Yair Lapid
Photo: Yoni Hamenachem
Don’t count on civil war
Yair Lapid refutes notion that settlement evacuation may prompt civil war in Israel

At times, we need to stop and rethink everything. Our entire history is made up of people who were sure they knew the truth, yet forgot that the truth has an annoying tendency to change on occasion without us noticing it.


After all, only six years ago, President George W. Bush declared total victory in Iraq; five years ago, Ariel Sharon declared that Gush Katif will never be evacuated; only two years ago, we were sure that pure capitalism won and America's economy will continue to flourish; only a year ago, most experts explained that the US will never have a black president; only two months ago, it was clear that Netanyahu will never recognize the two-state vision.


This week, I will try to reexamine some truths that appear clear and self-evident to us. This is not exact science, but it is an opportunity to take another look at some things that looks obvious, even though they are not.


Cliché #3: Settlement evacuation will prompt civil war

A civil war? Between whom?


The notion of a civil war has been played up by two camps with divergent interests: The radical Left, which wishes to portray all the settlers as a delusional gang that threatens the State, and a group of radical rightists, who decided that the only way to avert an evacuation is to scare us.


Futurism is a dangerous game. Nonetheless, if we take a step back, we will realize how unfounded and crazy this idea is. “We’re talking about complete nonsense,” says Rabbi Shai Piron, who heads one of the largest hesder yeshivas. “Nobody will take up arms against the State. It’s a mad invention.”


What is the scenario here exactly? That the most Zionistic group in Israel (and the one with the highest draft and officer course rates in Israel) will start firing at IDF soldiers? Can you imagine what will happen here once the first soldier is killed by bullets fired by the hilltop youth? And you think they can’t imagine it either?


“We may see riots, protests, and even displays of insubordination, but we will not bring down the house,” Habayit Hayehudi Knesset Member Uri Orbach told me. “There can be no civil war here because we, the religious Jews, will always want the State to win.”


So we may see some pushing and shoving, that’s part of the game, but the pre-disengagement events at Kfar Maimon showed us that the settlers too know the red lines. They have no problem when it comes to clashing with the police (as happened in Amona,) but they won’t touch the army.


Even the evacuation of the “disputed home” in Hebron in December 2008, where security forces faced people who were much tougher than the weeping settlers of Gush Katif, led to no bloodshed whatsoever – because even the most zealot settlers understand that the IDF is not, and cannot be, “the opponent.”


And they also have a grasp of statistics. Even according to the most generous estimates, Judea and Samaria is home to fewer than 300,000 settlers. Only some tens of thousands of them live there for ideological reasons. And so, 1% of the population cannot really declare war against the remaining 99%.


 new comment
See all talkbacks "Don’t count on civil war"
This will delete your current comment