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Two brave new leaders stood before Israel's confused, despondent public this weekend and voiced great promises. The first, an older, yet promising, man named Ariel Sharon delivered a message of consolation, speaking over the fresh graves of the casualties from the daily terror attack. "I've ordered the Israel Defense Forces and security troops to war against terror," he declared.

A sigh of relief emanated from sorrow-filled breasts: at long last, the sign has been given! Finally, after seven hundred fatalities and thousands of injured people on our streets, and after Palestinian cites have transmogrified as besieged, ruined wastelands, the unequivocal order has been given: war on terror! At last, the IDF is to be allowed to win!

Sharon pulled another heart-warming surprise out of his briefcase: viz, "policy." Yes, it turns out that, defamatory smears notwithstanding, the government has a policy, and Sharon even revealed its contents: to "chop off the hands of those who try to strike us - that is the government's policy." When he added "and the policy will be carried out," it was as though a current of electric excitement rippled in the air. Indeed, no more encouraging message has been heard since his triumphant announcement (issued before the last 400 fatalities) that "we've found the way to fight terror." Moreover, this time Sharon added, for clarity's sake, the word "sure": "I am sure that we will fight terror!"

As though one brave new leader were not enough, another one stood up this weekend: Shaul Mofaz. He voiced wonderful tidings: "No limitation is today in effect on IDF activity in Palestinian territories... There are no limits concerning the depth, intensity or duration of the activity."

Mofaz's statements were delivered in a "lecture at the liberal club" - what forum could have been better suited for a declaration about the lifting of limits - and they were met with enthusiastic rounds of applause. And, in case anyone was wondering how in "the absence of limits" terror continues and increases (as intelligence receives "fifty urgent warnings" of attacks, "more since before Operation Defensive Shield"), his doubts were stifled by Mofaz's uplifting statement. "After the elections," declaimed the defense minister, "we'll seek a victory against the Palestinian Authority!"

As children reply to such murmurings: "Helooo!? Da!?"

What has happened and been "decided" for two years, up to now? A prelude? A warm-up? An experimental pirouette?

In fact, who are the top political and military leaders who have erred and gone astray like blind men for two years? What "limit" remains to be lifted, after policies of assassination, military operations, occupations, house demolitions, closures, roadblocks, settlement expansion and liquidation of the Palestinian Authority have been exhausted? What is left? A hydrogen bomb? And take note: Mofaz, one of the most shrewd and wily politicians to take the stage in the past four years, doesn't talk about a "victory;" instead, he alludes to "seeking a decision," which is akin to the difference between Windows 98 and Windows 2000.

Criticizing Amram Mitzna's promise "to speak with the Palestinians as though there is no terror," Mofaz deemed the approach a failure. Even if his contention has an element of truth, does it hold that the opposite policy of "victory" is more successful? Perhaps this converse policy of "victory" is far worse, as the past two years of hell in every sphere (terror, economics, foreign relations, morale) prove. Regrettably, at this stage it appears that the old saying applies to this weekend's two promises: "the meaning of fanaticism is to redouble your efforts after you've lost your goal."