Website of Rabbi Shai Gluskin


Haaretz Editorial, Wednesday, March 6, 2002

The Helpless Government

Unbridled Palestinian terror attacks continued yesterday - and the government appears to be helpless. Five Israeli citizens were murdered and dozens more wounded in terror attacks in Tel Aviv, Afula, and near Jerusalem. The prime minister convened the ministerial committee dubbed "the expanded kitchenette" for a barren discussion on whether once again to put the offices of the Palestinian Authority's chairman under siege, when it is clear to everyone that the decision will not make a bit of difference to the wave of terrorism sweeping across the country. The public has stopped waiting to count days of quiet when every hour brings another murderous attack and every news broadcast begins with the schedule of funerals.

At times like this the public looks to its leaders, seeking explanations as to why the price is so heavy, what are the goals of the war, and most especially, when it will all be over. It is enormously frustrating that the prime minister does not have a reasonable answer to any of these questions. "We are in a difficult war with a ruthless and bloodthirsty enemy," the prime minister said on Monday. "We have to cause them casualties and victims, so they feel the heavy price. So they understand they won't gain a thing from terror. Until they understand, we won't conduct any negotiations. Only hit them." But meanwhile, the body count grows, for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Sharon proposes the public be patient, and not lose hope, and promises again that Israel will win and that he will eventually bring security. These are empty promises and the prime minister cannot continue to deceive the public. He wasted the credit the public extended to him when he was elected by not combining the use of military force with an effort to reach a political solution. Sharon is now painting a false portrait of an existential war of "no alternative" in which the one and only goal is to survive.

That is deception. It is not the existence of Israel that is at stake, but the existence of the settlements, which Sharon has fostered and nurtured for a generation. This war - as IDF commanders, the heads of the security forces, and every reasonable person knows - has no military solution, and can't have a military solution. Only a political solution, based on an end to the occupation and the establishment of a state of Palestine alongside Israel, will be enough. But that political horizon now appears more distant than ever and Sharon refuses to open even a narrow crack to hope, not for Palestinians, nor for Israelis.

He shrugged off the Saudi initiative, and vehemently rejected a proposal by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for a summit with Yasser Arafat. Except for his futile proposal to establish buffer zones, Sharon has not generated a single political idea that could lead anywhere. Thus, relying on the mute support of the Labor Party's ministers, who chose to join his brutal government as a moderating force that would advance the political process, Sharon continues on his way. This is a shameful partnership, which removes every hope for an alternative, casting a dark shadow over the chance to bring wisdom and reason back to the region.