I was planning to write this article last Sunday but events around the Gaza Strip were more important. Former Chief of Staff Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, when he was not busy with the Galant letter shtick, talked once about the unsatisfactory way in which the Second Lebanon War ended and said that at the end of the next war in Lebanon, nobody should have any doubt as to who had won. Well – four years later and again the IDF and the state of Israel end another round of fighting against terrorists who wish to destroy us in a very unsatisfactory way. These terrorists, and the people of Israel, are unclear as to who has won. Now, that a few hours have passed without a rocket exploding in the centre of an Israeli civilian suburb (in the Middle East they call it a cease fire), I will finally get to the article I wanted to write on Sunday.
I thought I will use the 100th article to relate to a few issues that came up in the past regatding the site itself and its author. I will start with the site’s name. Someone once wrote to me angrily: “What is this name? A dumb name, of settlers.” Well, settler I am definitely not. The name, as many of you would know, is taken from the wonderful Shabbat prayer ‘May it be good in your eyes to bless your people Israel with much courage and peace’ (‘Vatov beEineikha Levarekh et Amkha Israel Berov Oz veShalom’) which was etched into my memory when my children went through their Bar-Mitzvahs and prayed in the synagogue. When I opened the site I thought that the combination of much courage and peace was just what the state and the people of Israel need at this time. By the way, I am not a religious Jew and I do not keep the Mitzvot, but I have no doubt that without two thousand years of maintaining the Jewish religion and traditions, there would not be now a people, or a state, of Israel.
I will move on to the question of affiliation to one political camp or another. Years ago, when I was a student in Jerusalem, I was waiting at a bus stop in Kiryiat haYovel. Another man arrived at the bus stop. His hair and beard were overgrown, he had a strange look in his eyes and he appeared to be mentally unbalanced. He looked me up and down a few times and then, without any foreword, asked directly: “Tell me. Are you a hawk or a dove?” I told him I was a human being. It turned out that the man was a deputy of Meir Cahana in the ‘Kakh’ movement and until the bus arrived he gave me, without me asking for it, a lecture about his racist world view with frequent expressions of the kind the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels used in his feverish speeches against the Jews. I am not a hawk, nor am I a dove. I do not see myself as belonging to any political camp or party. I weigh each situation and event and form my opinion about them in the light of my life experience. It has happened that on the same day, and in response to the same article, I was accused by readers from the right of being financed by the EU or by Iran, and at the same time by reads from the left of being an extreme right fascist who writes only for the mindless ignorant who anyway already held my opinions. The mind boggles. And as for financing – nobody finances this site and there is no financial income from it. I earn my living by doing honest work, like my father before me.
I have already expressed my opinions in matters of courage and peace in previous articles I published here, but I will repeat a few central points that shape my world view.
The supreme achievement of national security is peace (Does that make me a leftist?). When there is no partner for peace, the next best thing is proven deterrence backed by a completely disproportionate response to any act of aggression carried out by the enemy (Does that make me an extreme rightist?).
My father used to say frequently that politics is the art of what is possible. In the Middle East there will be peace only when the two sides will let go of their follies and accept what is possible and what will never happen here. The Arabs will not throw the Israelis into the sea. The Israelis will not transfer the Arabs to Jordan. Jaffa and Haifa will not become Arab cities. Hebron and Nablus will not become Jewish cities. The Seven million descendants of the descendants of the Arab refugees will not return to Israel, just the same as the millions of descendants of Sephardi Jews will not return to Arab countries, not that they would wish to. Those who would try to attack Israel with mass destruction weapons would be hit immediately by similar weapons. Let us hope that this will be an automatic process backed by pre-prepared orders, and which will not require political approval in real time.
A single state for the two peoples will not work here. In the end, Israelis and Arabs will have to divide the territory that lies between the Jordan River and the sea between them and to exchange areas and populations so as to create two completely separate states, each with its own clear national identity and culture. God only knows what relationships these two states will have with each other. What is clear is that if one of them would export terror into the other, the response would have to be, again, completely disproportionate.
Within three to five years one of two states, Israel or Iran, will not exist in the way we now know it. Let us hope it would be Iran.
The real danger to Israel’s peace and national security is internal. I have already written a lot about the direct influence political and economic corruption, violent crime, avoidance of military service, drug consumption and deep poverty have on Israel’s national strength. I am not sure that the state is capable of carrying out the urgently needed root treatment.
It was said before that without vision, the people perish. The state of Israel does not have these days a national vision, nor does it have a national leadership capable of creating such a vision. This will also have to change very soon. Time is not acting in our favour.