|Editorial - March 2007|
|By Roland S. Süssmann - Editor in Chief|
Will he resign or won’t he? That’s the question on everyone’s lips when talking about Israel and its politics. But why is Ehud Olmert the most unpopular prime minister in Israel’s history when the security situation is good and the economy is doing well? The answer lies in how he handled the Second Lebanon War, in which one of the main objectives was not achieved, the freeing of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the soldiers taken hostage. Whether or not Ehud Olmert remains in power in the short-term has only relative importance, since the situation on the ground is infinitely more complex. The catastrophic management of the last war by the Olmert government has encouraged the Arabs to believe they won a military victory over Israel. As a result, for the first time since 1973, they imagine that Israel is vulnerable and can be destroyed by force. It is true that a weak prime minister weakens Israel, because weakness invites pressure.
Now Israel is faced with a new and most serious political and military situation, whose consequences will only be able to be measured over time: the creation of a unity government between the PLO and Hamas! The whole idea of the Oslo Accords was to negotiate with the “moderates” among the Arabs living in Palestine, who were inclined to find some sort of modus vivendi with Israel. Despite all Arafat’s lies and the treachery of the PLO, successive Israeli governments have continued to work with this terrorist organization, and the euphemistically named “Palestinian Authority”, the famous PA, today allied officially with Hamas. The fact it was elected in no way obliged Mr. Abbas to make it an ally. A combination of Fatah and Hamas is an enormous, retrograde step, the official announcement that everything that the PLO has declared and negotiated is simply null and void, specifically: recognition of Israel, the renunciation of violence and terrorism, the acceptance of signed agreements between the PA and Israel, the obligation to honor commitments (including the Road Map), and more.
In a word, the old PLO, the one from before the murderous delusions of Oslo, has let its mask of moderation drop and thrown into the garbage can 14 years of unilateral Israeli concessions.
To properly understand the foundations of this new political situation, we must summarize what is happening on the ground. Iran is supporting the Islamic movements and Hizbullah directly finances 40% of the various fighting factions of Fatah. Even more dangerously, the Hamas prime minister does not speak to the population of Arabs living in Palestine from parliament but on Fridays from a mosque. On the military level Hamas is creating a Southern Lebanon in Gaza, where they have rocket and arms factories. Today Gaza has the most armed people in the region apart from Somalia. A recently published estimate says that 100,000 machine guns and every sort of automatic weapons as well as thirty tons of TNT are circulating freely. At the same time Hamas is fortifying the towns of Gaza by setting up an underground network just like there was in Lebanon. So the question for Israel is whether it should attack Gaza or rather wait. We should recall that in Lebanon Israel decided to wait, with results that we all know.
As far as Egypt is concerned, the day after of the expulsion of the Jews from Gaza, it sent in 100 military experts to guarantee a semblance of stability and to prevent excessive arming of the terrorist organizations. Today that presence is reduced to two generals, who, to placate their security staff, spend most of their time in – Tel-Aviv!
Under such conditions, the very idea of creating a Palestinian state in the very heart of Israel appears increasingly absurd. Today there are in fact two distinct situations in the Palestinian areas: Gaza, where Hamas holds sway over the weapons and the money, and Judah and Samaria, where the PLO still has something to say.
Ehud Olmert was elected on a platform of unilateral withdrawal. The Second Lebanon War, a direct result of the disengagement from Gaza, like the second Intifada that was the result of the unilateral retreat from Lebanon under Barak in 2000, has ended the myth of the benefits of unilateralism. The West has understood that Hizbullah and Hamas are not merely “other terrorist organizations”, but in fact a proxy army fighting Iran’s war against the West, an army that receives its orders, its funding and its arms from Teheran in direct collaboration with Damascus, the Shiite insurgents in Iraq and others.
Strangely, this situation has caused Israel to share certain interests with Saudi Arabia, which, notwithstanding a warm welcome in Riyadh by King Abdullah for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, above all fears an Iranian attack, which cannot be excluded, if only because of the decrepit state of Iranian oil infrastructure.
Saudi Arabia is taking the opportunity to relaunch its so-called peace plan, moribund since 2002 and firmly rejected by Ariel Sharon. This plan involves two stages. The first is Israel’s complete withdrawal from defensible borders such as the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and the acceptance by Israel of the settlement of millions of hostile Arabs claiming to be “Palestinian refugees”, born in the refugee camps that have been deliberately maintained since 1948 in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The second stage is that after Israel will have completed these suicidal acts, a so-called peace agreement will be signed involving normal (but not diplomatic) relations with an indefensible Jewish State. The Saudi plan makes no mention of abandoning terrorism and violence against Israeli civilians.
In such conditions, what cards has Israel to play? It has many assets, and on the regional level, an interesting development is occurring: the strengthening of the strategic association formed to combat Iran, the Baku-Istanbul-Jerusalem-Washington military axis. Since the Jewish State is acknowledged worldwide to be a military and economic power, it is being called upon to play a key role in this coalition, which in turn reinforces its position on the military, political, economic and energy levels.
Israel perhaps does not have the government it deserves, but it has the population it deserves: Remarkable and exemplary men, women and children. For years there were slogans announcing that Israelis were tired of fighting, tired of dying for Zionism and their country. But the people have proved to the entire world that it is more than ever determined to fight and suffer to defend the just values of an authentic, democratic Jewish State.
Inspired by this example, we the Jews of the Diaspora are called upon to face up to our responsibilities. These are to strengthen Judaism through Jewish education and to combat assimilation and inter-marriage, so that future generations will not be able to reproach us.
It is in that spirit that the entire team of Shalom wishes you a wonderful Pessach holiday.
Roland S. Süssmann
Editor in Chief