The recent appointment of Ariel Sharon to head the foreign ministry of Israel is simply another example of too little and too late. One may forgive the cynics who simply see this as a ploy to satisfy the right while preparing yet more surrender and withdrawal. After all, we've witnessed a lot of huffing and puffing and posturing about security and rights, only to be followed by craven appeasement. The result is despair, disgust and disappointment. And, in spite of early enthusiasm for Bibi Netanyahu, his administration is a total disaster. He is simply the wrong man at the wrong time. His ease with the media, his bonhomie with the American Congress, his right sounding theories on economic reform and security concerns would make him tolerable, and, even, likable, if Israel were not at the brink.
But the issue for Israel today does not have to do with economics, markets, housing or labor versus management. It is the viability and survival of the state. The issue is Zionism itself. It is life and death. And Bibi has been catapulted into a maelstrom which he cannot control. He is the wrong man in Israel not because of
Netanyahu is the wrong man because he cannot control his nation's destiny and reverse those forces which are dismembering the state and leading to war and destruction.
Bibi is the wrong man, but the wrong time is not of his making. He has inherited a situation which he has neither the will nor the talent to reversebut he is not the villain here. Let us be perfectly clear about this. Bibi, like Chamberlain, is weak and wrongheaded, but he loves his nation and all its occupants. Nor is the chief villain Shimon Peres, whose hot-air musings, pacifist yearnings, and idiotic bubble (assorted gems were assembled under the title Shimon Says, copies of which are still available from AFSI) should have made him an international laughingstock. The villains are not the seduced citizens of Israel who continue to believe in the hallucinations of Oslo.
The villain of epic proportions is Yitzhak
Rabin, who may not have been the architect of the Oslo
accords, but made them acceptable to an Israeli public which would, but for their faith in him, initially have rejected out of hand the notion of an accord with Yasser Arafat. Israel's Prime Minister is also a de facto commander-in-chief. Rabin was doubly so, since he was also a respected general, chief of staff at the time of Israel's greatest victory in 1967. His greatest villainy was in persuading Israel that the only road ahead was surrender and abrogation of its legitimate historical and strategic rights, when, in fact, the nation's strength and international prestige were at an all time high.
After the Gulf War and the defeat of Bush-Baker, Israel enjoyed a period of unparalleled opportunities. The Soviet Union had crumbled and could no longer arm and encourage its Arab clients. The PLO, which had backed Saddam Hussein, was discredited and defeated. The Arab uprising known as the "intifada" had subsided, and the nation was in the midst of economic resurgence. Instead of rallying citizens with an inspiring view of the future, Rabin persuaded Israelis that they had lost the initiative and the only road was surrender and withdrawal. He restored Arafat's prestige and even elevated him from international criminal to "statesman." He perverted the real meaning of "peace" by defining it as surrender and withdrawal, weakened his own nation and encouraged the murderous designs of its enemies. One must struggle with history books to find another example of a commander-in-chief who reverses hard won victories by surrendering all gains and persuades his troops that their sacrifice and valor were in vain and that the enemies' cause is as valid as their own.
In addition, unforgivably, it was Rabin who displayed a palpable loathing and indifference to Israel's patriotic citizens of Judea and Samaria, painting them as enemies of peace, telling them they were welcome to "spin like propellers in the wind." It was Rabin who then released and armed thousands of terrorists who wreaked carnage and havoc in Israel. He derided the victims of this terror by calling them "casualties of peace" even as he consorted with their killers.
It was Rabin who hypnotized a population tired of war with the chimera of peace. It is this population that Bibi now finds himself helpless to assuage or convince. Bibi is the wrong man for the present, unable to reverse a process in which he feels entrapped. But, let us not forget, the man now treated as a martyr and pseudo-saint was the wrong man for Jewish history and destiny. It is Rabin who will go down in history as the great betrayer of his people.
Ruth King is a member of the executive Committee of Americans For a Safe Israel.
Outpost - 8 - November 1998