18 Tamuz 5759 July 2, 1999 Issue number 223
Text of Sharon Letter to Barak
The following is IMRA's translation of the letter that acting Likud chairman Arik Sharon read aloud to prime minister elect Ehud Barak on the evening of 28 June 1999 as reported in Ha'aretz:
You invited me and I came despite that since Thursday the behavior of One Israel has been improper and dishonorable.
I have repeatedly stated that we will enter [the coalition - A.L.] if we will be true partners in the making of decisions and their execution both on affairs of state and socio-economic affairs. It pains me that you did not propose a true partnership.
We succeeded in introducing some changes in the basic guidelines, but we remained divided over opposition to the Syrians sitting on the shores of the Kinneret, construction in all parts of Jerusalem and on the decision making mechanism.
I came to the negotiations with clean hands, out of national responsibility, and out of a desire for broad consensus in the government in order to deal with the challenges. I have not changed by position. We were ready to join to national unity in order to protect the interests. For this there is the need for a full partnership and this was not offered.
Those who forfeit their principles for cheap will give an accounting to the public. We are not going to partnership and will struggle against the government from the opposition. (IMRA June 29)
Excerpts from a Briefing by Aharon Domb, Director General of the Yesha Council to One Israel/Yesha Executive Board
The following are excerpts from a speech in New York City on June 14, 1999:
The day after we received the election results on May 18, I sent a letter to the newly elected Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Ehud Barak congratulating him on his victory and advising him not to make the same mistake that many of his predecessor's had made -- alienating a vital part of the society. We pay our taxes, our children serve in the most elite units of our beloved Israeli Defense Forces, and we are an integral part of the Jewish nation - represent us too. That said, one must realize that the Jewish settlements of Judea, Samaria and Gaza will continue to expand - some governments are more difficult, others are less difficult, yet in spite of it all we will triumph and continue to grow.
Ehud Barak has stated that everything that Prime Minister Netanyahu decided until December 1998 is legit, as his government was one that was democratically elected, and all moves must be accepted. All actions from December 1998 until May 17, 1999 are clear electioneering, and anything done from May 17 until today is illegal, and in fact are on the border of being criminal. Stating this is sending a fig leaf to Meretz, urging them to check very carefully some of the decisions that were made from May 17 until today, including:
The continued redemption of land in the Maaleh Adumim Region:
6,000 new homes built in Ariel
2,000 new homes in Kiryat Sefer
A few thousand other homes built throughout YESHA - Benjamin Netanyahu's government made some of their most important decisions during this period, and for better or worse, the Barak government must accept the decisions that Netanyahu' government made (as part of the policy of continuing agreements made by previous governments.) As one in daily contact with the Mafdal (National Religious Party), and Yisrael B'Aliya (Sharansky), I can tell you that if Barak chooses to challenge these decisions, they won't join the government and we will be in the forefront of fighting them if they make the mistaken decision to do so.
We strive to establish and are working towards open lines of communication with Ehud Barak - To tell him that we are living in these areas because they are historically ours and this is our land. If a Jew decides because of his or her ancestry to live next to the Tombs of our ancestors, one has no choice but to recognize that, and accept their civil rights.
The dream of Zion is alive, and in the communities of YESHA our spirits are high. All of the biblical homeland belongs to us, but everywhere we hold bar mitzvahs, brit milahs, and Jews live - these are the places where we have strongly asserted our rights to the land. Look at Hebron, and look at Schechem. Because there are Jews in Hebron, one can pass from one side of the casbah and walk through the town. Try it in Schechem and you won't get out alive. Make no mistake about it, in the future we will be judged for not settling every inch - in Jenin we made a mistake. This is a terrible crime and in the future we will be judged for it.
A recent Peace Now poll brought to mind a recent trip I took in YESHA with the former Finance Minister of the Labor party, Avraham Schochat. I remember driving with him through the bypass roads in YESHA, and he said that "with these roads we meant to curse you, and instead of cursing you, we blessed you with easier means of transportation." The reference to the parsha involving bilaam was obvious to both of us.
The poll asked Jews throughout YESHA "Would you leave your homes for financial compensation?"
