ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Routing the Extremists 30.6.05

Routing the Extremists

30 June 2005

By Yisrael Ne'eman

This past week the anti-Disengagement activists took their protests to the streets. Wednesday they blocked main arteries throughout Israel but police cleared the roads quickly while arresting 147 demonstrators. Simultaneously the extreme Right, who barricaded themselves in the "Maoz Yam" hotel in the Katif Bloc attacked Palestinians, nearly killing one youth. Unfortunately for them it was all filmed on TV. Many, and in particular the teenagers from Maoz Yam are considered Kahanists and Gush Katif residents refused to either host them or include them in their own protests. As a matter of fact the residents demanded they be thrown out.

Thursday afternoon the police and army put an end to the potentially deadly charades of the "crazies" by overwhelming them with some two thousand men as versus around 100 civilians, including quite a few children. Across the political spectrum the Maoz Yam extremists are being condemned by all, especially the non-violent anti-Disengagement activists who suffer most from such antics. Forced from Gaza, they are now threatening to block traffic every Monday and Wednesday.

These days Israelis are flying different colored ribbons on their cars; orange for those opposed to Disengagement and blue and white for those in favor. Despite the pain felt by the average citizen, the discussion between the two sides is civil and revolves around whether the Disengagement will strengthen or weaken Israel, having either a positive or negative effect on the future of the country. Citizens openly express opposing views without animosity towards each other.

In the background and very much forgotten, are the tens of Kassam rockets and mortar shells landing on Gush Katif every day. For Jews living in Gaza, their lives are a nightmare of unbearable proportions. Increasingly, families are accepting the government planned alternative housing being offered in the Ashkelon and Nitzanim region. But such events are not newsworthy at the moment.

The Israel Left has no suggestions of their own. After all if PM Ariel Sharon's Likud led government is the Disengagement executioner, what remains? Only the Hebrew daily Haaretz can scrape up a left wing angle to lambaste Sharon. They fear that lack of criticism of Sharon will lead them to political rigormortis. The paper runs columns decrying Sharon's sneaky Disengagement policy whose sole aim is to scuttle the Oslo Accords because they are convinced there will be no follow-up. Most at Haaretz are so dogmatic in their hatred for Sharon that even if they agree with his policies there is a sacred obligation to condemn the PM.

The average Israeli is quite fed up with it all. Few are relishing the thought of 8000 reporters descending on Israel to report on the Gaza and northern Samaria withdrawals. Most Israelis wish it was all over and that they could get on with their lives. Many realize that "the morning after" will be the beginning of the "Great Reconciliation" between religious and secular, Left and Right. To the great dismay of extremists and many of Israel's detractors, Israeli society may prove to have much more social cohesion than meets the eye or will ever "meet the press".