DRAGGING OUT THE WAR

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Prime Minister Sharon has said he will not drag the nation into war. Excuse my simplicity, but I thought Israel has long been involved in a war with the Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Arafat may be a pathological liar, but he has not lied about waging war against Israel. Indeed, he declared war against the Jewish state when he was in Johannesburg, the day after he signed the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on September 13, 1993!

Since then Arafat's army of terrorists have killed almost 800 Jews. His army fires rockets on Israeli towns. His suicide bombers kill and maim Jews in shopping centers, in wedding halls, in restaurants, yes, even in Jerusalem, the nation's capital. If this is not war, what is it?

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Sharon, unlike President George Bush, refrains from declaring all-out war against terrorism. Are Jewish casualties less significant than American casualties? Muslim terrorists killed 4,000 people when they hijacked American aircraft and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Palestinian terrorists have killed 200 Jews since Sharon became prime minister. That number is equivalent to 11,000 Americans!

Whatever Mr. Sharon may say, Israel is at war. The former general is not dragging Israel INTO war; rather, he is dragging OUT the war. Various military experts contend that the PA's army can be eliminated in less than a week, and with few Israeli casualties. Far more Jewish lives will be lost under Sharon's inane or insane policy of self-restraint. And as the present author warned last year, the PA will obtain deadlier and deadlier weapons the longer this war is dragged out.

So what is Mr. Sharon afraid of? There is no longer any reason to believe he is being deterred by American pressure. Nor is there any solid reason to believe that elimination of Arafat and the PA will unleash a regional war. No Arab state will risk a war with Israel for Arafat's sake. So what prevents Sharon from eliminating the greatest enemy of the Jewish people since Hitler?

Some say he fears that destruction of the PA will result in the collapse of his so-called government of national unity, that this will lead to new elections and the possibility that his Likud Party will choose Benjamin Netanyahu to be his successor. It's hard to believe that Sharon's personal ambitions outweigh his patriotism.

On the other hand, perhaps he fears that the fall of the Government will cause serious rifts in Israeli society, even if new elections were to result in a decisive Likud victory. As long as Labor remains in the Government and enjoys the power and perks of eight ministries, the Left will not engage in unmanageable subversive activity—or so Sharon may think.

And then there are those who believe that Sharon feels tarnished by Sabra and Shatilla, that he wants to go down in history as the man who finally brought peace to Israel.

It seems to me, however, that Sharon's unwillingness to destroy the PA is to be explained primarily in terms of his inability to pursue an alternative to Oslo, that is, an alternative to a Palestinian state. The fact that he continues to advocate a Palestinian state even though some 80% of the "Palestinians" exalt suicide bombers is symptomatic either of willful self-deception or of intellectual sterility. The latter certainly characterizes his Likud Party: of its 19 Knesset members, only one voted to abrogate Oslo.

Of course, Sharon could say: "After abrogating Oslo and getting rid of Arafat and his PA, what do we do about the Arab inhabitants of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza?"

The present writer addressed this question in a paper published by the Ariel Center for Policy Research. All-too-briefly stated: Israel should (1) declare sovereignty over the areas in question; (2) move certain ministries in these areas; (3) sell small plots of land to Jews in Israel and abroad, and attract foreign capital to develop model cities in this heartland of the Jewish people. If all this was properly orchestrated—and I have not mentioned other required measures—Arabs will emigrate as they have in the past.

Trouble is twofold: Sharon lacks any grandiose vision, which presupposes a wise and dauntless Torah-oriented personality. But even such a personality would be hamstrung by Israel inept and divisive system of multi-party cabinet government.

Returning, however, to the subject of war, unless the PA is destroyed, Israeli society will disintegrate from within—precisely Arafat's objective. Disintegration will be hastened by fragmentary character of Israel political system—its multiplicity of parties, all devoid of any long-range national strategy to preserve Israel as a Jewish state. But no institution is more divisive than Israel's Supreme Court, whose secular agenda will further exacerbate the secular-religious rift. (The Court is simply out of touch with reality—the reality of war. Instead of fostering national unity and civic virtue, it renders decisions that promote moral anarchy and promiscuity!) Only an all-out war can purge Israel of its sickness and prevent it from being Arabized. Here a word from Rabbi Avraham HaCohen Kook, Israel's first Chief Rabbi, is in order. This peace-loving sage wrote:

"War deepens a country's self-cognizance, identity, and patriotism. War forces nations to define the reasons for going to war, and to take a passionate stand in defending the cardinal values which make up the nation's foundations. Whether it be a fight for survival, for land, for expansion, for honor, for religion, or for freedom, the willingness to die in battle sets these issues in sharper focus. In peacetime, these same questions are largely ignored. But with the outbreak of war, to repel an invading army, or to conquer a neighboring people and land, a person needs clear and deep-rooted principles to motivate him to fight. The war is not merely a battle of soldiers. It is a battle of values and principles. In the collision of opposing cultures and forces, each country is compelled to clarify it national aspirations and goals. To overcome the enemy, a nation is called upon to lift up its own cherished flag and defend it to the end."

Would that we had such a rabbi at the helm of state!



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