Rightists say evacuation is a crime against humanity
A long list of well-known right-wing figures yesterday signed an open letter urging soldiers and policemen to disobey orders to evacuate Jewish settlements in the territories.The signatories included four members of the Netanyahu family.
A long list of well-known right-wing figures yesterday signed an open letter urging soldiers and policemen to disobey orders to evacuate Jewish settlements in the territories.
The signatories included Professor Ben-Zion Netanyahu, the father of Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as three other members of the Netanyahu family: The finance minister's brother, Iddo; his uncle, Professor Nathan Netanyahu; and attorney Dafna Netanyahu.
The petition, which termed evacuating settlements "a crime against humanity," a "national crime" and "a clearly illegal act," urged soldiers to "listen to the voice of their national and human conscience." It will be published today as an advertisement in three right-wing and/or religious newspapers - Basheva, Hatzofeh and Makor Rishon - and is slated to be the first in a series of similar ads attacking Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank.
"In light of the Sharon government's intent to destroy communities in the land of Israel and deliver them into the hands of the enemy, to violently uproot their residents and expel them, we declare that this expulsion and uprooting are a national crime and a crime against humanity, a display of tyranny, wickedness and arbitrariness, whose goal is to deprive Jews of their right to live in their land, merely because they are Jews. We declare that the Israel Defense Forces were intended for defense against enemies, not for operations against Jewish citizens. The IDF is the people's army, not the army of any political group."
Therefore, it continued, the undersigned urge "the officers who will be ordered to prepare the groundwork for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their homeland, and all officers, soldiers and policemen, to listen to the voice of their national and human conscience and not to participate in acts that will tarnish them, and that they are liable to regret all their lives."
The petition also addressed the "intended victims of the expulsion," urging: "Don't cooperate with the expulsion machine, don't accept compensation, oppose the uprooting in practice, but without harming your countrymen, even though they have come to destroy your homes."
Finally, it called on the government "not to give the IDF and the police this order - which is clearly illegal, which should not be given and should not be executed - and thereby to prevent an irreversible rift in the nation and the army."
The petition was the outcome of a meeting earlier this week of all the extra-parliamentary organizations opposed to the disengagement, at which the participants agreed to step up their struggle against the plan.
Other signatories include Meir Har Zion, of the army's famous Unit 101, which was once commanded by Sharon; Yossi Ben Aharon, a former director-general of the Prime Minister's Office; Uri Elitzur, who was Netanyahu's bureau chief during the latter's tenure as prime minister; seven former Prisoners of Zion; senior officers in the reserves; scientists; former mayors and MKs; author Naomi Frankel; Professor Ezra Zohar; and Professor Talia Einhorn, an expert in international law.
Elitzur, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Ofra who today is one of the leaders of the settlers' Yesha Council, later expanded on his reasons for signing: As long as the uprooting of Arab villages is defined as a crime against humanity, he said, the uprooting of Jewish villages in Gush Katif must be defined the same way. Anyone who fails to view these
situations as equivalent is undermining the justification for the state's existence, by essentially agreeing with the Arab claim that Israel is merely a colonialist enterprise, he charged.
"True, this is a grave statement," he said. But to uproot people from their homes when they have already been there four generations "is many times graver, a genuine atrocity."
"The statement that uprooting Arab, or French, or English villages is illegitimate but uprooting Jewish villages is legitimate is a racist statement," he added.