Hero No. 1
The people of Israel are behaving heroically in this terrible time. Credit must go to the leadership of Binyamin Netanyahu and the team he heads: Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
After years of great personal disappointment in the prime minister, I am happy to give him the full credit he deserves. From the moment the die was cast, and it became clear that this war was both inevitable and necessary, he has led the country with steadfastness, good judgment, care for the lives of our soldiers, and concern for the inhabitants of Gaza. Often accused of zigzagging, this time he has fearlessly refused to bow to the inflammatory demagoguery of some politicians.
When citizens like their leader, they blame his errors – decisions they do not agree with – on his “advisers: “They gave him bad advice.”
When he or she pursues policies they agree with, endless praise pours forth.
Wrong, my friends. It is the leader who must bear full responsibility for what he decides. Critics of Netanyahu will say, “He has bad advisers.” He took the ultimate decisions, he bears the responsibility.
In addition, he is waging the information campaign for world opinion with all his capability and golden voice. So, I am glad to be able to say, as of the time if this writing, that I respect his leadership.
Some call on him to make diplomatic moves toward peace. Others demand the complete collapse of Hamas. I wish the PM the strength and wisdom to make his decisions, as he has until now in this war, based on balanced and courageous leadership.
And if family, friends and readers are shocked by what I write, let me dust off a word misused by the pundits. A true liberal is free to make up his mind to decide on each issue on its merits.
Hero No. 2:
The Unsung History and chance elevate some politicians, and file others under “forgotten and unsung.”
A major factor in our people’s steadiness has been the Iron Dome. Knowing that there is little chance of a direct hit on where they live, they/ we feel protected, safer. There is less fear, and less possibility of casualties.
The hero of the Iron Dome is a civilian without much military experience who chose to be minister of defense in the Olmert government. Against the advice of all the senior people in the IDF and in his ministry, he pushed through the creation of the Dome which some outstanding young scientists had been planning. MK Amir Peretz is from Sderot, and remains a man with two feet on the ground.
Now is not the time to deride those who opposed the idea. It would be decent of them, one day soon, to give Peretz credit. Perhaps President Reuven Rivlin can correct this wrong. Now is the time to award him and the developers of the Iron Dome the highest honor in our repertoire.
Villain No. 1:
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has de jure ejected himself from the cabinet. If he knew anything about parliamentary democracy, he would know that a cabinet is based on the collective responsibility of its members. Once a cabinet decision is taken, the minister must either support it or resign. Thus it is in all parliamentary democracies: Britain, Canada and Australia, for example.
In Israel we have had much collective irresponsibility.
Liberman has now become the champion in this area. His wild demands – calling for conquering and occupying Gaza – not only are counter to government policy, they are a cynical ploy to gain votes in the elections which will probably come this winter if not earlier. A government divided against itself cannot long endure.
And now he issues calls to boycott Arab stores which closed at the behest of, or under the pressure, of the Monitoring Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership. Liberman feels he can exercise solidarity with Jews everywhere, but cannot understand that Israeli Arabs should have the same right. If Jews suffer, Jewish solidarity kicks in. Arab Israelis are just that: both Arabs and Israeli citizens.
Their blood relatives and their fellow Arabs are suffering. We must accord them the same rights we have exercised for centuries. Even if many resent it, we have no right to impose boycotts.
If Liberman had not been forced to turn his attention to other matters, he might have studied a bit of history. It was the fascist parties in pre-war Poland, and the German Nazi government which imposed boycotts on Jews. Since Liberman obviously would not wish to be so identified, surely he will cease his dangerous demands. Even in wartime, freedom of speech and hence of protest are inviolable.
Villain No. 2
This villain is the group responsible for that ridiculous article “Is the Iron Dome a Bluff?” in Haaretz. The paper, whose Hebrew literary section is so good, and which has some fine columnists, has already crossed many lines as a mouthpiece for the extreme, and sometimes anti-Zionist, Left. Now it has made itself laughable. Maybe its publisher, editor and that writer should not be called villains.
Perhaps another word can be used. I have tried not to use ugly terms in journalistic discourse.
You, dear reader, choose.
There is one minor villain whose understanding of collective responsibility, loyalty to his own minister, and irresponsible behavior bring me to the verge of breaking the undertaking to forgo ugly language.
Those of you who shop in our supermarkets will know whom I mean.
Mr. Sour Yogurt. Enough said.
And a final word. As I get older, life becomes more precious. I hope Hamas will be defeated, and our soldiers return safe and sound so that Israel can live without rockets and tunnels. Then peace will return to Gaza’s people as well. Hero No. 1, Prime Minister Netanyahu, now has the opportunity to take his place alongside of Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin.
Avraham Avi-hai has filled a number of senior positions in the government and in the Jewish Agency-WZO as well as at the Hebrew University.
His novel A Tale of Two Avrahams is available in bookstores, on Amazon and in all Ebook forms.