Tock, tock. The sound of a hammer hitting a nail. Driving the nail into wood, slowly but relentlessly.

I hear the sound of months of hard, effective fighting by the IDF going to waste. I hear the areas where the enemy has been contained, harassed, not beaten, but seriously weakened, being handed back to the enemy lock, stock and barrel. I hear the sound of the enemy recovering, regrouping, preparing for a new wave of attacks.

I hear the sound of hareidi parties rejoining the government. I hear some secular Israelis' last vestiges of respect for traditional Judaism dying, as hareidi politicians take over the purse strings again, and project an image of Judaism as cynical and grasping. I hear the sound of child allowances for large families going back to their former ludicrous levels. I hear even the Tal Law - that feeble protest of army-serving Israelis against an "exempt" community - getting trashed.

Tock, tock. I hear Israeli morale dying. I hear another generation of young Israelis being told, "You see, you have to serve, but these people don't; they've worked out deals with the politicians." I hear the nails getting slowly driven into the coffin.

I hear the finance minister's rational, effective economic program, aimed at freeing the Israeli creative and entrepreneurial genius from decades of strangulation - decades of big bureaucracy, big unions, big banks, big utilities, huge taxes - getting sacrificed on Ariel Sharon's altar of Disengagement and Unity. I hear the ignorant populists baying, I hear the overpaid bureaucrats, the devious banks and the ruthless unions smiling. I hear inflation going back up, taxes going back up, investors turning away from Israel again. I hear the sound of young Israelis deciding they can be more free, creative and wealthy elsewhere. Tock, tock.

I hear the sound of naive people again being seduced by the government's claims. I hear that same sector of the Israeli populace that isn't ideologically leftist, but shallow and a little desperate, the same sector that grasped at the Oslo mirages only to get harshly disillusioned, being told again that we can just disengage from terror and hatred, bring the boys home, cleanse the settlers, put up the wall and forget about it. I hear them being told that this time "the world" - the Europeans, the UN, the State Department, et al. - will understand that we've done our best for peace, and won't bash us with rulings and sanctions when we have to defend ourselves again.

And I hear the Egyptians and the Iranians funneling the really heavy artillery, armed with who-knows-what warheads, into Gaza and the other abandoned areas, laughing as the last Israeli soldiers clear out, starting to glimpse the minarets of Jerusalem.

I hear the sound of Shimon Peres returning to the government. I hear him setting up meetings with Abu Ala, Abu Mazen, Abu Amar, Abu whoever, mouthing his incredible inanities both to Israel and the world, preening himself with his Labor buddies as the "good", peace-loving Jews who will always give in, always hand over land to Hamas and Hizbullah until nothing's left and Israel is a little, huddled ghetto surrounded by genocidists. I hear the father of Oslo, his delusions blasted in two consecutive Israeli elections, being raised Phoenix-like from the ashes by Ariel Sharon, who we thought embodied the wisdom and realism we paid for so dearly.

I hear the last gasps of honor dying. I hear the efforts of those who defeated disengagement in the "Likud referendum" by exemplary democratic means, getting buried in mockery and derision. I hear the sound of a new, banana-republic Israel rising in which the head of state just fires cabinet ministers who exercise their right to vote against his reckless schemes. I hear the last shreds of belief in campaign platforms, in ideological coherence, in the worth of my "democratic" vote, getting trampled in the Sharon juggernaut.

I hear so much that's crucial to the still-young, still-struggling state of Israel getting buried under a new, headlong rush to quick fixes and easy "solutions". I hope the Likud opponents of "disengagement" and "unity" can do something to stop the madness.