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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Troubling? Yes, but understandable

Evelyn Gordon hits the nail on the head with an article about 'Amona' in today's JPost.

The biggest blow to these teenagers' belief in democracy was the disengagement from Gaza - and rightly so. In a democracy, victory is supposed to be achieved by winning an election. Yet settlers twice won democratic votes against the disengagement, only to see their victory nullified by the government and Knesset.

In 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon won reelection by a landslide by running against Labor's platform of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. But a year later, he adopted the very proposal he had run against - without seeking a new public mandate via either new elections or a national referendum. He did agree to a referendum among members of his own party, and pledged to abide by the results. But when disengagement opponents, thanks to door-to-door canvassing in the best democratic tradition, won another landslide victory, Sharon and other Likud MKs simply ignored the results and went ahead with the pullout.

Having been given such clear proof that in Israel winning votes is useless, is it surprising that these teens now consider elections a waste of time and energy?

Their lack of faith in the courts is equally unsurprising. How could they fail to scorn the double standard of a Supreme Court that piously declared that it has "no right" to overrule the government's security judgment on the disengagement, even though it harmed Gaza settlers, yet repeatedly overrules the government's security judgment on the route of the fence in order to prevent lesser injury to Palestinians? Or that authorizes draconian remands until the end of proceedings for teenagers accused of blocking roads during the disengagement, yet cancels all charges against MK Azmi Bishara on the spurious grounds that praising Hizbullah's "guerrilla war" against Israel does not amount to praising "armed struggle"? [I highlighted that sentence because Ms. Gordon's article last week implied that the distinction was valid and I called her on it in a letter to the JPost that was published earlier this week. CiJ]

Then consider the media, which is vital to any attempt to influence public opinion. Is it surprising that these teens consider the media hopelessly biased when leading journalists openly declare that the prime minister must be protected "like an etrog" from allegations of corruption as long as he is dismantling settlements? Or when the same media that vociferously demanded an investigation of police violence during the Arab riots of October 2000 vociferously oppose an investigation of police violence at Amona, even though the violence at Amona, while less severe, was arguably far less justified? (Amona was a localized riot, involving some 3,000 people in a single place on a single day. The October 2000 riots involved tens of thousands of people in dozens of towns over several days, coordinated with a simultaneous uprising in the territories. In other words, Amona was a riot; October 2000 was an insurrection.)

Read the whole thing.


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