1. Introduction
  2. Questions & Answers
    1. Is Israeli society divided?
    2. Is there a real threat of a sharp split over Disengagement? Or is it largely media hype – or, possibly, even psychological warfare - by opponents and proponents of the Plan, alike?
    3. How will the settlers and opponents react upon Disengagement?
      a. Background
      b. Models
    4. What about Jewish concepts?
  3. Conclusion

A. Introduction

Israelis and Jewish communities are all deeply concerned by the tone heard in Israeli society around Disengagement in terms of its consequences and overall impact on Israeli society - now and in the future. Since the policy of Disengagement was first raised, there has been no lack of criticism across the Israeli socio-political spectrum and conjecture about scenarios that might unfold. As the media coverage shows, the atmosphere is very heated and latent violence is feared. It is therefore highly appropriate to address the issues relating to potential outcomes divisiveness in Israeli society before, during and after: however, beyond concern and speculation, it is possibly truest to say that the situation is fluid and that the complexity of the parameters create many unpredictables.

This is a presentation of some of the issues and questions that have arisen, accompanied by articles reproduced with permission from other websites.

B. Questions & Answers

1. Is Israeli society divided:

a. quantitatively?
Iceberg Theory

a. Is Israeli society divided quantitatively?

Without a Referendum, various polls indicate that the overall support for the Disengagement Plan, in Israel, is around 70% (68-73%), although it is not unconditional: many do not support the manner in which Disengagement has been legislated, or the manner in which it is proceeding. In this percentage, many constitute the "silent majority"; some are political groups who are being cautiously considerate; some are the vocal left.

In addition to those who didn't know, didn't respond, and those who may have given misleading answers to the polls, there therefore remain ~24-29% who oppose Disengagement. We propose to attempt to analyse here this substantial sector of Israeli society that opposes Disengagement, in order to enhance our understanding the extent of their affective and behavioural opposition. However, as the data are general, this does not claim to be a scientific study.

i. Iceberg Theory

There is a concept originating with Ernest Hemingway, used as a scientific and socio-economic analysis model or tool, known as the "the Iceberg Theory", which can be applied to this question and even quantified approximately (it is also used by Freud and widely studied in modern applied and social sciences). Essentially, for the visible one-eigth, there are a hidden seven-eigths to any phenomenon.

Links - Click to open

On a related topic, see this reference:

The above figures of ~24-29% are thus an estimate of the base of the iceberg (often an unknown in studies, but here approximately quantifiable).

We build the rest down from the levels immediately below the top:

a] The relocation of 8,500 Israeli citizens (0.14% of Israeli society) has engaged in some kind of opposition most of the

b] 250,000 inhabitants of Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, directly (from babies to the elderly), as well as others indirectly: they enjoy political support in the governing Likud Party, the Knesset opposition parties, around Israel, and from some unexpected quarters, such as veterans of one of the Kibbutz movement. About 4% of Israeli society is therefore directly or closely involved.

c] 100,000 adults and teenagers [about 1.54% of Israeli society, but more like 4% of mobile ages] participated in a mass demonstration fairly recently. What is significant is that they were also drawn from the disputed Territories, the Golan, and within Israel's internationally recognized borders.

For every family living over the "Green Line" (Israel's internationally recognized borders, pre-Six Day War, 1967) there are those indirectly implicated: relatives and friends who actively support them, and many active political parties and groups who turned out for this event – and will turn out for many more. However, the Pesach March on Gush Katif only generated about 20,000, as did the March on Khomesh (N. Samaria), so the constituency has a <50% core.

d] In addition, there are relatives, friends, who empathize with the opponents of Disengagement. The total religious Zionist base that opposes Disengagement, plus the right wing parties - and any other religious parties that do not support it - provide the base of the iceberg.

These constitute the 25-30% opposition. In terms of a major political change in any society, that is a significant percentage.

