I have not been paying too much attention to the turmoil in Israel over Ariel Sharon's proposed disengagement from Gush Katif. Yesterday, however, one of my professors took time in class to blast Sharon's policy. The disengagement, called "hitnatkut" (self-uprooting) in Hebrew, could very well lead to civil war in Israel.
Every single party to the right of the Likud is calling for IDF soldiers to refuse orders to relocate the Gush Katif families. (A few of the radical groups like Kahaneh Tzadak are threatening to resist with force, which would be an absolute catastrophe.) Likud itself is splitting in half, and Sharon is busily purging all officials opposing him. In short order he fired both Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon (chief of staff of the IDF) and the former chief of the Mossad, for opposing the disengagement. He also is refusing to hold a national referendum on the disengagement, despite polls claiming that the disengagement is supported by 60% of the country. If the polls are genuine, why would Sharon oppose a national referendum?
The reclusive military legend Meir Har-Tzion, who served with Sharon in Paratroop Battalion 101 and has been his friend for a very long time, is now publicly stating that Sharon has lost his mind and is a danger to the state of Israel. Har-Tzion is not a right-winger by any means, being a product of the Kibbutz movement.
The preeminent Sephardi authority Rav Ovadia Yosef made a ruling some months back that the disengagement was forbidden under Torah law, not because he is opposed to land-for-peace in principle, but because he sees no reason to believe that disengagement will do anything except make the terrorists stronger. His ruling is being echoed by religious leaders from across the observant world (though interestingly enough the leaders of my university have chosen to condemn calls for soldiers to refuse their orders).
Meanwhile, Sharon is putting a media blackout in place in Gush Katif during the pullout.
I do not understand what the man thinks he's doing. Is he trying to destroy Israeli society? There has been very little attempt at persuasion, or explanation of how the disengagement fits into the strategic picture. Indeed, Sharon has given no public reason for the disengagement at all. Instead, he moves to crush all opposition from within his party, the intelligence services, and the IDF, and imposes effective martial law on Gush Katif and other areas of the country. He held a referendum within Likud, and then completely disregarded it when they voted against the pullout; now he refuses to hold a national referendum, despite the crisis that is enveloping the Israeli polity (such as it is).
I am very, very worried. This could be the worst event in the short history of the State of Israel.