Misinformation about the 2005 Gaza Withdrawal

I love Daniel Levy -- we're brothers in Zionism, after all -- but sometimes he drives me nuts. Andrew links without comment to Daniel's recent post informing the world that Ariel Sharon was not seeking peace when he withdrew from Gaza in 2005:

One frequently hears the claim that Israel left Gaza in 2005 in order to build peace but all it received was terror.  I appreciate the Gaza evacuation of 2005 and how difficult it was  and I in no way condone the launching of rockets against civilian targets from Gaza but the unilateral nature of the Gaza withdrawal was a mistake (and I said it at the time) and I don't appreciate this rewriting of history.  Israel at the time did not evacuate Gaza as part of the peace process.

Well, yes, of course. Ariel Sharon did not evacuate Gaza to serve the Oslo peace process. But he evacuated Gaza all the same. His motivation is not as interesting to me as the colossal reality. Yes, it was wrong to do unilaterally -- I agree with Daniel on that -- but he did it! And Daniel knows as well as I do that Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert, hoped to do the same thing across much of the West Bank. But what stopped him? Palestinian rockets from Gaza, a special gift from Hamas. Palestinians interested in a two-state solution would have viewed the withdrawal in 2005 as a first, important step toward independence. They would have used the billions in aid money that flowed to Gaza to build schools and hospitals and roads and farms on the abandoned land of the Jewish settlements. But they turned those ruined settlements into rocket launching pads. Sharon was wrong to pull out of Gaza without extracting concessions from the Palestinians, and he should have done it in the framework of a negotiation, but that doesn't change the fact that he gave the Palestinians of Gaza what they said they wanted.  

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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