100 Rallies Around the Country

One hundred pro-Gush Katif demonstrations are being held this evening (Thursday) around the country, capping off what has been known as "Orange Week."

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, | updated: 11:12

One hundred pro-Gush Katif demonstrations are being held this evening (Thursday) around the country, capping off what has been known as "Orange Week." The country has been plastered with Gush Katif's official orange color, in the form of thousands of flags on cars, banners and posters.

The 100 demonstrations of this evening - against handing over Gush Katif and northern Shomron to the Arabs and expelling the resident Jews from their homes - is an unprecedented enterprise. Six of the rallies will take place in key intersections in Jerusalem, beginning at 5:30 PM. An hour later, all the Jerusalem participants will begin marching through the city to the country's main event, at Paris Square, just down the road from the Prime Minister's official residence. Dozens of large screens will be put up at Paris Square, which will show, in real time, the other events from around the country.

Jerusalem rallies will be held at the city's main entrance, French Hill Junction, Pat Junction, Oranim Junction, Tzahal Square near Jaffa Gate, and opposite the Wolfson buildings. Chairs with the Cabinet ministers' names on them will be arranged in front of the screens in Paris Square, and the ministers will be invited to "listen to the people's voice."

"Orange is the color of the sun," the organizers explain, "which illuminates the world every morning anew. We are confident in the strength of the orange sunrise to banish even the darkest night. We also believe in the nation's strength. History has proven many times that the public is stronger than the politicians' intrigues, and that popular protest can change governmental decisions."

The organizers in Gush Katif exhort their neighbors: "There is lots to do. If each and every one of us takes responsibility, helps out at the local headquarters, asks his acquaintances and relatives to take part in the 100 Demonstrations, and more and more - then it is in our power to stop this disengagement tragedy and to advance positive and significant processes in the development of the State of Israel."

In contrast, a counter campaign involving hundreds of billboard signs stating, "The majority rules: We're quitting Gaza," will begin on Sunday. It is not clear, however, what the majority thinks; a proposal to hold a national referendum on the issue has, thus far, been vetoed by the plan's leading proponent, Prime Minister Sharon.

The forces behind the pro-Gush Katif efforts of today and this week are the same that organized the Human Chain over two months ago. In that event, 150,000 or more people banded together alongside highways and roadsides to physically connect Gaza and Jerusalem.

The organizers of the campaign to keep Gush Katif and northern Shomron Jewish hope that today's rallies will similarly awaken the public and its leaders to the realization of "the folly of uprooting Jews and handing their homes and land over to the enemy in exchange for nothing." They say that the struggle is not just "a private fight by the residents for their homes. This is rather a struggle on behalf of the entire population for the future of Israeli society."

"The disengagement process will deteriorate the security situation in all of Israel," according to promotional literature. "It will increase terrorism, and will bring Israel's cities within range of the Kassam rockets. But the damage is not just in the realm of security. The disengagement process will lead to a detachment from the basic values on which we have been raised. The question at hand concerns the significance of the relationship between the People of Israel and the Land in which its spiritual character was forged. This question has great ramifications on our entire identity and all its facets."