homes, that support's Chayyei Sarah's opinion that it is a Religious Zionist ideology thing ("Is this a sign that God has abandoned us?"), rather than the houses per se.

  4. Whoa. The latest Jerusalem Report (dated September 5) also makes the Gaza/Quabbin analogy. But I swear I thought of it first.

    ALG, thanks for the link. I'm not going to argue with it, since the disengagement has been successfully completed, so it's a moot point now. Major kudos to the IDF for pulling it off so smoothly, defying all apocalyptic predictions.