Conflicting government policies relating to the so-called truce with the Palestinians are truly mind-boggling. What has unfolded over the past few weeks signals that our leadership has plainly lost the plot.
The pride of Zionism was that after 2,000 years of powerlessness the Israeli army could defend the Jewish people. In fact, our citizens' army did successfully repel the combined forces of all the Arab states seeking to annihilate us. Even now, in the wake of the blunders of our military and political leadership during the Lebanon war, the army of Israel remains the most effective military force in the region.
Yet over the past few weeks most of us have been aghast and enraged at the failure of the government to fulfill its primary responsibility - ensuring the safety and security of the civilian population.
Our leaders entered into a "truce" fully aware that the Palestinians were incapable and had no intention of even trying to genuinely curtail the terror initiatives being directed against us. Our prime minister, Ehud Olmert, kissed Mahmoud Abbas, the duplicitous successor of Yasser Arafat, and proclaimed him a moderate genuinely committed to the illusory peace process. Yet this man, who hypocritically repeats the mantra that terror attacks harm the Arab cause, sustains a genocidal culture. He not only sanctifies suicide bombers; he personally introduced legislation to provide pensions for the families of the murderers.
To this day he adamantly refuses to intervene against terror initiatives orchestrated under his jurisdiction. His own "security" forces remain actively engaged in terror initiatives and are responsible for murdering more Israeli civilians than Hamas.
Hamas accepted the truce for its own, short-term strategic requirements. But at least its leaders were honest about their intentions, proclaiming that, at a time of their choosing, they would unhesitatingly resume the battle for the liberation of all Palestine.
The IDF bitterly opposed the truce and warned the government that Israeli civilians would be at greater risk and that additional casualties would ensue. Although following the inauguration of the "truce" the Kassam rockets continued raining down on Sderot and the adjacent region, the army was explicitly precluded by the prime minister from taking defensive measures against the terrorists even if they were observed actually launching missiles against civilian targets.
The pathetic rationale of our prime minister and foreign minister was to prattle on about the enormous, positive global "diplomatic benefits" and the "good-will" Israeli restraint was achieving.
FOLLOWING A series of near-disasters, including Kassams striking a kindergarten, and only after two youngsters were critically injured did the prime minister ultimately agree to permit the IDF to fire on terrorists - but only if they were in the actual process of launching attacks. Even then he continued to deny the army the right to pursue killers after the missiles had been launched.
To top off this surrealistic scenario, the Palestinians warned that if Israel acted against the Kassam launchers, the truce would be ended!
Such shocking behavior not only disgraces our dysfunctional leaders. It reflects adversely on the entire nation.
If Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv or other major cities were under missile attack and the government insisted that the army stand by passively, the people would march on the Knesset and street riots would ensue. But apparently, if the casualties are "limited" and restricted to a border region like Sderot, this may be justified on the grounds that European politicians and even Egypt applaud us for the restraint we display while terrorists launch lethal missiles against our civilians.
Such callous indifference to the life and limb of citizens is shocking. It is of course utterly inconsistent with the sanctity of life and the obligation to defend oneself from murderers, both embedded in Jewish tradition. But even setting that aside, the fact is that other than the Palestinians and their allies, no other country in the world would, as a matter of deliberate policy, sacrifice civilians to promote diplomatic interests.
The world is now becoming accustomed to Israeli civilians being targeted by missiles, and when the day finally comes that we act we will probably be condemned for not continuing to stand by passively as our innocent civilians are killed and maimed.
But there is worse to come. We acquiesced to Gaza being flooded with new and devastating weapons, explosives and missiles via the porous Egyptian border. These arms may complement the Hizbullah buildup in the north. In addition, our government also deferred to the request of the Americans that Abbas's presidential guard be enabled to receive weapons knowing that, as in the past, it is virtually certain they will be employed against us.
And, of course, the Iranians are training and funding Hamas in the most advanced techniques of terror. They even provide financial rewards to those involved in Kassam attacks, with bonuses when Israelis are killed.
WHAT MUST the Palestinians think? They surely believe that Hassan Nasrallah was right when he described Israel as a spider web, lacking the backbone to protect its own citizens. Our enemies are becoming emboldened, celebrating the fact that whatever was left of our deterrence is disappearing. They are being encouraged to believe that by continuing to kill and maim women and children, they will ultimately force us to capitulate.
Our apparent willingness now to release large numbers of prisoners with blood on their hands "as a goodwill gesture" makes it clear that killing Jews no longer even guarantees incarceration.
How much longer can the people of Israel be expected to continue tolerating the outrageous spins and zigzags of our failed prime minister, or the crude rhetoric of our chameleon-like minister of defense using the media to castigate his prime minister? Or the vacuous outpourings of our foreign minister in defiance to Olmert, announcing that she intends to open an independent channel for negotiating with Abbas?
Other ministers also publicly argue with one another over crucial issues. And all this chaos prevails while our enemies gird themselves for war. Now, more than ever before, this country needs a coherent policy and a government which will speak with one voice and understand that the preservation of its citizens' lives and limbs represents its first priority. If our failed leaders are unable to move in this direction and get their act together they forfeit the moral right to lead the country. The madness must stop!
The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel relations committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and is a veteran international Jewish leader. email@example.com
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