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A number of years ago I authored an article titled, 'The Lessons of 1929,' a version of which was printed in the Jerusalem Post. The gist of the article was: trust no one but yourself. Don't place your security, the lives of your family, friends, and country in the hands of foreigners. First and foremost, our security is in the hands of G-d. However, the good L-rd doesn't expect us to sit home and watch while He strikes down evil with lightening and thunder from the heavens. We are commanded to protect ourselves, be it on a personal or public level. Personally, each and every person must take care of themselves. Publicly, our government is responsible for the security and welfare of its citizens.
In 1929, Hebron's Jewish leadership erroneously believed that they could trust their next-door neighbors to protect them. After all, during the 1929 riots, Hebron's Jews came to no harm. Despite offers by the Hagana to provide weapons and protection, the Jewish Hebronites preferred to leave well enough alone, and refused any outside assistance or interference.
The results speak for themselves.
The modern state of Israel, catastrophically following in the footsteps of 1929 Hebron, fell into the same self-created trap, this time called Oslo. The tenets of Oslo were axiomatic: Israel could not, and would not achieve peace and security without full coordination and full cooperation from the so-called Palestinian government and security forces. If they played the game our way, all would be OK. If not, tough luck.
They played the game, their way. At a cost inexpressible in numbers or words. Close to two thousand dead and tens of thousands wounded does not do justice to the cataclysm. Who can enumerate the pain and grief of orphans and widows?
When looking in the mirror, in the reflection behind us, there is no one to blame. The proverbial 'finger' is pointing straight ahead, at us. We did it to ourselves.
A year ago, again. Seeing the wondrous result of the Lebanese retreat, Israel made the same mistake once more. The expulsion from, and abandonment of Gush Katif could and would undoubtedly solve all our problems. The Arabs would get what they want, the rest of the world would be appeased, and Israel would live happily ever after for eternity.
Israel's leadership forgot one thing: Middle East eternity is spelled b-r-i-e-f.
Soon the mortars being aimed at Gush Katif's saintly Jewish population were transformed into Kasam missiles and were targeting Sderot and Ashkelon. Terrorist forces invaded Israeli army bases, killing and capturing soldiers. Acts of war.
And the adventures up north are all too fresh, the wounds still pouring blood like a faucet of water to have to add too much. But something has to be said, as we seeming are on the verge of another disastrous capitulation.
Recent past history: Ehud Barak was considered to be an excellent soldier, and his brilliance led to his appointment as Chief of Staff of the IDF in 1991, serving in that position until 1995. Almost immediately following his retirement from the army he entered politics, becoming Interior Minister in the Rabin government in early 1995. Upon Rabin's assassination be became Peres' Foreign Minister and was elected Labor party leader after Peres' defeat, in 1997. In May, 1999 he was elected Prime Minister of Israel. Almost exactly a year later he ordered the IDF to flee from South Lebanon. Less than a year later he was no longer Prime Minister.
Journalist/Author Raviv Drucker titled his book about Barak "Harikari -- Ehud Barak, the Failure." That just about says it all. Barak's greatest mistakes, offering Arafat 90% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, as well as East Jerusalem, and his abandonment of northern Israel, led to his speedy political demise.
Barak had no political experience whatsoever. He was a soldier, a soldier's soldier. But generalling, and running a country are two different things. And trying to govern Israel, a state of Jews, is all the more complicated. The considerations, the results, the repercussions, all demand more than a brilliant mind and a few decades in uniform. Barak was missing the necessary components essential for international give and take. In simple terms, he blew it. The only problem is, if a minor employee 'blows it,' so, big deal. When a Prime Minister, who is responsible for survival of the Jewish State 'blows it,' take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Big, big time disaster.
You would think that Israel, it's citizens, would have learned. But no, we have to go back and run a repeat performance.
Who has been running Israel for the past few months?
Who is Ehud the Second?
In the IDF, after being injured, he was a journalist. He was a Knesset member. His cabinet positions: Minister without portfolio, Responsibility for Minority Affairs, Health Minister, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Minister of Communications. For a short time, after Netanyahu broke with Sharon, he was Finance Minister. He became acting Prime Minister following Sharon's stroke.
He was also Mayor of Jerusalem.
His wife, Aliza, is a well-known leftist activist, who, according to the 'wikipedia' is rumored to have been a founding member of "Women in Black."
His daughter Dana, a lesbian, is active in the left-wing organization "Machsom Watch." His son Shaul, lives in New York. His son Ariel studies in France and did not serve in the IDF. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olmert]
Is this Prime Minister material? Does he have the capabilities to decide when to go to war, how to run the war, how to end the war? He has neither the brilliance nor the experience of Ehud the First, and what a failure he was! What could we possibly expect from such a mediocre successor?!