50% said they wouldn't leave their homes at all
12% would leave for compensation immediately
13% said they would leave only if there is a PLO state
25% said they couldn't/wouldn't answer the question
Life in YESHA is difficult, but we are not ready to give up. I plan in the next few weeks to commission a polling agency to ask residents of the Gush Dan region (Tel Aviv, Netanya, etc.) how many of them would leave their homes for compensation. I gather that many more of them would leave than would our people-the struggle continues and we are stronger than ever before.
On the same hand, one of our failures throughout the years has been the lack of education, the lack of information explaining about the importance of our struggle. We have a tendency to do things last minute, and now we will be launching a major information campaign. Spreading the message "Yesha Ze Kan - Yesha this is here" throughout the country and throughout the heart of Am Israel. We plan on linking people from the pre-1967 borders to Jews in YESHA to create one-on-one relationships, putting a face to the residents of the YESHA communities, increasing tabling, and creating thousands of foot soldiers and continuing to create positive feelings on the street.
As I prepare to step down from my position at the YESHA Council, I want our supporters in the U.S. and throughout the world to know that we will continue to expand and grow. Our way, the Jewish way will continue as it has for so many years and our direction will continue with a clear vision. We need your help and look forward to your continued support. Now more than ever the partnership between you in America and us in the heartland of Israel is what will ultimately give us the strength to continue in our direction to protect the heartland of Israel for the Jewish people. Join us and let's continue to be an integral part of the chain of Jewish civilization. Thank you.
Aharon Domb is Director General of the YESHA Council.
Gov't to Be Presented Monday
The last of the coalition puzzle pieces were being put into place this week, and Ehud Barak is scheduled to present his new government to the Knesset on Monday. Israel News will publish the make-up of the coalition next week.
Yeshiva at Joseph's Tomb Evacuated Temporarily
Tensions were fired in Shechem Sunday by the shooting death of a Palestinian Authority security agent at the hands of PA para-military policemen. The police arrested the agent while he was driving a stolen vehicle, and a dispute between them at the police station resulted in his death. Residents of the Balata refugee camp, where the victim lived, took to the streets, blocking a road to Shechem and hurling rocks. PA para-military police responded with live fire, and evacuated the students of Shechem's Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, who were forbidden to return to the building today. Yehuda Libman, one of the directors of yeshiva activities, told Arutz-7 that the evacuation "was a standard PA reaction to internal disputes." He said that the yeshiva has moved temporarily to a building at the gravesite of the Biblical figure Elazar, son of Aaron and father of Pinchas. The site is located a few minutes' drive from Shechem. When asked who is protecting the yeshiva buildings at present, Libman answered, "First of all, Yosef HaTzaddik, who is buried there. Israeli soldiers are also stationed there..." He added that he hopes that the 60 students will return to Shechem tonight or tomorrow. (Arutz 7 June 28)
France Against Israel
France appears to be reviving its old enmity towards Israel. It had strong condemnation this week for Israel's retaliatory offensive upon Lebanon following Hizbullah's fatal katyusha attacks. Israel has made a formal protest against France's reaction. Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon wrote to his French counterpart, "You are taking one-sided positions. As the state that heads the Tracking Committee in Lebanon, more responsible behavior should be expected." It was also noted this week that the internet site of Air France shows a map of the Middle East in which Israel does not appear. The Israeli Embassy in France, in a letter to the airline, protested both the fact that the name "East Jerusalem" appears in place of Israel, and that the address of the Jerusalem offices of Air France does not appear on the website (the Tel Aviv address does appear). The Israeli Embassy requested "clarifications" from Air France. (Arutz 7 June 28)
Beirut Still in The Dark
Days after the Israel Air Force bombardments of the Beirut power plant, serious breakdowns are still reported in electricity services to the city. The manager of Lebanon's national electric company says that his technicians are working around the clock in order to restore power to Beirut, at least for 12 hours a day. Cost of the repairs is estimated at $30 million. Defense Minister Moshe Arens told the Knesset today that Israel had previously warned Syria - immediately following the election-night katyusha attacks by Hizbullah - that Israel would respond "sharply" to any further katyusha attacks. The government of Lebanon claims that it has received a guarantee from the U.S. and France that Israel will not attack Lebanon again, as long as Hizbullah refrains from launching katyushas on Israel's northern border. Lebanese President Amil Lahoud threatened today that for every Lebanese citizen killed in southern Lebanon, one Israeli would be killed in response.(Arutz 7 June 28)
