The people of Israel will celebrate - yes, celebrate - the Festival of Freedom, while across its narrow skies gather heavy black clouds of deep division and loss of national solidarity. The water they hold threatens to wash away many of the accomplishments Israel has achieved during the short, hard years of its independence. The floods may even carry off - no small number of people feel this almost tangibly - sovereignty itself.
Freedom expresses itself, among other things, in a people's presence as a free entity in its land, as a link in the chain of the generations, living according to its values and the spiritual heritage of those generations, speaking their language, celebrating their national and religious holidays, and inculcating all these things in the next generations along with its own added value.
That is what the Jewish people aspired to through its movement of national renaissance - Zionism. And indeed, the sun of national liberation and sovereignty for which the Jewish people built, fought and sacrificed rose some 60 years ago. But now, signs of sunset are beginning to appear, and the broad consensus for the uprooting is only a symptom.
After a very short period of political independence, the Jewish people is showing signs of tiredness, confusion, and sometimes panic over the cost - and not only in terms of security - exacted by independence and sovereignty. It thinks that if it withdraws, mainly from territories - the most significant element of independence and sovereignty - the enemy will come to accept it, and it can start dealing with other urgent issues that had been neglected: Jewish-Arab coexistance, matters of religion and state, rich and poor, and others.
But this is an illusion. Withdrawal for nothing in return as a result of weakness, as a result of a long war of attrition, cannot be the last word. Running away from dealing with the situation and from territory will bring another war of terror, followed - unless the trend changes - by additional signs of weakness that will bring about another uprooting.
And for every piece that is sliced off, for every settlement that is uprooted, the land will roil and roar. The ruptures will widen, hatred will grow, and anarchy will rise along with the number of people despairing over life in Israel, leading them to abandon Israel.
For others - to whom the option of abandoning Israel is foreign - anger and frustration will increase, which may raise demons among some of them that will urge them to attain their goals even in ways that are illegitimate.
Those, like Shimon Peres and his friends, who say that after disengagement it will be possible to turn to other issues needing fundamental treatment, are cut off from reality.
A rupture in the context of uprooting, more than in any other context and even before any settlements have actually been uprooted, is at present the central national problem. Ahead of the coming uprootings, which their proponents declare are acts in a play whose denouement is known, the rupture will widen and continue to cause the people to disintegrate.
In the face of such a deep historic division, and the danger of refusal to serve and widespread civil disobedience, no real attention will be paid or can be paid to burning social, health, educational or economic problems. These problems can only be dealt with when calm prevails and the various sectors evince willingness to serve pieces of their own cake to those who have less. That is, during a time of national solidarity.
But what solidarity can be created in the context of continued uprooting? After all, the very fact that thousands of people are being uprooted from their homes, from the landscape in which they were raised for three generations, from the places where they fulfilled their faith and their mission, is an unparalleled act of anti-solidarity.
After 57 years of independence, it appears that most Jews are willing to surrender territory, even at this early stage of their independence. By definition, the size of the territory is the size of the sovereign area. The Jews will make do, the neighbors will conclude, with minimal sovereignty. And if they make do with the minimum, they believe, we can see to it, by means that have proved themselves in recent years, that at the next stage they will make do with the minimum of the minimum, and so on, until we claim everything.
Slavery does not express itself only in the way the Children of Israel lived in Egypt. Psychological and spiritual slavery exist in our day as well. A person who lives in a democracy can also be a slave: to money, fashion, behavioral or political dictates, to conspicuous consumption.
On the other hand, freedom in our day expresses itself, in addition to liberty and sovereignty, in the ability to place balances on ourselves on our way of life. The balances must also express themselves in political and social aspirations. Only thus can we return to the minimal solidarity without which consensus on any subject is impossible.
Those who today smash what is left of essential consensus on the backs of the uprooted and those slated for uprooting should remember that without elementary solidarity, any political stance, even that of the uprooters, will not last long and will be brought down. By force and by Maror - bitterness alone - no real goal can be attained.
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