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Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2000 / 23 Kislev 5761

Don Feder

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Israel's leaders choose dishonor, will get war -- ISRAEL URGENTLY NEEDS a Winston Churchill -- a leader who will halt the Munich march toward the abyss of national annihilation. Instead, there are nothing but Neville Chamberlains on the horizon. On Feb. 6, Israelis will go to the polls to choose a new prime minister. The leading contenders, actual and potential, all are committed to appeasement.

First, there's Ehud Barak, who just resigned after a disastrous 17 months as prime minister. Barak did everything short of offering Arabs the Wailing Wall to secure a paper peace.

He unilaterally withdrew from Israel's security zone in southern Lebanon and offered to return 99 percent of the Golan to Syria. In July, Barak tried to tempt Yasser Arafat to a final settlement with a proposal that staggered even Israeli peaceniks -- recognition of a Palestinian state in virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza, ceding certain districts in East Jerusalem for its capital and a "right of return" for 100,000 Palestinian refugees.

Sensing his weakness (the way Hitler sized up Chamberlain), Arafat has responded by unleashing Krystallnacht against Israeli settlers and other civilians.

Barak, who lost his parliamentary majority months ago and could probably be defeated at the polls by a busboy at The King David Hotel, was forced to resign and call new elections.

Now, in a desperate bid to retain power, he's pursuing another summit with Zion's gravediggers, through the good offices of his buddy Bill Clinton, who ordered our U.N. ambassador to abstain when the Security Council passed a resolution blaming Israel for Arafat's war.

It's Barak's timidity, his half-hearted responses (in reprisal for the lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah, he bombed empty buildings), that has allowed the carnage to continue.

Barak promises to resume negotiations as soon as Arafat delivers a "drastic drop in violence." Please, Mr. Chairman, if you could just shoot fewer Jewish mothers in the head and not bomb quite as many school buses, severing the limbs of children, you can be our partners in peace again.

The man who was supposed to be the alternative to Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu, who served as prime minister from 1996 to 1999, bowed out of the race on Monday. This might be a tactical maneuver to pressure the Knesset into dissolving, giving Bibi's Likud Party a chance to pick up seats in a new parliamentary election.

Had he stayed in the race, the Israeli survival lobby would still be without a candidate. Netanyahu denounced Barak's concessions -- but said he would resume negotiations with Arafat following a "full cessation of hostilities."

Out of power, Bibi is Churchillian . "The biggest lie of all is that this distorted agreement (Olso) will bring peace. It will bring more terror, more terror, more terror, and set the stage of the next war," the rhetorical hardliner thundered before he assumed office.

But as prime minister, he accepted the distorted agreement and continued the process of Israel's dismemberment. Netanyahu gave the terrorists 85 percent of Hebron, Judaism's second holiest city, in return for Arafat's pledge to honor commitments he'd ignored for the previous four years.

After he signed the Wye River Memorandum, in which he pledged to cede an additional 13 percent of the territories in stages, Bibi confidently declared, "Today is a day when Israel and our entire region are more secure." Peace in our time?

Now that Bibi's out, Ariel Sharon, the Likud leader in the Knesset, has a lock on his party's nomination. "Oslo is no more," Sharon says. Yet as Netanyahu's foreign minister, he endorsed Wye. Recently, the ex-general announced that if he's elected, his first act will be to form a national unity government, with Barak and Netanyahu as his deputies.

There is no Israeli politician to play Churchill to Herr Arafat. Like Hitler, the latter is an open book. "There is no alternative to destroying Israel," says a sixth-grade textbook distributed by the Palestinian Authority. Arafat exhorts his storm troops to "redeem Jerusalem" with their blood.

Where is the Israeli leader who will tell the politicians who brought their nation to the brink (repeating Churchill's indictment of 1938): "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war"?

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate