Monday, August 22, 2005

Gush Katif Letters

by Moti Sender
Aug 21, '05 / 16 Av 5765

The following is the letter my dear wife, Hanna Sender, my beloved partner to life and to the dream named Ganei Tal, wrote to the IDF soldiers sent to expel us. It was posted on our door the afternoon that we left the house.

The next morning, the letter was given to the soldiers by my son and daughter-in-law, who had stayed in the house until the very last moment according to our agreement with the army. The letter was read by the expelling soldiers and passed around to many others who heard of it. My son received a number of heart-rending letters from soldiers who participated in the expulsion at Ganei Tal.

This is the letter:

Wednesday, August 17, 2005, the day we were expelled from Gush Katif

Dear soldier,

No, this is not weakness.

Nor is it surrender.

Although we are not here anymore.

I do not have the physical or emotional strength to wait for you here in my home.

I left out of concern for our health and welfare instead of meeting you face-to-face. I just do not have the strength for that. I know with all my heart that I have done everything in my power, by democratic means and through prayer, to ward off this terrible thing.

Twenty-seven years ago, we arrived here, a young couple with two children. Here, another four were born. Three of our grandchildren also live here in Gush Katif, in the town of N'vei Dekalim. We built a nursery for houseplants and not many years ago founded the web site.

We were raised, and we raised our children, too, to believe in God, and to love our land, including Gush Katif.

Gush Katif is our whole life. We know no other.

But if this was fated to happen, it must be God's will. Even if we do not understand His reasons, we believe that everything that happens in this world is due to His will.

So, I am getting up and leaving my home.

I am leaving in great sadness. It is terribly difficult for me. My hands and legs are weak. Whoever does not experience this can never understand, even if they say they do. But I pray to God that there will never be other people who will have to understand the way we did.

But I also know that we won!

We won because we are still here today.

We won because we overcame so many difficulties over the years - economic difficulties, security problems, a geographical location that was not always convenient.

We won because in our struggle we kept our faith in God and our belief in His love for His people.

We won because we did all we could for our land and our people.

We won because today we leave with a broken heart, but with our heads held high.

We won because we have left behind a twenty-seven year history of building and productivity in Ganei Tal.

We won because our life in Gush Katif was entwined in the life of the entire people of Israel.

We won because our struggle will never be forgotten.

We won because Gush Katif will never be forgotten. Gush Katif will become part of Jewish and Zionist history; it will become not just another chapter, but a symbol, a model to be imitated.

We won because we believe that our task is not finished.

We won because we know that we must go on.

We won because we love you, dear soldier!

Dear soldier:

I have no doubt that the task you were given is terribly hard for you, no matter what your political philosophy and opinions are.

I am putting my house at your disposal. Use it as long as you need, and show respect toward it when you leave.

You will probably meet two of my children who decided to wait for you here. Please treat them with consideration and respect and make sure they come back to us healthy and well.

Let us be strong, for the sake of our people and for the sake of God's cities. And may God do as He sees fit.

Moti and Hanna Sender, Ganei Tal

The following amazing letter was written by a soldier who had come with the unit that had been ordered to expel the people of Ganei Tal. The letter is a reply to the above letter, which was read to the group of soldiers who had come to our modest abode.

This is the third time I've tried to write this note, in which I want to say what I cannot express in speech. Even in writing, I cannot describe how heartfelt these words are.

In these times, I find myself thinking mainly about the future: how will I be able to live a moral, Jewish life, and work toward the attainment of the ideals in which I believe?

I think about these things because I know that this community succeeded in building a life like that. My greatest fear was that the truly ethical entity that grew in these dunes would disintegrate. I did not know what I would have to face when I arrived today.

Now that the moment has arrived, I understand that I am standing face to face with exactly the kind of life I'd like to live.

I thank you for having opened your hearts and told your story. The moment I just experienced with you gives me hope for the future of this people that I love so much.

Thank you,

A. S. (the soldier's full name is in files)


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