1. Israel must be prepared for a massive disproportionate retaliation against Iraq if attacked. Better than retaliation for new missile attacks, Israel should try to pre-empt Saddam's ability to endanger her ever again. Israel's failure to defend itself during the 1991 Persian Gulf War left a damaging psychological scar on the Israeli psyche. The experience of sitting helpless in sealed rooms created the climate for the Oslo appeasement. Israelis felt weak and impotent. After the war, when asked why they supported Oslo, they said they were "fatigued" after four decades of war. They wanted to stop fighting their war of survival. So they accepted the false notion of Oslo with its plan of trading land for "peace."
2. There is no such thing as "territories for peace." It never existed in history and doesn't exist today. Albright's permutation of this concept, the 'phased redeployment plan' (a little territory for a little security), is also a fraud and should be rejected. It has been four and half years since Oslo and Israel has given a lot and received nothing. Now the US wants to let the PA pocket their gains and then sell the security rug to the Israelis for the third or fourth time. If Albright's plan of a little security for a little withdrawal made sense, then total withdrawal (into the sea) would mean total security. They must think that Israelis are idiots. They may be right..
.....Bernard J. Shapiro, Editor
Reprinted from The Jerusalem Post of February 5, 1998
For seven complacent years, Israeli governments under Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres forgot the bitter lessons of Jewish history that culminate in the horror of the Holocaust. They forgot that the State of Israel was born to ensure that "never again" would Jews go meekly to their deaths as so starkly realized in the Nazi gas chambers. And they forgot the fiery determination of the founders of the state that, henceforth, Jews must rely upon themselves and nobody else.
Menachem Begin, at least on one occasion, did remember. He ordered the destruction of the nuclear bomb plant built by Saddam Hussein at Osirik on the outskirts of Baghdad. He did so because of the Iraqi dictator's intention to nuke Israel. Golda Meir also remembered when she ordered her Mossad operatives to kill Palestinian terrorists who slew Jewish athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic games. The Mossad was bold enough to raid Tunisia to kill Abu Jihad, Yasser Arafat's terrorist chief.
In 1991, Saddam Hussein, shorn of his bomb, threatened to burn the ground under the feet of the Jews of Israel and launched his Scuds to do so. One can well believe that he would not have hesitated to arm his weapons had he the chemicals or biological poison he now possesses and the technical means to do so. Then-premier Shamir hesitated, as usual, to do anything. He was pressed hard by both Moshe Arens and Binyamin Netanyahu to ignore president's Bush's pressure not to lift a finger in retaliation. Rightly, both men warned that inactivity would destroy Israel's proven ability to retaliate should the country be threatened by its enemies in the future.
Today there is a strong feeling in the US that Bush made the mistake of his life when he listened to Middle Eastern oil interests who persuaded him not to finish off Saddam Hussein. Bill Clinton meanwhile has stymied all possible methods to undermine Saddam or help create a realistic Iraqi opposition internally or in exile.
Without sounding parochial about the matter, the non-Jewish world's failure to handle the global menace of Saddam Hussein was not Israel's business. It was, however, very much a vital matter for the Jewish state. Surely the very fact that its citizens had to don gas masks in sealed rooms must have struck a chord somewhere. And certainly the very term "gas masks" should have sent a screaming message to the men who run the country. The memory of gas. Concentration camps. Six million who perished by gas. Didn't they remember?
BUT, like an ostrich who buries his head when danger threatens, the men who run the country and the military establishment looked the other way as UN inspectors became more and more alarmed at the growing evidence that Saddam Hussein was moving heaven and earth to build up his non-nuclear arsenal.
As a disgruntled intelligence and commando action specialist put it to us: "This country has spent billions of dollar in its military and security service since 1991. There are hundreds and I would say thousands of Israeli operatives who had and still have the ability to organize and put into action a plan to eliminate Saddam Hussein. Nothing but nothing whatsoever was done. And it could have been done - believe me we had the talent to do so But the will at the top was lacking."
Israel has an account to settle with Saddam Hussein. What the Americans or British or any one else does to get rid of him is not the Jewish state's business. Israelis after all had to scuttle into their holes when he fired his Scuds at them - nobody else. Is it not shameful when generals and the defense minister line up and advise Israeli citizens to get the latest gas masks to, maybe, passively protect themselves against a possible attack?
Tel Aviv residents are neither stupid nor panic mongers. They rush to get their gas masks, buy antibiotics and even talk about leaving the country because they no longer feel safe. The soothing official words belie the knowledge that Saddam Hussein is capable of anything as nobody can ever know what goes on in his head.
Let us be blunt. Our leaders have let the country down by failing over the past seven years to settle accounts with the Jews' greatest enemy since Adolf Hitler. It is a galling irony that Saddam Hussein today, like Hitler, puts his trust in poisonous gas for solving the Jewish problem. And it is just as painful to learn that the message brought to Israel last week by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was that Jerusalem should refrain from turning the Iraqi crisis into a personal matter between Israel and Iraq? In other words: Don't hit back because it might upset US plans to win the favor of Middle Eastern Arab countries. The lady was angered when Netanyahu and his ministers refused.
Let us pray that memories of what happened a mere half century ago will stiffen the resolve of the entire leadership, both in government and opposition, to remember the circumstances of how and why Israel became a Jewish state in 1948.
(c) Jerusalem Post 1998
Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg are Jerusalem Post columnists.