Shmuel Katz

Jerusalem Post,  October 6, 2005


   The load of misery which Ariel Sharon inflicted on the Jews of Gush Katif has

affected the nerves, the hearts and the minds of myriads (conceivably a

majority) of the Jews in Israel. In the tragedy of the expulsion an effective

supporting role was played by most of the Hebrew media.


   Shockingly, neither they nor our hyper-activist judiciary found it morally

unacceptable to use the army to implement it. Here were young men and women who thought when they enlisted that they were being trained to fight a putative

enemy, found themselves doing the noxious work of forcibly driving innocent

fellow Jews from their homes. The obscene task imposed on these youngsters will

not leave them unscarred.


   In destroying a Jewish community, Sharon thus diminished the image of

Israel's army, but on the way to his Gaza abandonment he also encompassed a

mighty side swipe at Israel's parliamentary democracy.


   Sharon was elected prime minister precisely on the strength of his undertaking not to do what his opponent, Amram Mitzna, aimed to do. When he revealed to his Likud party that his game-plan was to hijack Mitzna's policy, a majority in the party rejected it overwhelmingly. Instead of accepting its verdict, and either retracting or resigning, he then makes a compact with the only too willing Labor minority.


   Supported by part of the Likud Knesset members, he cobbles together a

different majority in the Knesset to carry out the policy of the minority. In

the course of these maneuvers he rejects the idea of a national referendum manifestly from fear of a second defeat and goes ahead with his plan.


    But now it is the day after; and Israel is faced with the far-reaching

effects of Sharon's manipulations. Their first fruits, in public relations, have

been wondrous to behold.    Suddenly "everybody" loves Israel. All the friends

of our enemies, all those who have been cursing us over the years, all those who

have been urging on our would-be killers, all those who have been demonizing our

nation, are now hailing the hero Sharon.


   Together with them, indeed well to the forefront, have rushed the left-wing

and other defeatist Israelis. Their dearest wishes, their fondest dreams of

Israeli retreats, of Jewish "settlers" crushed are being realized. For they are

certain that Gaza was only a beginning, and that Sharon deliberately dragged in

the abandonment of north Samarian villages so as to provide a sampling of what

is yet to come.


   Indeed the friendly tailwind generated by Operation Gaza has already added

momentum to the international pressure on Sharon. The US secretary of state

hastened to declare that "Gaza only" is not enough, and that she expects further

territorial concessions that would lead to an independent Palestinian state.

French President Chirac chimes in with a specific demand: he wants more arms to

be given to Mahmoud Abbas. As for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, even the

"Road Map" seems no longer to interest him. He merely wants the "West Bank" to

go the way of Gaza.


   They all seem to have forgotten the clause in the "Road Map" diktat to

Israel, which at least requires Arab disarmament before Israel helps to

establish the Palestinian state. They also persist in ignoring Abbas's repeated

assurances to his people that he does not intend starting a civil war which

would follow any attempt to confiscate arms from anybody.


   Meanwhile Hamas and Islamic Jihad are taking advantage of the hudna to

prepare the next offensive against Israel. Joyously breaking down the wall

between Gaza and Egypt, thousands of Arabs have infiltrated in both directions

and a considerable quantity of arms has been smuggled unhindered into Gaza. They

keep reminding the world that their Gaza victory has brought their aim closer to not a Palestinian state, but the "liberation of all the lands between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea."


   To any long-term observer of the Arab scene through 1948 with the Arab

League's war they then launched to abort the birth of the Jewish state; through 1967 when, with Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan in Arab hands; President Nasser of Egypt in 1967 proclaimed the war of annihilation on Israel and all that has followed - it is obvious that not only Hamas sees the great retreat under terror from Gaza, its political implications and its psychological significance, as a great step forward towards that deadly purpose.


   To heighten their euphoria, Arabs need only read the words recently spoken by

the Vice Prime Minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert. On June 8, shortly before the

Gush Katif operation, he was addressing a meeting in New York of the "Israel

Policy Forum," a noted left-wing organization.


   He expressed his great joy at having been invited (for the first time), being

so warmly welcomed and at the fact that Sharon, for whom they "had not had much

love in the past," had sent them a special letter. He spoke of the new "process"

that will bring more "security, prosperity and joy to everybody living in the

Middle East"! He went on to explain: "We all desperately need it. We are tired

of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are

tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an

entirely different environment of relations with our enemies. We want them to be

our friends, our partners, our good neighbors, and I believe that this is not



   What greater encouragement could there be for an enemy?? Following the Gaza retreat, a crucial phase of the war is being thrust on Israel, and the Arab war

effort is growing in intensity.  A nation cannot fight wars against an enemy

aiming at its destruction while its leaders are occupied with fatuous flights of

fancy about peace and formulae for negotiations. We should have learned from

bitter experience time after time since 1948.  Negotiations must wait until the war is won.


(Shmuel Katz, who co-founded the Herut Party with Menachem Begin

and was a member of the first Knesset, is a biographer and essayist.)

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