Peres Challenges Barak
European Union mediator Miguel Mauritinus will meet in the Knesset today with Shimon Peres, despite instructions by Barak to Labor party seniors not to conduct diplomatic meetings before the establishment of the new government and without consulting him first. Sources close to Peres claim that Peres is holding the meeting in his new capacity as acting Knesset Speaker. (Arutz 7 June 28)
Weizman Doesn't Let up
President Ezer Weizman continues his campaign of visiting families of victims of anti-Israel aggression. He visited the Kiryat Shemonah family of Shimon Elmaliach - who was killed during Thursday night's katyusha attacks - and the mourners expressed to the President their frustration with the presence of Hizbullah-supporters in the Knesset. The reference was to pro-Hizbullah remarks uttered by Arab MK Azmi Bishara in February of this year. Weizman "comforted" them by saying, "There is quiet throughout the country as a result of the agreement with the Palestinians, and we must therefore strive for peace with Syria as well." In a related matter, Weizman embarrassed Israel when major Western media carried banner headlines reading, "Israeli President Says Golan Must Be Returned to Syria." According to the articles, Weizman was quoted Saturday in the London Arabic-language daily Al Hayat to the effect that Israel must withdraw from the Golan Heights "for the good of Israel, the interest of Israel's economy, and our capacity to absorb more immigrants..." (Arutz 7 June 27)
Building Around Jerusalem
The outgoing government's construction policies are still being felt. Defense Minister Moshe Arens has approved the construction of almost 1800 units adjacent to the northern-Jerusalem suburb of N'vei Yaakov. The plan was conceived two years ago by the Housing Ministry as an attempt to relieve the shortage of land available for construction within the capital. The new neighborhood is also geared at establishing territorial contiguity between N'vei Yaakov and the Binyamin community of Adam, perched atop the Ramallah by-pass road northeast of N'vei Yaakov. Noach Kinarti, appointed 18 months ago by outgoing Deputy Housing Minister Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) as Project Coordinator for Building Plans around Jerusalem, hopes that the new government will ultimately annex the new neighborhood into the Jerusalem municipality. Yesha officials are not confident that the plans will ultimately receive all the necessary approvals, nor are they willing to bet that the areas will be annexed to Jerusalem before the final status talks with the Palestinians. Other housing starts in the area include 300 new units in Adam, and 450 units in Tel Zion, the new hareidi section of the Kochav Yaakov settlement. (Arutz 7 June 27)
Old Cave Provides New Findings
An underground cave uncovered last week in Jerusalem has turned out to be a treasure-house of history. Antiquities Authority archaeologist Yochanan Zeligman told Arutz-7 that researchers found what can be called a large factory in a cave in the vicinity of Mt. Scopus. "The factory mainly produced stone vessels - cups, bowls, and the like - for use in the Second Temple," he said. "Since stone is not susceptible to ritual impurity, it was used widely in and around the Temple." He noted that the style of the finds bears a striking similarity to items found in digs previously conducted by Professor Avigad in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. "This is the second such underground factory discovered. The other was found by archaeologists in the area of Hizma - just north-east of Jerusalem's Pisgat Ze'ev and N'vei Yaakov neighborhoods - 15 years ago. But the vast size of this new quarry gives us a much better idea of the large scale on which vessels were produced for the Temple." (Arutz 7 June 27)
Early-Bird Buses for the Kotel
The Egged Bus Company announced today that the #1 and #2 bus routes in Jerusalem will now begin leaving the Central Bus Station at 4:45 AM - so that worshippers can reach the Western Wall in time for the earliest morning "Vatikin" prayers. (Arutz 7 June 27)
Mini-War in Lebanon
"If Hizbullah does not let up on its katyusha attacks, then - our planes are armed, the targets are ready, the pilots are on alert, their capabilities are known, and we will strike." So said IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Sha'ul Mofaz last Friday, following the wide-ranging Israeli attacks on Lebanon. "We have bombed communications centers, power stations, three bridges, and more, to a very great extent - all in order to make very clear to Hizbullah that we will not tolerate their shelling targets within Israel and hitting our population in the north. I hope that this message was understood, and though we have no interest in escalation, we will continue this policy if we have to." The IDF attacks were launched following two rounds of katyusha attacks on the Galilee last Thursday. The Israeli attacks intensified following two additional Hizbullah katyusha attacks on Kiryat Shemonah that left two Israeli citizens - Shimon Elimelech, 45, and Toni Zanna, 36 - dead and one in critical condition. Four other residents of the north were lightly wounded in the attacks. The Israeli attacks were as follows (beginning from the most recent):
4:45 AM Friday - on a communication station south of Damour.
