A lesson from the Rabin legacy

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 04-Nov-05 | Source: Ha'aretz

An Israeli man prays at the gravesite of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to a memorial service at Mount Hertzl cemetery in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 4, 2005.

On the 10th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, it would be appropriate to adopt the most practical lesson from the murder and finally bring the state's full authority to bear on right-wing outlaws who threaten the country from within.

For more than 30 years, the religious right has made a laughing stock of law and democracy, overpowering heads of state and cabinet ministers one after the other. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz apparently is politically afraid of another confrontation with settlers in an election year. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the delay in evacuating 24 outposts that already have been recognized as being illegal, and which could be emptied at any moment. The cabinet agreed to such an evacuation in March 2001, and reconfirmed its commitment to the decision upon the submission of the Sasson report on illegal outposts this March.

Since the Sasson report on illegal construction in outposts, the structures have only become more entrenched. It is happening under shelter of the Israel Defense Forces, as the veteran settlements' local councils turn a blind eye and even assist financially. It is impossible to interpret continued construction of the outposts as anything but further capitulation to the right. Ariel Sharon already has proven that he can stand up to the settlers if he so desires. This begs the conclusion that he is not interested in doing so.

Outpost residents have confronted and even physically injured IDF soldiers in recent weeks, but the cabinet did not come to its senses and exercise its authority as required by its own decisions. This capitulation to the religious right is, unfortunately, part of the Rabin heritage. The assassination is the direct result of this surrender.

Sharon may be seeking the right timing to evacuate the outposts, but any date that is chosen is too late. An atmosphere of mutiny is developing around the outposts, as is a sense of power among the youth, some of whom are the children and grandchildren of Gush Emunim's founders. This is the second generation of destroyers of Israeli democracy, and not settlement pioneers as they try to portray themselves. The religious Zionist leadership tries to absolve itself of responsibility for the Rabin assassination, calling the assassin a miscreant, and should have pressured its offspring in the outposts slated for evacuation to leave willingly. But religious Zionism has not assimilated democratic values and learned its lesson.

The outposts and tent cities are signs of anarchy and lack of control. Instead of learning from the successful Gush Katif disengagement that showed that action is possible and can garner broad public support, the regime again is exhibiting a lack of resourcefulness and weak knees against a violent and manipulative minority whose behavior is despised by the majority.

The Sasson report makes suggestions for handling future illegal construction, and a ministerial committee was established to implement the decisions. Eight months of inaction lead one to conclude that the Sasson report has become something no one wants, and the government plans to intentionally ignore its conclusions. Likud ministers may win a few points with the Likud Central Committee and settler lobbyists that way, but will lose the trust they gained from the rest of the public for their handling of the disengagement.