To return to the "tip of the iceberg", and also the question: How will the settlers and opponents react upon Disengagement?

e] Near and at the tip, are the ideological and political campaigners, together with those residents who strongly oppose Disengagement: they generate activity, public opinion and publicity and are totally committed to it. It is assumed that they will be committed to anything from last minute peaceful eviction through peaceful civil disobedience and passive resistance, in terms of their own participation and what they advocate.

f] Among and alongside these, possibly a thinner and sharper peak, are an unknown number of individuals and small groups or networks inside and outside the settlements, who are ideologically and physically committed to opposing Disengagement on a scale from passive, through civil disobedience, to beyond the passive.

More on: 3*. How will the settlers and opponents react upon Disengagement?

b. Is Israeli society divided qualitatively?

The quality of the debate, or the non-debate in Israeli society ranges from the markedly personal, and emotional through the polemical to the inflammatory.

Israeli TV no longer brings into the home images of peaceful residents of Israeli settlements who are victims of roadside bombs, snipers and mortar attacks, the daily activities of these residents, or even the voices of people who are crying about leaving their homes and losing their livelihoods.

We don't see or hear any dialogue: instead, it's an "Us & Them" situation from barricaded positions:

  • The vocal left who criticize government policy, settlers and the right wing in one breath, invoking themselves as true democrats.
    A lot of press space is given to these positions; some legal opinion is also given.
    [Article: Language of Engagement in Disengagement]
  • The vocal right who yell slogans at the government, the left wing, the public, and call for a range of forms of support, claiming the prerogatives of democracy. Many of these slogans are diluted when voiced by rabbinical figures, MKs, NRP MKs, right wing members of the government, and legal figures.
    On TV and radio, this impression is reinforced: we hear a smattering of sound bytes from Nissanit residents who prefer to go peacefully, or glimpse angry action committee meetings opposing Disengagement, and evocative images of demonstrations with adolescents, young adults and parents sitting down on roads, or screaming abuse at the Police.
    Religious Zionism Divides; Calls of Distress; ]
  • In the middle, come the calls for moderation and consideration by a few exceptions to the silent majority: a few rabbis, some non-profit bridging organizations, the socially concerned, some legal experts, together with the core of the SELA Administration and the government.

2. Is there a real threat of a sharp split over Disengagement? Or is it largely media hype – or, possibly, even psychological warfare - by opponents and proponents of the Plan, alike?

It would appear that there might be an active core and significant minority that are both vociferous and fostering a predicted reality for a political purpose, in an attempt to generate a wider support base. There is a great deal of truth in the claims that Disengagement was not engaged with due negotiation or process and that the settler opposition to Disengagement has not received a fair public or media platform, and that what is being heard are calls of distress.

3. How will the settlers and opponents to Disengaement act, or what are the possible scenarios?

a. Background
b. Models

i. Survey (with Exercise)
A proposed scale of psycho-social factors and opposition to Disengagement (with Exercise and table)

There is a great deal of speculation about the unknowns, particularly those chosen as focus items PR managers and the media, such as:
who will leave their homes ahead of / at the point of Disengagement?
who will stay and protest peacefully?
who might engage in civil disobedience or violence?

a. Background

Beneath the public concern, possible alarmism and implied threats of catastrophe, are underlying factors that can be analysed and those that cannot be quantified or accurately characterised – such as the intentions of politically peripheral groups and individuals. There is also speculation that this is one of those self-fulfilling prophecies and the hope that everyone will stop short of violence.

Rishon LeZion Rabbi Amar has declared that residents and protesters should not engage in violence and there are several authorities in the Religious Zionist movement who have issued calls for peaceful departure.

There are rabbis and political figures who have been calling for some months now for peaceful resistance, but some who call for remaining "at all costs". They wish to see massive incoming support to the Gaza Strip to help the opposition. Police assessments indicate that while most of the Gaza Strip residents are peaceful, it is external support and factors that would make Disengagement inoperable and that there are within this body individuals who might be violent.
* For these reasons, by law, Israeli citizens may no longer change their residence, or move, to any of the settlements that will be evacuated or those areas.
* It has also been decided that the Police and IDF will not take arms into Disengagement manoeuvres, while settlement residents have been asked to submit weapons prior to the date of Disengagement.
* The Israeli Police and IDF have also been discussing how to relate to people whom they will have to accompany or move from the settlements, and simulating possible scenarios.