2:45 AM - on a power station in eastern Beirut.
12:30 AM - on three bridges south of Beirut.
11:00 PM Thursday - on terrorist bases in Baalbek.
9:40 PM - on two terrorist targets south of the Litani River.
9:00 PM - on a power station providing power to Beirut, south-east of Beirut (the first direct attack in the Beirut area since 1996).
late Thursday afternoon - on terrorist targets in the Zabkin area north of the western security zone.
The Peace Bloc has blamed the deaths in Kiryat Shemonah on the outgoing government's "daredevil policies." Chief of Staff Mofaz belied this when he said that previous IDF recommendations for retaliation for Hizbullah attacks had been rebuffed by the government. "To my regret, in the past two instances we did not react, as a result of a decision of the politicians. This is legitimate." Mofaz added, "The IDF is obligated to its mission to defend the residents of North and deter Hizbullah... this is more difficult due to the fiery public debate regarding our continued presence in Lebanon." (Arutz 7 June 25)
Some Good News from Kiryat Shemonah
Chana Abutbul of Kiryat Shemonah, whose pregnancy was aborted during katyusha attacks three years ago, gave birth to triplets yesterday morning in the hospital in Tsfat. With a voice filled with emotion, she said afterwards that she is thankful she "gave birth in the morning, and didn't have to experience again the katyushas of the afternoon." The triplets - two boys and one girl - have one sibling: an 18-year old girl. "I thank G-d and pray that these children will grow up in peace and a solution will be found for the problems in Lebanon," the mother told the medical staff that delivered her babies. (Arutz 7 June 25)
Israelis Using up Kineret Water
Water experts have expressed disappointment with the fact that Israelis have not reduced their water consumption despite the severe drought. They warn that if water continues to be wasted, the level of the Kineret sea will fall below the 'red line' as early as this summer. At present, the water surface is only 85 centimeters above the lowest acceptable level. (Arutz 7 June 25)
Words, Not Substance, in Barak And Assad Exchange
Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak and Syrian President Assad have exchanged "peaceful" messages, via the good offices of British journalist Patrick Seale - Assad's biographer and confidante. Barak said that he sees Syria as "the key to stability in the region." Yesterday, Barak invited Assad to forge "a peace of the courageous" - often understood as a byword for 'Israeli concessions.' Ha'aretz quotes Barak as saying that the talks between the Rabin government and Syria had failed "because Syria did not understand the seriousness of Rabin's proposals regarding an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan." Arab affairs expert Guy Bechor said that the compliments exchanged by Barak and Assad are "nice, and a welcome change, and may even have a momentum of their own. But in reality, nothing has changed. Assad's tough positions are the same, and Barak - who himself is not anxious to withdraw from the Golan - does not even know what the orientation of his own government will be." Bechor repeated his oft-stated opinion that in truth, Assad is not interested in an agreement with Israel, which would shake up his entire regime, but only "in a peace 'process,' which could take years..." (Arutz 7 June 24)
PA to Take Action Against Yesha Suppliers
The Palestinian Authority continues its efforts to prevent Palestinians from working in Yesha communities. Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that a new body calling itself "The Office of Protection of the Homeland and Opposition to the Settlements" has requested Arab residents of Samaria to submit the names of builders, truckers, and other companies that provide services to the Yesha communities. The information will be passed by the Shechem-based organization to a body formed by the PA Legislative Council, which intends to take legal action against the Palestinians in question. (Arutz 7 June 24)
Golan Leaders Gear up
