Wallerstein's Refugees

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new era in Zionist history, and in the history of political religion.

Another greenhouse of cherry tomatoes, another flower bed, a new storage shed and a tent city are being planted in the sandy soil of the Gaza Strip. Another few hundred infiltrators have managed to outwit the Israel Defense Forces today and get into the settlements. The main thing is to bolster the belief that there will be no evacuation.

Meanwhile, in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the inciters called last week to continue to rise up against the Zionist occupier, the one who is going to steal their land and expel them from their country. They promised their faithful supporters that the evil decree was not real. The Lord will not let his sons become refugees in their own land.

It sometimes seems that this quality - incitement and lying - is particularly characteristic of politicians of religion. Not true believers, not intellectuals, but those gate crashers who have been given authority.

Fifty-seven years ago it was Haj Amin al-Husseini, mufti and politician, who wrapped his disciples in denial. Refugees they would not be, he promised them, and if the Palestinians did have to leave their land, it would only be for a moment, and they would be back in the blink of an eye. And the public believed.

Can you blame anyone, Palestinian or settler, for grasping at every straw to avoid seeing his home destroyed and given away to strangers. This is the big moment of the snake oil salesmen who peddle their wares to anyone who will listen - and these are many. Rabbis in tall miters and elegant elders, who like al-Husseini make false promises, tell their disciples to "not leave," to refuse orders and not to prepare, because there is no need. Because the less they prepare, the more fatal will be the blow, the more painful the Jews' displacement within their country, and the more complete the manipulation.

Today is the last day of voluntary disengagement; then the free-for-all begins. Jewish soldier versus Jewish settler, state versus rebels. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new era in Zionist history, and in the history of political religion. The former will return to sanity's fold, to the homeland that is feasible, familiar and defensible, while the latter bids farewell to the dream of power, to the messianism and a little of their arrogance.

Both have a long way to go, especially in settling the accounts between them and in studing the price of the glue that has bound religion and state and the ramifications of the rebellion that religion declared on the cart that was carrying it.

From tomorrow, Gaza's Jewish residents will be stripped of the title "settlers." They will be invaders, foreigners and in particular, rebels. Bereft of rank and medals, they will be forcefully disengaged from the places where they should never have been in the first place.

These settlements are not like ghost towns that vanished because an oil field dried up or a coal seam was exhausted. They are leaving because the Israeli empire cannot go on. The GOC Southern Command, Dan Harel, put it well: After four and a half years in which the IDF served as the settlers' flak jacket, it is asking them to simply get up and leave. The State of Israel was their flak jacket for several decades, and like every empire, it did not cut any corners, but rather pursued the same path taken by Britain, France, the Netherlands or the Soviet Union: conquest, ideological vision and withdrawal. And in each of these withdrawals, the vision's priests stood at the gates, warned, threatened and even attacked when their raison d'etre was taken from them.

Tomorrow these priests will stand, as they have done in weeks past, at the gates to the places of settlement - now places of evacuation - in Gaza and try to physically bar the state from entering what is considered their living space.

They will abuse, curse and maybe also hit. They, who fed on the state's enslavement to religion, will tomorrow try to untie the knot and do what they have threatened to do in recent months: separate state from religion, prove that the state is unworthy of them and that it was only by employing force that the apostate managed to bring it to pass that, at the end of the month, they will walk into the new exile it prepared for them, with their heads held high. Because it is a lot easier and convenient to settle accounts with the state than with the Messiah who disappointed.