Atty. HaEtzni: Civil Disobedience is the Way

Former MK Elyakim HaEtzni, today an attorney living in Kiryat Arba, believes that through massive civil disobedience, the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria can be thwarted.

, | updated: 19:02

A letter penned by Binyamin Council head Pinchas Wallerstein and supported by the Yesha Council sparked heated debate and left-wing condemnations Monday.

HaEtzni, a legal scholar and former member of the Techiya party, spoke about the roots and ramifications of civil disobedience on IsraelNationalRadio’s Eli Stutz and Yishai Fleisher Show Tuesday. HaEtzni claimed that, contrary to claims in recent days, civil disobedience shows the utmost respect for the legal system, while specifically targeting an immoral law through self-sacrifice.

HaEtzni sees the struggle of Martin Luther King and the American civil rights movement as the key to combating the threats facing the Jews of Judea, Samaria and Gaza today. “In the US, duly elected officials passed and enforced laws enforcing discrimination. Rosa Parks, [a black woman told to change her seat on a public bus due to segregation laws] rather than accepting the immoral law, violated the law and declared her willingness to accept the consequences. This does not undermine the law, but shows the utmost respect for the institution while targeting the immoral law directly.”

The former MK insists that although civil disobedience is a last resort, it is an integral part of a healthy democracy. “When a law is vicious and discriminatory, how is someone to respond? If civil disobedience were not an option, I don’t know where we would find ourselves. We are not violent people – we know that violence is destruction. We know the Second Temple was destroyed because of violence and hatred between Jews.”

Through breaking an immoral law and accepting the legal penalties, those faithful to a cause influence the public through drawing their attention to a situation for which they are willing to sacrifice themselves. “The trial itself is a battlefield of ideas for a conscientious lawbreaker under these circumstances,” says HaEtzni, “He uses the platform of the court to convince his fellow citizens of the justice of his cause.”

Asked about practical steps that, in his view could successfully prevent the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria, HaEtzni said that, in his view, the principles of civil disobedience are applicable on two fronts:

“One – [in the event of an attempted expulsion] blocking the roads in and out of Gush Katif with tens of thousands of people. No government can oppose this. What tens of thousands of people did in Kiev, in the freezing cold, two weeks ago is what we must do in the heat of this coming summer. Also, traffic in the entire country should be brought to a halt. PM Sharon himself said, when Labor was in power, that if 50,000 people would surround the government compound in Jerusalem – the government would fall.

“Two – we must make it clear to our soldiers and police officers that it is manifestly illegal to obey such orders. It is illegal to break into a citizen’s home, take his possessions, drag him and his family out of their house by force, dig up the bones of their dead relatives, destroy his home and hand over his community to the enemy.”

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