Bible Commentator

Special Stories

Rabbi Moshe Reiss

The Disengagement and the Children


Young children:

Four children came off from a sand dune as journalists were coming into the property in Kerem Atzmona to talk to a settler family. The youngest child appeared to six year old, He came down from the top of the isolated hill around which the settlement is built, riding a bicycle, along with three friends, one of whom looked like he had just turned 13. He was wearing tefillin (phylacteries) and a tallit (prayer shawl). They had come to warn the journalists not to enter the settlement, explaining that it was private property. "And what will happen if we come in and ask to speak with your parents?" asked one reporter. The children looked at one another, went off to the side for a brief consultation, and then the oldest member of the gang announced: "It would end very badly, there could even be bloodshed." At which his friends nodded their heads in agreement.


The children of the Yehezkel family, who were led from their homes to buses that waited to evacuate them, will not soon forget how their grandfather Eitan instructed them to walk out with their hands raised and with orange patches on their shirts. The eldest grandson will not be able to erase the sound of his own voice shouting: "This is how they expelled us from Germany; now we are being expelled from here." The infant child of the neighbors might remember how policemen and soldiers carried his father out of his home, as he desperately tried to grab on to the doorway, screaming like a wounded animal.


Seven children from one family refused to allow the entry of an army truck with containers for them to pack up their belongings, and repeatedly forced it to reverse, one of the children shouted at the driver: "Run them over, run them over," as he pointed at the journalists. When the latter asked the children if they could ask their parents to enable a few reporters to enter the settlement and use the restroom, one boy, who looked to be about nine years old, replied: "Do it in the sand, like animals. You are animals you are garbage.”


One Mother in Sa Nor held on to her infant child while policewomen carried her from her home. Has she concerned that she could fall out of her hands? Was concerned about the psychic impact on this child?


If this were a Greek tragedy it would be a heartrending drama. However it is not, it is real life.


It is hard to see the cynical use the settlers were making of their children,

using their own toddlers as political bargaining chips, holding them out to soldiers, taunting the troops, daring them to evacuate them. They consciously intensifying the trauma being seared into their own children’s  souls and training them to scream curses and insults at soldiers and policemen.


What will be the impact of these children when they are adults?



An Older Child - The Disengagement unites a family

Socrates Shushan was three when his parents divorced. His father left with four of the children, leaving Socrates and a sister with his mother Giselle. The father moved to another town, and Socrates grew up without seeing him and the other siblings for several years. Meanwhile his mother remarried and had more children.  Later, when he was eight years old, Socrates went to live with his father on the border between France and Switzerland. "It was so hard to leave my mother," he recalls. "I used to cry every night." Socrates lost touch with mother.


In 1984, when he was 28, Socrates decided to come to Israel. His Tunisian girlfriend Brigitte, and he married and moved Be'er Sheva. Just when the family was thinking of returning to France because of economic difficulties, they saw an advertisement seeking families to move to Gush Katif. They toured the area and in 1989 moved to Rafah Yam, where their twin sons, now 11, were born, and Socrates pursued his lifelong love of fishing.


"The children often asked me if I had a mother," he says. "I told them I once had, but I didn't know what had happened to her and whether she was still alive."(His father had lived in Jerusalem and died in 2004.)


As a result of the disengagement and their speaking French they were interviewed by a French Television station.  His half sister Carole saw the interview and after making inquiries realized it was Socrates her half brother.


And in the middle of his packing for the disengagement the telephone rang Monday August 8, "Hello, Socrates, this is your sister Carole. Mother is looking for you." Socrates says that he thought it was a journalist, but then he heard her crying. I asked her if she was my sister Carole. Socrates had not seen his mother in 41 years ago. “Mother and I spoke for four hours. We were both so excited, and my voice was trembling while she was crying."


"I don't believe it. It's hard to digest. Because of disengagement I have again found contact with my mother. I'm leaving Gush Katif, my life is changing, and then suddenly I find my mother. It's unbelievable. I told my children they have a grandmother," he says.


From a small village near Toulouse, his sobbing mother, Giselle, told Haaretz: "Can you imagine what it is at my age to find my son again? I am an old and sick woman, and now I have this great joy."


<>Socrates is now planning a family reunion. They will get together to celebrate his mother's 80th birthday. (Haaretz, August 10)