In the year and a half which preceded the implementation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal and expulsion plan from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, the leftist elites in Israel waged an unrelenting cultural war against the Israeli Right generally and against religious Zionists specifically. Religious Zionists were portrayed by the media, by entertainment icons, by Sharon's advisers, and by his political allies on the Left as blood-crazed zealots, parasites, and the single largest danger to Israel's well-being.
Last December, in an op-ed in Ma'ariv, Labor Knesset member and former health minister Ephraim Sneh called for a civil war against religious Zionists. Using the American Civil War as a precedent, Sneh wrote, "85 years after its establishment, the United States of America was drawn into a cruel and destructive civil war, but the results of that war formed the democratic character of the giant country. The confrontation among [Israelis] is also unpreventable."
As the months dragged on, the attacks against religious Israelis became more and more hysterical. In July, Ha'aretz editorialized: "The disengagement of Israeli policy from its religious fuel is the real disengagement currently on the agenda. On the day after the disengagement, religious Zionism's status will be different." It went on to castigate religious Zionists as "a Trojan horse that has infiltrated Zionism in order to destroy it from within."
Calls like these came against the background of a constant drumbeat of hatred against religious Zionists from all quarters. The Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which was organizing the campaign against the withdrawal and expulsion plan, was unable to find a public relations firm that was willing to take it on as a client. Its leaders were told time after time by public relations executives that working with "the settlers" would wreck their reputations.
In retrospect, it is clear that the council had no chance of succeeding in its attempt to cancel the withdrawal and expulsion plan. As was the case with then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin with the Oslo Accords, the moment that Sharon succeeded in buying off a sufficient number of right-wing Knesset members, there was no way for the plan's opponents to prevent it from being implemented.
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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