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Column One: A road paved on reality

Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 25, 2008
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Listening to the news in Israel these days, it is hard to escape the feeling
that the Israeli political discourse has become dangerously irrelevant.

Take Iran for example. On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
told the heads of UN member states, “The dignity, integrity and rights of
the European and American people are being played with by a small but
deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule
minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial
and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of
some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive
manner.”

Ahmadinejad then promised that Israel will soon be destroyed – for the
benefit of humanity.

For these remarks, he received enthusiastic applause from the world leaders
gathered at the UN General Assembly.

And how has Israel responded? It hasn’t done anything in particular. And it
has no intention of doing anything in particular.

This point was made clear to the public on Wednesday when Israel’s new UN
ambassador, Gavriela Shalev, gave an interview to Army Radio. While
bemoaning Ahmadinejad’s warm reception, she said that the world leaders were
probably just being diplomatic. She noted that many of their ambassadors say
nice things about Israel to her in private.
Israel’s woman at the UN devoted most of her interview to defending the UN.
In fact, she said she believes it is her duty not simply to defend Israel to
the world body, but to defend the UN to Israelis. As she put it, her job is
“correcting the UN’s image in the eyes of the people of Israel.”

Shalev’s appointment to the UN was the work of Foreign Minister – and
would-be prime minister – Tzipi Livni. And her view of her role as Israel’s
ambassador is strictly in keeping with what Livni perceives as the job of
Israel’s top diplomats. They are the world’s emissaries to Israel.

Livni has spent the better part of the past three years at the Foreign
Ministry telling us that the UN is our friend, the Europeans are our friends
and that the Americans and Europeans and the UN will take care of Iran for
us. The Palestinians are also our friends.

As anti-Semitic forces grow throughout the world, Livni has not communicated
one single policy for defending Israel abroad that doesn’t involve the
kindness of strangers. Her response to Ahmadinejad’s speech was a case in
point.

The one thing the woman who believes that she has the right to lead the
country without being elected by anyone thinks that Israel should do in
response to Ahmadinejad’s call for our physical destruction is to object to
Iran’s bid to join the UN Security Council. Livni’s only concrete response
to Ahmadinejad’s promise to annihilate us was to issue a directive to
Israel’s embassies telling our diplomats to ask their host governments not
to support Iran’s bid for Security Council membership.

Livni doesn’t actually think Iran is Israel’s greatest challenge. The
Palestinians are. And as far as she is concerned, giving the Palestinians a
state by handing over Judea and Samaria (and Jerusalem, although she never
says it outright), as quickly as possible is Israel’s most urgent task. We
need a two-state solution and we need it NOW, she says.

Neither Livni nor her colleagues in Kadima, Labor and Meretz, nor her
supporters in the Israeli media ever bother to acknowledge the troublesome,
inconvenient fact that the Palestinians don’t want a state. They want to
destroy our state.

This basic fact was made clear – yet again – on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Livni took time out of her busy schedule of political meetings
with Labor, Shas and Meretz leaders with whom she is attempting to build a
government without being elected by anyone, to meet with Fatah’s chief
negotiator Ahmed Qurei. Although Livni refused to tell us what she talked
about, she promised that progress was made toward the urgent imperative of
forming a Palestinian state.

But Qurei was not so enthusiastic. In fact, he was contemptuous of Livni and
of the very notion of peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and
Israel. After the negotiating session, Qurei told Reuters that if the talks
toward an Israeli surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem collapse, the
Palestinians will renew their terror war against Israel. In his words, “If
the talks reached a dead end, what do we do? Capitulate? Resistance in all
its forms is a legitimate right.”

Just to make sure he understood Qurei properly, the reporter asked whether
that meant that the Palestinians would renew their suicide bombing campaign
against Israelis. Qurei responded, “All forms of resistance.”

We have been here, of course, a million times before. This is the same
threat that Yassir Arafat and his men have made – and implemented -
repeatedly since signing the Oslo Accords with Israel 15 years ago. They use
terror and negotiations in tandem to squeeze Israel into giving away more
and more of its land. And it works.

When Livni heard about Qurei’s remarks, she called him and reportedly told
him that they were unacceptable. So he said he was taken out of context. No
skin off his back.

He knew Livni wouldn’t do anything. At the same time that Livni said his
remarks were unacceptable, she pledged to continue negotiating Israel’s
surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem with him for as long as she
remains in power.

