Leibler indicts Olmert

Outright defeatism

by Isi Leibler, JPOST

Without exception, appeasement, self-deprecation and preemptive concessions to terrorists have inevitably served to embolden them. Israel’s experience has demonstrated that our enemies are restrained when they perceive us as being resolute, and conversely they become more violent when they sense that we are losing our resolve.

Prior to Annapolis, presumably to please the Americans, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert initiated three preemptive concessions. He unilaterally suspended the Quartet-endorsed requirement that the Palestinians curtail terror before negotiating an end of conflict; he dispensed with the need for defensible borders by agreeing to return to the ’67 boundaries with minor modifications; and he permitted his deputy to float proposals relating to Jerusalem which included handing over jurisdiction of the Temple Mount to the Palestinians.

Olmert also delegated to the Americans a referee role, arbitrating breaches of undertakings between Israel and the PA, thereby inhibiting Israel’s future ability to respond to terrorist
onslaughts. It is fallacious to suggest that because the Palestinians have no intention of reaching any meaningful accommodation, the current concessions are of no consequence. Because, if and when we ultimately do negotiate an end of conflict agreement, what we have
now unilaterally offered will represent the starting point of such negotiations. We will be asked: “How much beyond what was offered in Annapolis is Israel willing to offer to achieve genuine peace?”

Having already squandered most of our bargaining chips without getting anything in return, all that is left is the Palestinian Arab “right of return” which would amount to the end of a Jewish state. This mind numbing appeasement by Israel continues unabated at all levels. Instead of at least remaining silent, Olmert repeatedly recites the politically correct mantra that Mahmoud Abbas is a man of peace, despite his failure to clamp down on his own gunmen or curtail
vicious incitement against Israel which continues to dominate all areas under his jurisdiction.

Olmert released hundreds of terrorists despite the realization that Abbas still maintains control of his Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades which murdered more Israelis than Hamas. He also authorized the provision of weapons and armored cars to Palestinian security forces, ignoring the fact that on every previous occasion when arms were provided, they were subsequently employed against Israelis. Indeed, nobody seems too fussed that the killers of Ido Zoltan last month happened to be members of Abbas’s police force and employed weapons authorized by the Israeli government.

TO MAKE matters worse the corrupt PA, whose survival is dependent on Israeli protection, announced a willingness to dialogue with Hamas and warned that if Israel took definitive steps to curtail rocket attacks from Gaza, Fatah would join forces with Hamas. In response, our government continued its policy of restraint. Will it take a mass slaughter in Sderot before an offensive against Gaza is launched?

Our policy of appeasement has also led to an erosion of our global standing. That was reflected in Annapolis when President George W. Bush omitted to restate his previous position that demographic facts on the ground (settlement blocs) had to be taken into account. He also made no reference to Israel’s need for defensible borders.

Indeed, following Annapolis, Condoleezza Rice even criticized Israel for building homes inside Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood.

Israel’s diplomatic recklessness is also manifested by an ongoing stream of irresponsible off-the-cuff statements by our prime minister.

It started with Olmert’s outburst prior to the election, when he told a gathering of the Israel Policy Forum in New York that “we have become tired of fighting, tired of being arrogant, tired of winning, tired of defeating our enemies.” That statement will haunt him for the rest of his political career. But since becoming premier, Olmert continues to display a penchant for making faux pas as exemplified by the bombastic speeches he made during the Second Lebanon War and his remarks about Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

But at Annapolis, Olmert hit the jackpot when he adopted the Palestinian narrative, publicly stating that “for dozens of years, many Palestinians have been living in camps, disconnected from the environment in which they grew, wallowing in poverty, neglect, alienation, bitterness and a deep, unrelenting sense of deprivation… I know that this pain and this humiliation are the deepest foundations which fomented the hatred against us.”

Olmert alluded to an Israeli and Palestinian equivalence of suffering and totally ignored the historical context. He then allowed the joint statement at Annapolis to include the almost obscene remark about “terrorism and incitement whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis” implying that both parties were culpable.

Olmert’s desperation to spin how “liberal” he was brought Israel back to the pre-Bush era when rights and wrongs in the Arab-Israel dispute were subsumed by moral equivalency, and when killers and victims were mindlessly jumbled together as components of a cycle of violence.

When our premier makes such statements it paves the way for Rice to make outrageous comparisons between the self-inflicted suffering of Palestinian Arabs and the discrimination and humiliation she experienced from white supremacists under segregation.

In his Annapolis address, Abbas failed to even acknowledge Olmert’s groveling remarks. Instead he concentrated on the nakba of Israel’s creation, and reiterated that the solution to the suffering of his people would only be achieved by the implementation of the Arab right of return, a code word for the dissolution of the Jewish state. He subsequently stressed that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

But if that were not enough, our Olmert went one step further, giving the impression that he had truly taken leave of his senses. Taking a cue from Jimmy Carter who had been castigated for his offensive remarks condemning Israel for practicing apartheid, Olmert told the Israeli media that the nation risked being compared to apartheid-era South Africa and “if the two-state solution is shattered… the State of Israel is finished.”

What is this if not outright defeatism? Can one visualize a prime minister in any normal nation making such remarks? What is most exasperating is the deafening silence surrounding these concessions and irresponsible outbursts which increasingly undermine confidence in the justice of our cause. Neither the Knesset nor the cabinet have anything to say. Israel Beiteinu and Shas, whose constituents must be appalled, remain glued to their ministerial posts. Equally
frustrating is that the leader of the opposition, Binyamin Netanyahu, seems to be sanguinely waiting for the political system to implode. This is not good enough. He should be rallying the nation to raise its voice in an unprecedented challenge against those who are leading us into a tunnel from which it will be very difficult to extricate ourselves.

