Monday, July 24, 2006

Call Off Your Dogs!

Calls for national unity are de rigeur in wartime, and now is no exception. Newspaper articles and letters to the editor are full of exhortations for unity, and rightfully so. Throughout our history we see that when the Jews are united, we succeed, and when we are divided, we, G-d forbid, suffer. Unity means sharing a common goal, which is basic and primal, and agreeing to disagree on details. In the early years of the State of Israel, the primal goal of survival was sufficiently pressing that nobody dared to challenge the right of our government to do virtually anything under the banner of "sha'at herum", emergency time. Well, now that we see that this is wartime, not peacetime, and that survival is by no means guaranteed, it behooves us to act accordingly.
Last summer's expulsion of the Jews from Gaza, "Disengagement", endangered our national unity terribly, by pitting Jew against Jew. Our Arab enemies were strengthened in their belief that they could destroy Israel when they saw the IDF, under orders from the Israeli government, destroy communities and drive out the Jewish inhabitants. Among loyal Israeli citizens, hundreds of draft-age youth have been so alienated that they call the IDF the Expulsion Forces, and don't want to serve; hundreds more have police records and the army won't give them the "privilege". Half the country is still in mourning for last year's expulsion, with the refugees themselves still homeless, jobless and disenfranchised.
How can unity, which is so vital, be encouraged in this difficult situation?
By calling on the powers that be to "call off their dogs!" Last week, as the bombs landed on Haifa, Safed and Sderot, the Israeli Police had a mission which someone "high up" considered higher priority than fighting crime or terror... arresting yeshiva students in Yizhar! They brought a convoy of police vehicles, and many police, to offset the resistence they expected in arresting these young men without charges or warrents. A legal defence activist in Yizhar has already been placed under administrative detention (so much for Democracy and Rule of Law!). Now, apparently, the time is ripe to scare the whole village into submission, better to "converge" them in a month or two. When the victims didn't submit fast enough, and the rabbi of the community, Rav Dudkevitch, tried to calm things down, the police sprayed tear gas into the yeshiva. The injured were taken to hospital, with a police escort, no doubt.
Olmert, Halutz... do you want unity? Do you want patriotism? Do you want the boys who are drafted to actually come? Then stop doing things like this! Stop showing the world that our citizens' lives, livlihood and rights count so little to you! Stop promising to help the Arabs destroy Jewish communities, as the so-called "Convergence Plan" would do! Stop the demonization of settlers in your own speech and that of your mouthpiece, the media! Stop persecuting the pioneers of Israel, those who have been expelled from their homes and those who still live in their homes! Give a total amnesty to all the political prisoners: the soldiers and would-be soldiers who refused to commit the Disengagement; the teenagers who are in jail or who have thick police files; and of course, the latest round of imaginary "Jewish Underground Terrorists"! Apologise to Rabbi Dudkevitch for the damage you have done to him and his students, and to all the rest of your victims! Even more important, stop doing the damage! Close their "criminal" files and dissolve the "Jewish Division" of the General Security Service! It is not a democratic society which uses a secret, or even a regular police force, to repress its own citizens by extra-legal means!
Yes, we certainly need unity to win against our real enemies, the jihadis whereever they live. We can't do it when we are wasting our time with infighting. Let us all help our country survive. Let us have a "tzav pius" a call for reconciliation. Let's end the civil war. You can do it, Mr. Olmert, by calling off your dogs!

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