The scenes of evacuating the two trailers in Shalhevet Yitzhar on Monday, like the warnings issued this week by the settlers' leaders to the chief of staff of soldiers' sweeping objection to the disengagement plan, are worrisome. However, there is a calculated deception about them. The IDF claims that they do not reflect a widespread trend and are intended to scare the government and deter the public from supporting the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.
Officials in the defense establishment believe that the hard core evacuation objectors consist of a few dozen settlers concentrated in Yitzhar, Tapuach, Bat Ayin and in parts of Hebron and Kiryat Arba. They will be joined by a number of individual extremists living within the Green Line. This group, which is capable of resorting to violence and even using firearms, will muster around it a few hundred followers.
The popular resistance, which the Yesha settlers are now fostering, will encompass an immeasurably broader public. But authorized sources predict that it will not develop into armed confrontations. The IDF takes pains to emphasize that so far its commanders in the field have not encountered real manifestations of refusal to obey orders (less that five cases), and the reports of petitions, bearing the signatures of thousands of objectors, are regarded by the General Staff with great skepticism.
In any case, that is the message that the General Staff is broadcasting to the public. But the IDF needs help: the civilian leadership is not making intense enough efforts to stymie the attempts to contaminate the military with the political controversy and undermine its standing as the nation's army. Nor has an effective immunity system developed, at this stage, against the concept preferring rabbis' halakhic rulings to the state's law and the authority of its institutions.
In these circumstances, the Yesha council continues to speak with two voices. Its leaders state that they object in principal to the refusal to obey orders, but hint to their supporters that they themselves would refuse to take part in dismantling settlements. They voice reservations regarding rabbis' halakhic rulings calling to disobey orders, but encourage Gush Katif settlers to try to persuade the soldiers not to take part in the evacuation process. They declare their dread of a split in the nation and a rupture in IDF ranks, while at the same time undermining the legitimacy of the cabinet and Knesset decisions regarding the disengagement.
The role that the settlers' leaders are playing these days is dubious and dangerous. They organize - with funding deriving from the state treasury as well - a sit-down strike opposite the Knesset under the slogan: We will do in Jerusalem what the Ukrainians did in Kiev. That is to say, Viktor Yanukovych's election fraud is compared to the system Ariel Sharon is using to make the cabinet and Knesset decide in favor of the disengagement plan. This is a groundless comparison.
The situation is actually the other way around: The settlers are the minority that has been imposing its will on the majority for 37 years. The settlers' leaders are now coming out against their own practice of bypassing the rules of proper conduct. Granted, Sharon has ignored his party's position and also created an artificial majority in the cabinet to get it to approve the withdrawal initiative, but he is also the one whom the settlers' leaders joined to set, in improper ways, faits accomplis throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Contrary to the voices of the crowds in Kiev, the settlers' demands have a false strain.
The Yesha council's struggle is hopeless. It will not succeed in torpedoing the disengagement plan, and if it does, it will be seen as responsible for the collapse of law and order and the shattering of the state's authority. The settlers must internalize the fact that they are perceived as a minority group that is enforcing its whims on the majority. The Yesha council must realize that it cannot coerce the state to keep the Gaza Strip, and if it could - the price of the coercion would be too high.
Moshe Hess in 1862 wrote "Rome and Jerusalem," influencing the national awareness of the leaders of Zionism. The despicable display of the settlers' "Kiev and Jerusalem" is threatening to liquidate the fruit of their vision.
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