Disengagement Activists Seek to Enlist Wider Following

Anti-disengagement protests expand to include a country-wide solidarity Sabbath, sleeping in the streets, and more orange ribbons on cars.

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, | updated: 10:04

Residents of Gush Katif and northern Shomron, the two regions of Jewish towns slated to be uprooted and transferred to the Arabs as part of Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, were guests in hundreds of locations around the country this past Sabbath. Over the weekend, they addressed groups in various forums in a campaign known as "Sabbath of Komemiyut (Standing Tall)." "The purpose is to widen and expand the circle of action," said Ayalah Azran, one of the organizers.

Participants said that attendees in the cities were attentive and that many left the lectures pledging to become more active in opposing the government plan. "The idea is for every person to do something, even if it is just to hang a sign or place a bumper sticker on their car," said Azran.

The name of the campaign comes from one of the chief blessings in the weekly Torah portion, which states that G-d will return the People of Israel to the Land of Israel "standing tall."

The "sleep in the streets" campaign continues this week as well. Several weeks ago, over 100 students camped out overnight in the streets of several cities, with signs explaining the dangers of the expulsion/withdrawal plan. On Wednesday and Thursday of last week, students slept in tents on Jerusalem streets, and this week it will occur again, according to this schedule: Sunday and Monday night in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv; Tuesday and Thursday nights on the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall in Jerusalem; and Wednesday - City Hall Square in Petach Tikvah. For more information, write to "mitorerim@walla.org."

An orange ribbon on one's car antenna or mirror is perhaps the most widespread sign of protest. Orange is the official color of the anti-disengagement movement - to the extent that the police have banned some public displays of orange at public events.

Even those who already have an orange ribbon on their car should "keep a supply in your glove compartment so that you can give them out to your friends as well," writes Emanuel Shilo in the B'Sheva weekly newspaper. "Those who really want to do it well will switch their ribbon every once or two weeks, to preserve the fresh and shiny orange color. On the way to work in the morning, there's nothing as heartening as seeing an orange ribbon waving proudly on the car in front of you, and another one on the car that just passed... The day that a quarter of the cars in Tel Aviv's parking lots will have orange ribbons will be the day that we can say Kaddish [the mourner's prayer] on the expulsion plan."

Though the Orange Cell university students' anti-disengagement hunger strike has ended, a smaller-scale hunger strike of a slightly different nature continues opposite the Western Wall. Chaim Parag has not eaten for some two weeks, but is not sufficing with this sign of his anti-expulsion feelings: He is holding a Torah study-and-prayer marathon in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, and people join in for minutes, hours, and even a day at a time. The site has a constant presence of visitors and yeshiva students.

In the US, 35,000 people will rally against the withdrawal from Jewish Gaza at a concert after the New York Israel Day Parade, the largest pro-Israel gathering in the world. The 12th annual Israel Day Rally/Concert will be held in Central Park, at the East Meadow, located at 97th Street and 5th Avenue, on Sunday, June 5, 2005 from 2:30-6 PM, rain or shine. Over 35,000 people are expected to gather at this year's event, which is dedicated to supporting the Jewish communities of Gaza and northern Samaria, and against the transfer of this region to Arab sovereignty.
The concert will be MC'ed by Israel National Radio's Tovia Singer and broadcast live on IsraelNationalRadio.com. Speakers will include two former Israeli Cabinet Members and current Knesset Members Effie Eitam and Dr. Uzi Landau and leaders of the American Jewish community, including Rabbis and major organizational heads. The event is organized by Dr. Joseph Frager and will feature leading Jewish performers.