Opponents of the disengagement plan within Israel held out until the end. Not so Jews around the world, most of whom either welcomed the government's decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, coolly accepted it as inevitable, or abstained from the debate altogether.
Hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Diaspora have followed the disengagement issue with great concern, but their leaders conceded the fight months ago.
While Chabad in Israel has been prominently involved in the anti-disengagement campaign, the Chabad-dominated Federation of Jewish Communities in the Commonwealth of Independent States has paid very little or no attention to the debate. Instead, it has remained focused on stabilizing the hundreds of Jewish communities spread across the vast expanse of the former Soviet Union.
In Russia and Ukraine, for example, the organized Jewish community has devoted its attention in recent months to a more pressing local problem: protesting the attempts of ultranationalist groups to outlaw Jewish religious activity as racist.
The European Jewish Congress warmly greeted Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Paris last month, announcing that its leaders "congratulated the prime minister for his courageous policy decisions and for his vision of a lasting peace in the Middle East."
The revisionist youth group Betar held solidarity rallies for Gush Katif in London – without much effect.
The North American branch of the religious Zionist youth group Bnei Akiva, as
The Jerusalem Post
has already reported, empathized with its Israeli counterpart's anti-disengagement drive, but officially remained neutral because it is not an Israeli organization.
The position of liberal Jews in the United States is, not surprisingly, supportive of the withdrawal. Officially at least, the Reform Movement has refrained from taking a stand on the disengagement plan. At the same time, however, it has defended the plan as a legitimate decision of the government.
Its battles with both the Orthodox and the Right in Israel have also given it a character that is, if not outright anti-settlement, then at least strongly inclined toward territorial compromise where the settlements are concerned.
In practice, the Reform Movement has fully supported disengagement. An example of this was the eager endorsement of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists in America, for Ze'ev Bielsky's candidacy as chairman of the Jewish Agency, which was due in large part to his support for disengagement.
Already in November 2004, the Orthodox Union issued a statement amounting to acceptance of the disengagement plan, revealing that its constituency is not homogeneously conservative politically. In justifying its stance, the OU cited the possibility of peace resulting from territorial concessions and the principle that Diaspora Jews should not dictate decisions to the Jewish state.
The largest American Jewish umbrella organization, The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, heard sharp debate from its 52 member organizations but ultimately supported the government.
During a meeting in Jerusalem in February, the conference's executive vice chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, said plainly: "This is an issue that's to be decided and implemented in Israel. It's an internal decision... We have a responsibility, as we always do, to support the government once it makes a decision."
That decision came with the Knesset's approval of the plan almost a year ago, and since then the conference's position never changed.
"We unequivocally support disengagement," said chairman James Tisch in February. "What else should we say?"