PM Ariel Sharon's government is the first in Israeli history to actively uproot its own citizens, Jews only, and destroy their property without getting anything in return and without due process. These two words are critical because they are the essence of democratic government and Western values.
The excuse offered by the government and its supporters is that without withdrawal from YeShA Israel cannot remain Jewish and democratic. But carrying out this policy is not in the spirit of Judaism or democracy – or Zionism. Instead it undermines all of them.
If the consequences would be real peace, an end to terrorism and incitement, one could live with the loss, despite the trauma. But that is not the case.
The government admits that the conflict will not end. In fact, as many experts predict, the conflict may get much worse as a result.
If the government claims the right to confiscate property and evict people from their homes, it must prove that there is a greater public interest and that there is no reasonable alternative, in addition to offering full compensation. Such actions can and should be taken on an individual basis, but whole communities and vast land areas are another matter.
More important is the complete lack of any compelling reason for the government's action. If it is in Israel's security interest to withdraw, as they claim, they have offered no supporting evidence. Nor have they explained why they must move so quickly.
As dreadful as the prospects are with regard to relations with Palestinian leaders and terror organizations, however, the government has created a domestic juggernaut determined to crush all opposition. They have refused to offer any explanations or open the matter for serious discussion or reveal what is apparently, a hidden agenda.
Lacking support from much of his own party and the Right wing which brought him to power, Sharon has entered into a coalition with his political rivals – who were overwhelmingly rejected in the last election. Legal, yes, but not a mandate to carry out a highly controversial policy.
Citizens who build homes with government approval in communities established by their government and who pay taxes and serve in the army are entitled to representation and protection, especially the opportunity to challenge the government in court. As of now, however, there is hardly a proper government let alone a law.
That the government finds no problem violating the fundamental rights of its citizens should alarm everyone because if these rights can be trampled, all others are in jeopardy.
The strange thing in Israel is that the very "civil rights" organizations that should be alert to these issues are silent because they agree with the political decision.
One might have imagined a significant and serious debate of the policies among the "think-tanks" and "institutes" concerned with democracy and legality. That hasn't happened.
Where are the media, newspapers and TV that should engage in a thorough analysis of the issues – but don't? Instead, we are fed the government line backed by Left-wing columnists. No critical thinking here.
One might also have thought that a Knesset committee would call for an examination and investigation. But having ignored the failures of the Oslo Agreements and those who duped us, they have blundered here as well.
In short, it's not just the policies of the Sharon government that should worry us all, but the way in which these policies are being carried out and the silence of the institutions that are essential to every democracy. The crippling of these protective institutions, the cravenness of political and social leaders, and the failure of the government to explain its decisions and strategy violates the fundamental notions of democracy.
Ethnic cleansing of Jews from our homeland violates basic humanitarian principles, regardless of who makes that decision. It punishes the victim and rewards terrorists.
If such decisions are made, moreover, they require widespread support, rather than a simple majority, a principle embedded in the U.S. Constitution. This is intended to protect us from the kind of abuse that we experienced at the hands of the 'Oslo architects.'
Even if Sharon wins, legally, that does not mean he's right. Without a clear public mandate based on a referendum and/or election, he lacks any moral legitimacy.
Mass civil disobedience and even civil strife if they come are the result of a political system that has lost touch with the people it is supposed to serve. Given Sharon's tactics there may be no other choice.
The author is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem. firstname.lastname@example.org