Today, Livni and her colleagues in Kadima, Labor, Meretz and Shas are
working fervently toward forming a new government that will continue holding
irrelevant but dangerous negotiations with the Palestinians and the Syrians,
and pretending that Iran’s nuclear weapons are not going to be used against
Israel. They argue that we need the “political stability” that they can
provide us in this dangerous time.

The Israeli media gives these fantasies their full support. Indeed, anyone
who notices that the world is sitting back and allowing Iran to acquire
nuclear weapons or points out that the Palestinians don’t want a state is
immediately shot down as an alarmist and an extremist.

This national discourse – which has been the only one permitted in the
country since the advent of the “peace process” with the PLO 15 years ago -
is Israel’s Achilles’ heel. Until the general public is set clear on the
reality of the world confronting the country, there is no chance that Israel
will take the necessary steps to defend itself and ensure that it survives.

Understanding this basic fact, former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.
(res.) Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon has taken it upon himself to tell the Israeli
public the truth about the world we live in. Ya’alon is a rare bird among
Israel’s current pantheon of luminaries. He is an honest man who lives by
his principles, and he doesn’t bend them, ever.

Last week Ya’alon published a book called The Longer Shorter Road in Hebrew.
Ya’alon, whose tour of duty as Chief of Staff was unceremoniously cut short
by former prime minister Ariel Sharon in June 2005 due to his trenchant
opposition to Sharon’s planned withdrawal of IDF forces and Israeli
civilians from the Gaza Strip, has written a book that sets out the facts of
life clearly, credibly and passionately.

The book’s title is derived from a speech that Ya’alon’s commander, Yoram
Ya’ir, gave to his officers during the First Lebanon War. Ya’ir explained
that short-cuts are not necessarily better than long roads. In fact, it is
often better to take the longest route. As Ya’ir put it, “There is a long
road that is short and there are short roads that are long.”

Ya’alon uses Ya’ir’s point to demonstrate that the Israeli Left’s insistence
on peace “now” and a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict “now” has placed
Israel on a strategic trajectory that has brought it, and will continue to
bring it only bloodshed and danger. Israel’s enemies in the Palestinian
Authority, Lebanon, Syria and Iran view Israel’s insistence on finding
immediate solutions to the threats it faces as a sign that Israeli society
is collapsing.

As a consequence, every step that Israel has made toward appeasing its
neighbors – from recognizing the PLO and bringing Arafat and his legions
into Judea, Samaria and Gaza; to retreating from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in
2005; to failing to properly prosecute the Second Lebanon War in 2006; to
doing nothing to combat Hamas’s regime in Gaza since 2007; to embracing the
false paradigm of peace at Annapolis last November – has strengthened their
conviction that Israel can and will be destroyed.

Ya’alon also dwells on the moral collapse of Israel’s political and media
elite and that collapse’s adverse impact on the senior command echelons of
the IDF. The abandonment of Zionist values and public and private integrity
by our politicians and media has cast and kept Israel on a path of
self-delusion, where the only thing that matters is immediate gratification.
Politicians promise the public “hope” based on illusions of
peace-around-the-corner to win their votes. The media support the
politicians’ lies both because of the media’s post-Zionist ideological
uniformity and due to their refusal to acknowledge that their populist
demands for peace “now” have brought Israel only war and danger.

Ya’alon’s book is part memoir and part polemic. He reminds Israelis of what
it is about us that makes us a great people, worthy of our land and
privileged to defend it. At the same time, he chastises our failed leaders
who have tricked the public into following a strategic path that endangers
us. His book’s greatest contribution is not in providing a set path forward,
but in courageously and unrelentingly explaining the reality that surrounds
us today and in showing the public how it is that we have arrived in our
current predicament.

In exposing himself, his values and his beliefs to the public, and
juxtaposing his own leadership experience and personal integrity with the
corruption and weakness of our political and intellectual leaders, Ya’alon
is telling the public in a very clear way that there is an alternative to
defeatism and self-delusion, and that he – and we the public – represent
that alternative, that “longer shorter road.”

Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and their colleagues on the Left in the
Knesset and the media insist that we not take that longer road to security
and peace. In fact, they deny that it even exists. They attempt to convince
us that elections are unnecessary by arguing that there is no difference
between political parties today, because their short cut to defeat is the
only path available to us.

It must be fervently hoped that Ya’alon will soon enter the political fray.
Like the Likud under Binyamin Netanyahu, Ya’alon is proof positive that
Livni and her cronies are lying. There are great differences between those
that would lead us and the paths they would take.

And the only road to safety is the long road that is paved on reality.

caroline@carolineglick.com

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