(An open letter to Ariel Sharon)

by Boris Shusteff

Mister Prime Minister, the time for vacillation is over. The sand in you prime-ministerial hourglass is almost gone. If you do not immediately recapture the initiative in the war with the Arabs, you will go down in history as the Israeli prime minister who had the best chance of being remembered as the savior of the nation but instead helplessly forfeited the opportunity.

Pre-election polls clearly showed that Israelis did not believe that you would bring peace. When asked "If Ariel Sharon is elected prime minister will he succeed in reaching a peace agreement?" 57% answered No (Dahaf Poll, January 12, 2001). While they did not expect you to bring them peace, they were also afraid of war. When asked if they "fear that as the result of the conflict with the Palestinians a regional war will break out" 70% said Yes (Gallup poll, October 18, 2000). Moreover, Israelis knew that if they preferred you to Ehud Barak the possibility of the war would increase 250%. When asked "Who has the better chances of causing a regional war?" 46% answered Sharon and only 19% said Barak (Gallup Poll, January 31, 2001). Nevertheless the people brought you to power in a landslide victory, because they trusted that if war were to erupt you would lead them to glory.

Alas, you did not meet their expectations. You, the warrior, one who has saved the Jewish state on several previous occasions, suddenly lost your grip on the situation. The word "war" scared you. For many months you did not want to admit that the Jewish nation was in a state of war with Arafat's gangs. Finally you allowed yourself to use the "w" word,

"but even then you tried to pretend that it was possible to have a situation in which one side - the Arabs - fights the war, and the other - the Jews - is involved in a different activity, which you called "returning fire in self-defense."

A statement released by your press-bureau on March 6 clearly demonstrates that you prefer to remain in an Orwellian fantasy world instead of looking directly at the truth. How else is it possible to interpret the following words:

The war that Israel finds itself in was forced on it by the Palestinian Authority and its Chairman following the Camp David summit in July 2000. Israel never declared war on the Palestinians; Israel is returning fire against the terrorist organizations in the framework of its right to self-defense. He who initiated the war has the power to stop it but he continues to prefer the terrorist war.

When Japan attacked America, the United States declared war on the Japanese. When Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union, the Soviet state declared a war on the Nazis. When Al-Qaida attacked the World Trade Center, America declared a war against terrorism. How in the world can you abstain from declaring War on the Palestinian Arabs?

In the beginning of October, 2001, while participating in a ceremony marking four months since the terrorist murder of Gilad Zar, you told his sister Anat that you knew that in the end there would have to be a "no-choice" war, but that you, as Prime Minister, must determine the "right timing." A week after your "explanation," your friend, Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze'evi, was brutally murdered by Arafat's thugs. Since that day that you spoke to Anat, the number of dead Israelis has doubled, but you are still hesitant to declare war on the murderers.

Your latest moves - dropping the requirement for seven days of "absolute quiet" before negotiating with the Palestinian Arabs, and deciding to unshackle Arafat, and allowing him to leave Ramallah - represent just two more samples in your voluminous portfolio of "un-crossable" red lines that you have crossed. Especially preposterous is your explanation of the decision to allow freedom of movement for Arafat. You said, according to the media, "I promised, that when all the murderers of our Minister are arrested, I will let Arafat go. Since our demands are met we must fulfill our promises."Mister Prime Minister, why are you in such a hurry to fulfill your promises to Arafat before you fulfill your promises to the citizens of your own country? Did you not promise to bring peace and security to the Israelis when you were elected? What right do you have to deceive your own people? Why haven't you declared the plain fact that is obvious to all - that your country is in a state of war?

Every day more and more Israelis are murdered only because you are not brave enough to utter the "w" word. You have many times proudly declared that, first and foremost, you are a Jew. So why then do you violate the tenets of Judaism? Why do you allow innocent Jews all over Eretz Yisrael to be murdered, while trying to preserve the lives of Palestinian Arabs who dance in the streets every time they hear that another Jew was killed?