Avi Ze'ira, head of the Golan Residents Committee, is not happy about the government guidelines that appear to be taking shape. "We met with the Likud," he told Arutz-7 today, "and we have been meeting with all the parties that are scheduled to take part in the Barak government. Our position is that the guidelines should indicate a desire to preserve the Golan as part of Israel. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The guidelines are rather based on Resolution 242 - 'territories for peace' - which means that the negotiations with Syria will begin with pre-conditions implying a withdrawal. The previous government's guidelines stated that full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan is a pre-condition for an agreement with Syria - we understand that we cannot ask for that, given the new political reality, but we demand that at least the talks should not be predicated on a certain withdrawal." Ze'ira said that the Likud was not particularly open to hearing these points: "Some of the Likud people appear to have given up already, while others tend to blame the NRP for having already agreed to guidelines mentioning 242 as a basis for talks with Syria... Basically, the Likud seems ready to crawl into the government under almost any conditions. Some will explain it as an attempt to influence from within, but we know that their presence in the government will simply legitimize any decision by Barak to withdraw from the Golan." Ze'ira said, "Our only hope is that the parties that still see the importance of our presence in the Golan will work hard to prevent this catastrophe, namely, a full withdrawal from the entire Golan and the destruction of everything that we have worked for in the past 32 years." Golan residents have traditionally kept their issue separate from that of Judea and Samaria, but doubts have again begun to be raised about the wisdom of this approach. Former Tzomet MK Moshe Peled, at a recent gathering of Golan Committee members, said that it is time that the campaign for the Golan be joined with that for Yesha. On the other hand, Marla Van Meter, the English spokesperson for the Golan Residents Committee, told Arutz-7's Ron Meir last night, "We are against the uprooting of communities anywhere as part of a peace arrangement. We believe that the realities of people's homes, communities and livelihoods must be a part of the peace process, that people are not expendable and must be respected. Many of our number are quite active on behalf of Yesha. However, the Golan Committee represents all the different communities in the Golan, and we must keep our goals very specific, in terms of preserving Israeli sovereignty here and ensuring that the settlements here are not harmed." (Arutz 7 June 24)
Ancient Ship Discovered off Israeli Coast
Dr. Robert Ballard - the discoverer of the Titanic and who aided in the finding of the Dakar - made yet another impressive discovery last week 50 kilometers off the Ashkelon coast. Using an underwater robot and a side-scan sonar system, Ballard's team uncovered two well-preserved Phoenician wine-laden cargo ships dating back to the year 750 B.C.E. - the oldest known deepwater shipwrecks. Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv yesterday, Ballard said that one of the ships, found 500 meters under the Mediterranean, is 18 meters long and is the largest ancient ship ever discovered. The smaller ship, found three kilometers away, measures 13 meters in length. Ballard noted that the ships' contents - many ceramic canisters originally filled with wine - suggest that they were on their way from the port of Tyre (in what is now Lebanon) to either Egypt or Tunisia when they sank in a violent storm. The complete story of the wrecks will be told in an Israeli film sponsored by the National Geographic Society. (Arutz 7 June 24)
Muslim Silence about Islamic Crimes By Jeff Jacoby
What do American Muslims have to say about the ominous roundup of Jews in Iran?
Word reached the West earlier this month that at least 13 Iranian Jews - and possibly as many as 30 - have been held incommunicado since March. They are accused, almost certainly falsely, of spying for Israel and the United States. The prisoners are from the poor Jewish communities of Shiraz and Isfahan; among their number are rabbis, kosher butchers, a cemetery guard, and a 16-year-old boy. According to the independent Iran Press Service, they have not been allowed to see their families or meet with lawyers.
In the anti-Semitic Islamic Republic of Iran, to be accused of aiding Israel is practically to be sentenced to hang. ''The Jewish spies for Israel will be tried for treason according to Islamic law,'' Ayatollah Mohammed Yazdi, the head of Iran's judicial system, promised thousands of cheering worshippers in a prayer sermon on June 11, ''and they may be sentenced to death - not once but several times.''
Most of Iran's Jews fled when the Islamic fundamentalists seized power in 1979. The 25,000 who remain are subject to severe persecution. Calls for the release of the Jews who have been arrested have come from around the world. The governments of Argentina, Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia, and the United States have expressed concern; so have the European Union, Amnesty International, and the Dalai Lama. An Internet petition for the captives' freedom (www.vjnews.com/iranpetition.htm) has gathered more than 27,000 signatures. Jesse Jackson has volunteered to intercede.
From America's Muslim community, however, there is mostly - silence. Nazir Khaja, head of the American Muslim Council, reportedly attended the press conference at which Jackson offered his services. But there have been no statements of outrage at Iran's persecution of a religious minority. No full-page ads condemning Ayatollah Yazdi's invocation of ''Islamic law'' to justify hatred of Jews. No pleas for the prisoners' freedom from leading Muslim organizations.
Sadly, this is typical. Afghanistan under the Taliban theocracy has become a vast dungeon for women. In the name of Islam, Afghan women are no longer allowed to work or go to school. They are compelled to stay indoors unless accompanied by a close male relative. In public they must be covered from head to toe in a heavy shroud; let a glimpse of ankle or wrist show and the religious police may flog them on the spot.
The health of Afghan women has deteriorated because examinations by male doctors are now illegal and most female doctors have been fired. Barred from the work force, many women have plunged into poverty - especially whose husbands or fathers died during Afghanistan's 20 years of warfare. The Taliban say they are only doing what Islam demands.
Human rights organizations have denounced Afghanistan's sexual apartheid.
No doubt many US Muslims are privately appalled at the Taliban's vicious oppression. But where are the public groans of anguish that the teachings of Islam should be perverted so cruelly? Why do American Muslim spokesmen - so quick to cry foul if Hollywood portrays a Muslim unflatteringly - say nothing about the crimes being committed by the Muslims who rule Afghanistan?
Last August, terrorist bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania murdered 224 people. It seemed instantly clear that the mastermind behind the attacks was Osama bin Laden - a multimillionaire Islamic fanatic who preaches that it is ''the duty of Muslims to confront, fight, and kill'' Americans and their allies. On that occasion, prominent Islamic voices in the United States did speak out. But their chief message was not one of horrified sympathy for the victims and their families or of shame that anyone calling himself a Muslim could perpetrate such an atrocity.
No - what Muslim leaders were eager to communicate was a warning to the media not to speculate about a possible Islamic connection to the slaughter.
A release issued by the Council on American Islamic Relations was typical: 'American Muslims ask journalists to exercise restraint in reporting on embassy bombings,'' ran the headline. To this day America's major Islamic groups have not ostracized bin Laden - or even labeled him a terrorist.
The Council on American Islamic Relations and organizations like it - the American Muslim Council, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee - routinely issue ''action alerts'' to protest unflattering references to Muslims and Arabs in the news and entertainment media. Sometimes these protests go to farcical extremes. Earlier this spring, the ADC went after the Associated Press for using the word ''terrorists'' to describe Hezbollah, a Muslim militia that routinely fires missiles at Israeli homes. About Hezbollah's ''Islamic'' policy of targeting civilians, the ADC is silent.
Muslim-Americans hate being stereotyped as supporters of violence and jihad. Yet they keep quiet when violence and jihad are waged by evildoers professing Islam. In Sudan, Arab raiders capture non-Muslim blacks, then sell them to slaveholders who force them to convert. In New York, Muslim extremists have bombed the World Trade Center and opened fire on tourists in the Empire State Building. But wait for American Muslim organizations to cry out against the perpetrators of such enormities and you are likely to wait in vain.
If US Muslims demanded the release of Iran's 13 innocent Jews, Teheran would pay attention. But Muslims in America have their priorities. Justice for the victims of Islam is apparently not among them.
The writer is a Boston Globe columnist. (Boston Globe June 24)
The events taking place in Kiryat Shemonah, and the demonstrations by the residents against the government's economic and military policies in the north - these must ring alarm bells regarding our entire national situation. We cannot simply allow them to pass us by. I am referring to the readiness of some of our political leaders, such as [Labor MK] Yossi Beilin and [DFP-Hadash MK] Tamar Gozansky, to turn the people of Kiryat Shemonah into some sort of professional guild whose "interests must be protected." I am referring, too, to how they turn the Lebanon problem into a controversial issue, organize demonstrations all along the way, and weaken our resolve, our sovereignty, and our independence.
