Text size

The statements now being uttered by the radical right wing are grave. Some of them are criminal, and require a firm reaction by law enforcement authorities. However the problem that these statements expose is real, and cannot be swept under the carpet.

The heart of the problem is this: The disengagement plan is about to cause a humanitarian catastrophe. Already in the first stage the plan will strike a fatal blow to the human rights of 8,000 women, men and children. At a later stage it will trample the basic rights of some 80,000 additional people. The plan will destroy the homes and life's work of tens of thousands, bringing an unprecedented human disaster on close to 100,000 Israelis.

Make no mistake - this is not a transfer. A transfer is a deportation that one nation inflicts on the members of another. However, it is certainly a Draconian decree that no democratic state has inflicted on its citizens in recent generations. The state has decided to destroy dozens of communities and to erase dozens of villages, to send destructive bulldozers to crush homes.

This does not mean that the evacuation is wrong. On the contrary, it is necessary. However its legitimacy is not self-evident, and requires proof and reasoning. As such, those who support the disengagement plan are the ones who must deal with its violent dimension. Those who believe in withdrawal must recognize the huge human price it is about to exact. Those who are about to uproot must have the courage to face the burning eyes of those who are about to be uprooted. They must understand that they are about to raise their hand against citizen-brothers, about to bring destruction on their entire world.

There are several ways to defend the cruelty of the disengagement plan. It could be argued that from the beginning the settlements were established in sin, that they stand outside the boundaries of international law. One could argue that the settlements are causing an intolerable injustice to the Palestinians; that they were also forced onto the Israeli public. But all these arguments will not comfort those whose settlements Sharon's iron chains will soon plow. They will not blur the fact that the Israeli majority is about to break the heart of a significant Israeli minority.

So in the end, the ultimate justification of the evacuation's cruelty is this: The disengagement plan is a national rescue plan. If it is not carried out, the Jewish national home will encounter existential-demographic danger. Since this is so, the moral status of the disengagement plan is that of an existential war. And just as an existential war justifies certain cruel acts, an existential political plan justifies other cruelties.

From this point of view, the Gush Katif evacuated residents are equal to Beit Ha'arava's. In a certain limited aspect, the uprooted settlers of the West Bank and Gaza are the additional silver tray on which we will be served anew the opportunity to maintain a Jewish state here.

The settlers ought to know this very well: Zionism is a cruel movement. The attempt to establish Jewish sovereignty in a difficult environment and at a very late stage in history requires it to preserve a tough revolutionary spirit. This is the reason that time and again it has crushed those who stand in its way.

Time and again it demands of individuals to renounce their personal justice for its overall justice. This time, however, unlike the past, Zionism is not demanding its pound of flesh from the Palestinian vassals of Emek Jezreel. This time the Jewish national movement is demanding that Jews pay the price of its survival. It is demanding that its own sons sacrifice their homes and gardens for its continued existence.

Placing the disengagement plan in a worthy historic context will not appease Kahane's hallucinatory followers. It will not stop the terrorist already laboring on fixing the first Israeli explosive belt. But giving a national significance to the withdrawal project may turn it into something less arbitrary, less heartless. Bestowing a Zionist meaning on the act of disengagement will also enable discussions with the large silent majority of Yesha residents.

The settlers are not an enemy. Nor are they sacks of potatoes to be hurled from one place to another. The State of Israel must recognize their rights, their contribution and their pain. And when it comes to evacuate them, it must bow its head before their disaster.