Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A Blue & White Flag

A Blue & White Flag
Nov. 25, 2003

Withdrawal is surrender, and surrender we will not. Our flag is blue and white, and that blue makes all the difference in the world. Abandonment and transfer of Jews from Yesha is tantamount to the removal of the blue from our flag.
From David Wilder

I planned on writing today about one of the most extraordinary Shabbatot I’ve ever experienced. After all, it’s not every week you participate in a Hebron Shabbat together with another 25,000 Jews. Friday night, it was virtually impossible to get into Ma’arat HaMachpela - the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. It was simply packed. There wasn’t room to move inside. And outside, in the courtyard, thousands of people participated in Shabbat evening prayers. It was a sight to behold. 

So too, Saturday. Thousands upon thousands of people walking the streets, visiting the different neighborhoods - it was really unbelievable.

However, current events will not let me dwell on the wonders of this past
 Shabbat in Hebron. There are other matters that are more pressing.

While in the United States, I heard rumors that Ariel Sharon was planning another landmark address, Herzliya II, as it was called. During the first Herzliya speech, in December 2002, Sharon officially accepted the ideas behind the Roadmap, culminating in a fully sovereign Palestinian state. Realizing that the Palestinian terrorist authority does not have the desire or ability to fulfill even the most minimum requirements in order to convince a majority of Israelis to back this arrangement, Sharon is planning the next stage in his farcical premiership. This is being labeled Herzliya II. Then, it hit the headlines.

According to media reports, Sharon is fed up with the current deadlock and is looking for a way out. He promised Israelis peace and security and hasn’t yet been able to deliver the goods. Without a ‘peace partner’ it’s difficult to negotiate. So, Sharon has decided to go it alone. Latest accounts say that Sharon is planning a unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces to the vicinity of the new ‘wall’ (which seems to be known to some as the Messiah in disguise). This unilateral withdrawal includes the destruction of ‘isolated settlements,’ most probably in Gaza - like Netzarim, Morag, and Kfar Darom. However other communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza have not been ruled out. Jews evicted from their homes are to be transferred to new settlements, this time in the Negev.

Other communities are scheduled to be ‘moved,’ creating ‘settlement blocks.’

This is, in brief, what has been floating around in recent days.

Now, it’s important to understand why Ariel Sharon is even considering such measures:

Ariel Sharon is facing massive legal problems in Israel. He is likely on the verge of being indicted for illegal financial dealings, some of which concern campaign funding, illicit loans, and possible bribery. Should he be indicted, Sharon will have to resign. But Sharon knows that the Left understands that they will never be able to evict Jews from
 Yesha ’ only a ‘right-wing’ bulldozer like Ariel Sharon, who was responsible for much of the development of Judea, Samaria and Gaza will be able to take it apart. He has experience ‘ he did it in Sinai. Sharon also knows that the decisions taken concerning his future political life and tenure in the Prime Minister’s residence lie in the hands of the Left. In other words, if he is a ‘good boy’ and practices what they preach, they will, more than likely, leave him alone. In other words, he will trade Eretz Yisrael for political survival. 

Reason number two: George Bush and the White House. Ariel Sharon knows that George Bush is a good friend of Israel. All things considered, he’s probably the best friend Israel has had in the White House in decades. He also knows that George W. is in trouble. Iraq, dead American soldiers, and continuing world terror is ruffling feathers. The elections, a year away, are already catching headlines. The campaign has begun. Sharon also knows that the democratic alternatives to Bush spell catastrophe for Israel. So, Sharon is interested not only in saving himself; he’s also interested in saving George W’s skin. So, he is willing to trade pieces of
 Eretz Yisrael for Bush. 

Reason number three: Yossi Beilin, Shimon Peres and Geneva. The ‘Geneva Accords’ initiated by Yossi Beilin are covered with the fingerprints of several well-known players. First on the list is Shimon Peres, who was Yossi Beilin’s teacher. The first big Peres production, ‘Oslo’, was such a hit that he decided to produce a follow-up. Not being able to sponsor a ‘by-pass’ plan to a government that he still hopes to sit in, Peres assisted Beilin into Geneva, another cataclysmic suicide plan for the State of Israel. Geneva includes the worst of the worst-case scenarios conjured up since the commencement of Oslo, leaving Israel as a virtual nonentity.

Another player in the Geneva fiasco is undoubtedly the European Union. Last week, Beilin and Company put two million copies of the Geneva Accords into the Israeli mail. Do you have any idea how much it costs to print up and send two million copies of anything’ I don’t have exact costs, but it is a tremendous amount of money. I am certain that the financial backer of this escapade is the EU. I might also surmise that the EU is receiving a great deal of that money from another power broker ‘ very likely Saudi Arabia. So from the Saudis to the Europeans to Beilin. What a team.

But please, do not underestimate these players. The Geneva Accords are exerting overwhelming pressure on Ariel Sharon. These accords are being backed by world media. Foreign governments are starting to get involved, viewing them as an alternative to the dying Roadmap. And in Israel, again, the Left is initiating something solid, as opposed to the waffling of the other side, whoever they are. Sharon remembers only too well the pressures that brought Ehud Barak’s cowardly flight from Lebanon. He knows that the name of the game is not to sit on the fence; rather, it is to grab onto something solid and pave the way. It makes no difference which direction the path goes in ‘ to heaven or to hell. What is important is to offer an alternative. And that is what Sharon is doing.

Ariel Sharon has not despaired of several dreams: He still wants to dispel the ‘war-monger’ image he picked up during the Lebanese War in the 1980s. He would also like to be remembered as a statesman and as the ‘great peacemaker.’ And last, but not least, he would like another term in the office of the Prime Minister, despite his age (and seemingly deteriorating mental health).

All of this adds up to transferring Jews, destroying communities, and abandoning
 Eretz Yisrael. 

The big question is, of course, what we can do to prevent this madness. There are no easy answers. We have to make a lot of noise, and let this government know that the People of Israel will not allow Ariel Sharon or anyone else to chop up
 Eretz Yisrael, we will not allow appeasement to terrorists, and we will not commit communal suicide. The very fact that these ideas are being floated around have already caused immense damage to Israel. The idea of withdrawal at all, but especially in the middle of a war, is unthinkable. This is exactly what our enemy wants and we must not give it to him. 

Withdrawal is surrender, and surrender we will not. Our flag is blue and white, and that blue makes all the difference in the world. Abandonment and transfer of Jews from
 Yesha is tantamount to the removal of the blue from our flag. 

Israel must not wave a white flag.

Monday, November 3, 2003

The Real Consensus

The Real Consensus
November 3, 2003

When I opened up the word processor this morning I hadn’t decided whether to write about the battle over Netzarim or the new European survey which determined that Israel tops the list: Israel is the greatest danger to world peace.

Then I opened the newspaper – not generally a good way to start the day. I’d advise anyone wanting to start the day with a smile to avoid the printed press, and if possible, the radio (and TV) too. It certainly won’t add anything to your mood.

I don’t have any choice – it’s my job. I skimmed the first section of the Jerusalem Post and turned by attention to the Comment and Opinions section. Sigh; Sigh; Sigh;

The headline article, written by Yosef Goell is called ‘Recognizing consensus’ [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1067749438242].

Goell differentiates between two kinds of  ‘settlements’ – those within the public consensus and those on the other side. For example, French Hill, Gilo, Ramot, Ramat Eshkol, to name a few, fall within public consent. They are no longer considered to be settlements, despite that fact that prior to the 1967 Six day War, they were on the ‘other side of the border.’ Why? “…Because such a large number of Israelis actually went to live there and invested their lives and their own money there.”

However, according to Goell, the rest of Judea, Samaria and Gaza “was never within the Israeli consensus.” For this reason, he writes that “eventually many settlements-but certainly not all-will have to be vacated. Annexation of all the territories has never been in the cards. The absence of a consensus means that most Israelis will come to actively oppose the further sacrifice of soldiers in defense of indefensible – and militarily purposeless – outposts.”

Goell also mentions a document published by the Israel Democracy Institute called, ‘The Political and Social Significance of Evacuating Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza’ [http://www.idi.org.il/english/catalog.php?pdid=279&did=40]. This position paper, written by none other than a kippa-wearing Jew, Yair Sheleg, is premised on the assumption that Israel will evict Jews from their homes throughout Yesha. The report discusses political and social implications of dealing with a positive decision to transfer Israelis from their homeland. Of course it includes various scenarios, such as Israeli ‘settlers’ opening fire on their brethren during a forces evacuation, preemptive ‘Israeli terror,’ and a ‘civil rebellion.’ The author also takes upon himself the role of moderator, providing solutions to expected problems: “On account of these dangers, the report includes a recommended policy that could temper the expected damage.”

