If the recent pictures of destroyed outposts had been of Bedouin villages or illegal houses in the Galilee, the whole country would have been up in arms. Leftist author Amos Oz would have run to build the destroyed homes with his own two hands, the media would have incessantly interviewed the children who were thrown out of their beds in the middle of the night, and enraged Arabs would have ignited all the mixed Jewish/Arab towns throughout Israel.
But pajamas-clad Jewish children standing in the freezing cold outside their destroyed houses, and Torah scrolls crumpled in the mud amid the ruins of synagogues, is not “news.”
There is no dearth of rivalry within the Left – both personal and ideological. But when they face off against the settlers and the Right, they present a united front. There are no “extremists” in the Left camp. You can be funded by foreign governments to directly undermine your country and aid its declared enemies. You can organize violent demonstrations weekly, stoning IDF soldiers and injuring over 700 soldiers and border police. You can refuse to serve in the army. You can break the law and riot as much as you want. If you are a leftist but fighting the Left’s battle of disintegration and retreat, you are in the consensus.
On the other hand, if you settle the Land of Israel with dedication, but not exactly according to the ideological nuances of one yeshiva or another, you are alone. On the morning after the destruction, no Amos Oz or other spiritual leader will be there for you. The rabbi of one subgroup will be afraid to encourage and lend legitimacy to the outpost of the other subgroup.
When Nati Ozeri’s home was destroyed and his widow and small children were thrown out into the frozen Hebron night, I came with just a few people to help. No settler leader or spiritual guide was there. In my eyes, this is the underlying reason that the thousands who considered themselves firmly ensconced within the consensus and the law suffered the same hell just a few years later.
The fear of supporting the basic rights of the person we perceive as more extreme than us paralyzes us all. One does not have to agree with the controversial book, Torat Hamelech, or the “price-tag” operations in order to stand with the families whose husbands were expelled from their homes by army orders originally reserved for terrorists – and were then charged with spying.
As a resident of Samaria, I feel humiliated by the way we treat ourselves. Is it a surprise that we get the same treatment from the pogromchiks and Israeli society? The way that society relates to the settlers is simply a reflection of how we relate to ourselves. If the heads and rabbis of the settlement movement do not pick the Torah scroll out from the rubble and mud and rebuild Mitzpe Avichai with their own hands, their message is clear: Those people in the outposts are “extremists,” so the abomination that was perpetrated against them is legitimate. Why should the rest of the Israeli public think otherwise?
Meanwhile, the evil winds are blowing. And every week the militias in black show up in the middle of the night, biting off another house and another family.
Even if Prime Minister Netanyahu supports the legalization of the outposts, it will just be a temporary respite in the losing battle that the settlers have been waging ever since the Oslo Accords were signed. Today, nobody even remembers that Neve Dekalim was built by the Labor Party and Yitzhar by the Likud. Netanyahu has declared his intention to establish a Palestinian state; every week Jewish families are thrown out of their homes; the only city being built in Judea or Samaria is the Arab Wahhabi; and on their way to work, the settlers must drive through international border crossings.
The inability of the leaders of the Right and the settlement movement to give their full backing to the different subgroups within – and their inability to establish an ideological alternative to the direction in which Zionism is retreating – plays into the hands of the Left, thus perpetuating the Oslo Accords.
Peace Now did not petition the court against Gush Katif and no legal problems threatened it. The evil winds that threatened Gush Katif are still threatening Ofra and Beit El, Migron and Givat Asaf – with or without the law to legalize the outposts.