The Fear of Civil War

The proper Zionist response to the rusting shipping containers should be the establishment of new communities in the Galilee and the Negev, and the absorption of new immigrants from the diaspora of Palestine.

The pictures of rusting shipping containers that the settlers call "outposts" show that all the people can be fooled all the time. Even though their own sit in the cabinet and hold key positions in the Knesset, the settlers have failed to establish "our right to the whole land of Israel." Even though trifles like the rule of law and the rights of the Palestinians do not stand in their way, it is only a small, vociferous minority that hides behind all the uproar. The citizens of Israel, among them Likud voters and ministers, are among the large majority of those who refuse civilian service in the territories.

In spite of generous benefits designed to tempt Israelis seeking a house with a garden, 36 years of settlement have brought the ratio of Jews to Palestinians in the West Bank to only 1:10 (in the Gaza Strip it's 1:200). The areas most attractive to about half of all the 220,000 Israelis living in the West Bank are the blocs of settlement nearest the Green Line, which are those with the greatest chance to be annexed in case of an exchange of lands.

According to numbers provided by Peace Now, at least two-thirds of the rest of the settlers are families that sought to improve their quality of life at the time, and now are having trouble selling their homes. Among these prisoners of settlement are thousands of non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox who solved their housing problems in Bnei Brak by moving to Immanuel. According to a study conducted in June 2003 by the Hopp Research Company, headed by Dr. Micha Hopp (and facilitated by three professors from Tel Aviv University), 83 percent of all settlers are willing to leave the territories in exchange for compensation or alternative housing. Only 9 percent said that they might take illegal steps, including passive physical opposition, to prevent their evacuation. This is the "hard kernel," which includes no more than 5,000 adults. Only 1 percent, some 500 people, said they would go so far as to oppose evacuation violently.

The outposts in Samaria and in the Hebron mountains are populated by a handful of zealots, who are fully immersed in the teachings of racism and transfer. They have unleashed the fear of civil war on an entire people. Settlement leaders have learned to draft the primordial fear of war of Jew against Jew into service in order to cut off any chance of peace between Jews and Arabs. The fear of a "rupture in the people" prevented the Rabin government from removing the Kahanist invaders of Tel Rumeida in Hebron the morning after the massacre perpetrated by Dr. Baruch Goldstein in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Today, with their representatives in power, the evacuation refuseniks throw "the will of the people" in the faces of those who refuse to serve in the territories and call them traitors.

The "peace camp," by definition, is not set up to force its will on the public anywhere but at the ballot box. Most leftists eschew methods that are beyond the consensus, such as refusal to serve in the territories or throwing themselves violently at the fence. Few volunteer with human rights organizations and most salve their sense of obligation by participating in demonstrations against the occupation. Wealthy Israelis and Jews from abroad who have assimilated the link between peace and economic growth contribute to the marketing efforts of the Geneva Accord and the People's Voice, and soon, the campaign for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

All these initiatives are essential, but not enough. It is surprising that the left has so far not presented the public with the Zionist challenge to bring their brothers home. Who decided that a government program to encourage the homeless to move to the Jordan Valley - beyond the sovereign territory of the State of Israel - is a Zionist act, and raising funds to bring distressed families from the Jordan Valley to live in Jerusalem, or even to Ma'aleh Adumim, east of the capital, is un-Zionist? Is the money of the disciples of the Lubavich messiah and the Nazareth messiah more kosher than the money of Jews who seek to stop the transformation of the Jewish state into a binational state?

The proper Zionist response to the rusting shipping containers should be the establishment of new communities in the Galilee and the Negev, and the absorption of new immigrants from the diaspora of Palestine.