In the autumn of 1983 half a million people demonstrated against the NATO decision to station Pershing nuclear missiles in West Germany, as a counter balance to the Russian SS20 missiles in Poland and the DDR. The protests were lead by radical left wing students, claiming to be concerned for world peace, and frequently turned violent. I was a first year student in Goettingen that year and witnessed the utterly senseless destruction hundreds of radicals would bring upon downtown Goettingen every weekend, smashing all shop windows in the pedestrian zone and battling a helpless police force with showers of stones, bottles and steel balls from sling shots. The peace loving students had no ideological problem with the outright war they were waging against people with a different opinion, the "establishment" and bystanders alike.
Fast forward to the year 2005 and the mass protests against the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. For the second time in as many weeks tens of thousand of right wing protesters gathered near the Gaza strip to demonstrate against the government's plans. They faced off against 30,000 police and army for three days and you know what happened? Nothing. Yeap, that's right, nothing. Let's say apart from some collateral damage to the environment and the infrastructure of the communities hosting the demonstrations (just image the sewage treatment facilities build for 5,000 people having to deal with 60,000). But violence? No such thing, although the issue is lot closer to the hearts of the protesters than the Pershings ever were to those brain-amputated militants in Germany.
While I still think that we have to leave Gaza, I can't help but to express my respect for the way the protests have been managed so far, apart from some hickups at the beginning (the useless road blocks). It is probably true, right wingers are law abiding citizens for the most part, except for the very extremists. I just hope that Natan-Zada's idiotic act of killing four Israelis of Druze ethnic background does not draw the movement into a bad direction via a cycle of violence and revenge. The ultimate test will of course be the evacuation of the first settlements in a week from now. Keep tuned.