Thursday, January 26, 2006

Law-and-order or politics?

Law-and-order or politics?

On Jan. 19, Minister Tzippy Livni, quoted in Ha'aratz newspaper 'warned that "the conflict between settlers and the government is a struggle for supremacy."' Acting Prime minister Ehud Olmert "declared war on law-breaking settlers in the West Bank… and described illegal acts by settlers as "the undermining of the rule of law."'

What is the cause of such blatant demagoguery?

Hebron's Jewish community has come under fierce attack due to disturbances in the city a week ago. How did Hebron's leadership relate this turbulence and the youth involved? Quite simply, these youth are neither hoodlums or hooligans. Rather, they are some of the most ideologically motivated people in Israel today. These kids are true lovers of their land, of Eretz Yisrael. They are still crying the pain of expulsion from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Their hearts are still bleeding the wounds of our land being abandoned to our enemies. They hurt the hurt of thousands of homeless Jews, who committed no crime but to live in Gush Katif.
These youth want to prevent more expulsions, here in Hebron, in Amona, and in other places throughout Judea and Samaria. Enough is enough! No more expulsions, no more homeless, no more abandoned Jewish property. Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.
And what about the excessiveness, the seeming violence? Sixteen year-olds don’t react the same way as fifty year olds. Sometimes the reactions are exaggerated, but then again, remember what they are struggling for. Even the military commander of Hebron, Col. Motti Baruch lost control and loaded his weapon in front of a group of unarmed youth. Can teenagers be held more responsible than a Colonel in the IDF?

Is ideological motivation a "struggle for supremecy?" Clearly, all honest people must be able to live with themselves, with their actions and their conscience. True Jewish ideology has it roots in an eternal Torah, which has existed, not for fifty years, but for thousands of years. This Torah, as David Ben Gurion told the Peel Commission, is the justification for our national existence in Eretz Yisrael.

Religiously observant Jews have no problem obeying the law of the land, as long as that law does not force them to overtly transgress their beliefs. Should the Knesset pass a law demanding that one meal a day must include pig meat, or that Shabbat must be desecrated be each and every Israeli citizen, of course it would not be heeded. Eretz Yisrael is no different. Chopping up our land, or demanding that it be abandoned is certainly no less serious than eating treif meat. Why is one publicly acceptable and the other decried?

The present conflict has nothing to do with law and order, or governmental sovereignty. Rather, it is entirely political. An unwritten law of Israeli society states that preceding elections, or during the rule of a transitional government, major national actions and decisions are postponed.
For example, despite Shimon Peres's signing of the Hebron Accords in 1996, he refrained from implementing them due to upcoming elections. In January, 2001 then attorney general Eliyakim Rubenstein, in a publicly scolded Prime Minister Ehud Barak as a result of his Camp David negotiations with Bill Clinton, prior to an Israeli election. He wrote, "An election-eve agreement with the Palestinians should be such that it does not raise even the suspicion that it was subject to time-related considerations - namely, election considerations. Thus, great care and constant awareness of these suspicions is required, and even more so in the case of a minority government whose prime minister has resigned."
Presently, Attorney General Manny Mazuz has ordered the justice minister to refrain from convening a special panel to appoint supreme court judges, due to the upcoming election. He has even gone so far as to disallow new appointees to the Kiryat Ono religious council, because of the impending election.

Hebron leadership has been in constant communication with officials in various government offices in an attempt to reach a suitable agreement, satisfactory to all involved. The defense minister, Shaul Mufaz and very senior officers in the IDF are clearly in favor of a negotiated settlement, as opposed to a forced expulsion. The government has already expressed a willingness to rent the structures in question to Hebron Jewish residents. This being the case, we can only ask, why the hurry!? Why not allow the process to be completed, without eviction scenes on Israeli and world television. And should, G-d forbid, the attempts to reach an agreement fail, the from the government's view, an opportunity to evict will still remain a viable option.

In January, 2003, then Jerusalem Mayor Olmert issued a 166 page book, together with Dore Gold called, "Illegal Construction in Jerusalem," which enumerates over 6,000 examples of illegal Arab building in the capital. The conclusion declares, "illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions." Yet, an overwhelming majority of those illegal structures are still standing. Why then is there such an urgency to forcibly remove nine families in Hebron and destroy nine buildings in Amona, when so many other illegal structures are being overlooked?

The answer, it seems, is that Acting Prime Minister Olmert has undertaken to use Hebron and Amona as a means to politically prove his worth: 'I too know how to throw Jews out of their homes, whatever the cost.' Police Chief Moshe Karadi already hinted that use of ammunition is not out of the question. So the real question is: are we dealing with the rule of law-and-order, or an attempt to usurp political power for political purposes?

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