BEING A LEADER
(An open letter to Ariel Sharon)
By Boris Shusteff
Mister Prime Minister, the time has come for you to assert yourself as a leader - a leader of Israel and the Jewish people in our eternal homeland. There have been a great many prime ministers and presidents all over the world throughout the last few centuries, but only a few of them demonstrated real leadership. You still have the chance to become one of those who will forever be remembered by the Jewish people.
Human beings are famous for the mistakes that they make - these mistakes are human nature. However, again only a few can honestly admit to making the mistake and then act to correct it. This is especially true for those who stand at the helm of a nation, since the whole world watches their every move. In such a position, it is far easier to sweep an error under the rug and only later, after leaving the position of power and scrutiny, to admit this or that failure.
The history of the Jewish state and its leaders have seen sufficient examples of such behavior. You were not immune to it either. We all remember Yamit and your role in evacuating this Jewish settlement. We also remember how you admitted that you were wrong to do that. And now, the people of Israel have entrusted you with their fate by electing you their Prime Minister, little more than a year ago.
Speaking at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on January 6, in memory of Rehavam Ze'evi, Moshe Feiglin said about you, "Sharon is the best figure on the Right that anyone could imagine. There has never been a greater military leader than him in Israel, and it would be difficult to find in Israel a politician who has made a greater contribution to the settlement cause."
What Feiglin said is true. However, if you allow the establishment of an Arab state even on a very small part of the lands of Judea, Samaria or Gaza, all your previous efforts will become Sisyphean labors. The enormous stone of Arab hatred will roll down, causing an avalanche of events that will lead to the destruction of the Jewish state.
You made a mistake, a tragic mistake when you changed your vision that Jordan is the Palestinian state. This mistake was exposed to the world on April 13, 2001 when Ha'aretz Magazine published your interview with Ari Shavit. You said, "The one thing that has changed is my view of Jordan as Palestine - and that only because there is a reality here. I never believed there should be two Palestinian states. That is the sole change that has taken place in my positions."
You did not elaborate - and Shavit did not ask - what the reason was for this change. And the answer is simple - geography. You do not want the enemy to obtain an overwhelming strategic depth. You do not want Jordan to become a hostile state. You are worried that if Arafat and his cohorts are pushed into Jordan, the Hashemite regime will topple, and Israel will have to face a contiguous front of militaristic aggressive enemy Arab states on her northern and eastern borders. This is, of course, more troubling than the current situation, in which Jordan serves as a buffer separating Israel from Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
There is very good logic to this approach, but great folly as well.You are not the Almighty. You cannot guarantee that Jordan will forever remain neutral and will not allow Israel's mortal enemies to attack her from Jordan's territory. History makes a very good example of Iran. Not so long ago the Iranian Shah was one of Israel's best friends. Today Iran is at a forefront of the Arab struggle against Israel. The most vitriolic hatred towards the Jewish state emanates now from this former "friend." No one can guarantee that one day Jordan will not follow a similar path.
At the same time a change in your worldview does not change reality. Jordan is Palestine and you know this better than anyone else. While lead by a Hashemite King, it was established as a state of Palestinian Arabs and for Palestinian Arabs. From its inception, this was the portion of British-mandated Palestine that was to be a home for the Arabs of Palestine, who are today labeled "Palestinians." Even as late as twenty-five years ago, before Arafat's new charade of "Palestinian self-determination" began to gather momentum, Arab leaders frequently affirmed the Palestinian nature of the state of Jordan. Examples abound. On March 2, 1976 the Observer reported that "Palestinian Arabs hold 75% of all governmental jobs in Jordan," and three days later the Egyptian Al Ahram reiterated that "Palestinian Arabs control over 70% of Jordan's economy."
Certainly you have not forgotten how on November 13, 1974, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Yosef Tekoah explained to the UN General Assembly:
"[There is] an overwhelming preponderance of Palestinians of West Bank descent in the population of the East Bank, as well as in the Jordanian Government. For instance, Queen Alia, Prime Minister Rifa'i, more than half of the Cabinet ministers and of the members of Parliament, the Speaker of the Parliament, the mayor of Amman all hail from the West Bank" (1).
Tekoah's statements were both preceded and echoed by numerous Arab and Jordanian public figures. Nothing changed in the equation between Jordan and Palestine after August 23, 1959 when the Prime Minister of Jordan stated, "We are the Government of Palestine, the army of Palestine and the refugees of Palestine" (1). This is why on December 9, 1970, Dr. Kadri Toukan, a former Foreign Minister of Jordan,
and himself a Palestinian Arab, declared that "Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan"(1). And this is exactly why another Palestinian Arab, former Jordanian Defense Minister Anwar Nusseibi stated on October 23, 1970, "The Jordanians are also Palestinians. This is one State. This is one people. The name is not important" (1).
