Four former heads of Israeli security, speaking in Israel, have warned the government that failure to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians will lead to catastrophe.
These men are not some starry-eyed peaceniks. They are all former heads of Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, which makes the FBI look like the Boy Scouts. You can be sure these men are not motivated by any compassion for the Palestinians.
Yaakov Perry, Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom and Carmi Gilon warned that without a peace deal, Israel is endangering its existence.
"We are taking sure, steady steps to a place where the state of Israel will no longer be a democracy and a home for the Jewish people," Ayalon said in a newspaper interview.
Shalom added, "We must once and for all admit there is another side, that it has feelings, that it is suffering and that we are behaving disgracefully this entire behavior is the result of the occupation."
Another hard-nosed Israeli, a former head of military intelligence, warned more than 13 years ago that the alternative to a Palestinian state side by side with Israel was national suicide.
I’ve been repeating his warning ever since, but all I’ve ever gotten for my troubles was to be called every name in the book and accused of "interfering in God’s plans" by a Christian Zionist. I tell you what: That would require a great deal more influence than I have. I couldn’t even keep brussels sprouts off the wife’s menu.
The Israeli prime minister’s popularity has dropped far lower than George Bush’s. Ariel Sharon’s approval rating is in the low 30s inside of Israel. Sharon, who actually started the intifada himself by brazenly visiting a Muslim holy site, thought he could bludgeon the Palestinians into submission. After three years, the Palestinians haven’t budged an inch.
Oh, they’ve gotten the worst of it, all right. After all, they are the weak party, with no army and only a lightly armed police force. Here are the latest numbers I can find: 892 Israelis killed and 5,981 injured; 2,570 Palestinians killed (many of them children) and 24,006 injured. In addition, 2,202 Palestinian homes have been destroyed by Israel and another 14,000 and change have been damaged. That’s within the past three years.
The problem for Israel is that today’s young generation of Palestinians knows what happened to an earlier generation in 1948, when those Palestinians temporarily fled the fighting that established the state of Israel. The Israelis have refused to let them return to their homes, and for the past 55 years, they’ve rotted in refugee camps.
These Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. They will tell you that they would rather die than leave Palestine. Time and birth rates are on their side. It won’t be long at all before there will be more Arabs in Palestine than Jews. At that point, all of Israel’s choices would be bad.
So, true friends of Israel will pressure Sharon’s government to change course. Unfortunately, our president, having been put in his place once by Sharon, seems to be mortally afraid of offending the Israeli prime minister. And most of the Jewish leadership in America, at a safe distance from the conflict, is more jingoistic and uncompromising than the Jewish settlers. "Go get ’em," the leaders shout from New York and Washington to the Israelis. "The check is in the mail."
Sort of like all the armchair generals and bar-stool admirals who pound their beer steins on the bar and say, "We have to stay in Iraq." Well, to do that, you gotta go over there first.
At any rate, there you have it from the horse’s mouth four horses, as a matter of fact. They are four Israeli horsemen preaching peace now lest the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse replace them in the near future.
© 2003 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.