In the coming days the silent majority of the settlers, and in particular the residents of Beit El, will face a decisive test. The question is whether they will accept the unequivocally democratic decision about evacuating the five buildings at Ulpana Hill, or whether they will follow the extreme right and rebel against it.
The residents of Beit El complained this week that they are being delegitimized and depicted as unenlightened zealots, even though they are part of this nation. There is substance to this claim. Indeed, among many parts of the Israeli public there is deep animosity toward the settlers. In the public discourse, and sometimes also on the pages of this newspaper, one can come across phrases and attitudes toward the settlers which one should not find in an enlightened country, and which are reminiscent of other dark times and places. The settlers are indeed part of this nation and the vast majority of them are good, honest people with a sense of mission and a readiness to contribute to society and the state.
However, the settlers have to ask themselves what role they have played in creating this unacceptable atmosphere - and indeed, they have played a large role. The Israeli public has lost its patience with the story - in fact, with the deed that repeats itself time after time - of refusing to accept a democratic decision and forcibly trying to prevent it from being carried out, starting with the evacuation of Yamit, then Gush Katif, then Amona.
The settlers have the right to act in democratic ways to thwart a political decision. An effort to influence decision-makers and Knesset members to vote against this move or that is the very heart and soul of democracy. But here, too, the settlers cross red lines and act aggressively, with threats - and these methods arouse repulsion.
But the bottom line is that a democratic decision has been taken and it must be accepted. Anyone who considers himself part of the nation and wants to be treated as such has to come to terms with the decisions of the nation - without burning tires and blocking highways, and without violent opposition and harming policemen and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. These maneuvers did not help in the past and they will not help in the future.
Even if thousands converge on Beit El, it will not prevent the State of Israel from putting into effect the ruling of the High Court of Justice and the decision of the Knesset, but it will deepen the chasm between the settlers and the overwhelming majority of the nation. The settlers have to understand that it is impossible to have their cake and eat it too.
In the case of Ulpana Hill, an unequivocal and binding democratic decision was taken. The Knesset decided by a majority of 66 votes to 22 that the High Court's decision about evacuating the five buildings must be carried out, and that the prime minister's plan is reasonable and correct. One cannot say that the votes of the Knesset members were "bought" here. After all, even the parties of the right-wing voted against the settlers' position. This decision must be implemented without opposition.
The silent majority of the settlers is heading for a moment of truth. The State of Israel is not Egypt. There is no Tahrir Square here and there will not be one. Here decisions are made at the polling booths and in the Knesset plenum - not "on the ground." The hope is that the vast majority will not trail after the thugs and criminals of the "price tag" underground or the extremist hilltop youth, who should be isolated and ostracized.
Those who reject the decisions of the nation will be rejected by the nation. Even if this is difficult and painful, the settlers must prove that for better or worse, they are indeed an inseparable part of this nation.