It has been said a people gets the government it deserves. Did Israel deserve the Likud-led government of Ariel Sharon when he betrayed the nation by adopting Labor’s “unilateral disengagement” policy, a policy rejected by a vast majority of the public in the January 2003 election?
Quoted by Middle East expert Daniel Pipes, Sharon had warned the nation that “unilateral withdrawal is not a recipe for peace. It is a recipe for war.” Therefore, Pipes denounces Sharon for adopting Labor’s policy of withdrawing from Gaza. Sharon, says, Pipes, is guilty of “reneging on his promises, betraying his supporters, and inflicting lasting damage on Israeli public life.”
Israel did not deserve a turncoat prime minister like Ariel Sharon. Nor does Israel deserve the Kadima prime minister of Ehud Olmert, who is nothing but a shadow of his comatose predecessor. Olmert’s public approval rating hovers around 5%. What entrenches him in power is Israel’s unrepresentative system of government. Since members of the Knesset are not individually elected by and accountable to the voters in constituency elections, Israeli prime ministers can ignore public opinion with impunity. Lack of accountability allows them to conclude agreements with terrorist organizations and release thousands of terrorists without public debate.
Lacking Jewish national pride, prime ministers such as Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ehud Barak shook the bloodstained hands of Yasser Arafat. Today Ehud Olmert shamelessly consorts with Mahmoud Abbas who calls Arab suicide bombers “martyrs.”
During the past 30 years, and regardless of which party or party coalition has ruled the state, it has pursued the irrational and suicidal policy of “territory for peace.” The 30-year longevity of this policy means it has been institutionalized. Its persistence is the result not only of flawed politicians but of flawed political institutions which entrench these politicians in power despite the disastrous consequences of that policy: 10,000 Jewish casualties.
Some critics contend that the policy of “territory for peace” is symptomatic of a “national death wish.” There is no scientific basis for this contention, which I deem pernicious since telling Jews they suffer from a national death wish cannot but undermine their self-confidence. Besides, the land-for-peace policy has been rejected by objectively formulated public polls and by mass demonstrations.
For example, a poll conducted during the 1992 election campaign reported that no less than 55% of Israel’s Jewish population—excluding the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza—agreed that these areas ought to “remain under Israeli rule, even if this meant hindering the peace process.” [Emphasis added.] Only 33% favored “land for peace.” Accordingly, the Labor Party campaigned against negotiations with the PLO. Once entrenched in office, however, Labor betrayed its pledge to the nation. In fact, Labor had been engaging in clandestine and illegal negotiations with the PLO for years prior to the election. It was those negotiations that produced the disastrous Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement of September 13, 1993.
Moreover, one week before Oslo, some 450,000 Jews assembled in Jerusalem and demonstrated against the Rabin Government and its “land-for-peace” policy.
Now consider a poll commissioned by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA). The poll, reported in The Jerusalem Post on June 7, 2002, asked four questions:
- “Do you support the proposal that Israel withdraw to the pre-Six Day War lines and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state in return for peace …?” Jews: 56% against.
- “If it were possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, would you support, or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian State?” Jews: 66% against.
- “Do you support the proposal that Israel withdraw to the pre-Six Day War lines—including the Golan, the Jordan Rift Valley, the Old City of Jerusalem—and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state in return for peace …? Jews: 80% against.
- “Do you support the proposal that Israel withdraw to the pre-Six Day War lines—including the Golan, the Jordan Valley, the Old City of Jerusalem, and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state—and allow Palestinian refugees the right of return to Israel instead of receiving compensation—in return for peace with the Palestinians?” Jews: 93% against.
The results of this poll indicate that a large percentage of Jews, whether for religious or cultural reasons, are wedded to the Land of Israel and oppose sacrificing part of it for “peace.”
The results of this poll also reveal that the more Israelis are made aware of the strategic assets they must surrender for “peace”—and I have not mentioned the loss of crucial water reserves and increased vulnerability to missile attacks—the more they oppose a Palestinian state. Clearly, the Jews of Israel do not believe genuine and abiding peace is possible with the Palestinian Arabs. And this is not all.
A University of Haifa poll released on June 21, 2004 revealed that 64% of the Jewish public in Israel believes that the government should encourage Israeli Arabs to emigrate. 55% said Israeli Arabs endanger national security, while 45% said they support revoking Israeli Arabs’ right to vote and hold political office.
But more significant than any poll were the results of that 2003 election, when the parties that opposed the Left’s defeatist policy of “disengagement” won 69 seats in the Knesset—and I am excluding the 15 seats won by Shinui which opposed “unilateral disengagement.”
The trouble in Israel is its system of governance, a system that tolerates treason and even makes it respectable!
As demonstrated by Attorney Howard Grief, since Oslo, Israel’s ruling elites have repeatedly violated various sections of the Penal Law on treason. Petitions to the Supreme Court challenging the legality of Oslo have been dismissed as beyond the court’s jurisdiction. This is the same leftwing court whose former president Aharon Barak said “everything is justiciable.”
Meanwhile Israel’s supposedly rightwing parties condone this anarchic or lawless state of affairs, which allows prime ministers to discard Jewish land as if it were private property. Here is an issue that should concern supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu who surrendered Jewish land to the PLO at the Wye Summit in 1998 and failed to vote against “disengagement” from Gaza and northern Samaria despite the warnings of Israel’s highest defense and intelligence officials.
I dare say that no present member of the Knesset can be relied upon to provide the kind of leadership Israel desperately needs. All have been tainted by an obsolete and corrupt political system that puts personal and partisan interests above the national interest. Even the best and the brightest descend to the level of intellectual pygmies when it comes to ideological and institutional issues. So, as I have said in the past, we need a new kind of leadership:
1. Israel’s critical situation compels me to say again that we need a team of 10 eminent people representing diverse professions and sectors of Israeli society. The team must be committed to:
- Jewish sovereignty over all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean;
- A Constitution that prescribes:
- The Jewish essence of the state as the state’s paramount principle;
- Personal election of MKs to replace anonymous party slates;
- A Presidential system to replace multi-party cabinet government;
- A Supreme Court with limited jurisdiction and whose rulings can be overturned by an extraordinary majority of the Knesset.
2. The team will “recruit” a prime ministerial candidate capable of attracting religious and non-religious voters.
3. The team will form a political party representing a consortium of non-parliamentary nationalist and religious groups.
4. The key slogan of this party is “Empower the People.” We must tell the people the truth: They have been effectively disenfranchised by an undemocratic and corrupt system of government. One government after another has deceived and betrayed them by pursuing the irrational and suicidal policy of “land for peace.”