by Sarah Honig
Among the junk mail that clogs my postbox daily, I found a Gush Shalom leaflet calling on me to fulfill my "national duty and the duty of every peace-loving person" to help remove all settlements. How do I pitch in? By boycotting anything that's settlement-made. To facilitate my task, I was supplied with a list of brands to be shunned. In case of unmarked agricultural produce, I must grill the retailer to make sure he's not selling me forbidden fruit. Moreover, I was urged to disseminate said blacklist amongst friends and relations, post it on neighborhood billboards and in my workplace.
Lastly, should I feel a tad discomfited, I was advised to ignore counterarguments that I collaborate in "depriving Jewish brethren of their livelihood." Most settlers, I was assured, anyway "aren't productive citizens but live off the public. This is why they had so much free time to participate in the violent demonstrations that preceded the Rabin assassination. "While most Israelis worked for a living, the settlers blocked roads and burned tires. Settlements constitute the chief obstacle to a historic rapprochement between Israel and Falastin."
I finally realized who's responsible for our collective distress and insecurity. I forgot about the Arab genocidal penchant for throwing us into the sea - long before any occupation or beyond-the-Green-Line settlements existed. I never asked about all the available time Gush Shalom altruists have to protest against the security fence and IDF roadblocks (which keep me and them alive). I was too reviled by the use settlers make of the right to free assembly and speech. I discovered who the parasites feeding off my honest toil were and was reminded of the dastardly mischief they were up to, which invariably led to Rabin's slaying. There's no telling what existential disaster they could drag us into. They make my skin crawl.
In ordinary times I'd quickly return to my senses and identify this as the post-Zionist fringe's self-destructive variation on entrenched anti-Semitic themes. These, however, aren't ordinary times. Ever since Ariel Sharon's epiphany, demonizing settlers is no longer an exclusive far-Left prerogative. Arik gave settler-bashing unprecedented respectability. Now that he no longer loves them, it's bon ton to vilify those freeloaders who infest our surroundings, endanger our perfect peace, dare dissent and protest against Arik's designs, and who may now be plotting the next assassination.
REINFORCED BY Tnuva's chairman, I can finally enjoy the coziness of the mainstream. It's good being in league with those who gang up on Public Enemies. It's good being on the same side as Arik, now King of the Enlightened Ones. It's good to enjoy the security of running with the majority flock, like the flock of hens that loomed large in the homespun childhood recollections Arik was once excessively fond of recounting.
Growing up in Kfar Malal, young Arik astutely observed the chickens on his family's farm. He noted that the hens clucked harmoniously most of the time; but if one took ill, its mates suddenly and ferociously turned on it, pecking, scratching, and clawing their victim to death. It was then the future general concluded that weakness encourages aggression. Those who can't defend themselves are terminated viciously. Those who don't deter, invite their own destruction. That's how it is in nature, in the barnyard, in Israeli politics, and in the Mideast. When Arik grievously injured the settlers, he must have realized he was turning them into fair game, not only for Gush Shalom's serial predators and Tnuva's chairman. Confused ordinary folk prefer being among the assaulting fowl rather than associating with pitiful pariah pullets everyone rips into.
That's why the projected construction of prison camps for entire settler families and of mock-settlements for destruction drills evoke not a grassroots murmur. Fearful folks are glad it's not happening to them and rationalize why the others have it coming. Arik counts on that. Manipulating mass psychology will win him support. It's elementary, but not without risks. The delegitimization, blackballing, and ostracism visited on slandered settlers could become the sad lot of us all.
One flock's top hen is another's ravaged prey. Arik seems to have conveniently relinquished his once-reliable chicken-sense. By retreating and dismantling veteran villages, he signals the rest of the world that Israel is weakening. He thereby turns Israel into the enfeebled chicken of this savage region and of the heartless world.
He weakens our moral claim to any part of this land in an international environment where it's already increasingly trendy to dispute Israel's very right to exist. He may be intent on dismantling some settlements. Enemies and their overseas sympathizers focus on all settlements, first outside the Green Line and later within. Like it or not, Arik, we're all in the same chicken coop.
Women For Israel's Tomorrow (Women in Green)
POB 7352, Jerusalem 91072, Israel
Tel: 972-2-624-9887 Fax: 972-2-624-5380