Mixed Messages Reflect the Reality

Criticism of the message of the "Orange Thanks" event continues. Former Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg said it shows the "mixed-up" situation in which the religious-Zionist camps finds itself.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 12:34 PM

Excerpts from Sternberg's article, which appears in the original Hebrew on the Katif.net website:

"At least 10,000 youths were there at Sacher Park in Jerusalem at the 'Orange Thanks' event [this past Wednesday night] - those wonderful youth who were willing to give up their freedom and be arrested and imprisoned in order to prevent the expulsion of Jews from parts of the Land of Israel.

In truth, when I saw the organizations that sponsored the event, I knew that I should not have high hopes. These were the same bodies that used the public's longing for unity, gathered the tens of thousands under their wings, and led a strong political battle - while making sure that a serious struggle would not develop on the ground, even though the public was tremendously ready for it, and especially in Kfar Maimon. Not to mention that some of the organizing bodies condemned the idea of refusing orders...

In truth, I did not understand why the event took on a festive nature, when the expellees are still in hotels, caravans and tents. Where is the great victory here? ...

I came with full knowledge that this event would not herald the liberation of the national-religious camp from the bonds leashing its collective consciousness - but I also didn't expect such patent darkness. This was darkness whose meaning was that since we supposedly won by holding ineffective protests, not only is there no need to change our strategy, but the opposite is true: We should continue the same way even more forcefully.

First, one rabbi got up and said that we love and embrace the IDF and will continue to enlist and influence; at least he didn't say 'with sensitivity and determination' [the phrase used by those who implemented the expulsion]. These words, for me as an expellee, were like a sword in my heart. How can the rabbi love those who destroyed our lives and threw us out? My little children even now tremble when they see an army uniform. Isn't it a bit early, honored rabbi? Right after he spoke, they showed a chilling film of the destruction of N'vei Dekalim, the beautiful town destroyed by those the rabbi had just embraced...

Later, a 15-year-old girl was called to the stage, one of the heroines who sat in jail for a long time, followed immediately afterwards by a famous and important rabbi who in the past claimed that the road-blockings were a desecration of G-d's name! For a moment it wasn't clear whether the 'Orange Thanks' were from the leadership to the youth, or from the Prime Minister to the leadership...

This intolerable disparity between the words of the rabbis and the actions of the youth is precisely the same gap between the leadership and the public. And this event, where the messages were contradictory and confusing, expressed clearly the confusion from which the Orange camp suffers.

This helps us understand what happened in the Likud this week. You can't stutter and straddle both sides of the fence, and then expect to win. You can't expect a Likud Committee member who admires Sharon for his great past achievements but opposes the expulsion to translate his opposition to a vote against Sharon - when at the same time you grant legitimacy to the expulsion by embracing the expellers and allow it to transpire smoothly; it doesn't work!

Why is it that when we need a struggle, we organize protests, but when we need a protest - in order to create an atmosphere before the Likud vote - then we hold festive ceremonies?