Settlers renew nonviolence pledge

Settler leaders send brochures affirming nonviolence to 40,000 families.

lieberman yesha hands up (photo credit: ariel jerozolimski [file])
lieberman yesha hands up
(photo credit: ariel jerozolimski [file])
On the eve of Yom Kippur, settler leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a nonviolent democratic struggle in their future quest to hold on to settlements and to build new ones in the territories. This week the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip mailed 40,000 families in the territories a glossy brochure with an orange border outlining their efforts on behalf of the settlers last year and their plans for preserving the settlement movement in the future. "We fought an unprecedented battle, but it was not free from error, for which we will be going through a protracted period of soul searching," wrote council leader Benzi Lieberman. Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post Sunday that while the council typically sends a year-end summary, this one was clearly different. "This past year the council was engaged in the most important battle in its history," he said. People went to great lengths to support the struggle either by taking time off from work or their families or by donating money, he said. They needed to hear why it had been so important for the council to stick to democratic methods in fighting this summer's evacuation of 21 Gaza communities and four in northern Samaria. "If we had resorted to violence or extremists methods we would have lost Judea and Samaria," said Lieberman. By acting within the bounds of acceptable behavior the council now has credibility to engage in a dialogue with the nation at large as to why the nation as a whole must take a stand against any more territorial concessions, said Lieberman. Within the brochure, he explains to the readers that during the battle the council made mistakes, including not doing a good job of communicating with the demonstrators either in Kfar Maimon or to those who were trying to break through the Kissufim Crossing by the border into Gush Katif. With regards to the massive demonstration at the Neveh Dekalim synagogue in which hundreds of teens gathered in the twin sanctuaries in the complex, the council said it could have skipped "the hugs" and engaged in a "more forceful dialogue." But he said that in the end he felt the results would have been the same because the battle was lost at the parliamentary level, not in the streets. Lieberman blames the politicians who supported Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in his pursuit of disengagement. He believes that the second time around the council will be more effective in its fight to prevent further evacuations because it will not wait for Sharon to announce his next step. The council will be moving now to engage the nation in a dialogue as to why the settlements are important, to expand its base of support. "We will be presenting a positive right-wing agenda," he said. "The nation of Israel is thirsty for true Zionism," he wrote in his brochure explaining that more "face to face" meetings were needed to bring this traditional message to the people. Although the brochure is being sent out on the eve of Yom Kippur, it asks people "not to forgive and not to forget." "We're not asking that they not forgive the people, we are not talking about Arik Sharon. We're talking about the narrative. I don't want to forget the evacuation, just like I do not want to forget the Holocaust or Jewish history," he said. There are lessons in the narrative that are important for future generations, he added.