Bringing 100,000 Jews to Gush Katif: Pro and Con

Though most Yesha Council leaders feel that a massive Jewish presence in and around Gush Katif is the proper response to the beginning of the withdrawal/expulsion plan, some do not agree.

, | updated: 16:38

Eliezer Hisdai, who represents the not-religious town of Alfei Menashe on the Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council, says it would be irresponsible of the leadership to try to bring 100,000 or more Jews to clash with - or even just to peaceably resist - soldiers and policemen.

"I don’t believe it's possible to stop this plan," Hisdai said. "We have apparently reached the point of no return. Our responsibility as leaders is to tone down the extremists as much as possible. The dialogue with Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, for instance, is a responsible act of that type."

He was referring to last week's meeting between MK Effie Eitam and Minister Ezra, in which the topic of weapons was discussed. Reportedly, neither residents nor security forces will be armed during the actual expulsion.

Hisdai says he supports an active struggle, "but only up until the point that you can be sure that you have control over the people. To bring 100,000 people in order to bodily stop the withdrawal appears to me to be both overly ambitious and dangerous, for there is no way to retain control over that many people. It could even lead to bloodshed, and as the leadership, we must prevent this."

Pinchas Wallerstein, on the other hand, represents the opposing and majority point of view. A member of the Yesha Council from the Binyamin area, just north of Jerusalem, Wallerstein told Arutz-7 today, "I, too, am concerned about violence, but if we desire life, than we must be willing to pay the price now – for if we sit quietly, the withdrawals will continue until the Temple Mount. Once the process [of retreating] begins, it will be very hard to stop it from continuing. Everyone understands this. [Prime Minister] Sharon is bringing us to a split , and it will take a generation to repair it."

The plan, as envisioned by Wallerstein, is to use the tens of thousands of people to physically prevent the expulsion from taking place: "We will not allow Jewish communities to be closed off for months – whether it be after Passover (April 30) or after Independence Day (May 12)... We won't let the residents there become the Third Army [an Egyptian force that was totally surrounded by the IDF during the Yom Kippur War]..." He was referring to the government's plan to close off the areas at an unknown date in the future to all visitors.

"We lost the chance for a referendum," Wallerstein said, "and we feel totally betrayed, as we have no way of knowing if the majority really agrees to this plan... I believe that there must be a strong, non-violent but uncompromising struggle, including willingness by people to pay the price - such as going to jail for this struggle. If we give up now, then it [the withdrawal process] is headed straight for Temple Mount and Jerusalem."

"We will stand at the Kisufim Junction [the only entrance to Gush Katif], and announce that if visitors are not allowed in, then we won't allow anyone to go in or out... Yes, the fear [of violence] mentioned by Hisdai Eliezer exists. PM Sharon is truly splitting the nation. There might very well be violent outbursts. Should that prevent us from waging a just struggle?"

" We must win over public opinion – I object to road-blockings, as they don't persuade anyone that we are right. We are not against the People of Israel. If our public shows self-sacrifice, I am confident that we will succeed."

Wallerstein was asked his opinion of the statement by Rabbi Yigal Ariel of the Golan community of Nov. Rabbi Ariel said that if we actually succeed in thwarting the IDF's intention to carry out a mission, then this will be even more dangerous than the actual disengagement.

"I understand Rabbi Ariel's feeling of damned if I do, damned if I don't," Wallerstein said, "but I feel that this struggle will bring either to a referendum or to new elections. We have already promised that we will adhere to a democratic decision by the people. If, Heaven forbid, the nation decides in favor of disengagement, we will protest - but we won't fight to stop it. But that's not the situation today."

Yesha Council leaders are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Sharon in the coming days, for the first time after several months of no contact. Wallerstein is vexed by the idea: "It's a very difficult issue – the $100 million question. On the one hand, if we don't show up, he wins a public relations victory. But on the other hand, how can we allow him to use us as pawns, when we know that he is as interested in our plight as he is in last year's snow?"

In a related item, sources close to former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira clarified on Friday that he did not call for soldiers not to show up for reserve service in the coming months. A poster against army service was disseminated on Friday, adorned with a quote from Rabbi Shapira stating that soldiers must refuse to be involved in the disengagement. He did not say that all soldiers must refuse to show up for army service, however, as was widely reported.