The battle without doubt is coming. Israel can beat a retreat and later fight at the convenience of the enemy. (Surely Mr. Natanyahu had contingency plans for just such an outbreak by the Arab enemy, or did he really think he had plenty of time and that the deadly enemy of Israel would delay his assault when he thought the time ripe for him. That the time was ripe for the enemies of Israel is perhaps suggested by the fact that Mr. Netanyahu wants to have a meeting with Arafat that Arafat refuses to agree to.
Leaving aside the matter that Mr. Netanyahu resorts to the humiliation of agreeing to meet with a terrorist who once again -- no new revelation -- broke his agreements, note how sure Arafat is of himself to make demands. Clearly, in this chess match, Israel is losing.
I for one don't know what Israel ought to do now, since this depends on the Israeli government's estimate of Israel's strength. But if Israel is strong, she must take the occassion of Arafat's overreaching to take back her country. This could be bloody and painful, but it ought not to be timid. NEW FACTS need to be created while Israel has the upper hand, which may not be for long, as the enemy digs in and gets new reinforcements.
The new crisis should leave no doubt that Israel has no peace partner and it is time move the enemy back and away from vital nerve centers. The nine mile chock point should be undone. The Arab sections of Jerusalem and Hebron must be pushed back to relieve pressure on the city. At the end of the day, Arafat and his army must learn that they are much further away from their goal of rolling back Israel. Anything less will reward Arafat and consolidate his triumph, prove the Israeli leftists' allegation that resistance to the Arabs is futile, and that Israel is in a free fall.
I said my Tehilim this morning and will be tuned to developments. I hope I will be able to say that this will be a Chag Someach.
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Taken at the flood, it leads on to victory.
Omitted, all the voyages of our lives
are cast in shallows and in miseries.
- from Julius Ceaser
Is this a rising tide, and are we at the flood?
David Basch is an architect and city planner in New York and is the Freeman Center's political philosopher.