It seems that almost every day, if not every other day, there is an overwhelming and befuddling news event which shocks the mind. The last six years have been pain-filled years in reference to events and decisions surrounding the Middle East and specifically, the State of Israel. So many uncalled-for events and poorly made political decisions have occurred that just do not make sense. Many recent events indicate that the forces of good are allowed to be eroded, weakened and made vulnerable to an impending defeat. In these cases there appears to have been no application of wisdom in the decision- making process.
The phrase, “it doesn’t make sense”, challenges the minds of many concerned and devoted political thinkers. In the course of life, one understands that certain decisions will occur that will not make sense. However, it is a different story when the reaction of “it doesn’t make sense” becomes a consistent response. The result of such an experience is a communal helplessness which can often lead to feelings of depression.
During the Gaza Disengagement, as rockets were flying onto Israeli towns, Prime Minister Sharon told the world that Israel would not withdraw under fire, yet Israel withdrew in spite of the enemy fire. The whole story of the Gaza Disengagement was, from beginning to end, filled with ill-conceived and faulty explanations. A confused public constantly asked, “Why is Sharon doing this?”
Since no reasonable answer was discovered even by Sharon’s close friends, Knesset Minister Nathan Sharansky and top Likud Party Knesset Member Uzi Landau, a “magical thinking” answer came forth, “If you sat in the seat of the Prime Minister, you would understand.”
After Sharon’s demise, now, people ask, “Why is Olmert doing this?”
Last week’s news reported that Israel is again bolstering up its sworn enemy. The report stated stunning news of Israel releasing 100 million dollars to its enemy, the Palestinian Fatah Party. This information was followed several days later with the report that Israel will permit Egypt to deliver to the Fatah an additional two thousand brand new assault rifles, 20,000 bullet magazines, and two million rounds of ammunition. This is in addition to the untold tons of weapons and explosives that have been “smuggled” into Gaza through the virtual “open border” crossings and the estimated 180 to 250 smuggling tunnels.
The “politically acceptable” claim is that the gifts of arms and money will somehow only go to the “moderate Palestinians,” meaning the Fatah Party, and will only be used against the “extremists”, the Hamas Party.
First of all, the commonly stated belief that there is a “moderate Palestinian” faction named Fatah, which just happens to head the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, is a frightening and serious delusion. Furthermore, the so-called “moderate” Palestinian leaders, by slip of tongue, have already declared that the new arms gift will be used against the Israelis and not against their Palestinian brethren. We can expect that the truth will be somewhere in the middle, both, some Palestinians, likely those who are the “real” Palestinian moderates, who are called “informants” and a lot of Israelis, will be the eventual murdered recipients of the over two million bullets.
Then comes Olmert offering what was referred to as a “traditional goodwill” gift to the Palestinians prior to the Muslim holiday, “Id-al-Adha”. What was to be Olmert’s “traditional” holiday gift? Freeing imprisoned Palestinian terrorists. Thankfully, at the last minute, miraculously, the gift was rescinded.
Does anyone remember what “goodwill” gift the Palestinians presented Israel for Chanukah other than eight days and nights of launching “ceasefire rockets” on the Western Negev and the city of Sderot?
Isn’t providing the Palestinians with freed terrorist prisoners similar to providing an alcoholic who is supposed to be working on sobriety with holiday presents of liquor? The very thing that we are asking the Palestinians to stop is what we are gifting them? Couldn’t Israel give Gaza a present of something benign like animals for a petting zoo or books for a school library? Why a present of releasing seasoned and ready to perform terrorists?
Then there is the question of gift giving without merit. This gift of freed terrorist prisoners was offered without even a minuscule sign of merit. That means, there is no recognition of responsibility for one’s behavior in reference to the gift received. What kind of education does this provide and reinforce for those desiring Israel’s destruction?
Furthermore, it must be clarified that Israel wanting its kidnapped soldiers returned is not the same as the Palestinians wanting to have all the captured Palestinian terrorist prisoners released and returned. The Israelis want their kidnapped soldiers returned so that they can rejoin their families and try their utmost to return to a normal and productive life. It is well understood that the release of what is expected to be over 1,400 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists is not limited to the purpose of just being returned to their families, but the desire for their release is for a very different and deadly cause.
In June of 2005, Ehud Olmert, then Deputy Prime Minister, announced that Israelis are “tired of fighting and tired of winning”. Those words were a signal that Israel was willing to do virtually anything that its enemies or the world’s “peace negotiators” would ask. “Being tired” apparently became a sign of Israel’s future appeasement policy.
What is so alarming is that for crucial life events and crucial life decisions, a leader of the Jewish people, doesn’t have the choice of saying “I’m tired!” or “we’re tired!” A leader’s job is to inspire “energy” even when the going gets tough.
Imagine being at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and attending the New York Philharmonic’s performance of Mahler’s hundred minute long marathon symphony, featuring the full 120 piece orchestra and 120 voice choir. Then, shockingly, sixty minutes into the concert, the world class conductor stops and announces to the audience that his arms are tired, he feels that his musicians are tired, and the choir has sung enough.
The audience, stunned, bewildered, and amazed knows very well that the Mahler symphony is one of the longest, most difficult and most demanding to perform musical pieces, but the audience also knows that every musician on stage including the conductor is one of the world’s best, and in spite of fatigue, very capable of playing to the symphony’s last note.
Fatigue is a part of life but no person becomes a great musician, athlete, leader, scientist or victor of anything when he or she only focuses on their fatigue and forgets that their mission is to get to the last note. Fatigue is often the excuse used to sacrifice living up to high yet achievable standards.
An associate shared a story from his elementary school life. There was a bully in his class who frequently picked on him. Finally, he and the bully began fighting and the fight became a prolonged ordeal. Fatigue and exhaustion overtook the student but he knew he couldn’t quit. Then, just moments before he was about to deliver his final possible punch, the bully gave up and conceded defeat. Holding out for that final moment was what made all the difference and put the bully to rest.
To overcome fatigue at the crucial moment is what is expected from Israel and her leaders because there is no choice but to be victorious all the way to the final note. Israel is a world class country made up of a world class people and they must not be allowed to forget that they are fully capable of being strong and standing up for the values which are their real gift to the world.
Now, after too many months of fallacious, bewildering, and precarious decisions, it appears as if Israel forgot that it was the victor of five demanding military conflicts. Too often, these decision debacles that receive the “it doesn’t make sense” response appear because Israel seems to be acting to strengthen its enemies and weaken itself. One gets the impression that Israel behaves as if its enemy won those wars and thereby earned the upper hand for all negotiations.
This problem and self-misperception must be revised, and if not immediately eliminated, will bring Israel to its ultimate doom. One must move beyond the shock of past failures and the thoughts of fatigue. Otherwise, there will be no remaining opportunity to wake up, to regroup and rebuild, as well as to uphold and reinforce the ethical vision that Israel stands for; without which there will be a severe and disastrous loss to the whole world.
By Daryl Temkin, Ph.D.
Daryl Temkin, Ph.D. is the director of the Israel Education Institute which is devoted to teaching history and contemporary issues of Israel to Jews and Non-Jews. His weekly opinion column, “Pivotal Thought”, has been the interview and discussion topic for various talk radio shows. The column appears in a number of newspaper publications as well as on Internet blogs and E-magazines. Dr. Temkin can be reached at:DT@Israel- Institute.com