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33rd Year of Publication

   DECEMBER 2003 -  Issue #162    


Israel Adrift

Herbert Zweibon

Ben Stein, writing in the October edition of The American Spectator, remarks that "The Civil War battlefields tell us that we are a nation of idealists and a nation of heroes, and that no matter what the struggle, no matter how difficult or long, we will fight it out until the end."

There was a time when that description could have been applied to Israeli society as well, a time when Israel's political and military leaders were committed to doing whatever had to be done to safeguard the nation's security--and when they helped inspire their nation to stand tall and stand fast. And cabinet minister Ariel Sharon was among the most vocal and steadfast of those voices.

In a 1990 interview with Yediot Ahronot, after a series of Arab knifings of Jews, then-Housing Minister Sharon said: "What has happened to us? How can it be that children have to be escorted to their schools in the heart of Israeli cities? How can it be that 18 year-old female soldiers are afraid to wait at a bus stop?...The problem must be dealt with in Jerusalem, in Judea and Samaria...First and foremost, deport all of those directly responsible for incitement...Use all legal means to carry out deportations against those who harm Jews...Enable soldiers and commanders, who are currently not being given a free hand, to act as they must. We are locked in a battle. It is a war...Soldiers and border police must know that they can shoot to kill when their lives are endangered. And whoever fails to shoot in such a situation, should be punished."

Yet under Prime Minister Sharon, soldiers who shoot at mobs of Arab rioters are still periodically court-martialled and punished. The Israeli Army still fights with its hands tied, risking soldiers' lives to avoid harming Arab bystanders. When was the last time that Israel deported either "inciters" or "those who harm Jews"? The most that terrorists can expect is a prison term that will only last until the next lopsided prisoner exchange. As for fear of bus stops -- today the fear extends to the buses themselves, which are regularly blown to pieces by Arab suicide bombers. These are difficult problems for any society, but they are not insurmountable, especially not for Israel, a nation founded on the ideal of self-sacrifice. But to win, the nation needs leaders who respond to terror with force, not appeasement.

Instead, Israelis today are saddled with leaders who have adopted the defeatist view that a Palestinian state is inevitable and that Israelis are "occupiers." What could be more damaging to the public's confidence and morale? Israelis watch as their government negotiates with Abu Mazen and Ahmed Qurei, ludicrously pretending that they are not Arafat's representatives. And it negotiates with Hezbollah, instead of bombing Hezbollah into oblivion. Worse, Sharon is preparing to set free hundreds of terrorists -- thus endangering the lives of Israeli citizens -- in exchange for one kidnapped Israeli, thus inviting more kidnappings. The public has a right to expect that the Israeli Army will hit hard at known terrorists -- yet the Sharon government has adopted a policy of using smaller and less effective missiles when striking at terrorists who happen to be situated near civilians (as most Palestinian terrorists are).

Ben Stein concluded his powerful essay by pointing out that "courage is the primary, indispensable element of a people and a nation."

Israelis are courageous people, but to sustain that courage in the face of daily terrorism and international pressure, they need leaders who will inspire them. Ariel Sharon's policies demonstrate that he is no longer such a leader.  

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


Bush's War Aims in Iraq   by Rael Jean Isaac ...3

War Means Never Saying You're Sorry   by Jack Engelhard ...6

Europe: Number One Danger to World Peace   by Michel Gurfinkiel ...7

The Vatican's New Realism About Islam   by Robert Spencer ...8

December 2003               - 1 -               Outpost


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