Save Israel from dismemberment
By Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post
July 2, 2003
I don't know about you, but with each passing day I find it more and more difficult to listen to the news. I can feel my pulse begin to quicken as the radio announcer declares Israel's intention to withdraw in response to Palestinian terror.
Disbelief gives way to a swelling sense of fury as the weakness of our leadership grows ever more apparent. Have they learned nothing from the past? Hundreds of innocents are dead and thousands of others have been injured thanks to their shortsightedness and stupidity.
Drunk with arrogance they sought to tear this land and this people apart, empowering our enemies in their reckless pursuit of an illusory daydream. Their false hopes of peace should have been discarded long ago as the foolish concessions they offered elicited little more than a spasm of fatal Palestinian terrorism.
Nonetheless, our leaders go on, pulling back Israel's troops where they should be advancing, capitulating to terror instead of combating it.
Not surprisingly, the results are no different from those of the past. Just hours after Israel's withdrawal from Gaza on Sunday, the Palestinians responded in predictable fashion. A mortar shell was fired at a Jewish community in Gush Katif, bullets were sprayed at an Israeli army outpost near Rafah, and an anti-tank missile was launched near Neve Dekalim.
In Judea and Samaria on Sunday night, Palestinian gunmen shot at the Givat Avot neighborhood of Kiryat Arba. North of Tulkarem, two bombs were thrown at Israeli troops on Monday while firebombs were tossed at Israeli civilian vehicles west of Bethlehem.
Then there were Monday's two shooting attacks, one of which left a foreign worker dead. The Al-Aksa Brigades of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction did not hesitate to claim responsibility for this heinous act.
For nearly a decade Israel has withdrawn, redeployed, pulled out and dismantled. And for a nearly a decade the Palestinians have replied with nothing more than violence and bloodshed. Enough is enough. How many more innocents will have to die before the government ceases to saunter down the path of defeat? How many more lives will have to be ruined before the folly of appeasement is at last thrust aside?
There was a time when even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon seemed to appreciate this. Just a year and a half ago he invoked an analogy that was startling both in its prescience and in its timing. With the United States preparing to launch its global war against terrorism in the hills and valleys of Afghanistan, Sharon stood before the microphones and issued a courageous warning to US President George W. Bush.
"Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense," Sharon said. "Israel will not be Czechoslovakia."
Yet that is precisely what Israel is shaping up to be. With barely a whimper the sovereign government of the State of Israel is acceding to its own demise, proceeding down a road map that will lead inexorably to calamity and defeat.
At a campaign fundraiser in Florida on Monday Bush proudly told his listeners, "Terrorists declared war on the United States, and war is what they got." Sharon, by contrast, can make no such claim. For although terrorists have indeed declared war on the Jewish state, what they have gotten in return have been concessions and appeasement.
BUT IT IS not too late for Sharon to act, to rise to the enormity of the moment and save Israel from dismemberment. The past few days have shown once again the futility of relying on others to defend us and ensure our safety and well-being.
The Palestinian Authority will not stop the terrorist groups, just as it has done nothing to stop them over the past 10 years. To think otherwise is to engage in a dangerous form of self-delusion, one that ignores the PA's track record in planning, financing and carrying out acts of violence and terror against the Jewish state.
The only answer, the only way to emerge from this senseless quicksand threatening to engulf us is for Israel to do what it should have done long ago - send in the troops and reassert permanent and complete military control over Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Rather than being rewarded with statehood, the Palestinian Authority should instead be punished with removal. A terrorist regime that harbors terrorist groups needs to be dealt with accordingly.
Israel must stop worrying so much about how Colin Powell will react and start worrying a little more about the lives of its citizens. This means dismantling the Palestinian Authority, disarming the terrorist groups and declaring, at last, an end to the delusion that a false peace can be reached with those who seek our demise.
As important as Israel's relationship with Washington may be, it pales in comparison with protecting the lives of innocent Jewish men, women and children. Diplomacy has a role to play, but when it comes to safeguarding the welfare of its citizens, Israel has no choice but to put aside all other considerations and act to defend itself and its citizens.
Doing so will not be easy. It will strain relations with Washington, provoke outrage in Europe and invite condemnation in the halls of the UN. But if it saves even one Jewish life, which it surely will, and if it thwarts even one Palestinian terrorist attack, which it definitely will, it will most certainly have been worth the effort.
The Palestinians had their chance, on more than one occasion, and they blew it. They could have had a state, they could have made a deal, - with Ehud Barak, with Shimon Peres, even with Yitzhak Rabin. But they chose instead to continue the killing, and so they have no one to blame but themselves for the outcome.
As he considers his options in the coming days Sharon would do well to recall the words of Winston Churchill, who inspired his nation to stand firm in the face of daunting aggression. Speaking to Britain's war cabinet in May 1940, after the debacle of Dunkirk, Churchill noted that history had shown there were two types of nations. "Those which went down fighting rose again," he said. "But those who surrendered tamely were finished."
The choice now facing Israel is equally clear: It can take a stand for freedom and defend itself against the Palestinian foe, or surrender tamely to pressure from abroad and watch its security and independence wither away.
Here's hoping the people of Israel will finally awaken to the gravity of the current situation and press Sharon to free us from this madness once and for all. The future of the country may very well hang in the balance.
The writer served as deputy director of communications & policy planning in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.
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