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   MARCH 2002 -  Issue #143    


"Buffer Zones"?

Herbert Zweibon

Knesset member Michael Kleiner of the Herut Party has described Ariel Sharon as "the Balfour of the Palestinians" -- that is, the political godfather of Palestinian statehood. A year or two ago, such a description would have been regarded as absurd. Today it is coming true.

As terrorism raged and a demoralized public searched desperately for leadership, Sharon announced that he would make a major address to the nation on February 21, outlining his plan for achieving national security. The public waited anxiously for his words.

The speech was a bitter disappointment. Sharon sounded like a spokesman for the State Department, calling on Israel to respond to the incessant terror by being "calm, reasonable, and restrained." Worse still, the speech revealed Sharon had no plan, as he echoed the same contradictory themes he had offered for many months. He declared, "We will continue to fight terrorism and terrorists with all our might and will intensify our activities." (However, in the real world Sharon promptly retreated further, promising Israel will halt its bombings and targeted killings.) Then, after reiterating he would do all in his power "to bring an end to violence and terrorism," Sharon said he would "continue to meet with Palestinian officials." What is that if not a violation of his constantly reiterated pledge not to negotiate under fire? The goal was the same old Peres-style pie in the sky. A "ceasefire" to followed by "painful compromises" by Israel "for the sake of real peace."

The only new element in the speech was the promise of "marking buffer zones and placing obstacles along them" to achieve "security separation." While Sharon gave no clue as to what this meant, columnist William Safire has since reported Sharon plans to create two mile strips of land with mobile patrols alerted by electronic sensors. Aaron Lerner of Independent Media Review and Analysis is surely right in what he fears: that these zones are merely a stopgap measure to make the PA's war of attrition more palatable to the Israeli public. In fact, Sharon's proposal is a variation of the notion of building "A Wall" around the state and the objections AFSI offered to the Wall apply equally to "buffer zones." We quote from the September-October 2001 Outpost (simply substitute "buffer zone" for "wall"): "As Prof. Steven Plaut points out, no wall will prevent incursions by terrorists, who will 'dig under, run around, sail around, and shoot over even the strongest wall,' while the areas beyond the Wall will be 'the familiar PLO Nazi-style training grounds and launching points.' And what about Israel's large Arab citizenry within the Wall (even were it to follow the 1949 borders), much of it already an active fifth column?....Michael Ledeen reminds us of George Patton's observation that defensive fortifications are a monument to human stupidity, as centuries of shattered barricades, trenches, moats, and walls testify."

Tourism Minister Benny Elon says that Sharon rejects the advice of cabinet members like himself who urge that the PA be dismantled, comparing this to the bad counsel to Absalom of Achitophel. Sharon would do better to hearken to the words of Ezekiel: "They have led my people astray, saying: Peace, and there is no peace; and when he builds up a partition, behold, they daub it with whited plaster...and when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you: Where is the daubing with which you have daubed it?...The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it." (Ezekiel 13:10-15)

Walls, buffer zones, electronic fences (behind these, in Lebanon, the Hezbollah has even now installed Iranian Fajr-5 missiles capable of reaching the suburbs of Haifa) are worse than useless, providing the illusion of increased security while doing nothing in the long run to improve public safety. There is no answer but the one which Israelis know in their hearts -- however reluctant they may be to accept it -- is inevitable. That is the military destruction of the Palestinian Authority, the explulsion of all terrorists and those who help them, and Israeli sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


Reflections on Iran, Iraq, & the Gulf Wars ...3

An Open Letter to Prof. Yehuda Bauer ...9

March 2002               - 1 -               Outpost


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