Monday, January 3, 2005

Demonstrating Disengagement

Musings #92
January 3, 2005
The 22rd of Tevet

Demonstrating Disengagement

Moetzet YESHA, the YESHA Council is disengaged from reality in thinking that their ten-day extravaganza will improve anything. I was there today, and I wrote the opening sentence before I went. It didn’t seem right to continue in that vein without taking a look, but unfortunately my visit made me even more pessimistic about the usefulness of the demonstration.

For years I’ve complained about the demonstrations being hidden far from public view in the park behind the Knesset. And I’ve always been against the camping out, “tent” demonstrations.

The main purpose of large and small demonstrations is to influence public opinion. Attempts at influencing politicians, especially Israeli ones who are not directly elected, are most successful by “lobbyists.” Israeli politicians are more susceptible to the one-on-one, frequent, flattering conversations. Actually this is true in most parts of the world. Political lobbyists are a proper, recognized profession in America, and there the politicians are directly elected. No politician likes the idea that he or she can be influenced by “mobs” of people. It’s insulting, degrading for their egos.

Ten years ago, I wrote an article in Hebrew for “Chadashot Binyamin,” the newspaper of Mateh Binyamin, and signed it “Bat Alexander.” I described my opposition to “camping across the Knesset” demonstrations. Then and today it reminds me too much of a refugee camp, and I don’t see the point in making a game out of it. The people who like that sort of demonstration describe it as “fun” or “a great experience.” Sorry, but for me it’s a nightmare. Also, it makes us look as if we don’t have real homes. For years, the left and media have made great efforts to describe our communities as temporary, just a few caravans (trailers) and shacks, something easy to destroy. The verb “dismantle” is used, and that gives the impression that our homes and communities are made from Tinker Toys or Lego. No big deal to move. We have to counteract that impression.

Another problem with the present demonstration is that it’s hamitnachlim, “the settlers” against the rest of the country. The ten days are shared between the various local councils in YESHA. Moetzet YESHA has separated us from citizens not in YESHA. This is a very crucial and critical mistake, because we are fighting for the survival of our entire country. If G-d forbid Gush Katif goes, then Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley are next and then the entire country will be destroyed. G-d forbid.

Today, day one, buses were re-routed without prior notification and amcha, the man in the street is cursing us. Yes, I was on one of those buses, and I was embarrassed. Ordinary people, the same people we should be getting on our side are being inconvenienced and they’re angry. They’re angry at us.

Instead of this monstrous, expensive demonstration in an area sans pedestrians, we should be in all the cities and suburbs lehitchabare connecting with the people, like Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzky recommends. There should be tables sheltered by large umbrellas to keep out the rain and sun, manned by those who can explain how Gush Katif is no less important than Gush Dan, why Beit El is no different from Bayit V’Gan, why Israelis should be free to live in Kiryat Arba, just like they do in Kiryat Shmoneh. People should be walking all over the country looking for others to explain what’s really going on. We must not separate ourselves from our brothers, our cousins, our old friends and classmates.

The future of our country is at stake.

Batya Medad, Shiloh
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