The concept of Jewish transfer is not new, but, as with the above examples, has again raised its ugly head, making waves in the public domain. Following the killing of three soldiers by terrorists just outside the Netzarim in Gush Katif less than two weeks ago, left wing politicians claimed that there are too many soldiers guarding too few people in the community.  Shinui party Justice minister Yosef ‘Tommy’ Lapid went so far as to suggest a ‘deal’ with the terrorists: their promise to disband terror organizations in return for an Israeli guarantee to uproot Netzarim within ten months. (This morning Maariv newspaper reported that right-wing members of Shinui described this proposal as ‘spitting in the face of the party.’)

Let’s say that there really are too many soldiers guarding too few people. The solution is simple. Allow more Jews to move into Yesha. In Hebron, for example, it can literally take years for the Jewish community to receive building permits for construction on Jewish-owned land in the city. Arabs, on the other hand, do whatever they so desire. Presently our next door neighbor enemies are carrying out major renovations in neighborhoods adjacent to the Jewish neighborhoods and next to Ma’arat HaMachpela. They are restoring ruins, unoccupied for decades. They have no proof of ownership and no permits, but the work continues. Why are we forbidden from constructing freely on land we own? Why is it virtually impossible to buy property from Arabs interested in selling? Why won’t the Israeli government allow us to live in housing legally purchased from Arabs in Hebron over the years? Why is it that any money budgeted to Yesha is headline news but financial aid to Kibbutzim or millions of shekels to left-wing sponsored culture, including anti-Israel – pro-Arab plays and movies are automatically OK?

However, I’m not entirely sure that the above assumption is correct. Today there are almost 250,000 Jews living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Over the past year alone, the population has grown 5.6 percent. Since the Oslo War began, the population has risen in the vicinity of fifteen percent. This, during the most difficult three years the country has known since the establishment of the State. This, while Jews throughout the country, but especially in Yesha, have been targeted, killed and wounded by the hundreds. This, while Yesha’s population has been villainized by the Israeli left, by the media and by most of the world. This can be most recently viewed through the sunglasses of an article printed in today’s HaAretz newspaper, titled, ‘American spy chiefs want more pressure on settlements’  [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/356378.html ]. The subtitle tells the story: ‘To relieve hostility towards the U.S., calm situation in Iraq.’

In other words, my presence in Hebron, my daughter’s presence in Gush Katif, my son’s presence in the Shomron – we are responsible, together with another 240,000 Jews, for the fact that Americans are being killed in Iraq. We are responsible for continued terrorism against the United States. Of course, the message is clear: Israeli settlement of Yesha is ultimately responsible for 9/11, and the inescapable conclusion is that the ‘war’ President George Bush declared against terrorism is actually a war against the Jews.

Nu, so what’s new?

To Yosef Goell, to Tommy Lapid, to the author of the above-mentioned recommendations, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Carl Ford, to CIA director George Tenet, to Secretary of State Colin Powell, to all of the others, in Israel, in Europe, and around the world, I have a surprise revelation for you. Actually it’s not so new – it goes back quite a ways. This coming Saturday we will read the third Torah portion of the New Year – called, in Hebrew, Lech Lecha, which means “Go – You Go.” This was a command given by G-d to Abraham, telling him to leave his home ‘for the Land I will show you.’ That land being, of course, Eretz Yisrael. Later in the portion we read of the covenant decreed between G-d and Abraham, a covenant between G-d and not only Abraham, but also Abraham’s offspring, promising that the children of Israel will inherit the Land, the Land of Israel, an eternal bond, from almost the beginning of time, to today.

In reply to Goell’s consensus complaints, one must take into consideration not only the millions of Jews who now live in Israel, but the generations upon generations of Jews who lived in Israel, from the days of Abraham onward,  the generations of Jews who were expelled from the Land, the generations of Jews who dared dream of living in Israel, in Jerusalem, in Shechem, in Beit El, in Hebron. The consensus is the mass conscious of the Jewish people, Jews who lived with visions of  Temple Mount, Ma’arat HaMachpela, Joseph’s Tomb and Rachel’s Tomb – Jews who marveled with the thought of working the land and walking the land and Jews who died with ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’ on their lips, in their souls.  This is the consensus whose ideals will be fulfilled, whose dreams will be lived. This is the consensus of the people of Israel living in Eretz Yisrael. The real consensus.

With blessings from Hebron,
David Wilder