Haven't written much about Israel lately, I notice. Not for lack of interest or attention; I've just been busy. But as this year's drama rattles on towards climax, it seems a good time to take a quick look about.
For those playing along at home, we're in the final days of disengagement fever. Letters have been sent to every Israeli (officially) living in the Gaza Strip to inform them that as of the 15th, their continued presence there will be illegal. On or about the 17th, the Israeli military will begin forcably evacuating anyone who remains. As the summer wears on, the actual settlers to be removed seem to have accepted the inevitability of this, and have mellowed considerably. At the same time, though, the Israeli far right has whipped itself into an advanced state of froth, exploiting every trick in the book to make trouble. Meanwhile, the Palestinians have vascillated between coordinating with and shunning the Israelis, while the Palestinian Authority walks a knife edge between a resumption of hostilities with Israel and civil war with the Arab militants.
Which means that this is actually a major sign of progress.
The Gaza Strip is under military closure now, meaning that it is almost completely sealed off to Israelis. This proved necessary since the grand strategy of the Yesha Council had been all along to flood Katif with so many radicals that any troops sent to evacuate the settlements would be overwhelmed. They never specified exactly how this was to take place, since they theoretically repudiate violence against other Jews. All told somewhere shy of 3,000 managed to infiltrate the Strip, some under the cover of massive demonstrations in towns near the border (causing, among other things, some tense moments when settler kids tripped the security sensors at the borders of the settlements they were sneaking into -- I can only imagine the howls if one of them had been shot by an IDF soldier), and others posing as (or actually as) relatives on a visit. That won't be enough, and quite likely doesn't even replace those who have already left. So the new strategy is to blocade the blocade, as it were. If they can't get in, neither can the evacuation forces.
All this is leading to a culture of lawlessness and alienation from the state among the nationalist Zionist Right that looks extremely dangerous to many. That tens of thousands show up to complain to God at the Western Wall is fine and even admirable, but when even more show up more-or-less publically announcing plans to sabotoge a military operation, the State has a very large problem indeed.
On a lighter note, remember that "This Land is Your Land" parody from the presidential elections last year? If anyone thought that the wide world of Flash animations as political commentary was confined to the United States, think again. The game is in Hebrew, but easy to figure out. And this game is a vaguely checkers or go-like attempt to dominate a blocked highway with cars flying your side's banner. (Press the שחק button to play.) And most bizzare of all, here is a game so odd it got a special mention in Ha'aretz -- you play Ariel Sharon, clearing settler kids from a roadblock with a mattress-equipped bulldozer and raining pigs.