The Arabs continued to repeatedly affirm on the world stage that the Palestinian Arabs are exercising their political and national rights as a people in the state of Jordan. Sherif Al-Hamid Sharaf, representative of Jordan at the United Nation's Security Council, declared on June 11, 1973,
"The new Jordan, which emerged in 1949, was the creation of the Palestinians of the West Bank and their Brothers in the East. While Israel was the negation of the Palestinian right of self-determination, unified Jordan was the expression of it."
Mr. Prime Minister, you were right, not to believe there should be two Palestinian states. Jordan is no less a Palestinian state today than it was a quarter century ago. This fact has recently become obscured by the noise of the "Palestinian struggle for self-determination" in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It is the time for you to reassert this position and admit that you made a mistake speaking about a second state for the Palestinian Arabs. You must eliminate any ambiguity in this question. In your remarks on February 7 at the White House, after meeting with President Bush, you said, "...at the end of the [political] process, I believe that a Palestinian state, of course, will be -- we would see a Palestinian state." The American President in his turn stated that, "We, too, of course, support a Palestinian state... one that recognizes that Israel's got a right to exist."
Mr. Prime Minister, you know perfectly well that the political process has nothing to do with the Palestinian state. It already exists. You could have shown courage right away by pointing out to President Bush that there is already a Palestinian state that recognizes Israel's right to exist - it is Jordan.
When a former Prime Minister admits his mistakes after leaving office he is unable to correct them. He does not have the power he once did, his potency is gone, and it no longer matters that he now understands his errors. It is only while still in the prime-ministerial chair that he still has the ability to correct a mistake made in that role.
Your concern about Jordan falling under Arafat's control is legitimate. However, you can kill two birds with one stone. You must first eliminate Arafat and his gangs, and afterwards you can advocate the resettlement of Palestinian Arabs from Israel, Judea, Samaria and Gaza into Jordan among their Palestinian brethren.
Two states cannot exist to the west of the Jordan River. Palestine was already unevenly split in two over half a century ago. The Arabs received the far larger part. It is three times bigger than the tiny sliver of land where the Jews are trying to exercise their right of self-determination. We, the Jews, are a people that dwells alone. By allowing the Arabs to remain in Eretz Yisrael we keep alive their hope of getting rid of us. It is a terrible disservice both to the Arabs and to the Jews. The Jews and the Arabs must be separated. Within the last fifty years almost all the Jews have already abandoned the Arab countries in which they once lived. It is long past time for the Arabs to leave western Eretz Yisrael.
Mr. Prime Minister, you have a great example to follow. "Moses is the highest example of the most successful kind of leader: a visionary who is willing and able to use force to accomplish his mission" (2). Maybe in the face of the deeds that you have to accomplish they will look to many people like evil. You will have to put to death hundreds of people who have been systematically programmed to seek Israel's destruction. You will have to uproot a couple million of men, women and children who are already suffering, for many years betrayed and manipulated by their leaders.
This is a task only for a great leader. Machiavelli had explained that "if Moses had said to the idolaters, 'Let us reason together,' he would have failed. In these circumstances, to do good - to adhere to the Sermon on the Mount - is to guarantee the triumph of evil" (2). This is the burden that a real leader must carry. "If you lead there will be occasions when you will have to do unpleasant, even evil things, or be destroyed" (2).
The actions that you will have to take must benefit Israel - the only country that the Jewish people has. You must lead the Jewish state to its survival, to guarantee its future in spite of Arab designs and desires. Immediate peace through negotiation might be a noble goal, but guaranteeing a future for the Jewish people in Eretz Yisrael, leading to a more lasting peace in the long run is a much more noble task.
"Just as the quest for peace at any price invites war, and worse, than war, defeat and domination by your enemies, so good acts sometimes advance the triumph of evil. There are circumstances when only doing evil ensures victory of a good cause" (2)
Mr. Prime Minister, you do not have to take on the role of the Almighty in determining which way one or another Arab country will go. You should do what you can for your own state as the Prime Minister at whose disposal is the whole might of the country. As Machiavelli noticed, "All the armed prophets won, the disarmed went to their ruin." Mr. Prime Minister, do not forfeit your chance, while the Jewish people still trusts you. 02/11/02
1. Yosef Tekoah. "In the Face of the Nations: Israel's Struggle for Peace", Simon and Schuster, 1976.
2. Michael Ledeen. What Machiavelli (A Secret Jew?) Learned from Moses. Forward, May 14, 1999.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.