Five Comments on the Situation

Five in depth comments on the current situation

1. In his speech to the nation last week, Sharon bawled out the public for moaning and groaning when it should be resolute and stoic. Sharp words, but misdirected. If there's anyone sowing fear and confusion, it's the guys on top. Like Major-General Moshe Ya'alon, who predicts a war that could go on for years and compares the fight against terrorism to a fight for survival. Like Fuad giving Uzi Dayan a drubbing for saying that Iran should not be treated as the enemy because the truth of the matter is that we have no bigger or more dangerous foe. Like military intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi who says the Kassam-2 missile is of minor importance while Sharon insists it is a deadly weapon that threatens our cities. Like when the government and the cabinet fiercely criticize the performance of the IDF and Fuad says the army is washed up. Like when Fuad, interviewed by Yedioth Ahronoth, says "If Saddam sees the end coming, he'll hit us with every biological and chemical weapon he's got." Thanks, Fuad, thanks a lot. Now at least we know our despair is not psychosomatic.

2. The criticism of the IDF, by the government as whole and Sharon in particular, is not legitimate, not to mention unjustified. First of all, we are not talking about a popular uprising but a war of attrition that is completely different from Lebanon, or Egypt in the 1970s, because it is raging in the heart of the country.

Secondly, we are talking about guerrilla warfare and terrorism in which the willingness to die is steadily growing. Since September 29, there have been 11,500 incidents. The fact that tragedy was averted in 80 percent of them is a real accomplishment.

Last but not least, the political echelons are demanding that the IDF achieve the impossible: military victory. This kind of victory was achieved in 1967 by conquering Sinai and the Suez Canal, and in 1973 by encircling the Third Army and threatening Cairo. It was achieved by threatening Damascus. But military victory over an entire nation is not possible when the government has no political objective. Massive pressure on the Palestinian Authority last week got the Palestinians asking for a cease-fire. What did we do with it? We let Arafat go to the grocery store and the dry cleaners.

3. I never agreed with Yitzhak Rabin when he called the yordim "spineless wimps." Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who left the country for America continued to see themselves as Israelis in every respect. They accounted for a sizable chunk of tourism. They would come to visit relatives and/or brag about their success. Whenever Israel was riding high, like during the Six-Day War, they would fly over and join the party, proud as peacocks. But where are they now, when things are tough? When we are reeling from brutal terrorist attacks, and the hotels are deserted? With the Passover holiday around the corner, isn't this the perfect time to show some solidarity?

4. Remember the joke about the rabbi called upon to mediate between two feuding businessmen? He meets one and says "You're right." He meets the other and says "You're right." "How is it possible for both of them to be right?" asks the synagogue beadle. To which the rabbi replies, "You're right, too." Well, Yossi Beilin is right when he says that the Labor Party has become Sharon's flak jacket and ought to resign from the government. Fuad is right when he says that quitting is the same as handing Sharon over to the right-wing. Dalia Itzik is right when she says that before Labor bows out of the government, it needs a political alternative. Peres is right when he says that no one should be going anywhere until all possibilities for a settlement have been exhausted. And if Netanyahu thinks he'll have the last laugh - he's right, too.

5. When Sharon was delivering his speech to the nation, the camera caught Uri Shani standing so close, the two of them were practically touching. You'd think this guy personally owns the land to the right or left of Sharon whenever he appears in public. True, he runs Sharon's office, but when was the last time you saw George W. Bush or a European prime minister with their office managers glued to their side? Arafat is an exception. He always has a prompter behind him whispering from the cue cards. Uri Shani doesn't whisper, but his permanent presence, and that tense, worried look on his face, make us wonder: Does he know something we don't know?