Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Where are the pro-disengagement activists?
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Sever Plocker

No cracks in the wall

Compensation offers get more generous by the day; settler opposition remains strong

As expected, the disengagement plan is losing popular support. Expected, because there's no particular group in society that flies disengagement as its ideological banner. There's no one excited by it, no one who infects others with his or her enthusiasm.



Disengagement supporters accept it, at best, as the least possible evil, along with a long list of caveats. And this is recognized by all: by the utter lack of people attending pro-disengagement demonstrations, people putting up stickers, or youths organizing counter-activities to the Gush Katif children.


The settler struggle, which is modeled on the struggle of a persistent and determined minority, has seeped into the thoughts of many Israelis, particularly the youth. There's a great pull to the pseudo-anarchist rebellion of the orange ribbon bearers.


No 'vision thing'


By contrast, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has still not engaged in an aggressive marketing campaign on behalf of his disengagement plan. We have not yet been told how a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza is good for Israel. Instead, Sharon makes do with pushing off the criticism of his opponents and belittling them.


He could say in a rather convincing fashion that withdrawal is better than doing nothing, that he had no choice as the alternatives were the products of "more dangerous" international initiatives.


But these explanations lack feeling and a message. Instead, they are motivated by fear, and when it comes to sowing fear, the anti-disengagement activists are stronger, louder and better explainers.


Settler statistics


The tangible success of the struggle strengthens the settlers and gives positive and crucial feedback for the militant minority. A survey conducted by the holiday weekend edition of "Yedioth Ahronoth" showed that settlers slated for evacuation have toughened their opposition stance.


Only one-quarter of settlers plan to either leave voluntarily or put up only minor resistance to evacuation in mid-August. The rest have run away from reality and plan to fight disengagement either through violence (14 percent) or by civil disobedience (the majority).


Ninety-one percent of settlers have not sought out a new home or prepared themselves for the day after evacuation; 75 percent to do not intend to register their kids for school in a district outside their current one, and 70 percent haven't even checked how much compensation is due them.


Those who say they plan to move prefer to move into a communal settlement of like-minded people, but not necessarily Nitzanim. One can expect that the government will pour lots of money into a low-value solution for only a minority of settlers.


The settlers have very bitter feelings regarding Sharon. Three out of four believe that he has betrayed them. Eight of ten believe that he has behaved in an illegitimate fashion.


This influences attitudes towards conscientious objection: If the disengagement plan was passed through underhanded opportunism, and perhaps undemocratic means, then it's OK for a soldier to not take part in it. In fact, 54 percent of those questioned in the survey called upon soldiers to refuse evacuation orders.


'We are failing to bribe them'


It's fashionable to paint settlers as greedy or seeking to profit at the expense of the public. There's no basis for that view in the survey: The opposition to disengagement from Gaza is based on a worldview, not avarice. Eighty four percent would not leave their homes even if the government compensation package met all their needs.


The settlers aren't doubling their compensation package; we're doing that. A determined minority can crush a majority when the latter is confused, not sure of itself and ready to give whatever the minority wants so long as the majority can continue to daydream undisturbed.


Two months before disengagement, bribing the settlers has not worked: The wall of refusal remains strong, without so much as a crack. What is crumbling is the public's faith in disengagement.


פרסום ראשון: 06.13.05, 19:09
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