Middle East

Middle East

No to a Palestinian State

Home demolitions, West Bank
The Israeli army destroys a Palestinian home in Durra, near the West Bank Israeli settlement of Otniel, Dec. 28, 2002 (Photo: AFP).

Is a Palestinian state within Israel a foregone conclusion? Certainly not, even though our government and our media want us to believe that it is and try hard to suppress any opposition to the creation of such a state. Evidence for such suppression came in the form of two utterly horrendous undemocratic events that occurred this past week in Israel.

Israeli police and Communications Ministry personnel raided the ship from which Arutz-Sheva Israel National Radio broadcasts at 1 p.m. on Dec. 24, halting the station’s signal for over an hour. The police photographed equipment and workers but confiscated nothing. The ship’s captain was warned not to resume transmission of the broadcasts. The raid ended at approximately 2:15 p.m. The Arutz-Sheva management noted that this was the first time in the history of Israeli offshore broadcasting—including Abie Nathan’s Voice of Peace ship [1973-93] and 15 years of Arutz-Sheva broadcasts—that the police have ever made such a raid. The radio station said that not even under the governments of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak were police ever sent to raid a ship broadcasting from outside Israel’s territorial waters. Arutz-Sheva broadcasts from those waters in order to circumvent legislation that prohibits privately owned radio stations from airing nationwide. Although a law duly passed by the Knesset granted Arutz-Sheva a broadcasting license, it was recently nullified by the Supreme Court, due to a petition from the left. Arutz-Sheva is the only radio voice opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

National Union party leader and Knesset member Avigdor Lieberman said that the raid was nothing more than political scheming, based on election-campaign considerations and revenge for Arutz-Sheva’s clear policy against a Palestinian state. Knesset member Tzvi Hendel said that this was a case of “political persecution on the eve of elections” and demanded that Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin open an immediate investigation into how this occurred. Knesset member Uri Ariel said that the raid was an attempt to “shut mouths.” And Knesset member Benny Elon said that the authority of the Supreme Court—which put a freeze on a duly passed Knesset law legalizing Arutz-Sheva—must be curtailed “in order to prevent it from making a mockery of Israel’s democracy.”

The second event was Moshe Feiglin’s disqualification as a candidate for Likud leadership by the Election Committee, which cited his past conviction for “sedition.” The conviction was due to a series of nonviolent protests organized by Feiglin against the Oslo process. A number of the nonviolent protests included the temporary blocking of roads. It is noteworthy that while Feiglin and others associated with the handful of temporary roadblocking incidents in protest of Oslo were prosecuted for their action, to this day Knesset member Amir Peretz [of the Am Echad Party] has never been charged for what may reach billions of dollars of damage he is responsible for due to illegal strike and protest activity, which the [Israeli labor union] Histadrut carried out over the years under his direction.

While Feiglin closed a few crossroads down for a few minutes, Peretz’s group has illegally closed down major highways for hours at a time—in one action even physically blocking the runways at Ben Gurion Airport. Besides illegally blocking roads, over the years Peretz’s organization violated orders to return to work and engaged in other illegal activity that has cost the Israeli public and economy dearly. According to Knesset member Michael Kleiner, banning Feiglin is like banning Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi for nonviolent disobedience to free blacks and Asian Indians.

However, most disturbing of recent events is the metamorphosis of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. What has happened to Sharon? What brought about this change? Here is a paragraph from his autobiography, Warrior, published in 1989 (page 402):

“When Begin brought the autonomy plan to the government, many in his Herut (Likud) party found it insupportable, a betrayal by Begin of the Jewish claim to Eretz Israel. My own reaction was that the plan was loaded with danger. It could easily, I said, become a Balfour Declaration for the Palestinians and might well lead to a second Palestinian state (in addition to Jordan), something no Israeli with any regard for the country’s safety could agree to.”

On the other hand, a recent article that appeared in the newspaper Ma’ariv about a blowup that Sharon had with a very popular Likud Knesset member, Zahi Hanegbi, is indicative of the new Sharon. Hanegbi ranks third on the Likud list, preceded only by Sharon and Netanyahu. The first 10 Likud members on the list, in fact, are all against a Palestinian state, with one exception—Ariel Sharon. At the said meeting, Sharon demanded that his ministers in the Likud show a united front and endorse the idea of a Palestinian state.

The Ma’ariv article quotes Sharon as saying: “We should all give the same message; i.e., that Israel would be willing to give the Palestinians a state that not the Turks, not the British, not the Egyptians, and not the Jordanians agreed to give them.”

When the shocked Likud ministers tried to tell Sharon that favoring the creation of a Palestinian state was against the Likud platform, against Likud party bylaws, and against the decision of the Likud Central Committee, Sharon told them to shut up, clearly saying that he would not allow people in his government who oppose him on the issue of a Palestinian state.

It is extraordinary that we allow Sharon to become a virtual dictator. Caroline B. Glick, deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, indirectly answered a question I posed in the past—“Are the People Allowed to Decide?”

Glick said: “The same people who foisted upon us the Oslo process, the same people who brought us Arafat and the murder of 1,000 Israelis since 1994, still determine what we can and cannot say, and what we can or cannot discuss. Sharon himself said in an interview in September of this year, before Rosh Hashana, that the Oslo agreements are dead. And now in December, he says that Israel must abide by all the concessions that the Oslo government made from 1993 to 2000 to Yasser Arafat.”

Aaron Lerner, a recent guest on my radio program, also feels that the democratic process in Israel is not working. In May of this year, the Likud Central Committee voted overwhelmingly against a Palestinian state. Sharon walked out in a huff and said that he would do what he wants. The rank and file of Likud people are opposed to a Palestinian state. Nonetheless, there is a massive campaign to convince the public that a Palestinian state is a foregone conclusion. Yet, the opposite is shown by the polls that ask any kind of detailed questions. For instance, the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research of  Tel Aviv University found in an opinion survey conducted two weeks ago that less than a third of Israeli Jews polled would agree to the Palestinians having sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Sharon did not always consider the Women for Israel’s Tomorrow: Women in Green [a right-wing grass-roots activist women’s organization founded in 1993—WPR] as being in opposition to his policies and, therefore, needing at all costs to have outlets for their voices silenced. After 1993, Ariel Sharon and the Women in Green were both fighting against the Oslo accords and against the creation of a Palestinian state.

When Sharon was elected prime minister, he thanked Women in Green for their part in achieving success for the national camp.

It is with great sadness that the Women in Green think back on the days when we considered Ariel Sharon our hero. We are no longer together in the struggle for, as Sharon wrote to us, the “legitimate rights for Eretz Israel and a United Jerusalem.”

Sharon may have abandoned these goals for what he thinks are pragmatic reasons or because of unbearable pressures from the United States. Maybe his attitude now goes under the heading of “facing reality.”

Rather than falling in line with such defeatist thinking, we should read what Hashem said to Joshua after Moses’ death: “Be strong and courageous, for it is you who will cause this people to inherit the land that I have sworn to their fathers to give them.” (Joshua 1:6) To all our friends, Jews and Christians, who believe in the Bible: This should be an encouragement for all of us. We may have many enemies, but with G-d’s help we will fight together to ensure Israel’s survival. We need to be passionate; in these crucial times we cannot afford to be complacent.

The struggle for Israel’s survival should occupy our thoughts—morning, noon, and night.

Continually write, fax, e-mail, and telephone your senators, your representatives, and President George W. Bush that the creation of a Palestinian terrorist state is a danger, not only for Israel but for all of  Western Judeo-Christian civilization.

The author is co-chairwoman of Women for Israel’s Tomorrow: Women in Green.