teenagers from some of the Gush Katif settlements announced that they plan to commit suicide on the day of the evacuation. Nor are they planning a run-of-the-mill suicide: They intend to surf into the Mediterranean and drown together.
How did we come to this? Partially, for sure, it's the government's fault, for handling the disengagement in such a haphazard and in many ways uncaring way, leaving people unsure about their futures for so long. But would you really hear threats as extreme as these, from teenagers, were it not for the settler leaders and their supporters, who are whipping up an entire sector of the public into a dangerous frenzy, even as they should be calming them down, urging restraint and preparing them for the future?
You get to the point where you ask what good this frenzy* can possibly do. It's not stopping disengagement. It's not helping people through the trauma, that's for sure. And it's not searing the hearts of the secular public, nor making them think twice about evacuating West Bank settlements later on. As Ha'aretz -- in an otherwise unnecessarily aggressive, unhelpful and in some ways spiteful editorial -- rightly says,
The general public is not afraid. At most, if it is not apathetic, it is outraged.It seems that the only real effect is to hurt the public which is being evacuated, by stopping them moving on with their lives; encouraging them to see themselves as victims, more so than they would have done anyway; and by blowing up this tragedy in their minds to impossible proportions. It similarly hurts the entire national religious sector, which is being encouraged into an enormous existential crisis that could have been managed. The end result: kids making suicide threats, and thinking this is somehow helpful.
*Frenzy = Encouraging and egging on soldiers to disobey orders; encouraging the settlers not to prepare for the day after and making those willing to move and willing to accept compensation feel like traitors; holing oneself up in abandoned buildings and refusing to move; disrupting the entire country's traffic, made worse through unpleasant means; leaders talking publicly about turning their backs on the state; rabbis saying that people helping with the evacuation will get cancer; encouraging 14-year old girls to stay in jail for weeks rather than give their names to police; using holocaust imagery and comparing the government, implicitly or explicitely, to Nazis; etc. etc. Just to make things clear, I am not saying the settlers and their supporters should have accepted this decree -- and some of the government's admittadly bad behavior -- with no protest. All the above, however, is too much.