Israel’s Elections – Votes For War — Or Peace?
Vol: 16 Issue: 31 Friday, January 31, 2003
Ariel Sharon’s re-election received widespread global condemnation from Israel’s enemies, who say Sharon’s victory is proof positive that the Israeli people have rejected peace.
The defeat of the left wing Labor party wasn’t merely a defeat — it was a route. It was also a repudiation of the policy platform of Labor Party candidate Amram Mitzna.
Mitzna favored an immediate return to the negotiation table with Yasser Arafat, the dismantling of Israeli ‘settlements’ in areas under Palestinian control and an unconditional withdrawal and the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Labor says that its policy was not rewarding terror, but was instead a ‘return to the spirit of Oslo’.
Israeli voters saw it differently — but not for the reasons being advanced by Israel’s detractors, who claim it is because Israel was never serious about peace.
The real reasons are only obvious to the people who will be most directly effected by Mitzna’s policies.
Mitzna and his Labor Party were not defeated for reasons of ideology, but for reasons of practicality.
They have lived with the consequences of compromise with the Palestinians already.
In 1996, Israel, under the leadership of Labor Prime Minister Shimon Peres (one of the architects of Oslo) had just pulled Israel’s army out of six of the seven West Bank cities and agreed to expand the year-old Palestinian Authority — against the advice of several security advisers.
The result was the bloodiest week in Israel’s history — to that time — when Palestinian terrorists killed fifty and wounded hundreds.
The ostensible reason for the resulting terror was the seventh West Bank city Israel had not withdrawn from.
More recently was when Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak fulfilled his campaign promise to pull Israel out of its security zone in South Lebanon. He offered major concessions to Palestinian negotiators at Camp David in exchange for a permanent peace.
The result was a Lebanese Hezbollah with rockets that can nearly reach Tel Aviv, and the greatest terror war the world has ever known.
Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians what amounted to 95% of what they had been demanding, including virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza and a Palestinian state.
Arafat rejected it because it did not included the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from lands held by Arabs and the right of return (to Israel, not to Palestinian controlled territory) of every Arab who claimed refugee status since 1948 and their descendents.
Had Barak agreed to that, Israeli Jews would immediately be outnumbered by Arabs. Israel, being a democracy, would immediately be voted out of existence by the new Arab majority (none of whom had lived there in a half century, if ever) and the Jewish state would cease to exist.
Incidentally, the only democracy in the Middle East would also cease to exist, unless anybody is prepared to argue that the Palestinian Authority of Yasser Arafat is a democracy.
Israeli rejection of the policies of Labor was not a rejection of peace. It was a rejection of failed policies based on practical lessons learned the hard way.
The Israeli army had abandoned Palestinian cities (on the eve of the Oslo War, more than 90 percent of West Bank Palestinians were living under partial or full Palestinian control), and has been subsequently forced to re-occupy them.
Tax credits due the Palestinian Authority have been withheld, as Israel refused to fund the murderous terror campaign being directed against it — but only after hundreds of millions of shekels were transferred to Yasser Arafat’s Tel Aviv bank account and suddenly, well-funded terrorists launched the current war that has claimed thousands of lives.
The lessons for Israel were clear: concession is interpreted as weakness, and land-for-peace quickly becomes land-for-blood. As a result, many Israelis have abandoned the traditional formula as articulated by Labor.
Those who interpret Sharon’s election as a vote against peace misunderstand the issue: Israel has rejected precisely the notion that peace can entail the wholesale murder of civilians.
Israelis equally reject the possibility of peace with Yasser Arafat, who most Israelis believe to be in direct control of many terrorist forces, such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, or at least tolerant of those forces not under his command, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
In the Middle East, actions speak louder than words, and the widely publicized acceptance of a “two-state solution” in 1998 has long been replaced by the threats and actions of Palestinian officials unable to reconcile themselves to peaceful co-existence with a Jewish state.
Diplomats and homicide-bombers alike have demonstrated they have not abandoned the terrorist ways they openly espoused for decades, and that the Oslo accords were, in the oft-repeated words of Yasser Arafat, comparable to the Koranic tale of the Prophet Muhammad’s deal with the Quraysh tribe — temporary.
Israel continues to seek a peaceful solution to the 4,000 year-old blood feud between the sons of Abraham.
But that peace continues to elude them. Peace won’t come to Israel until the Prince of Peace returns to restore it.
Hard words, but that is what the Bible says. Bible prophecy cannot be broken.
What is taking place today in Israel is a consequence of Israel’s disobedience going back to the days of Joshua, when the Israelis disobeyed God’s command to cleanse the land of idolatry.
“Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. ” (Joshua 2:3)
One Final Muse . . .
We made it home, safe and sound. Thank you for your prayers — the Lord granted us many journey mercies on the trip, keeping us safe despite the bad weather and the factory explosion in Kinston, NC (that occurred only minutes after we passed through town).
This morning, just as I was putting the finishing touches on your Omega Letter, tiny feet padded across the room from behind me.
“Gwanddad! The sun is up!”
The rest of the world is a mess. But for me, right here and right now, all is right in my world. “The sun is up!”
I pray the same for each of you.