Sharon’s War on (Jewish) Extremism
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has taken some drastic steps to get the peace process moving—and not everyone is happy about it.
On one hand are Arabs who say they don’t go far enough, as well as those who regard any deal as illegitimate and try to undo it using violence. On the other hand are Jews—the “politically powerful and outspoken Israeli minority,” in the words of the Washington Post—who are bitterly opposed to any territorial concessions (February 9).
These Jews are incensed at Sharon. They feel he is betraying their country. Some have responded with civil disobedience—slashing tires of government officials, vowing not to evacuate their homes; even sending death threats (a danger that cannot be ignored, considering the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995).
Sharon is employing a zero-tolerance policy toward these dissenters. Every proposal his government has floated accounts for the likelihood of massive Israeli resistance to its implementation—including defiance from within the armed forces, which have been increasingly influenced by Orthodox Jews. Astoundingly, Israeli police are being trained by behavioral scientists to “cope with possibly harming fellow citizens in a cause many may believe in themselves” (Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 22, 2004).
The Monitor put it well: In taking these conciliatory steps with the Palestinians, “Israel appears to be preparing for open conflict with itself …” (ibid.).
Sharon tells the angry settlers to get over their “Messianic complex”—their belief that they have a religious right to the land. Would he be so bold as to make the same demand of the Muslims who, on religious grounds, seek to evict his race from their soil?