According to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel is on the brink of disaster. "The tension here, the atmosphere here looks like the eve of the civil war," Sharon told NBC. "All my life I was defending life of Jews. Now for the first time, steps I'm taking to protect me from Jews."[sic]
The latest chaos in Israel stems from Sharon's bullheaded, dangerous decision to force 9,000 Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip. Despite a May 2004 referendum by the governing Likud Party barring Sharon from pushing out the Jewish residents of Gaza, Sharon has forced his will on the Israeli Knesset. Just two weeks ago, Sharon won a major political victory when the Knesset voted to reject a national referendum on the Gaza "pullout."
Capitulation is apparently Sharon's strategy for a stronger Israel. At least that's what he told the media at his April 11 joint news conference with President Bush: "The process of this disengagement will strengthen Israel, improve the quality of life for Israeli citizens, reduce the friction between us and the Palestinians, and can pave the way toward the implementation of the road map."
Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit, a bloc within Likud that provides Sharon's main political opposition, was audibly angered by both Sharon's "civil war" statement and his obvious power grab. He told me on Tuesday that he is no longer interested "in listening to Sharon. Sharon proved that words mean nothing to him ? Sharon arranged the referendum in Likud, obligated himself to the results, and then threw them away, and the only explanation he gave was 'It was a mistake.'"
As Feiglin explained, Sharon has brought Israel to the boiling point -- complaining about it now is no more than "George Orwell '1984' Newspeak ? In Sharon's world, peace means war, and democracy means dictatorship ? Sharon, who is holding the power, who is dictating the state, who has all the responsibility for the direction it goes -- he is the man who is blaming the opposition for his acts, the simple civilians for the results. Another typical symptom of a dictator."
There's no mistaking Sharon's "disengagement plan" for anything other than simple surrender. Disengagement is a far nicer term than surrender, but both provide the same incentives for Israel's Arab enemies: incentives to violence, terror and murder. As Feiglin put it, this is "Oslo times 10. The Oslo direction brought a river of bloodshed on the country, forced the State of Israel on a death march, and increased terrorism in Israel, throughout the Middle East and throughout the world. And we can all just sit and imagine the results now if that was the result of Oslo ? The difference is that we know this time there won't be any peace. We can't fool ourselves this time. In Ashkelon and in Ashdod, cities that are north of Gaza in Israel, just 20 miles south of Tel Aviv, they're already preparing civil defense against the rain of Qassam missiles that will fall after the disengagement occurs. This is Oslo without the lie of hope. We all know that the king is naked. We're not trying to fool ourselves that he's dressed. But we're running away anyhow."
Is it any wonder that Israel is on the verge of civil war? The purpose of effective national government and collective defense is to ensure the security of territorial extremities. As John Jay explains in Federalist No. 4: "Leave America divided into 13 or, if you please, into three or four independent governments -- what armies could they raise and pay -- what fleets could they ever hope to have? If one was attacked, would the others fly to its succor, and spend their blood and money in its defense? Would there be no danger of their being flattered into neutrality by specious promises, or seduced by a too great fondness for peace to decline hazarding their tranquility and present safety for the sake of neighbors ... Although such conduct would not be wise, it would, nevertheless, be natural ? it is not improbable that what has so often happened would, under similar circumstances, happen again."
Yet Israel, which purports to have both collective defense and an effective national government, continually sacrifices its borders for the chimera of peace. Instead of security, they have reaped bloodshed. Right now, Sharon's refusal to support the brave Jews who face Arab mortars in Gaza may seem prudent. But will the same logic hold when Arab terrorists, emboldened by capitulation, begin firing Qassams into Tel Aviv?