The Allegory of the Antenna

The colored ribbons are no more than a symbol, yet there are enough people on the radical right who cannot bear the sight of the blue strip of cloth.

Perhaps the antenna story is a relevant allegory of the meaning of the defiance to the disengagement plan. Three days after a blue-white ribbon was tied on a car's antenna, it was torn off the car's windshield, together with its base.

Who would want it? Maybe an eager left winger who coveted the ribbon and had no patience to untie it from the antenna? Perhaps a ranting and raving settler who reacted to the ribbon like a bull to a red rag?

Both possibilities may be assumed to be wrong. The ribbon aroused the anger of a common Tel Avivian punk, who wished to protest the withdrawal initiative and teach the car owner a lesson: not to dare display his support of the pullout. Since this is not an isolated case of vandalism of vehicles bearing blue or blue-white ribbons, it is worthy of attention.

So far there have been no reports of any damage caused to cars carrying orange ribbons. For some reason, only those who support the disengagement are a target for violence. The hooliganism of the extreme right has succeeded in terrorizing the silent majority, inhibiting its willingness to demonstrate identification with the disengagement. The public supporting the disengagement is not demonstrating its position. This is the nature of the majority, which feels that its work is being done by others and is not eager to fight for its point of view. In addition, the majority is not looking for trouble.

This is an understandable reaction. Only zealots are willing to expose themselves to violence, financial damages and the inconvenience involved in clashing with the rival camp. The majority's temperament is relaxed, complacent to the point of indifference. Therefore in the struggle of the colored ribbons, the orange prevails. This is a worthy battlefield because it appears to channel the painful controversy toward it and refines it. However, the sublimation is apparently one-sided. The blues are playing by the rules. The oranges consist of those who are breaking the rules and imposing thuggish behavior on the arena.

The colored ribbons are no more than a symbol, yet there are enough people on the radical right who cannot bear the sight of the blue strip of cloth and vent their anger on them and on the vehicles carrying it. Hence one can conclude how these hot-headed people will behave at the moment of truth, when the disengagement is carried out.

The signs are already apparent: in the people barricading themselves in the hotel in Neveh Dekalim; in the violent confrontations with the IDF at every attempt to evacuate outposts; in the fervor with which they violate the law and state's authority and build illegal settlements; in the lawless treatment of Palestinians; in the preaching of rabbis in the territories to disobey orders; in the inciting name-calling of the prime minister, which legitimize attacking him; and in the roadblocks expected tonight by the activists of the right-wing movement Habayit Haleumi.

It is not necessary to try to predict what will happen in the coming weeks. Suffice it to remember what happened here 10 years ago. A prime minister vested with the proper law and authority made an agreement with Palestinians. The right wing objected to the move, was not satisfied with a legitimate struggle to thwart it, and created such wild incitement against Yitzhak Rabin that it found an echo in the heart of Yigal Amir.

In this country a leader cannot proffer peace without risking his own assassination, and those groups that prepared the ideological background for Rabin's assassination are now preparing the ground for violent internal clashes, if not a civil war, and for striking the prime minister.

The settlers in the territories, and especially their spiritual and public leadership, must understand their responsibility. The legitimate borders of the struggle that they are conducting against the disengagement are wide open. On the one hand, they initiate demonstrations like the human chain or stopping cars at road sides. On the other hand, they are encouraging civil disobedience and legitimizing pseudo-halakhic orders with dangerous overtones. Any blood spilled in the disengagement, if it is carried out after all, will be on their hands.