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   AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2000 -  Issue #127    


Can Israel Regain its Self-Respect?

Herbert Zweibon

One of Zionism's driving forces was to do away with the inferiority complex suffered by so many Diaspora Jews, and to imbue them with self-respect and the respect of peoples around the world. Jews throughout history, since the dispersion from their ancient homeland, have been scorned, despised, terrorized, and murdered. Even in benign corners of the world such as the United States, until recent decades they were subjected to exclusion, quotas, and derision.

For the first three decades, Israel succeeded in this particular mission beyond the fondest dreams of Zionist pioneers. Israel's swift and unforgiving response to terrorism, the refusal to bow to terrorist demands, made her a model for the West. The world marveled at Israel's brilliant and surgical preemptive strike in 1967, the liberation of Jerusalem, the daring and dazzling rescue of hostages in Entebbe, the destruction of the Osiris nuclear reactor in Iraq, and Israel's continued pluck and determination to survive and prevail even at the cost of precious life.

Israel's achievements enormously enhanced Jewish self-esteem the world over. Even in the confines of the Iron Curtain, Israel's success bolstered Jewish self-assurance, allowing "the Jews of silence" to find their voice. The lesson seems clear. Strength and conviction in one's cause begets respect and acceptance.

But somewhere along the way, Israel lost its mission to achieve respect and substituted for it the drive to be "liked." Yes, there was a cost to the respect Israel had won. She continued to endure the hatred and murderous actions of her Arab enemies. In world forums, she was isolated, insulted and routinely condemned for her most admirable actions. Every country, the U.S. included, sharply attacked Israel's bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor (eventually the U.S. would recognize that if it had not been for Israel, Saddam Hussein could have struck down Kuwait and Saudi Arabia under protection of his nuclear umbrella).

Tired of obloquy -- its elites even internalizing the vicious assaults of Arab and anti-Semitic enemies -- Israel began to adopt a policy of appeasement to replace the tried and true policy of deterrence and self-respect. Menachem Begin temporarily enjoyed international approval at Camp David after he surrendered the entire Sinai Peninsula, including settlements, oil fields and military installations. The short lived boomlet in international affection quickly disappeared as the world's collective opprobrium came down on his head when he launched the Lebanon War to halt the assaults on northern Israel. But appeasement simply set the stage for the world to expect (and obtain) more and more retreats by Israel, while Arafat's campaign of more and more terror was ignored. (Its victims were no longer victims of terror but, in Rabin-jargon, "sacrifices for peace.") Netanyahu's surrender at Wye did not even earn him temporary approval -- his "attitude" was not deemed sufficiently forthcoming.

Now Prime Minister Barak, having crossed every red line even post-Oslo politicians ever had, has earned support from President Clinton. To bolster Barak's standing with the Israeli public, Clinton has even gone on Israeli TV to say what a fine fellow Barak is and that he would "think about" moving the U.S. embassy to western Jerusalem. In addition, and despite his lame duck status, he promised billions of dollars to Israel and its "peace partners."

In the Middle East, perceived weakness serves to embolden Israel's enemies and all the world's anti-Semites. If Israel is to restore its self-respect, it should stop all negotiations with Arafat; remove the subject of the Golan Heights from the bargaining table; politely inform the Clinton administration's envoys to stay home; send troops to seize all of the tens of thousands of weapons in the Palestinian Authority-occupied territories; and renew Jewish construction activity in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


The Fate of the Settlements ...3

Barak Goes to Camp ...5

August-September 2000               - 1 -               Outpost


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