Photo: Reuters
Settler slogans mask uncompromising ideological struggle
Photo: Reuters

The masks are off

Settlers' attack on Palestinian policemen was pure vandalism

As the disengagement plan's implementation approaches, the masks are being removed on both sides.


Settler slogans such as "our love will win" and "respect the law" make way for what is truly about to materialize here - an uncompromising ideological struggle, by a community that views the land of Israel as holy territory, against a government decision perceived as legally and morally invalid.


Rioters did not mask indifference


When Gush Katif settlers attacked Palestinian policemen who arrived for a meeting with IDF officers, ahead of the transfer of responsibility over southern Gaza to the Palestinians.


Indeed, the rioters did not mask their indifference to the fact that the meeting was the manifestation of an agreement between the IDF and the Palestinian Authority, as directed by the government.


By doing so, they clarified that in their eyes, state institutions lead a conditional existence, that is, they count as long as they serve the settlers' worldview.


The settlers have no faith in the IDF and government's commitment to safeguard them, and fail to understand why the police dispersed their violent demonstration.


Indeed, they publicly announced that this was only the beginning, and that they are determined to thwart the transfer of responsibility to Palestinian hands, even if the move's declared aim is to bring peace and quiet.


Settlers fail to meet conditions


Citizens have the right to oppose government decisions, to protest against them, and even to resort to civil disobedience, as long as two conditions are met: they avoid violence, and are willing to pay the price for their actions.


However, the Gaza settlers fail to meet even one of those conditions. They resort to violence, and they also shun the state's authority only when they find it convenient to do so.


The IDF and the police have been providing the defensive umbrella that allows the settlers to conquer the land. On their part, the settlers claim, and rightfully so, that they follow the wishes expressed by successive Israeli governments, which not only approved the establishment of settlements, but also maintained an extensive network of silent and implicit agreements with residents.


As it turns out now, unsurprisingly, the settlers only recognize the IDF when it attacks and conquers, but not when it dares reach agreements with the enemy. The only logic they know is a zero-sum "us or them," and no other logic will do, regardless of who signs on to it.


The only authority they recognize is the authority of power - yesterday's attack was not a matter of "taking the law into one's hands," but rather, vandalism, pure and simple.


No law allows citizens to slash car tires and physically assault others.


It is highly doubtful whether Gaza settlers are furthering their political interests by adopting those tactics, but it appears they have gone beyond a political struggle long ago.


The disengagement plan, after all, was already passed by the government and Knesset.


The Yesha Council's last-ditch effort to submit the plan to a national referendum has not met with success yet. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's conduct, starting with the plan's promotion within the political arena, and culminating in a lack of dialogue with the settlers themselves, certainly did not help.


However, nobody delusions himself that a meaningful dialogue with the settlers would move them from their principled positions. From now and until the plan's implementation, the struggle will revolve around the government's ability to enforce its decisions.


With the settlers' attacks, we were presented with a clear hint that the struggle will not be managed in democratic ways only.


פרסום ראשון: 01.27.05, 19:27
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