"It is the natural right of the Jewish people to lead, as do all other nations, an independent existence in its sovereign state," declared David Ben-Gurion, on behalf of the People's Council, on Iyar 5, 5708.
Fifty-six years later, in an interview on the occasion of the Iyar 5, 5764, celebrations, the leader who now occupies Ben-Gurion's chair declares that he has informed a foreign head of state that he has rescinded his promise not to execute the leader of a neighboring country.
In such a manner, and certainly unwittingly, Ariel Sharon, the man who made a name for himself as a warrior of Israel's independence, has confirmed that the vision of the state's forefathers has yet to be fully realized.
The government of a nation that leads "an independent existence in its sovereign state" does not involve other states in matters such as these. A government that decides Yasser Arafat is a terrorist and an enemy of peace, who deserves to be liquidated or exiled, does not tie its own hands and does not throw off the shackles - even before the president of the only superpower in the world. An independent state independently weighs the moral and political implications of a move as far-reaching and dangerous as this.
The interesting thing is that here we have a politician who built up an illustrious political career on the basis of holding one's head up high in the face of the Gentiles, yet fails to turn to the right or left before he turns to the West.
The same Sharon who for years welcomed visiting American secretaries of state with showcase inaugurations of new settlements, until he was declared persona non grata by one of them, has broken the record for visits to the White House by an Israeli leader. The prime minister does not make do with translating his and Bush's common interests into political, security and economic assets. Sharon has turned the "special relations" with the United States into a Judgment Day weapon in his relations with the members of his party. Testimony to this is his tireless flaunting of the letter from the U.S. president, whose very own public is divided on his discretion and considerations with regard to the Middle East.
A sovereign state does not need the graces of another state to publicly announce that it has the power to decide whether or not refugees will, at some time in the future, be entitled to enter its territory. The State of Israel, which leads "an independent existence," should not have to rely on a declaration from an American president in trouble in order to preserve its national character. It should focus its efforts on achieving a settlement with its neighbors that will guarantee the perpetuation of "a Jewish state in the Land of Israel."
What need has Israel of an American letter with regard to a solution to the refugee problem after an Arab League document (a refurbishment of the Saudi initiative), back in March 2002, granted Jerusalem a veto on the entry of Palestinian refugees? Why do we need an American declaration that takes into account "the demographic reality" three years after the Palestinian leadership gave its blessing to the issue (an exchange of territories)?
When Ben-Gurion declared, "We hereby proclaim the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine to be called the State of Israel," few at the time believed that, 56 years later, an Israeli prime minister would ask the president of a foreign country to intervene in defining the borders of the State of Israel within the amorphous political expanse known as the Land of Israel.
The champion of the settlements is inviting the United States to determine where Israel is allowed to construct houses and to approve the route of a fence that is designed to ensure the safety of its subjects. Sharon needs a foreign stamp of approval even to unilaterally evacuate territories that Israel occupied some 37 years ago. And he is hiding behind the aprons of the Americans to justify the disregard for signals pointing toward increasing Syrian interest in a renewal of the political process.
Israel's political independence is another casualty of the leaders' lack of desire or inability to define its borders. Remaining in control of 3.5 million people - a regiment designed to allow some 3.5 percent of Israel's citizens to live outside of its sovereign territory - continues to stand between the State of Israel and the realization of "the natural right of the Jewish people to lead, as do all other nations, an independent existence in its sovereign state."
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