(Opinion, by Stan Goodenough)

Israel, on Friday November 20, you awoke to face the bitter and painful task of relinquishing more precious pieces of your land to a man and a people who have sought your destruction for the last 50 years.

No matter where you stand, on the left or the right, it must have hurt to give this up, as it hurt to let go all that you gave up before. It must have hurt, because all of you, on the left and on the right, know how your forefathers longed for centuries to return to this land. And many of you paid for these parts of your homeland with the lives of the precious sons and fathers, brothers and cousins you lost in 1948, 1967 and 1973.

Some of you watched with fear and anger and disbelief as your leaders went ahead with this surrender even while they knew how it was hurting their people.

Others believed this was the right way to go, that after all these years of hatred and violence there had to be a better way. And you believed that this better way was to show your enemies, and to show the world, that you are willing to give up what is precious to prove that you want peace.

It hurt some of you perhaps more than others. But it hurt you all. It cost you all.

It surely came as no great surprise that on the day you began to withdraw, Hamas declared it would continue attacks regardless, other PLO factions announced they'd convene, not to annul, but to reinforce, their charter clauses calling for your destruction, and Lebanon rejected a US request to help support "Wye", saying there was no consensus in the Arab world to provide such support. This was all par for the course.

But did you notice that no worldwide applause greeted your soldiers as they handed over their maps, struck their flags, boarded their vehicles, and drove away? Did you notice that your international popularity stakes stayed low, not even rising for the few hours it took you to pack up and leave?

Did you not cringe when, on the day you gave away more of your land, you were attacked by the Palestinians, and by the BBC and CNN, for not freeing men who have killed your children--men who, according to the proud admission of PA security chief Mohammed Dahlan on November 21, were sent on their murderous missions by himself and Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen?

Have you noticed that there has been no change in the behaviour of any of the world's leaders towards Israel since you signed the Wye Agreement, since you signed the Hebron Protocols, since you gave away Bethlehem, since, in the Oslo Accords, you signed away "Gaza and Jericho First"? America and Europe have scolded, criticised and condemned you every step of the way, even while your leaders were trying to carry out the agreements they all, including Yitzhak Rabin, were so loath to sign.

You have given away your land, land Jews everywhere down the ages prayed and wept to return to. You have given it away and, in human terms, your sacrifice was final and complete--you will never be allowed to take it back again. What does it tell you: the fact that this latest offering got you nowhere nearer peace in the Middle East, and nowhere closer to acceptance in the world, than all those you made before?

You have embraced as Israel's "most loved" US president ever a man who pushes you into making these sacrifices, and then, as you're signing your homeland away, thanks the man who led the terror campaign that culminated in this ignominious moment "for decades and decades and decades of tireless representation of the longing of the Palestinian people to be free".

And now, President Clinton is coming here again, ignoring the PA's violations of all the agreements as if they had never been made, talking only about the commitments that were "as strong as any we have ever seen". President Clinton will come, and will probably make a moving speech to the Knesset too, just before Chanukah. And what will he tell you, Israel? That you are being a light to the world?

What spoliers you Israelis will be if, one day after he thus praises and applauds you, you give his inevitable whitewashing of the PNC's refusal (even now!) to officially amend its charter anything less than a standing ovation?

Where will it end, Israel? Where will it end? After 2 000 years, you are still trying in vain to find your place among the nations. How many more lives, how much more land, are you going to pay before you recognise the futility of following this path?

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