Daily Israel Report

Eldad Dares Mazuz Over Civil Disobedience Call

MK Aryeh Eldad says that if the Att'y-Gen. is willing to indict him for calling for civil disobedience against the expulsion, then he is willing to remove his parliamentary immunity and stand trial.
First Publish: 4/29/2005, 1:12 PM / Last Update: 4/29/2005, 10:51 AM

The National Union party MK, who spoke on Wednesday at the Gush Katif mass rally and called for widespread civil disobedience in the coming months, has been criticized from both right and left for his remarks. "No, I didn't realize that my words would arouse such a storm," he told Arutz-7 yesterday, "but I truly feel that it's time for more and more people to get up and say they won't be screws in this machine of destruction."

On Wednesday, speaking before a crowd of tens of thousands who came to show solidarity with Gush Katif, Eldad said, "We will close down the country! ... I want to see civil disobedience. The day is near when those who are not arrested [in the course of this struggle] will see it as a badge of shame."

He elaborated for Arutz-7 yesterday: "We can assume that among the 100,000 government workers, the ratio of opposition to the plan is the same as among the rest of the country. If that's the case, it's not right that, on the one hand, they'll take part in implementing decisions having to do with razing homes and synagogues, and getting trucks for the deportation, and bringing bulldozers for the destruction, and moving cemeteries, and all the small decisions that are part of this plan - and yet at the same time they'll all say, 'It's not me, I'm just a small cog in the machine.' This cannot be. I'm sure that if there will be one, then 100, then 1,000 - the machine won't be able to work."

Eldad, who was the Chief Medical Officer of the IDF for four years and retired from the army several years ago with the rank of Brigadier-General, is a Medical Doctor specializing in plastic surgery. He and his family moved last month to Sa-Nur, one of the four Shomron communities threatened with destruction by Prime Minister Sharon's withdrawal/transfer plan. Eldad arrived at Gush Katif yesterday after a two-week march from the northern Shomron to protest the expulsion/withdrawal plan.

"I see it as a democratic right and moral obligation," Eldad told Arutz-7, "of a citizen in a democratic country to refuse to take part in immoral commands. If Sharon can say [as he did again last week] that even a soldier who cannot fulfill an order should go to his commander and say so and be willing to pay the price, then all the more so should public clerks and employees do so. Regular citizens who see a road on which trucks will travel to expel the Jews should sit there and block it, and not take part in any way in this destruction."

Asked about the propriety of a Knesset Member making such a call, Eldad said, "It's actually the obligation of an MK to arouse the public that may have fallen asleep a little, and to tell them what is allowed and what is forbidden - and to emphasize that it must be without violence... Even former Attorney-General Ben-Yair called in the past for civil disobedience, because he knew that in a democratic country there are things that one is permitted to refuse to carry out, while being willing to pay the price. Many people must be willing to do this and go happily to jail for it."

Arutz-7's Amatzia HaEitan: "Are you willing to remove your parliamentary immunity and stand trial for your words, as some are calling upon you to do?"

Eldad: "The concept of parliamentary immunity is the very life-breath of a democracy. This is because there are things that a regular citizen is afraid to say, and so a Knesset Member must be able to say them without being afraid and without being threatened. At the same time, if Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz feels that what I said can be considered a crime, let him indict me, and let him come to the Knesset and ask for the removal of my parliamentary immunity. If he does so, I won't wait for a vote; if there is an indictment, I'll have my parliamentary immunity removed on my own, and then I'll be tried in what could be the most fascinating trial in the State of Israel, which will deal with whether we truly are a democracy, or just a fake. But only after the Attorney-General is willing to put himself on the line and take a chance on losing: let him consider this a real crime, let him prepare an indictment, let him come personally to the Knesset himself - and then I'll give up my parliamentary immunity.

A-7: "It appears that you are trying to move the red line forward, and thus to pave the way for more people - public figures and regular citizens - to say similar things that until now they were afraid to say, using you as a precedent?"

Eldad: "That is precisely the mission of a public figure, and that's exactly the reason why they gave us the freedom of speech and parliamentary immunity in this respect - not so that we would be able to go through red lights, or to steal, or to give a bribe for a Greek island somewhere - but exactly for this."

A-7: "What do you mean exactly by civil disobedience? Not paying taxes and the like?"

Eldad: "Civil disobedience is everything that is not violent in which people say that they are not taking part in this machine that is embarking on its path to perpetrate a historic national crime against the Jewish People. Everyone in his own way: A clerk can tear up a paper that he received and say he's not taking part; a teacher can teach that a state cannot legislate racist laws, even if he is fired for it; and another can say that [Histadrut Labor Union chief] Amir Peretz threatened to close down the country several times over money, without being blamed for causing bloodshed - but those whose most basic beliefs are being threatened who say that if someone can't travel from one place to another [when the government closes the roads in preparation for the expulsion] or reach their homes in Gush Katif and northern Shomron, then no one can travel anywhere - they are not permitted to do so?"

Eldad acknowledged that the bulk of public opinion has been turned towards Gush Katif and not northern Shomron, because most of the residents slated for expulsion live in Gush Katif. "In truth, however, geo-political and strategically, it is much worse to allow the establishment of a terrorist state in the Shechem-Jenin area than in Gush Katif. There are those who mislead us by saying that we must sacrifice a limb for the whole body - but in this case, this is sacrificing the very spine!"