An Event Born of Lassitude

Is the disengagement plan really as revolutionary, as formative and earthshaking as it is being made out to be?

The entire land is filled with "disengagement." It appears on the horizon of our lives like a mountain ridge - impossible to know what is on the other side, but impossible to imagine life without it.

The disengagement is the first item on the news broadcasts every day, and it fills whole newspapers every weekend. It is reported with precision and alarm, as though it were the burning news of yesterday - so much so that one small matter is forgotten: It has not yet happened.

But this marginal detail - the fact that the disengagement is pending - is almost swallowed up. We are tired of it always being in the future; therefore, we have decided that it is already an existing fact accompanied by earth-shattering events, even if they are in the realm of the horoscope column. And thus the disengagement has become the greatest and most thrilling event in the history of the state: Songs have already been composed about it, historical investigations have already been conducted and two retroactive and a priori books have already been written. And what hasn't come? The disengagement.

But you can bet your boots it will come, and why be petty in the face of such a great event, in the heavy shadow of which everything is dismissed and dwarfed: the economy, society, politics itself, not to mention foreign policy, the relations with the Palestinians and what not? "Will the airport at Dahaniyeh be opened?" asked U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "We shall discuss this only after the disengagement," replied respondents with tremendous importance. When will Amos Yaron complete his tour of duty? "After the disengagement." And the primaries in the Labor Party? They will apparently be postponed until "after the disengagement," of course. And the same applies to dealing with corruption, combating traffic accidents, the party platforms, repairing the road infrastructures and all the rest. Quite possibly the disengagement will be postponed until after the disengagement.

At the root of the self-abnegation and self-negation of Israeli politics in the shadow of the disengagement are two seemingly undeniable axioms: One is that this is a formative, fateful, nearly apocalyptic event, equivalent in its importance to the establishment of the state, if not to the expulsion from Spain, and even the Holocaust (at least in the eyes of the settlers). The second axiom holds that only a mythological figure like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - that half-Hercules, half-Colossus - is capable of bearing on his shoulders this tremendous burden that is called the disengagement.

But with all the importance of the precedent of the evacuation of absurd Jewish settlements stuck in the heart of a hostile population - is the disengagement plan really as revolutionary, as formative and earthshaking as it is being made out to be? And haven't we already known withdrawals deeper than this - especially as the disengagement is not accompanied by any vision or message beyond a tactic of shortening lines? But the disengagement would not be taking up so much space, and filling every bit of our being, had it not been born as the default option of the self-attrition, ideological arrogance, exhaustion and despair of any other political plan. In other words, before us is a kind of optical trick: The disengagement plan is not as important and grandiose as the political-ideological space around it is arid and empty.

And as for Ariel Sharon - ostensibly the only person in the universe who is capable of shouldering this burden - it is possible that he, too, is being given somewhat exaggerated credit, with all his cunning and cleverness. Perhaps here, too, we have before us a kind of optical illusion: Sharon looks like a giant only because everyone else is a dwarf. They - in all the tired and faded political parties - are trying to look like they are combating the disengagement plan with all their might, or like supporters of it with one degree or another of enthusiasm. However, even the most seemingly energetic of them - from the bleeding gods of the Labor Party to Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Limor Livnat - already look a bit tired, exhausted, as though they have lost the taste for politics itself. It appears that, apart from the two oldsters Sharon and Shimon Peres (and apart from Ehud Barak's bizarre and mad flashes), not one of the politicians has anything to offer at present, and certainly they are evincing no evidence of any desire to implement the nothing that they are proposing.

Whether the birth of the disengagement was in improvisations aimed at dealing with criminal charges, or whether it was aimed at "putting the peace process in mothballs," or "arranging the occupation differently" (as has been argued in whole theology books that have already been spun around the future event) - one thing is clear: It was not from boldness and heroism that the disengagement was born, and not in the lightning flash of a brilliant invention. Rather, the disengagement emerged from profound lassitude: the lassitude of the political system, which has lost its ideological reasons for being on both the left and the right, and perhaps from Sharon's own tiredness with his own Sharonism.

And what about the day after the disengagement? Who will have the strength to go on? Perhaps then it might be a good idea to consider selling politics itself to Haim Saban, or any other private investor. That way at least people with motivation will be running our affairs, people with some sort of profit orientation.