Sharon Against the Haters From Tel Aviv

The prime minister has come out with sharp criticism of those who went to the beach and sat in restaurants instead of identifying with the settlers he turned out of their homes.

In an interview with the ultra-Orthodox weekly Mishpaha, the prime minister delivered a stinging attack against Tel Avivans who went to the beach and sat around in restaurants and cafes instead of empathizing with the pain of the settlers whom he removed from their homes.

One of the conclusions drawn by the extreme rightist camp from the struggle against the disengagement is that it should establish an alliance with the ultra-Orthodox, who supported the settlers and identified with their struggle but did not come to their demonstrations. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has tried to steal their thunder and set out to vigorously court ultra-Orthodox public opinion. Last Thursday, he invited the editor of Mishpaha, Avraham Rosenthal, and his deputy, Yossi Elituv, for a long interview. Sharon, like his rival Benjamin Netanyahu, knows that the way to the hearts of the ultra-Orthodox passes through excoriation of the secular-liberal left, those that Shas likes to call the "sushi eaters from Sheinkin Street." In the interview that will be published today in Mishpaha, Sharon lashed out harshly against the Tel Avivans who dared to detach themselves from the suffering of the people he removed from their homes, calling them "masterminds of hatred."

"I heard today that Tel Aviv's beaches were filled to capacity with bathers," the prime minister said at the very moment the evacuation of Neveh Dekalim and Kfar Darom was being completed. "I would imagine that one would be hard pressed to find an empty place this evening in a Tel Aviv restaurant. In these difficult times, I would expect more solidarity from various parts of the nation. But you know, the talented and unique Jews also know how to hate. We have masterminds of hatred here. I would definitely like to see more understanding and empathy on the part of different sectors of the nation for the pain of the evacuees."

Sowers of fear

Sharon told the ultra-Orthodox journalists that in advance of the implementation of the disengagement, "a lot of rabbis sat on the other side of this desk, and I tried to accede to their various requests, as much as possible, of course."

Anyone inclined is free to think - on their own responsibility - that the requests Sharon was talking about dealt only with the future of Gush Katif and the evacuated settlements, rather than with the future of the rabbis and the jobs that would be found for them. According to Sharon: "I refused to meet with very who asked to meet me, mostly those who maligned and vilified me during the day and asked to meet with me in the evening. I'm sure you would agree that that is not acceptable."

Regarding the diplomatic process, Sharon said, "The Americans have often asked us to sketch out the boundaries of the large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria, and we have refrained from doing so in the hope that by the time the discussion on the settlement blocs comes, one day, these blocs will contain a very large number of settlements and residents."

The ultra-Orthodox have a particular interest in settlement blocs because they include the two fastest growing ultra-Orthodox cities, Modi'in Illit (Kiryat Sefer) and Beitar Illit. Sharon pledged: "The ultra-Orthodox cities will be included in the large blocs. Can you imagine that cities like Beitar Illit and Modi'in Illit would not be included in those settlement blocs? But why put the cart before the horse? The stage of discussion of the blocs is still very far off."

Sharon preferred not to mention Netanyahu by name, but spoke in general terms of those who "sow terror." "The sowers of terror, those that act out of personal interests, are threatening us that the Palestinians will shell Ashkelon, shell Ashdod," he said. "If someone wants to be elected prime minister, he immediately launches a series of threats. Perhaps the time has come to stop frightening this nation! All day long, they intimidate. Simply put, the time has come to stop frightening people," he said.

The grandfather of the minorities

One of the numerous forms used by the Interior Ministry's Population Registry is called, "A request to receive an identity card or identity card slip." The applicant is asked to fill in certain details, such as the name of their father and mother, the particulars of their spouse and children and even the name of their grandfather. In fact, not everyone is required to fill in the name of a grandfather. In the square for "name of grandfather," the instructions say "for minorities."

MK Roman Bronfman (Meretz-Yahad) appealed this week to Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, saying that this is severe discrimination that cannot be tolerated in a democracy. He demanded that Pines-Paz act to amend this form and any other form that contains discriminatory nationality-based elements.

The head of the population registry, Sasi Katzir, said, "When filling in personal details, we ask for any detail that can facilitate the identification of the individual. In this case, in which there are many people with identical names in one extended family, the name of the grandfather makes possible precise attribute the individual to the right family and prevents possible unpleasantness." Katzir said, "In the Arab sector, the noting of the grandfather's name is accepted practice, and makes it easier to locate the relevant individual. The ministry has no intention of offending anyone by asking for these details."

Bronfman certainly accepts the need to ask members of the minority to list their grandfather's name. However, he does not understand why Jews are not also asked for this detail. He notes that he found 33 people named Nissim Cohen and 271 named Yitzhak Cohenin the Jerusalem telephone book. "It is reasonable to assume that some of their father's have the same name too." In a letter to Pines-Paz, he recommends that "all the applicants be required to provide the names of their grandparents, and in so doing, the ministry of the interior will stop discriminating on the basis of race and the term `minorities' be removed from official state forms."

The spokeswoman for the Population Registry said, "Any attempt to assert that there is discrimination is unfounded and represents a distortion of the facts."