Walking among the tens of thousands of Israeli protesters at Moshav Kfar Maimon this week was like being witness to a miracle. There in the scorching summer heat were thousands upon thousands of families with children of all ages, young men and women and elderly people, living under siege and in conditions that would make an infantryman cringe.
And yet, there was no complaining. There was no shouting. There was no pushing. There was no garbage on the ground. There was no stench of any kind. What one saw in the protesters' faces and heard in each and every statement and conversation was dignity, determination, integrity, faith and a form of earthy, plainspoken and unabashed patriotism and concern for the greater good that has become an artifact of a barely remembered past for many Israelis.
In witnessing this – when just outside were 20,000 soldiers and policemen, laying concertina wire along the fence penning these people in as if they were terrorists, and standing arms locked in row upon row, poised to pounce at them at the slightest provocation – it was, indeed, hard to shake off the sense that one was watching a miracle happen.
The tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens – estimates of their actual numbers run between 30,000 and 60,000 – were exercising their democratic right to protest the government's plan to expel 10,000 Israelis from Gaza and northern Samaria and destroy the communities they built from sand next month. The protesters oppose this plan for moral reasons. It is simply obscene, they say, to carry out these expulsions. These people are set to be thrown out of their homes and their farms just because they are Jews. Israel receives nothing in return. These people's homes will be either destroyed or turned over to the same Palestinian terrorist forces that have been attacking them continuously for the past five years. Their hothouses and livestock are set to be turned over to the Palestinians as well.
The plan's proponents argue that the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from their farms and communities in the Land of Israel is necessary to maintain Israel as a democratic, Jewish society. Yet, what these opponents of the expulsion plan experienced, in their efforts to even voice their opposition, is that in insisting on carrying out this plan – which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was reelected overwhelmingly in 2003 by promising to oppose – the government is trampling and endangering both Israel's democratic form of government and its character as a Jewish state.
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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