Finally, it appears that there is finally some kind of very belated initial dialogue between the Israeli government and the settlers about their options for their communities' future - and viable, immediate solutions to their housing, employment, financial and education issues. Without cynicism, it can be assumed that addressing these issues from the outset would have made a significant contribution to creating a normative process and channels of communication.

b. Models

There are two models that can be used to analyse motives for civil disobedience: a survey; a graph of psycho-social factors and scales.

i. Survey

This is a hypothetical survey or profiling, focusing on the motivations for settlement in the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria. The further in the positive commitment leads, the more likely the person is to oppose Disengagement and engage in activity, such as: remaining until the last minute, passive resistance, civil disobedience, and potentially violent resistance.

Some motivations:
Quality of life: Newly marrieds, larger family home, small community, non-urban life
Society: Couples, families, groups of families, small community
Employment location, type, employability issues: Agriculture, cheap labour, small business, shared business, education, community services
History: Moved from cities, Golan, Judea & Samaria, resettlement from Sinai
Ideology: Zionism, Pioneering Zionism, Religious Zionism, Messianistic Zionism


Create a polite survey form that asks questions around these factors.
Participants can then simulate a survey of residents from the Gaza Strip settlements with any viewpoints they choose, and work in pairs to ask each other the questions.
Chart the findings and discuss.

ii. A proposed scale of psycho-social factors and opposition to Disengagement

The conceptual approach below is based on the scale between quality of life and ideological settlement in the Gaza Strip and N. Samarian settlements – set against the push-pull factors along the other axis. The more ideological the settlement and the more factors on the left of the horizontal range are present, the less willingness there will be to leave the settlements.
While the scale can also be based on the dichotomy of loving Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael (Rav Aviner) or Torah and Eretz Yisrael (some religious Zionist and hareidi responsa), these would not give as full a picture.

In three groups - each group reads one of the following articles and fills in a profile on a copy of the chart. Discuss the outcomes.
Language of Engaging Disengagement, the opinions of figures in the Religious Zionist movement, Voices in Distress

Table -: Scale of psycho-social factors and opposition to Disengagement
[Table devised by Dr Motti Friedman]

Psycho-social Factors
Reaction scale
Leader-ship pressure Peer group pressure Relocation solutions Compensation Employment Education Commu-nity life

Messianic/highly ideological

Civil disobedience

Passive resistance

Peaceful protest

Assisted departure

Due departure

Prior departure
New life, quality of life


4. What about Jewish concepts, such as:

Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel),
Am Yisrael,
Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh (All the House of Israel are responsible for one another),
Abhorrence of Sin'at Hinam (Causeless Hatred)?

As indicated above (3b.ii.), there has recently been a move towards prioritizing the unity of Israel and saving of lives, including an emphasis on not taking violent action that might endanger life. This is largely connected to an abhorrence of fostering division and a realization of the dangers this presents for Israel's future. Whether this is in time to reach all the opponents and campaigners against Disengagement is uncertain, but it would be a great help if the media were to focus on these messages and the loyalty to each other this demands on all sides.

D. Conclusion

The trauma of Disengagement will remain with very many families who attempt to rebuild their lives on uncertain foundations. How this trauma will impact on Israel as a whole is very much an unknown. MK Rabbi Michael Melchior was asked his opinion in a Q&A session for the Haaretz newspaper and has kindly allowed us to publish his responses.

It would be a mistake to underestimate the trauma of Disengagement, or to assume that ordinary Israelis are sitting on the sideline entirely: they are possibly distanced and perplexed, but also worried that there might be severe repercussions for Israeli society and Israel as a country.

There is as yet no real programme for creating the understanding that would bridge this conflict and a true internal process to accompany physical disengagement, only the beginning of the search for group physical solutions that will lower the anxiety and reduce the trauma, which would be no small feat.

"Iceberg Theory" supporters once offer some suggestions here:

Given what we know about Disengagement, the volatile security situation, deep-rooted attachment to all parts of Eretz Yisrael, and the trauma Disengagement has brought to so many, the challenge is truly: what will happen after Disengagement?





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08 Nov 2005 / 6 Heshvan 5766 0