From the hills of Jerusalem and the ruins of Jewish Gaza, the dog-and-pony show being orchestrated by the bereaved mother and antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan couldn't seem more detached from reality or from the real challenges facing the Jewish state today. As I wrote a friend in America in an angry and misconceived e-mail late last week, "She's your problem, not mine."
And yet, the international attention that Sheehan has garnered points to a universal problem that plagues Israel more, not less, than America. The problem is that in its quest to maintain its absolute faith in its pagan god of peace in our time, the Left internationally and in Israel has abandoned reason for rage and has exchanged rationality for mocking paranoia and hatred.
Given the hatred in which the Left is presently submerged, it is not the least surprising that its new darling Sheehan is a raging Jew-hater. Her statements to the adoring international press corps have included such gems, as "Am I emotional? Yes, my firstborn was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a neocon agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel."
The good news in America is that voices like Sheehan's are not the only ones being heard. Real debate on the acute problems besetting the US in Iraq is fostered openly by news outlets like FOX News, The National Review, talk radio and The Wall Street Journal. And the result of the debates is an informed and educated public and a government that is forced to respond to constructive ideas in a manner that advances its ability to succeed in its mission in Iraq and beyond.
The fact that such debate exists in America even leads those members of the Left who have not completely abandoned their faculties to begin to contend with the fact that their camp has been taken over by hate-filled bigots and opportunistic, anti-American idiots.
In a column this week in The Los Angeles Times, Susan Estrich, a leading Jewish leftist feminist and consultant for the Democratic Party, railed against her camp's silence in the wake of Sheehan's anti-Semitic outbursts. In her words, "I will not stand silent and see anti-Semitism masked as opposition to Israel and Israel blamed for George Bush's mistakes, if that's what they are."
SADLY, IN Israel, we have no diversity in our media and therefore, we have no public debate. To the extent that Sheehan's escapades have been reported here, the coverage has been mindlessly sympathetic.
The Pravda-like uniformity of the Israeli media was nowhere more apparent than in its coverage of Binyamin Netanyahu's press conference on Tuesday, where he announced his candidacy for leadership of the Likud Party against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Wednesday morning's headlines screamed out against the man the media elite wish the Israeli public to view as a demonic usurper.
Yediot Ahronot published the results of a bizarre poll on its front page claiming that Sharon was ahead Netanyahu by 31 points. The poll's oddity stems from its irrelevance. In Israel the prime minister is not directly elected. Unless Sharon leaves the Likud, where Netanyahu enjoys a firm and large margin of support over Sharon, the two will not compete in national elections.
Aside from that, the poll's questions ignored the fact that Israel is a democracy and in a democracy, elections are a natural and wholly legitimate process. The first question put to the sample population is a case in point. It asked, "Do you think that the Likud ought to begin a process of dismissing Ariel Sharon?" That question, like the media's uniform portrayal of the call for new elections as an illegitimate usurpation of power, exposed its author's abject refusal to accept the plain fact that a call for new elections is not a coup d'etat. Rather, it is a wholly legitimate action in a parliamentary democracy when a political leader has lost the support of his party.
The repeated, distorted polls are geared toward creating a sense among the general public that we have nowhere to turn except to Sharon and his friends on the Left. This attempt to demoralize the public is backed up by the lead columnists and political reporters in all the major newspapers and electronic media outlets who have taken it upon themselves to convince the Israeli public that Netanyahu – like Cindy Sheehan's Jews and neoconservatives for Americans – is their enemy. As Maariv's Ben Caspit hinted on the front page of his paper's edition on Wednesday, a vote for Netanyahu is a vote for supposedly primitive gorillas who sell vegetables in the shuk. How unaesthetic. Who would want to support the leader of a group of gorillas?