Who is Defense Minister Amir Peretz? Reaching the rank of captain, Peretz was wounded during the Yom Kippur War. He became an leader in Peace Now in the early 1980s. In 1983 he became Mayor of Sderot. In 1988 he was elected to Knesset and in 1994 became Deputy Chairman of the Israeli Labor organization, the Histadrut. He became chairman a year later. Upon election as Chairman of the Labor party in November, 2005, he had never served in the Israeli Cabinet. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amir_Peretz]
Who is Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni? A lawyer, she was elected to Knesset in 1999 and has served as Minister of: Regional cooperation, Agriculture, Immigrant Absorption, Housing and Construction, and for a short time, Justice.
These are the three people running Israel. Together with Chief of Staff Dan Haluz, whose experience as commander of the Air Force failed to provide him with the proper tools necessary to lead an army to war.
In an article published in HaAretz on August 4, Ari Shavit wrote:
Israel failed in the first three stages of the war of 2006. The air offensive failed, the limited ground offensive failed and the days of the hesitation and confusion of post-Bint Jbail failed. As a result, Israel was perceived to be helpless in the face of a sub-state terrorist organization that was battering it repeatedly without being vanquished... The political establishment failed... The military establishment failed... The Israeli elites failed... The capitalists, the media and the academics of the 21st century failed in that they bedazzled Israel and deprived it of its spirit. Their recurrent illusions about the historical reality in which the Jewish state exists led Israel to navigate poorly and lose its way... While the broad Israeli public displayed sobriety, determination and staying power in all the tests it faced in the past decade, the elites disappointed. They imparted to Israeli youth a flawed set of values, which makes it very difficult for them to charge ahead when charging ahead is indisputably just. A country in which there is no equality, no justice and no belief in the justness of its path, is a country for which no one will charge ahead. And, in the Middle East of the 21st century, a state for which many of its young people are not willing to kill and be killed, is a state living on borrowed time. A state that is not sustainable.
Today, August 11, he writes:
It's time for truth, not spin: First there was the aerial spin... After that came the ground spin... Then came the diplomatic spin... At the same time, there was the civilian spin... No more. The culture of lies that has surrounded the war from its first day must disappear. The attempt to confront an existential challenge by means of virtual false presentations must cease. A war is not a real-estate transaction, or even an election campaign. It invites a real encounter with history, which is looking deep into our eyes... A war of spin is a war that is divorced from reality, without an accurate reading of the map and without the necessary determination; a war without a goal and without a vision. Such a war cannot lead to victory.
And Shavit, in another article called "Olmert cannot remain in the prime minister's office":
... However, one thing should be clear: If Olmert runs away now from the war he initiated, he will not be able to remain prime minister for even one more day. Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power. You cannot bury 120 Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear down deterrent power, bring the next war very close, and then say - oops, I made a mistake. That was not the intention. Pass me a cigar, please.
There is no mistake Ehud Olmert did not make this past month. He went to war hastily, without properly gauging the outcome. He blindly followed the military without asking the necessary questions. He mistakenly gambled on air operations, was strangely late with the ground operation, and failed to implement the army's original plan, much more daring and sophisticated than that which was implemented. And after arrogantly and hastily bursting into war, Olmert managed it hesitantly, unfocused and limp. He neglected the home front and abandoned the residents of the north. He also failed shamefully on the diplomatic front?
As guilty as Olmert is, as guilty as Peretz is, as guilty as Livni and Halutz are, our finger-pointing must be directed not only at them and their cronies. We, all of us, the citizens of the state of Israel, and perhaps also Jews around the world, must take a good look at ourselves and ask: how did we allow this to happen? Are we really that stupid; or blind; or just plain apathetic?
The handwriting was on the wall -- we've been asking for this for over a decade, since we signed and implemented the first Olso Accords, culminating with the abandonment from Gush Katif and continuing with Olmert's declarations about the next stage: expulsion of one hundred thousand Jews from Judea and Samaria and forsaking that land to our enemies.
If we are truthful with ourselves, reach the necessary conclusions and implement them, then maybe, maybe, it will all have been worth it. We must realize, first and foremost, that Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael and only Am Yisrael. We need not answer to anyone, no nation, no people, excepting the Creator of the World. He gave us this land, he created this people, and instructed us how to live. If we are willing to live according to those rules, within those guidelines, we will be victorious. If we decide otherwise, we will continue to be vanquished. It's as simple as that.
Let that be the 'Lessons of 2006.'
Ari Shavit's complete article can be read by clicking here.
David Wilder has lived in Hebron for the past 23 years. He is spokesman of The Jewish Community of Hebron and director of the Hebron web site (www.hebron.com). This article was submitted August 11, 2006.
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