What are we dealing with here? We are dealing with the northern border of the State of Israel! We are not dealing only with the "residents of the north" - for the Hizbullah attacks on Israel must affect us even if no one lived there! We simply want an independent state, with borders, with sovereignty. We want a state without a terrorist-gang state, a Hizbullah state, or a Fatah-land state, on its northern border. We are also not interested in a make-believe sovereign state that is really a terrorist base controlled by Syria on our northern border. Such a thing is unheard of. No sovereign state that values its sovereignty, that knows what a state is, allows anyone to touch its borders!
Even in a place like the Falkland Islands, Great Britain did not ignore the foreign incursion, even though it was tremendously far from London and most of its citizens had never even been near there. The British dispatched soldiers to the Falklands, not to preserve world peace or for any other grandiose goal, but only because it was a normal nation that wanted to continue being such.
It's true that we are not a normal nation. It's true that we spent many more years in the Exile than we did as an independent nation. And it's true that Diaspora-type Jews such as Yossi Beilin and his friends permit themselves to turn us into "Wandering Jews" and enjoy the fact that we are a "state on wheels," with a government that changes its borders every day and that conducts its affairs via the media. Another symptom: Beilin's mentor Shimon Peres has now sharpened his style, and has begun a public campaign to explain the danger in being "security-oriented." He wants to show us the danger inherent in the fact that security and military personnel express themselves on security issues. And then Tamar Gozansky, who may be longing for the Soviet generals, permits herself to brazenly tell the Chief of Staff that he is not doing a good job!
All of the above is symptomatic of a terrible weakness, of the desire of a nation to be abnormal. A normal nation knows that the most important thing is to defend itself, its existence, its sovereignty, its borders. This Lebanese issue also reflects upon that of Judea/Samaria, because the same people are against our presence in both places. Regarding Yesha, the public has already been brainwashed that the matter is "sensitive" and "controversial," that we were fine without these areas between '48 and '67, etc. But regarding Lebanon, how could there be any argument? How is it that when Amnon Lipkin-Shachak, and Ehud Barak, and Yitzchak Mordechai, and Gandi, and Raful all say the same thing - how could there be a public argument? These former generals all say that according to their military judgement, this is the best way to protect the country's northern border while causing the least amount of losses and damages. How can this turn into a public dispute?
It could be that a Defense Minister, who has the democratic authority to do so, will come along and change the policy, while still keeping in mind the ultimate safety of every soldier and of the State of Israel. This is of course legitimate. But the style that is becoming more and more popular amongst us of late is that mothers and women are taken in by false leaders such as Yossi Beilin and Shimon Peres and Tamar Gozansky, and this causes a danger that weakens the State of Israel in the face of the extreme dangers all around us. We will be vulnerable before any enemy, in any war! For there will always be an Abu Mazen that will "coordinate positions" with Yossi Beilin, and there will always be some Abu Jilda who will meet with someone in Europe, and along will come one of the Beilins with his "creative thinking," while the conventional generals, with their "simple" understanding of how to protect our borders will be forced to "wander from city to city and no one will listen."
Dear listeners, the feeling that I get from the Galilee is frightening. I sense that the [area known as the] Galilee Finger is full of infection, and that the poison is spreading throughout our hand and our entire body. We are telling the residents of the Finger that they should protest, that it is the private problem of those who live in the Finger and the Hand - while we continue our lives as usual, as if they are separate from our State. This is an indication that there has been a loss of the feeling of nationhood, a loss of sovereignty, a loss of natural instincts of a country that wants independence. Independence, Mr. Beilin, is not just plastic hammers on Independence Day and empty speeches. Independence is sovereignty and borders! Independence is army and discipline! Independence is national responsibility, and sacrifice, and lots of patience!
Despite all, I am full of hope that with the healthy forces of our nation,
we will find sufficient antibodies to fight the natural fight of a nation for its independence. Our war of independence is not yet over.
The writer, the former Dean of Yeshivat Beit Orot in eastern Jerusalem, is now serving in his second term as Knesset Member (National Union).