Yet in all the column space devoted in the papers to demonizing Netanyahu and his supporters, one thing was brazenly absent. No attention whatsoever was paid to the points he made in his presentation on Tuesday. Netanyahu spoke at length about the lack of public debate in Israel over the most pressing issues of our times. He spoke in detail about the need to restore responsibility for Israel's security to the army rather than to the Palestinian militias and the Egyptian military.
Perhaps most significantly, Netanyahu stated flatly, and for the first time since last week's expulsions, the truth that the monolithic Israeli press in its babbling leftist bubble and their champion Sharon has refused to admit: The State of Palestine was established last week in Gaza.
Calls today for the establishment or nonestablishment of a Palestinian state were rendered irrelevant by the expulsion of all Jews from the Gaza Strip and the planned turnover of the border between Gaza and the Sinai to Egyptian and Palestinian forces in the coming weeks.
Gaza is now sovereign Palestine. It has all the ingredients required by international law to be treated as a sovereign state. It has a government, territory, a population and the capacity to conduct foreign relations. It is a state. This is significant both for Israeli and international future dealings with the now-defunct Palestinian Authority (which must now be viewed as the government of Palestine) and for the Israeli Left.
It is true that the Palestinians continue to deny that they are a state. These arguments are both ridiculous and irrelevant. The statements to the effect that they still live under the so-called occupation elsewhere, or even somehow in Gaza, have neither legal nor rational grounding. They have a state. And now it is their turn to act like a state and build something constructive for their citizens.
If they choose not to act like a state but rather, as was the case with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, they decide to use their sovereign territory as a base for terrorism and war against Israel or any other state, then their inevitable and well-deserved fate will be that of the Taliban and Saddam.
RATHER THAN acknowledge this simple fact, the Left in Israel, led today by Sharon, has abjectly ignored it. Both the media and Sharon today speak openly of further expulsions of law-abiding Israeli citizens from their homes in Judea and Samaria and of the need for negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. The general sense being propagated by the likes of Nahum Barnea in Yediot Ahronot and Yoel Marcus in Haaretz is that anyone who doesn't support continued land giveaways and expulsions of Jews for the benefit of the PLO is an extremist.
The pathetic aspect of the enduring insistence of the Left that a Palestinian state can only be established after Israel has ceded all of Gaza, Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem to the PLO is that for the past 12 years its leaders – from Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin to Ehud Barak and now Sharon – have ignored the plain fact that the Palestinians themselves have expressed no interest in establishing Palestine. Their message, repeated ad nauseum, is that their goal is to liberate Palestine – that is, to destroy Israel.
The Left has taken to shooting every messenger who tells them this unpleasant truth, a truth which lays bare the lie at the foundation of their messianic faith in the god of peace in our time. Netanyahu, for these true believers, is the ultimate messenger and thus the ultimate enemy.
A recent entry in the brilliant Web site "The Belmont Club" recalls the experience of the current Left's forefathers in the Bolshevik movement who were victimized in Stalin's purges. Drawing from Piers Brendon's history of the 1930s, Dark Valley, the entry notes, "The most common scrawl left by doomed Old Bolsheviks at Lubyanka prison were the words 'What For?' But more poignant yet was the refusal of some Party members, exiled to Magadan, the worst camp of the Gulag, to smuggle news to their comrades of their fate. One said, 'At least now they still have hope in Communism. If I let them know the truth then they will have nothing.' Even in Magadan the Left's deepest need was to believe. Having abolished the God of their forefathers and finding themselves prostrate before the false god they fashioned for themselves, as [they stood] between extinction and despair they chose extinction."
The lies we are told today by the Left, in Israel and internationally, become more and more shrill as the reality of the world we live in and their own irrationality become increasingly difficult to sweep under the rug. Cindy Sheehan is an anti-Semite and should be dismissed for her hatred. Netanyahu is an imperfect human being, but is also a leader with a rational approach to policy and politics and a healthy regard for democracy. And the Left, filled with hatred and blind faith in lies, must be exposed and defeated in the battlefield of ideas before its false prophets land us all in a new version of the gulag.