JERUSALEM -- So on Wednesday it started. The fight for and against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to evacuate 8,000 law-abiding Israeli citizens from their homes has begun. There can be no doubt today in anyone's mind that in ignoring the mandate he received from Israeli voters in 2003 to oppose unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and in joining forces with the rejected Left, Sharon made a decision to plunge Israeli society into deep internal crisis.
The dire security and political implications of the plan have been proven beyond doubt. The Palestinians have made clear by word and by deed that they consider Sharon's plan a vindication of their terror war strategy for destroying Israel. As spokesmen for the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad have stated repeatedly, they will pocket their gains in Gaza and in northern Samaria and launch the next wave of war against Israel from Judea and the rest of Samaria. As the Bush administration and the left wing in Israel have made clear, pressure on Israel to follow up the expulsion of Jews from their homes and communities in Gaza and northern Samaria with more and deeper expulsions in Judea and the rest of Samaria will begin in earnest the moment the operation is completed.
Given all this, the only conclusion that one can reasonably reach is that the decision to forcibly evacuate Israeli citizens from their homes and communities was made with an eye toward fomenting an internal crisis in Israeli society. Some have offered that Sharon desires this crisis because he wishes to demonstrate to the Americans that destroying additional communities in Judea and Samaria as Washington demands will simply be impossible. Whether or not this is the case, there can be no question that if the struggle that is now unfolding is not handled responsibly by all sectors of Israeli society, it will lead to open and violent cleavages across the Right-Left and religious-secular divides, and will set the course for the unraveling of Israeli society in the years to come.
One of the main groups of actors in Israeli society bearing grave responsibility for the Furies that are now upon us is the local media. And, judging by the coverage of the violent events on Wednesday in Gaza and along the highways throughout the country, the radio, television, print media and Internet news portals are poised to guarantee that Israeli society will fall apart completely in the coming months.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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