We Are Not A-f-r-a-i-d

This is not the moment at which the government can demonstrate weakness and hesitation. The authority and well-being of the state take precedence. Let no one try to frighten us with a civil war. We are stronger and our cause is more just.

A few words to the Hamas terrorists and the diggers of the tunnels: Don't make a big effort to destroy us. The extremist settlers are digging their own tunnels beneath our national existence. By means of an intimidation campaign about a civil war, threats to use force against the forces that will come to evacuate them, and rulings by their rabbis permitting IDF soldiers to refuse to obey the evacuation orders, they are out to thwart the legitimate decision of the government, which was endorsed by the Knesset. They, the few, want to force the majority to live by the sword forever.

MK Zvi Hendel (National Union) says he regrets that the prime minister was "hooked up" to those who are delegitimizing "the pioneers who are loyal to the state." Like all their lying contentions, here, too, the lie cries out to the heavens. The prime minister was not "hooked up" to anyone. The disengagement plan is entirely the initiative of Ariel Sharon, and the settlers are not pioneers but residents who for 37 years have been spoiled with land and money. Water and electricity infrastructures were built for them, and brigades and divisions saw to their security. Israel's finest sons were wounded and killed to uphold a policy whose time is past and that has turned us into brutal occupiers in our own eyes and in the eyes of the entire world.

Sharon understood this, and the settlers understood that he understood that this time it is not a ploy. Sharon is determined to start creating the infrastructure for the creation of two states. I will not say that it is easy for the settlers to "move" after 37 years of life in occupied territory. But who better than they, most of whom are religious, should know that "dina demalkhuta dina" - the law of the land is binding?

All the more so because they, unlike the homeless in the heart of the country, will be richly compensated. But even without that, what kind of life is it to reside in the midst of a hostile Arab population and to be an obstacle to a peace agreement with the Palestinians? The settlers' leaders are threatening a revolt. A zealous minority in the face of the majority of the nation, they are readying themselves for violent resistance. Not only is Sharon's life under threat, but competing groups are preparing for a mega-terrorist attack against the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is intended to trigger a bloody regional war, only to ensure that the settlers will have a pretext to stay where they are.

Israel has experienced two attempts at revolt. The arms ship "Altalena," in 1948, which was construed as an attempt by Etzel (the Hebrew acronym of the right-wing pre-State militia) to seize control of the government; and the revolt by the Herut party against the reparations from Germany, which reached a peak in 1951 in the form of a demonstration-cum-attack against the Knesset.

The government of David Ben-Gurion used force to deal with both cases. The sinking of the "Altalena" enshrined the principle of one army and one authority; and the suppression of the resistance to the reparations payments gave Israel the tremendous means to build the country and absorb mass immigration.

The disengagement is a move fraught with all the elements one can conceive of: it is simultaneously demographic, historical, religious, mythological, psychological - it is the first step toward a return to the 1967 borders according to President Bush's road map. No one is claiming that it is an easy move, but a state is obliged to preserve and protect its democratic character and its authority. The threat of violence, the campaign to get soldiers to sign a pledge of non-obedience, the incitement against the elected central government reached a crescendo of disgust with the "orange Star of David" movement. Likening Israel to the Nazis is not only disgraceful but proof of a loss of reason and a sign of desperate measures.

They understand that their fate is sealed. What is regrettable, though, is that the heads of the state's executive arm are signaling a lack of confidence. The police commissioner is showing signs of weakness. The chief of staff declares that he is worried. The Shin Bet sends forth terrifying scenarios. And Benjamin Netanyahu, crafty as always and the progenitor of the slogan "They are a-f-r-a-i-d," is proposing a national referendum, one reason being to bring about a delay that will kill the evacuation and thrust him into the Prime Minister's Office.

The state has all the power to cope with the settlers - to jail rabbis, to place the leaders of the rebels and the instigators in administrative detention or on trial. To lop off all the infrastructures that were built with state funds, if they refuse to vacate. This is not the moment at which the government can demonstrate weakness and hesitation. The authority and well-being of the state take precedence. Let no one try to frighten us with a civil war. We are stronger and our cause is more just. We are not a-f-r-a-i-d.