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Political Analysis and Commentary
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"For Zion's sake I shall not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I shall not rest."

Declaring war on the settlers

by Israel Harel

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m - June 30, 2005

Major General Shlomo Gazit (Res.) generally speaks fluently and moderately. He is also an analytical and reasonable person, attributes that equipped him to head Military Intelligence after the intelligence failure of the Yom Kippur War. Only when dealing with the religious and the settlers does his sensible character desert him: On March 8, 1998, he wrote the following words in Yedioth Ahronoth: "Knitted skullcaps are for me like a swastika on the sleeve of Nazi soldiers." This week he told Israel Radio that the government must define the struggle against disengagement opponents as a war, and act accordingly.

Gazit is not the only well-known person to describe opponents of the evacuation as enemies or to say the struggle against them should be described in the terminology of war. He just said it particularly sharply.

Over the last few years the cabinet and Israel Defense Forces General Staff have discussed how to describe the Palestinian terror attacks! , and they have decided not to declare it a war. History will record this to the detriment of two prime ministers during the terror war, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. For if Israel had defined the onslaught of suicide bombers as a "war" in September 2000 and the IDF would have carried out an operation similar to Operation Defensive Shield at the time, rather than in April 2002, it\'s clear that many of the hundreds of people killed between those two dates would have been with us today. The national morale would not have sunk to such a low point and the economy, especially tourism, would not have undergone a partial collapse.

Lacking a different definition, a true definition, of the situation, the IDF adopted the American concept of low-intensity warfare, which is suitable to a superpower fighting far from home, but not to a small country fighting what former chief of staff Moshe Ya\'alon has called a "the second round of the War of Independence."

Gazit has never demand! ed that the struggle against Palestinian terror be described in terms of an overall war. Such a definition, as he well knows, obligates the army to go on the all-out offensive, as in any war. The decisive reason for refraining from declaring a war against Palestinians, some say, is related to image - to concern about the world\'s reaction. But in declaring war against Jews - excuse me, settlers - there is no such problem. When it comes to them, the world will, of course, applaud. After all, important and well-known Israelis have depicted the settlers as monsters. And the blood of monsters is permitted.

Those who slander the settlers are not people on the fringes. The people slandering the settlers are central figures in various fields: academia (Shlomo Aharonson, who said blood will be spilled in the pullout); reservist generals (Gazit); politicians (Ephraim Sneh, who said there\'s no need to fear a civil war - it helped America) and media (Yoel Marcus said last year, "Just as! a country at war makes difficult decisions - so too in the struggle for peace, which is bound to have casualties, it should not recoil from doing what needs to be done.")

No war against the settlers will be decreed. Even Sharon, whose plan of uprooting released these demons, understands that if he defines the evacuation as a war, thousands of people will announce: "I joined the army to fight the enemy, not my own people." And that will be the end of the IDF. And that will be the end of the State of Israel.

But if, God forbid, he too loses what\'s left of his wisdom and adopts the proposals of Gazit and company, then even those in the settler camp who have been fighting for years, with considerable success, against refusal of orders and extremism will call for refusal and revolt. "A country at war makes difficult decisions," as Marcus writes. "It should not recoil from doing what needs to be done." In war, Shlomo Gazit, as in war.