Has the Civil War Begun?
August 6, 2005
By Michael Rand
As the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish residents of Gaza draws near, we continue to witness some of the most disturbing events in the history of the Jewish people. Mass demonstrations, civil disobedience of staggering proportions, and the refusal of military personnel to participate in the ethnic cleansing have triggered a state of emergency throughout Israel.
Ariel Sharonâ€™s cabinet has decided that the only way to guarantee the governmentâ€™s survival is to suspend the democratic rights of the majority of the countryâ€™s citizens who vehemently oppose Sharonâ€™s planned expulsion of the Jews of Gaza.
And, day after day, tens-of-thousands of Israelis take to the streets in mass demonstrations, the likes of which have not been seen in the countryâ€™s history, signaling that the tear in Israeli society runs more deeply than Sharon and his Leftist allies had foreseen.
The question is now whether the civil war in Israel has begun, and if so, how will it end?
As it happens, there is no satisfactory definition of a civil war. Unlike typical wars, a civil war need not be officially declared by a legislative body. Instead, if we examine the recent events that have transpired in Israel, we can draw our own conclusions.
Unilateral Separation and Ethnic Cleansing
The conflict began when Ariel Sharon announced that his election promise not to withdraw Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip was null and void. Instead, he announced that Israel had no partner on the Palestinian side with whom to negotiate peace and, therefore, Israel would â€œseparateâ€ from the Palestinians unilaterally.
In his typical arrogant style, Sharon did not bother to provide a detailed rationale to his constituents, even when the upshot was the ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people from land upon they lived at the behest of the Israeli government for three generations.
But matters did not deteriorate at the time, because no one really believed Sharon would carry out his bizarre threat. Most Israelis thought that Sharon was maneuvering to further sideline Yasser Arafat who was the Palestinian leader at the time.
When arch-terrorist Arafat died and was replaced by the more moderate Mahmoud Abbas, most Israelis hoped that Sharon would announce that there was now a Palestinian partner with whom to negotiate a bilateral agreement that would produce a compromise position. No such luck.
Abbas spoke of peace, but categorically refused to stop Palestinian terrorism, citing his own weakness as a perpetual excuse to allow groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Jihad to operate with impunity.
Meanwhile, Sharon continued to seek legislative approval for the ethnic cleansing and forged an alliance with some of Israelâ€™s most notorious Leftist leaders to sideline his own partyâ€™s (and constituents') wishes.
Suspension of Democracy
Matters started to take on a new level of seriousness when the IDF began to construct a military city of tents designed to house the soldiers who would ethnically cleanse their own brothers from the Gaza Strip.
Ongoing acts of civil disobedience began, with the countryâ€™s main traffic routes being blocked by demonstrators several times each week. During those incidents, parts of the country were virtually shut down, highways turned into parking lots to make clear that the expulsion of Jews would not be business as usual.
The highway shutdowns were followed by mass demonstrations, which drew crowds that were at times hundred-thousand strong. The country became blanketed in orange shirts, ribbons and flags, symbolizing the popular resistance to Sharonâ€™s plan of expulsion.
Seeing the country boiling over with unrest, the government decided to suspend the democratic rights of its critics by disallowing peaceful, lawful marches in Southern Israel and in the area of the planned expulsion. Tens-of-thousands of demonstrators faced off peacefully against tens-of-thousands of Israeli policemen and soldiers, many of whom bust into tears at the sight of the opposition to the planned ethnic cleansing.
Apparently, the anti-democratic measures were decided upon, as opinion polls showed that a solid majority of Israelis oppose the governmentâ€™s policy of expulsion.
At the same time, the mass demonstrations continue at an accelerated pace throughout the country, making it clear that the Israeli people have split into two factions with an intense conflict. To date, there has been no movement toward violence from the side of the opposition. However, the IDF, having expelled or confined hundreds of conscientious objectors within its ranks, is proceeding to prepare for a widespread military conflict with the opposition.
But, even without an armed conflict, it could be said that Israel is essentially in a state of civil war. Ongoing acts of civil disobedience and mass demonstrations, together with the suspension of democracy, signals a serious conflict is in progress.
As legitimate political expression is stifled by the government, it becomes increasingly likely that the popular resistance will escalate into violence as Jewish soldiers are ordered to ethnically cleanse their fellow countrymen. But even without violence, it may just be that in a civilized Jewish society, civil war can manifest itself solely through the enormous expression of physical opposition to the government that we are already seeing.
Slippery Slope of Tyranny
One thing is certain, though. When all is said and done, the planned expulsion has fractured Israeli society in a way that will extremely difficult to mend in this generation. It will be a daunting task to overcome the political, ideological, and religious differences that have been sharpened by the governmentâ€™s decision to ethnically cleanse a portion of its population. This is especially true, as the land from which thousands of Jewish families will be expelled, is given as a victory prize to the mass-murdering Islamic terrorists that Israel has fought for generations.
And, to top it all off, once the Israeli government and court system have sanctioned the suspension of democratic rights as a means to silence legitimate political opposition, there is no telling to where the slippery slope of tyranny will lead in the future.
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Do you think that Israel is already in a state of civil war?