Whichever channel you watched on, (and the coverage was pretty similar on 10,11, Sky, CNN, BBC) yesterday was a gut wrenching experience. Seeing Israeli soldiers carrying settlers out of the synagogue at Neve Dekalim and then storming the roof of the synagogue at Kfar Darom were hard images to even start to digest and left me feeling distraught at what it is that we are in the process of doing.
The difference between the two settlements struck me as showing at the same time, everything that is noble and everything that is nasty on the political right - clearly I'm making a very broad generalisation but in Neve Dekalim we witnessed a last stand that was dignified and peaceful - settlers and their supporters protesting without violence, praying, singing, crying but at the same time accepting the inevitable and not lifting a finger against the security forces.
The youth on top of the synagogue in Kfar Darom, many of whom were not locals, were a different matter - the ugliest scenes which we have been unfortunate enough to witness so far; paint, planks, some sort of acid, water, foam, sand - anything that came to hand was hurled in the faces of the evacuators in an effort to stave off the inevitable - that no-one was badly injured or worse is something of a miracle. I felt my sympathy draining away as events unfolded.
Whether or not you believe the settlers were right to be in Gaza, the events of the last week have been a human tragedy for these incredible, pioneering, staunchly Zionistic families - they have had their homes, their communities and their livelihoods, all of which they have spent decades building, destroyed before their eyes. I can't begin to imagine the trauma that they will continue to go through.
I describe myself as being a pragmatic rightist politically but I'd qualify this by adding that I'm strongly swayed by what I see to be morally correct as well. The negative effect that 8,000 settlers who up until this week were living in Gaza, had on the lives of 1 1/2 million Palestinians was the factor which swayed me to agreeing that disengaging is the correct thing to do. Whether it will mean that we are safer - I don't know but I will feel more comfortable with the fact that we have taken a step to being more morally correct then we have been up until now.
I will stress that I don't extend the same feelings to the vast majority of the West Bank - although I wouldn't have any problems giving back certain areas of the territory I certainly don't feel that there is a reason to withdraw to the pre-67 borders.
My wife is currently collecting bunches of flowers from local florists to deliver to families who our shul is taking some responsibility for - it is hard to know what to do in these circumstances but doing something, anything - is important - we are one people and the process of healing will begin with small acts of kindness.