A CHABAD MASTERPIECE: BANISHED by ALIZA BASMENACHEM
by Barry Chamish
Banished bills itself as " A Historical Novel Depicting And Deciphering The Disengagement From Gush Katif." But, while true, there is far more to this description. First of all, it's a chick book that men will also love. Being a chick book, it's long, filled with intertwined characters and more melodrama than us guys can usually take. But there was Herman Wouk! And finally there is truth, the real thing, the cruel, murderous truth about the awful cruelty the Israeli government inflicted on its Jewish Gazan citizens barely half a decade ago. For anyone who appreciated my book Bye Bye Gaza, you'll find BasMenachem's perspective is mine. I'll give you some quotes to illustrate the perspective of Banished:
"We are under the constant surveillance of the police and secret service. The Secret Service pays Arabs to stage a terrorist attack to get rid of their political opponents."
"Administrative Detention was revived to incarcerate rabbis and activists and hold them indefinitely without pressing charges."
"Goldstein was set up so they could make him the icon of an extremist settler who represents all settlers."
The Author uses altered names to present actual figures of the Disengagement atrocity, ie. Flasche is Martin Shlaff, the Austrian casino crook whose blackmail of the Israeli Prime Minister (the book refuses to name him) guides the events, murders and psy-ops hidden behind the scenes. The most stinging of criticisms, however, are reserved for the settler Jews who betrayed their own minions. There is Adam, head of the Vaad Kehilot. He is Pinchas Wallerstein, then head of the Yesha Council. His government mission was to appear to be the leader of the settlers while organizing time and energy-wasting distractions to wear down the revolt. Anyone who wasted their January camped outside the Knesset under Wallerstein's "plan" now realizes this "protest" kept real protest in check. Then there was Kfar Maimon when Wallerstein and "Rabbi" Aviner succeeded in turning 50,000 marchers to Gush Katif into 50,000 suckers marching in a circle. Of Adam, BasMenachem writes:
"Yom HaAtzmaut was an easy diversion for Adam to orchestrate. There would be speeches. Adam would be in the limelight. And again he would stress the need for unity and obedience to one group of leaders, meaning himself and his Judenrat."
A simple anagram turns Shlomo Aviner into rabbi Reniva. Aviner was exposed as a serial molester of young girls throughout the Israeli media before being given the option of destroying the Disengagement youth or facing a long prison term. BasMenachem is right on target in her portrayal of him.
"Reniva stroked her cheeks with both hands, held her face and looked into her eyes. Then he ran his hands down the side of her neck and held her shoulders. 'What if I promised you that if you do your job in the Disengagement, that G-d will reward you with a home of your own. A loving husband and beautiful children?' It was a satisfactory meeting. The next time the wretched rabbi would begin where he left off, with a hand on each knee."
This shouldn't be an easy book to read if you lived through the obvious Gov't operations to prepare the people for the "righteous" removal of Jews from Gaza. I saw the murders of Israeli soldiers in their APVs and in their army base to convince the public that it was too dangerous to serve in Gaza. I saw the murder of the Cohen family on their way from Gush Katif to participate in the anti-Disengagement Referendum. I saw the massacre at Shuafat two days before the Disengagement began. And I knew the end of Banished before I read
the first word.
But once I got started, I read all 362 pages in two sittings. That is the inspiration and power of the author at work. But more than that, I personally knew some of the personalities. One example will do. Yossi, the head of the Chabad yeshiva in Gush Katif, whose name wasn't Yossi but everything else about him in the book reflected the man, snuck me into Neve Dekalim a week before the Disengagement to give me a rundown on the G-d-awful settler leaders behind the upcoming fiasco, beginning with Shlomo Aviner. This reference is leading to my one concern and criticism of the book: the author is a proud member of Chabad and that will undoubtedly restrict her readership. And we can't let that happen. This book deserves a wide readership and that means cultural understanding.
It's not hard to make the jump. A main character is Eitan, a boy with Downs Syndrome. In the non-religious world, amnio tests have come close to eliminating Downs births. In the
religious world, no matter how they kvell over such children, it is a widespread phenomenon. And the author, unconsciously I'm sure, over-romanticizes the Chabad shabbat, while denigrating the secular lifestyle. To her, having a predictable meal and then walking down the street greeting people is the ultimate in fun, while the secular Jerusalem with clubs, restaurants and parties, means they have "nothing to do." Just know she is not selling a way of life that some would find stultifying; she means it. Skip that side of the book and what you're left with is, dare I say it? Okay, I will; a masterpiece.
This book is predicated on the tension between the victims, the residents of Gush Katif, and two real groups who to this day are threatening to push Israel to its final demolition: the murderous government and the religious Jewish leaders infiltrated and doing the murders by proxy.
BasMenachem's alter ego in her book is the Shakespeare quoting Tirtza. And as sad and hopeless as the story is, just before the end she declares:
"The spirit of Gush Katif may be wounded but it is not broken."
I'm sorry Aliza, but wrong conclusion. The infiltrators like Aviner and Ben Gvir still manipulate the settler movement. And the disengagement still goes on in places like Migron. Except now, the enemies of the Jews smell the weakness and are ready.
The author is charging $25. for her book. Write her:
And here are her web sites:
And don't forget an acknowledged inspiration for Banished, my book Bye Bye Gaza:
color (way more expensive):
black and white:
I write this just as the Jewish New Year and the High Holidays begin. This is the season when my readers show what my writing has meant to them with a holiday contribution.
I am always deeply grateful for you thinking of me and this year I have a gift in return. My new DVD:
A REVIEW OF MY LATEST DVD
Barry Chamish was contacted by an Italian television outfit to go on camera and talk about Israel. Barry invited them to interview him at his home in Florida; to his amazement, they agreed. They brought the crew to him.
Knowing the nature of media manipulation, Barry had the presence of mind to request that his producer tape the whole interview, documentary-style. They agreed.
Many famous people have had the experience of spending hours being interviewed by a TV reporter who seems to understand, who spends the whole interview affecting sympathetic encouragement--which leads to the expectation of a fair and favorable presentation. And then to watch in horror when what gets broadcast to the world is a distilled down, a three minute hit job that makes him look like the kind of person only Charles Manson could love. Wouldn't that famous person wish he had an unedited, fly-on-the-wall film of the original interview--and an extensive email list of fans to offer it to? Barry is a genius: whatever they do to Barry's performance, we can all know the truth of what REALLY happened that day...
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