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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gush Katif--The Museum

What's a museum?

Is the establishment of a Gush Katif Museum the final nail in its coffin? Or can it galvanize optimism and support for a Jewish return to Gush Katif?

Today I visited the Gush Katif Museum, 5 Shaare Tzedek Street, Jerusalem. I was curious. What's the message? What's the aim of this museum.

At first glance, I was happy that the very first thing you see is a timeline of the history of Jewish Gush Katif (Gaza) over thousands of years. Part of the government's information disinformation campaign was that Gush Katif is part of Gaza and Gaza is an Arab place. This timeline proves that wrong.


But there were problems. We didn't see any proof of the vibrant Jewish Life which existed in Gush Katif. There was much about the struggle about Disengagement when innocent Jews were thrown out of their homes and the government destroyed the beauty, the communities and gave the land to the Arab terrorists.

There were films of the soldiers crying as they did their "jobs." We could see them dragging people away. It's very upsetting, but as I said, there was no message about what was actually destroyed. I understand that many people lost photo albums when being exiled, but I'm sure there are enough albums to find pictures to make montages of daily life, centered around themes, like schools, holidays, etc.

The museum is small, but some of the limited space was wasted with artwork, paintings of little aesthetic or educational value. Much more could have been done with the area available.

Most of the exhibits were bilingual, Hebrew and English, but maybe I missed something... Was there any warning that this could, G-d forbid, happen again?

When I looked at that little baby, I worried.



Will the timeline continue and include a Jewish return to Gush Katif? Or will Olmert's plan to turn 93% of Judea and Samaria into what Gush Katif is today? G-d forbid And G-d forbid facilitate the destruction of the Modern State of Israel?

A Gush Katif Museum can be a very positive tool to save our nation, but that doesn't seem to be its aim.

17 comments:

Uri DeYoung said...

Shalom!
I haven't visited the museum yet, so all I can say is that if instead of clearly showing the visitors what was the wonderful 35 years of Gush Katif the museum focuses on the brief period of the expulsion, the directors are definitely missing the point. The museum should show the visitors what was destroyed so that they understand how horrible the expulsion is. Many people thought that Gush Katif was a cluster on caravans on sand dunes, not genuine towns.
In Yad Binyamin there is a large building maintained by a Gush Katif organization for housing archives of material. All expellees were requested to donate any material for which they had no room. There was also much written about Gush Katif, including pictures and videos, on katifnet BEFORE the expulsion. There is no reason other than an agenda for the Gush Katif museum to focus on the expulsion, and as long as the focus in on the expulsion, there should be a section detailing how it happened, what the mistakes of the struggle were and how they could be avoided in the future. That, however, would involve pointing fingers in some very sensitive directions.
Hadassa

Uri DeYoung said...

And here's another thought:
There's a march to Homesh this week. No-one is building museums in memory of the northern Shomron settlements. Dedicated people are endeavoring to rebuild them.
(There is a groups of Gush Katif expellees organizing a future return, but it'll be much harder being as Hamas is running amok over the ruins of our settlements.)
Hadassa

Batya said...

Sara, Hadassa, you both say better than I could ever.

Batya said...

clarification
sara's comment was deleted

Sara Layah said...

Last week I visited this new GK museum and was disappointed.

I found it very limiting and think it should be re-named the Disengagement Gallery because that's the focus and highlight.

Were one an ostrich and this their first exposure to Gush Katif, one would never know there were beautiful, thriving communities as there aren't any visuals or photos showing the development and growth of the GK communities; its beauty, interesting architecture of the synagogues, houses, Neve Dekalim Yeshiva, the life events and celebrations of the residents...

The historic dateline presented in easy to read, clear Hebrew and English placards of Jewish presence in the Gaza Strip which is important but without accompanying visuals/photographs could easily lose the readers' interest.

The displayed charcoal drawings of a GK house are indeed reminiscent of Holocaust drawings.

Two separate rooms show continuous GK videos - one room also has benches for lecture use. Both rooms, during my visit, showed videos of people being removed from Gush Katif. Surely there are videos of life in GK – perhaps of elementary school and community special events... that aren't otherwise available to the public on websites such as youtube.

Certainly there will be those who will find this exhibit educational - but I felt like I was in a morgue. There was nothing indicating GK vibrant communities and this really saddened me.

How can one have an inkling of GK without visuals/photographs of its communities growth and development?

Batya said...

sara, thanks, the comment was certainly worth waiting for.

It should really be a post.

Anonymous said...

I personally think that the Gush should never have been evacuated. If the arabs in the area were a problem we should have evacuated the arabs instead and just moved them elsewhere. There is lots of room in Sinai for all those arabs, let Egypt take them - who needs arabs in Eretz Yisrael anyway. We should create an arab free region of 10 km around Israel and keep it that way.

Batya said...

Amen!
But you should know that there isn't enough land for such a buffer zone.

Uri DeYoung said...

Shalom!
Was the expulsion from Yamit so long ago that no-one remembers that the Sinai Peninsula is part of Israel? People write about sending the Arabs living in Israel into exile to Jordan, Gaza or the Sinai as if those aren't parts of Israel.
Hadassa

Uri DeYoung said...

And we weren't evacuated! Evacuees are people removed from a dangerous situation for their own benefit. The expulsion from Gush Katif benefited nobody, not even the Arabs. We're not refugees either. Refugees are people who seek refuge, not people unwillingly living in internal exile.
That 10 km Arab-free zone is definitely the best idea I've read today.
Hadassa

Batya said...

Hadassa, honestly, most people don't remember Yamit, and Begin's attitude was that it was unimportant.
Thanks for your comment. I value your corrections.

Uri DeYoung said...

Shalom!
This is the difference between Begin and Olmert. (Sharon was just trying to keep his posterior out of jail.) Olmert still thinks that Gush Katif and its former inhabitants are unimportant. Begin never thought that the Sinai, or the Jews living there, were unimportant. He thought that what we could gain in exchange for it was more important, i.e. the peace that never arrived. Begin resettled the Yamit expellees quickly and did not drag out paying compensation. Olmert and his cronies are doing everything then can to make every process difficult for the Gush Katif (GK) and nothern Shomron (NS) expellees.
I know that most people have forgotten about Yamit, if they ever knew what was there. We should really stress that GK/NS was NOT the first time that Jews expelled Jews from their homes in Israel. Do you remember how many times during the campaign to save GK and NS people said, "This will be the first time Jews expel Jews..." It wasn't! Even the right-wing forgot about Yamit, which is unforgivable.
Do you remember if Begin ever expressed regret for abandoning Yamit? I can't remember where I read that he did.
Hadassa

Batya said...

I mentioned Yamit, but who read my blogs?
As I remembered the whole promise Begin made, all the new communities, a good portion of Gush Katif were the permanent guaranteed compensation for Yamit's destruction. Also, I remember him saying that because he gave Sinai to Egypt, YESHA could stay Israeli forever. I wish someone could research and find all that.
I think some of his final depression was his understanding his mistake. But those close to him don't admit any mistakes.

yehoshua halevy said...

whenever i hear 'gush katif' i daven that they should return soon. the precious jews of gush katif!!!

Batya said...

amen!

Uri DeYoung said...

Shalom!
Batya, I'll try to research it, bli neder. Your comments jibe with what I've read about Begin's decisions and regrets.
I suppose the Begin museum is a bad place to start...
Hadassa

Batya said...

thanks, hadassah, I'd love to post the results of your research.