IMRA'S WEEKLY COMMENTARY ON ARUTZ 7
4 March, 1999
By Dr. Aaron Lerner
This evening I have only one comment to make and while it is obvious it bears repeating: It is impossible to relieve pressure by bending to it. Israel's reaction today to the situation in Lebanon will set the pattern for Arab - Israeli relations on every front.
Ehud Barak has bluntly stated that the way to get safely out of Lebanon is to start negotiating Israel's withdrawal from the Golan. And what happens if the negotiations fail? Or even stall? As Labor MK Ori Orr put it, the people killed in Lebanon didn't die defending Israel's presence in Lebanon. They died in the war for the Golan.
You know it, I know it, Barak knows it and, most important of all, President Assad knows it: If the Jewish State doesn't have the stomach for casualties in Lebanon - and I don't for a minute minimize the gravity of the losses and the terrible strain and tension involved in maintaining our position there - and reacts to the situation not by repositioning for purposes of efficiency but rather withdraws from fear - then the best way to advance the interests of the Arabs at any stage of the negotiations is through renewed violence.
The 'Four Mothers' pushing us out of Lebanon will then push to leave the West Bank and Gaza. And it won't stop there. Because once the pattern is set, once the weakness is shown, only a fool would not continue to exploit it. And the Arabs are not fools. The mothers will push us out of the Golan and out of east Jerusalem. And when terrorists strike inside Israel to 'advance' negotiations over the return of refugees to Jaffa and Haifa, the mothers will press for the floodgates to be open.
And when terrorists strike again because too many Jews are immigrating to Israel, the mothers will demand that the gates be closed. And when terrorists insist that the only solution is a Palestinian state from the river to the sea, the mothers, hoping that this finally will bring 'peace in our time' will press for this one last concession.
And it won't be the last.
I have a message for Binyamin Netanyahu: Stop running after the polls. The public is confused and shifting attitudes like quicksand. If you think that you can win the game by convincing the public that you are everything for everyone you are doomed to failure.
Your only chance in the 2nd round is to stand up and tell the truth. Don't tell the public that you are confident you can cut a deal with Syria without leaving the Golan. Tell them that you have red lines. That's right. Red Lines. And they aren't arbitrary or simply a matter of ideology. These red lines are a matter of reality. Tell us that you will make every effort to cut a deal with Syria, and Arafat, and the Lebanese (if there is someone to talk to there) but your red lines are real. You won't make a deal at any price.
Tell us to our faces that, at the end of the day we may find that the Syrians or Arafat make demands that simply cannot be accepted. Have the respect for the intelligence of the Israeli public to state that you cannot guarantee peace in our time or a deal with one of our neighbors in 12 weeks or 12 months.
Demographers tell us that for every identifiable Jew in the world today there are a large number of people carrying Jewish genes. Those others come from families that decided to take the easy route and convert - hiding and ultimately melting into their surroundings. We are here today because for two thousand years our forefathers had red lines and kept to them. And it wasn't easy.
I met last week with a group from America and someone asked me if Israel would ever reach the point that would longer need a standing army. I asked her when she thought the US or Australia would be in such a position.
Our situation is not unique.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that Israel is Sparta. Just that we're not in Paradise. And the sooner the politicians are honest about this painful reality the better off we all will be.
Dr. Aaron Lerner is the Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis) (mail POB 982 Kfar Sava) Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-9-7411645 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org