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      Preparing the Way for the Next Expulsion?

      A poll showing that 44% of the Yesha population would be willing to leave if the government so decides is taken only moderately seriously in Yesha and the army.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 6/1/2006, 9:24 AM / Last Update: 6/1/2006, 11:48 AM

      The poll, conducted by the Geocartographic Institute, did not include follow-up questions, such as, "Under what conditions would you agree to leave?" or "Do you live in a community that is slated for destruction?"

      Rabbi Menachem Felix, one of the founding members of the Shomron community Elon Moreh and of the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise in general, told Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine, that though he does not feel there is room for complacency, the poll's results do not appear to him to be accurate. "For one thing," he said, "it's just a poll - and we all know that according to the polls, Shimon Peres should have been Prime Minister, and President, a few times."

      "In addition," the rabbi continued, "it includes many respondents from places like Ariel and Maaleh Adumim, which this bad government says it plans to retain in any event. This means that they are not candidates for expulsion; on the contrary, people are supposed to come to them - and so this poll is deceptive."

      Among the religious-Zionist public, the poll shows a very different picture. Only 23% of those defining themselves as religious said they would agree to leave, the survey found.

      Military correspondent Kobi Finkler, quoting a senior military source, said that the security establishment relates to the poll as "just politics," and does not take it seriously.

      "This does not mean we should be calm and serene," Rabbi Felix said. "There are people in the government who are planning all sorts of evil schemes as to how to throw us out, and we have to prepare for it and strengthen ourselves."

      "I don't identify a trend of increasing despair or willingness to give up," Rabbi Felix said, "but I also don't claim that the fact that I don't identify it is scientific. But what I can say from my experience - which, as you say, has been long - is that we always thrive during the most difficult periods. Especially here in what are called the Mountain Ridge communities in the Shechem area - Elon Moreh, Yitzhar, Bracha, Itamar - which are the prime candidates for destruction, we have been growing and gaining more people over the past months."

      "When the Torah says that the more they oppress us, the more we thrive, it's not just words, but rather true life," continued the pioneer rabbi, whose 20-year-old daughter Ofrah was murdered in a terrorist shooting in January 1995.

      "But again, we can't take this lightly, and we must prepare ourselves, first of all spiritually, and also by talking with others, etc. But we must also see the positive. It's possible that the government now realizes that it's not so simple to just take 5,000 soldiers and start forcing people out."

      Rabbi Felix, and others, also noted that the poll might have been published in tandem with the remarks this week by Brig.-Gen. Eival Giladi, who headed the Prime Minister's Bureau strategy planning team for the Gaza withdrawal. Eival essentially said that there would be no need to force the residents out of their homes, as many could be enticed out with financial compensation, while the others would then find it difficult to remain there on their own.

      Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Vice Premier Shimon Peres apparently do not agree with Giladi, however; see separate article.