Vic Rosenthal's weekly column:
Yes, I admit it. I started out in life as a leftist. In 1982 I thought that we went too far in Lebanon; we should have stopped at the 40 km. line promised by Sharon. I was horrified by the Sabra/Shatila massacres, and participated with the other members of my kibbutz at a Peace Now demonstration in Tel Aviv, calling for the replacement of Begin’s government. I saw myself as ‘pro-peace’, unlike those ‘settlers’.
By the time Oslo was signed I was starting to have my doubts. Sure, only a two-state solution would bring peace, the settlement movement was made up of religious fanatics, but – Arafat? Would he really become ‘moderate’? At least, I thought, we were on the right track with Rabin rather than a dangerous right-winger.
During the 90s, I became aware that Arafat lied all the time, calling for jihad in Arabic while he talked about ‘peace’ in English. I also noticed that terrorism was increasing rather than decreasing (much later, my son was part of a force that entered PLO headquarters in eastern Jerusalem and found documentary evidence that Arafat was paying the terrorists to kill Jews).
In 2000 the dream of a two-state agreement with the Palestinian Arabs disintegrated in the explosions of the Second Intifada. By the time the intifada had been suppressed by Operation Defensive Shield, I realized that there would not be an agreement. But we had to separate from the Palestinians, didn’t we? I recall a conversation with one of my son’s friends. “We have to build a wall between us and the Arabs,” I said. “We can’t live together with them in places like Hevron.”
“Hevron?” he said. “Davka (especially) Hevron!” where Abraham bought land from Ephron to bury Sarah, and where the Jewish population was brutally murdered in 1929. Davka Hevron. I couldn’t answer him.
But Arik Sharon had a plan, called “disengagement.” We would build walls and unilaterally separate from the Arabs. “Separate,” not withdraw. It would be done from strength, not weakness. It would be our choice, not theirs. If they tried anything, we’d crush them.
In 2005 my son got married. All the cars in the wedding procession displayed orange banners in opposition to the destruction of the Gaza settlements and the expulsion of their Jewish residents. I felt bad for them, but Arik, “the bulldozer,” thought it was the right choice. If we couldn’t trust Arik, whom could we trust?
The Arabs, it turned out, didn’t see it the way Sharon did. They saw it as weakness, a surrender and a vindication of their terrorist tactics, proof that the intifada had been a success after all. An argument to continue the violent “resistance.”
Could Arik have made it work? I doubt it, but we didn’t find out because Arik had his ultimately fatal stroke and was replaced by the common criminal and uncommon traitor Ehud Olmert, the worst Prime Minister in the history of Israel, who bungled a war and tried to give the country away to Mahmoud Abbas. To our great good fortune, Abbas wouldn’t take it.
Several wars and countless terrorist murders later, I began to understand the spiritual dimension to the conflict. I saw that the biblical homeland of the Jewish people in Judea and Samaria was important for more than strategic military reasons. I understood, as Moshe Dayan in 1967 had not, that the Temple Mount was not just of historical importance to the Jewish people. Dayan’s decision to give control over it to the Muslim authorities, just like Sharon’s abandonment of Gush Katif, was seen by the Arabs not as a gesture of strength, but as a surrender. And just like the disengagement from Gaza, it exacerbated the conflict rather than calming it.
But I still clung to the idea that there could be partial solutions. Couldn’t we just annex Area C, where most of the settlements are, and leave the mass of hostile Arabs in Areas A and B? Couldn’t we somehow wall them off and promise to strike them hard if they fire rockets over the walls?
After my long journey, I finally realize that the answer is no. There is no partial solution. To win the physical war we must win the spiritual war as well. We must take full control of all of the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and that includes Hevron, Shechem (Nablus) and of course the Temple Mount.
We need to once and for all show the Arabs and the rest of the world that we are serious that the Land of Israel will remain in Jewish hands. Our compromises only encourage the Arabs and their supporters in the West to fight harder to push us out of the land. The Arab-Muslim ideology doesn’t have room for a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East of any size and anything we offer them is only the starting point for new demands.
John Kerry is here as I write, to tell us that we need to take steps to give the Palestinian Arabs hope. That way, he says, they will be less likely to stab us or run us over in the street. He has it backwards. They are stabbing us because they have hope – hope that if they make it bad enough for us we will leave. Peace will come when we take away that hope.
There is a simple answer to those who object that we can’t annex Judea and Samaria and still have a Jewish and democratic state. Of course we can. All it takes is that we treat the Arabs there as responsible actors and ask them what they want.
In other words, those Arabs in the territories who will agree to live in a Jewish state, like most of the Arabs within the Green Line today, can be given a choice of citizenship or permanent residency, like the Arabs in eastern Jerusalem.
Those who, for religious or ideological reasons, cannot live under Jewish sovereignty can leave, to Jordan, the Sinai, Gaza, Europe, South America or South Paterson, New Jersey. This also applies to those who presently live within the Green Line or in Jerusalem who also can’t abide a Jewish state, like Haneen Zoabi for example. I don’t object to our providing financial assistance to those who need it. Forcing them to stay in a Jewish state is coercive and undemocratic. Remember that “two-state” plans envision the forced transfer of tens of thousands of Jews away from their homes. Arabs, too, can make sacrifices for peace.
Finally there are those whose ideology requires them to be at war with us. We will be at war with them. The PLO is such an organization. It should be disarmed and outlawed like the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.
The one option that we will not give them is to stay where they are and oppose the Jewish state.
This plan will be monumentally unpopular in the West, but unlike all the other plans, it isn’t just a fig leaf placed over the piecemeal destruction of the Jewish state.
This era has been called a historical inflection point. Humanity is poised at the edge of a chaotic descent into a new dark age. Or maybe not. Israel is on the “seam line” where the forces of Islam and the West are contending for control. What happens here will be of great import for the rest of the world, but we have to win the battle to survive by ourselves. If we do, they’ll thank us in the long run.
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