News bulletins on the evening of February 26 announced that the Labor Party central committee, convulsed by mutual recriminations, had voted to join a national unity government. But the inclusion of Labor muddied rather than settled the main question raised by the election: when and in what way will Ariel Sharon begin to govern and deal with the endemic violence and breakdown of order consequent to the Arab assault? Labor's entry begged other questions at the center of Israel's inbred and compromised ruling cadres. Why did Sharon invite Labor to steer the ship from which the voters just tossed them? Examining post-Six Day War political behavior helps us to understand the current frustrating and dangerous scenario.
No one better embodied Israel's crisis of identity than her famed general Moshe Dayan. In 1967, Dayan led Arabs fleeing from Hebron back to that city where they and their ancestors had slaughtered and driven out the Jewish population. Rather than keeping the Temple Mount under Jewish administration, thus ensuring Jewish access, Dayan promptly returned administration of the Temple Mount to the Muslims, telling them he hoped they would respect Israel's "historic and traditional ties" to the holy place. Religion, that is for Muslims, his actions suggested.
During that miraculous Six Day War, when the Jewish people's attack against their massed enemies brought them back to their heartland, it was the colorless Labor Party functionary Levi Eshkol who was moved by pleas from the residents of upper Galilee, long subject to Syrian shelling on their settlements. It was Eshkol who ordered the liberating attack on the Golan Heights. Dayan resisted and had to be directly ordered by Prime Minister Eshkol to carry it out.
Yet shortly after that war, it was Dayan who began defining the situation as transcending foreign policy. Rather, he insisted, it was "first and foremost a question of inner will and inner faith," questions that only Jews could answer. And "first and foremost is the question, 'What are we and what do we believe in?'" Dayan, who himself embodied the crisis of Israeli identity, recognized that doubts about the right of Jews to the Land was an "axe swung against the roots of our labor." The man who surrendered effective control of the Temple Mount and sowed the dangers in which Jewish Hebron lives to this day, spoke in religious terms. In winning the war, "we have liberated ourselves from being cut off from Jerusalem which was central to the yearning of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel." And he declared that in conquering the hill country of Judea and Samaria: "We have returned to the Mountain, to the cradle of our people, to the inheritance of the Patriarchs, the land of the Judges and the fortress of the Kingdom of the House of David. We have returned to Hebron and Shechem, to Bethelem and Anatot, to Jericho and the fords of the Jordan at Adam Ha'ir."
Dayan declared that the victory of 1967 had to be a beginning and not an end if it was to lead to life rather than collapse. Victory "imposed a test concerning our belief in ourselves and our knowledge of what we want. If we believe and want it, the map of Israel can be determined by ourselves," he said. "What disturbs me," Dayan commented in words that turned out to be prescient for the Oslo era, then two decades in the future, "is not knowing if we have the same faith we've had since Jews began to immigrate to Israel [in large numbers] about a century ago. What I am afraid of, and it would be a disaster, is that we are losing our heart, our faith."
But if Dayan recognized that "the return to Zion is greater than the state" itself or than any government that speaks for the state, he nonetheless ended his public career by helping to undermine Begin at Camp David I, facilitating the retreat from the Sinai, and paving the way for the retreat from Judea and Samaria, of which
Moshe Dayan surrendered effective control of the Temple Mount and sowed the dangers in which Jewish Hebron lives to this day.
Menachem Begin would reveal a similar identity crisis. His Herut Party had been a longtime opponent of Labor's "partition" Zionism. In 1950, at the height of Jordan's desecration of old Jerusalem, Begin demanded unification of the city under Israeli sovereignty. Herut, which Begin dominated with his powerful personality, insisted that peace treaties could be signed with Arabs "only when they withdrew their forces from the historical territory of the Land of Israel east and west of the Jordan." A characteristic declaration from 1958 asserted that "if Herut comes to power, it will announce that the right of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael in its historical entirety is eternal and unchallengeable."
The 1977 Likud Party platform (the Likud brought together several parties, with Herut as its core),
was almost unchanged from the 1940's Herut
position. "The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel
is eternal and is an integral part of its right to security
and peace." And because this Jewish "right to the Land
is integral to security and peace Judea and Samaria
therefore will not be turned over to any foreign rule.
Between the sea and the Jordan will be only Israeli
sovereignty. Any plan that involves surrender of part of Western Eretz
[(Continued on p.8)]
[(Continued on p.8)]
March 2001 - 7 - Outpost