Sat, Aug 20, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Teary show impresses few Israelis

BLACK AND WHITE Removing settlers from Palestinian territories is not the propaganda festival some hoped for, because other Israelis are sick of settler hyperbole


Images of children acting the role of victims of the Nazis have won the settlers few friends in the rest of Israel.

A few weeks ago the traffic jams of Tel Aviv were a sea of orange ribbons, a symbol of support for the settlers, and it was impossible to drive through a major junction without settler children rushing to tie a ribbon to the car.

Israelis find it hard to believe it is the same children who are now screaming insults at police and soldiers in Gaza.

The settlers' use of images of the Holocaust, such as children leaving their homes with their hands up or wearing Star of David badges, has also surprised many who see no correlation between the actions of their government and the Nazis in World War II.

According to Alex Meitlis, 48, an architect, the use of Nazi imagery is indicative of the simplicity of the settlers' world view.

"It's not surprising that they invoke the Holocaust because for them that was the best time in Jewish history because everything was black and white. They think that everything is black and white now, that their cause is the only right one, when in reality things are much more complicated," he said.

Although opinion polls say that 60 percent of Israelis support the government's withdrawal, the settlers and their supporters have often had a greater impact.

Yoram Peri, a professor of politics at Tel Aviv University, said that according to opinion polls, Israelis were disengaging from the disengagement process.

"Only about a third of Israelis are watching the news or finding out about the disengagement on the Internet," he said. "They support the government but they are not involved emotionally, mentally or intellectually. Everyone is too busy going to the beach and enjoying their summer holiday."

The amount of tears shed on television has also tried the patience of many Israelis. Yael Gwurtz wrote in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that there was a difference between the often quiet tears seen at a funeral and the cacophony of wailing that accompanies the departure from each house in Gush Katif.

"Instead of quiet tears that fall in silence, we have rivers of wailing -- the tears become transparent. Instead of a national and serious mission which is being put to the supreme test of wisdom and the restraint of the evacuators and the evacuees, disengagement seems gradually to be turning into a hybrid between a reality show and Yiddish theater [known for its melodrama]."

Even Amnon Dankner, the editor of the newspaper Ma'ariv, who claims to be a great friend of the settlers, said he was tired of the dramatization of their plight.

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