Perhaps you have forgotten what our sages said about the value of human life, comparing it to an entire world? "The rabbinic belief that each human life is of infinite value has a legal... implication. It means, for example, that saving many lives at the expense of one INNOCENT life is not permitted, since by definition many 'infinities' cannot be worth more than one 'infinity'" (1). Can you count how many INNOCENT lives have been lost since you became the Prime Minister of Israel?

You and your government keep repeating that you will not allow Israel to be dragged into a full-scale war, since this can endanger many more lives. But your procrastination leads to more and more killed and maimed INNOCENT Jews. Every time that a terrorist attack occurs you say that Israel will not respond with full force because "that is exactly what our enemies are waiting for in order to expand the conflict." By doing so you are acting exactly in the manner that is forbidden by our sages. You try to decide whose life is more valuable Gilad Zar's, Rechavam Ze'evi's, Arik Krugliak's, Pinchas Cohen's, the hundreds of others who have been murdered since you became Prime Minister, or the potential lives of other Jews who might be killed if the "conflict expands."

If you want to preserve Jewish lives you must destroy your enemy instead of appeasing it. What cease-fire are you talking about, when the enemy is not defeated? Why do you need this cease-fire? What are you going to talk about with "irrelevant" Arafat? Do you not know what the Arabs demand from Israel? They are not tired of repeating it ad nauseam. For only the first stage they want you to return to the so-called 1967 borders, which in reality are the 1949 armistice lines.And they demand the part of Jerusalem most sacred to the Jews, and the resolution of the so-called "refugee problem," by which they mean the invasion of Israel by millions of Arabs.

Why do you drag your feet, knowing all this? Perhaps you have some clandestine strategic plans that you do not want to share with your own citizens. Have pity on them. Your "cunning" has led to a situation in which the people have completely lost hope. They do not know where they are being dragged by their leaders. They do not know where their country is going. They do not know what to do. They are depressed.

The people are sick and tired of electing leaders that deceive them time and again by betraying promises and principles. Can you imagine what the people think about your policies if even Uzi Landau, during a March 12 Likud ministerial forum, exclaimed, "I do not understand where you are leading us. Who are the experts you consult with, and why don't you consult with us?"

How shall your colleagues understand your response, "You may want to go to war, but I don't"? Take a look at the empty streets of Jerusalem, at the bleeding heart of the Jewish state. Can you imagine any other country in the world that would allow its capital to be desecrated by explosions and shelling without declaring a war against those who commit these atrocities?

You said that you do not want to go to war? But the war has already come to you. You cannot run away from it. The cease-fire for which you strive will not extinguish the Arab hatred. The term "cease-fire" speaks for itself, implying that the fire will be resumed, and therefore that more INNOCENT Jews will be killed.

You were elected to win the War. The Israelis believed in your military genius. How did it come to pass that you have surrendered the initiative to the enemy? Your excuse that you cannot hit Arafat hard since this will complicate America's plans towards Iraq will not stand any ground when the Almighty judges you. Do not even dream that America is planning to topple Saddam Hussein's regime because it cares about Israel. America cares about its own interests. It feels threatened by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, and it will go ahead with its plans regarding Iraq notwithstanding your actions against Arafat.

You might say that if you allowed the IDF to defeat the Palestinian Arabs, then Hizballah would start bombarding Israeli cities. This may be true, but Hizballah's threat is looming over Israel exactly because of the same kind of appeasement policy that your predecessor, another general, conducted before you.

You hold the post of Prime Minister of the State of Israel. Therefore your personal sentiment of "I do not want to go to war" is irrelevant.Your country is already in the midst of this war. Your choice is very limited. Either declare war and unleash all the might of the Israeli army upon the enemies of Israel, or admit your failure and resign. 03/12/02

1. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Jewish Literacy. William Morrow and Company, Inc. New York, 1991.


Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.

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