How many times have we had this argument over the policy of targeted assassinations? After all, this is not about justice; what do I care whether Ahmed Jabari lives or dies, let him die, for all I care, because his hands are full of blood. This is about rational judgment, having nothing to do with revenge.
There was a time, eight years ago, when we smashed the head of the snake in Gaza, and it was an even more venomous snake than this Jabari. We took out Sheikh Yassin to teach them a lesson; let them see his mangled body and be very afraid. Not only have they not grown more moderate since then, they have grown more extreme and in their extremism they managed to install their government in the Gaza Strip.
The assassinations, some more targeted, some less, have never proven their usefulness. They do engender momentary satisfaction, a brief sigh of good-riddance relief. But we had not even managed to sigh before second and third thoughts assailed us. Should we have assassinated "the engineer," Yihye Ayash, at the time, bringing down upon ourselves major disasters one after the other? Were all those exploding buses and restaurants really the result of cold, hard aforethought?
The dangerous assassinated targets are immediately replaced by successors. They don't even need to arise; they're already there, ready and waiting. And the substitutes do not take their place due to their moderation. On the contrary, the more hotheaded ones are the first to be selected. They, for their part, have to prove that, as the Biblical saying goes, their little finger is thicker than the loins of their predecessor.
This is also what happened in Lebanon. We took out Abbas Musawi, the Hezbollah leader, and we got Hassan Nasrallah instead. So what did the assassinations help? Sometimes we would like to turn back the wheel of history; history repeats itself, but the wheel does not turn back. Yassin, Ayash, Musawi and dozens of other villains deserve their end, but why do we deserve it?
Around here they don't just assassinate terrorists; they assassinate moderates who have foresworn terror. And if they haven't sworn on their actual lives, they have sworn on their political lives.
And they are assassinating our future as well. Over the past few days, ahead of the primary of Likud-Beiteinu and the UN vote on observer status for the Palestinians, the primary candidates are vying with each other to show who can be the more unbridled. The more one attacks Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the more praiseworthy one is, and the more one will be praised at the ballot boxes of the new united Knesset list. They have decided to take out Abbas, because in his moderateness he has granted us another chance at dialogue and quiet.
And there is no longer any difference between Netanyahu and Feiglin, between Lieberman and Gideon Sa'ar. They are all lashing out furiously at Abbas; just as long as they don't end up at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. And so it turns out that moderation is no recipe for longevity.
And what did they think would happen, those architects of the "new social and civil agenda," from Shelly Yacimovich to Yair Lapid, and with them the social protest activists, who are now trying to wake up. What did they imagine, that these elections would really center on equal sharing of the burden, changing the electoral system, the high cost of living and deepening gaps in society? Is this what you saw in your mind's eye, oh wise ones of Chelm? You were not that naive. Netanyahu and Ehud Barak were not going to let you drag the public discourse into dead zones, areas they consider no-man's land. The least rational people are always the most rational when their personal fate hangs in the balance. The public restored to ancient glory its good old traditional concerns, as in all previous elections.
"Pillar of Smoke" is the name given to the recurring, over-and-over ground operation. It is much more successful than "Pillar of Fire" and certainly better than "Operation Cast Lead," which have a somewhat violent air about them.
As the Bible says, "All the people will see the pillar of smoke at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, and all the people will stand and bow, each at the entrance to his tent." And after the operation, which this time will root out, get rid of and put an end to it once and for all, we will realize that the sea is the same sea, Gaza is the same Gaza, the Arabs are the same Arabs, and the Jews are the same Jews.
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