After managing to tilt the scales in the Likud referendum, more than 100,000 opponents of the disengagement plan lined up along the roadsides of Israel and in an impressive public display, created a human chain between Gush Katif and the Western Wall. Opposite the cries of the opponents, reverberates the silence of the supporters.
Why are the supporters of disengagement refraining from taking to the streets? Maybe because many of them do not regard the disengagement as part of an overall move meant to lead to military calm and political hope, but rather as a partial political step, motivated by lack of choice, frustration, disappointment and despair.
The disengagement opponents believe with all their hearts that "the Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel" and they must impose their idea of the Greater Land of Israel on the "heretics." The supporters are the hesitant, whose dream was smashed and lost. Some are from the right, whose faith in the fulfillment of the vision of the Greater Land of Israel was smashed, and some are centrists and leftists who have lost their hope that peace will ever reign here. Most are looking inward, indifferent to any political process, unified by only one wish: to save their children from a cruel fate in the narrow alleys of Gaza.
Those supporting the disengagement do not know which way to turn. Many, including Ariel Sharon himself, hope that this is the step that will allow Israel to rest for 50 years and let the Palestinians wallow in their own bloodshed. For the rightists who support the disengagement, this is the last barrier before the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Partial concession, meant to divide the Palestinian territory into small, disconnected enclaves - the only way to block the Oslo vision and the road map without directly clashing with the international community. This is the public that regards the disengagement as the continuation of the war against the Palestinians, "a second Nakba," in the prime minister's words.
Others, who come to the supporters' camp through the left, hope the disengagement will drag the political process forward - but it is not yet clear to them how or to where. Their vision perceives the disengagement as a first step toward evacuation of all the settlements and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. They are dreaming about the day when the disengagement takes place and they are free of the need to support Sharon and once again can get back on a political track that leads to a ceremony on the White House lawn.
The people in both groups understand that disengagement does not guarantee Israel quiet, security, an easing of the conflict, or, heaven forbid, an arrangement for peace in the region. The unilateral aspect of the move worries those who believe there is no such thing as unilateral security. The unilateral evacuation of the settlements worries those who hope that Gaza is the end of the process, not the beginning. Everyone fears the anarchy in the Palestinian Authority, which the disengagement will accelerate. So it's no wonder that supporters are sitting at home, worried, each in his or her own way, lest the disengagement not lead to where they want it to go.
Instead of leaving the streets to the right, the disengagement supporters should go out and demonstrate. They already did so under the uninspiring and incorrect slogan "The majority decides." The peace camp that filled Rabin Square that night knew very well that the majority can change its mind tomorrow morning and that a political argument based only on the will of the majority is a very dangerous argument. They also knew that the chosen slogan was proof of the paucity of ideas in the disengagement idea. And nonetheless, they went out to the square so as not to remain silent. But they did not hear any hope or glad tidings at the square - so they went home and fell silent.
A real counterweight to the right will be created only when the peace camp rises up on its feet, returns to its values and to itself, supports the disengagement but does not see it as the be-all and end-all, is not ashamed to speak in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians as the only way to manage the conflict and advance the political process, and offers its supporters the hope that one day there will yet be peace here.
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