It is said that a country gets the leaders it deserves. Woe unto us if this be true.

The writer is a former chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress and a veteran international Jewish leader.

December 24, 2007 | 4 Comments »

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4 Comments / 4 Comments

  1. Things will change when words become deeds. Olmert can close this settlement or that one, but it will be reopened or new ones begun. When he finally has to face the debacle of his ways in the form of some monstrous terrorist act, he will fall. That he reacted to the Syrian threat shows that he knows where his end lies. Words remain flexible, fungible, hazy at best. Withdrawal is not. He will have to receive something in payment for withdrawal. Otherwise, he is just plain stupid.

  2. I am as guilty as anyone about critisism. Talk is cheap when it comes to Israel’s future. Since I can no longer take an active, personal part in the defence of Israel (fought as a sniper on the Golan in ’73) because of my age and medical problems, I beseach those who can to show up and be counted. Strong poli9tical leaders, Generals of the IDF, leaders in science, medical, educational, manufacturing, farming, and all of you in all other fields to rise up. Toss that BASTARD out of office, indict him as a traitor to Israel and learn to be proud of the finest nation on this Earth. Time is running out for action.

  3. A comment on the Olmert government’s granting Hamas radio broadcast rights from the Temple Mount.

    What does this signify to the Muslim world? It signifies the victory of Islam over Judaism.

    The Arab psychological war against Israel has been unrelenting. The obvious aim is to humiliate and demoralize the Jewish people and show the world that Israel is an artificial and transient state.

    The Arabs are constantly on the offensive, while Israel’s government does nothing more than retreat.

    Indeed, the government has surrendered to the enemy. The general staff knows this. It does nothing because it consists of cowards and careerists.

    While the generals rationalize their passivity in terms of democracy, the rabbis rationalize their passivity in terms of halacha.

    And of course there is no opposition party with enough testosterone to lead a public uprising or initiate a coup.

    This is the end of the story—unless all patriotic groups concentrate their efforts and resources in toppling (rather than in merely criticizing) the Olmert government and replacing it with an entirely new kind government.

  4. Does the Release of Arab Terrorists Contradict Jewish Law

    and the Commandment to Obliterate Amalek?*

    Prof. Paul Eidelberg

    Introduction: Some 700 years ago, the great Rabbi Meir of Rotenberg was abducted and imprisoned in Germany, then under the reign of Rudolph I. Rabbi Meir’s community offered a vast sum of money for his release, but he refused to be ransomed by more than the amount prescribed by Halacha, Jewish law, lest it encourage the abduction of other Jews. The great sage died in prison, after having been incarcerated for seven years.

    This raises the question whether a Jewish soldier abducted by Arab terrorists should be ransomed by Israel’s release of Arab terrorists, or whether, if the soldier could affect the issue, should accept his release under that quid pro quo? This is not a question that can be answered by tyros. Here I offer some historical facts and some thoughts about Jewish law.

    Historical Facts

    In May 1985, Israel’s cabinet, in an unprecedented and unanimous decision, agreed to exchange 1,150 Arab terrorists for three Jewish soldiers captured in Lebanon by the PLO. 600 terrorists were allowed to return to their homes in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. In December 1987, the first intifada erupted, led by some of those released terrorists. Arab violence increased in dramatic fashion, including the kidnapping, murder and rape of Jewish men, women, and children.

    On December 4, 2007, the day after the Olmert Government announced its intention to free 429 Arab terrorists, the Almagor Terror Victim Association reported that, between 1993 and 1999, Israeli governments had released 6,912 terrorists. Of that number, 854 were arrested subsequently for lethal terrorist acts which claimed the lives of 123 Israelis.

    During Ariel Sharon’s 2001-2005 premiership, some 600 terrorists were released, 435 to recover the bodies of three dead soldiers in Lebanon and Elchanon Tannenbaum, an Israeli drug dealer who had collaborated with Hezbollah. During Sharon’s reign, 177 Israelis were killed by terrorists who had been previously released from Israeli jails on the basis that they were “without blood on their hands.” (35 were murdered by prisoners released in Tannenbaum deal.)

    Thus, since 1985, Israeli governments released more than 9,000 terrorists who subsequently murdered at least 300 Israelis. Religious parties collaborated in these decisions, presumably on the Jewish principle of pikuach nefesh (????? ???), the saving of Jewish life—a position which seems to contradict the teaching of Rabbi Meir of Rotenberg.

    Be this as it may, allow me to examine the issue as a layman. I do so to encourage people to think about the subject in Jewish and not merely in political terms, for which purpose they should inquire of their rabbis.

    Jewish Law

    The Jerusalem Talmud declares: “If gentiles [surrounding Israel] demand, ‘Surrender one of yourselves to us and we will kill him; otherwise we shall kill all of you,’ they must all suffer death rather than surrender a single Israelite to them” (Trumot 8, 9).

    The Talmud rules that handing over a Jew who will be killed is itself an act of murder (?????? ????). The prohibition against murder trumps the law of pikuach nefesh.

    The question arises whether the act of releasing terrorists from Israel jails may result in the murder of Jews. Some rabbis say that since it is not definite or immediate that freeing terrorists will result in the death of future victims, we do not have an act of murder here. For example, some years ago a Jewish soldier was abducted by Arab terrorists who, for his freedom, demanded the release of other terrorists. A most learned rabbi suggested that the IDF, immediately after making the exchange, should launch a devastating attack on the terrorists—a provocative position not likely to win acceptance by the government, but worth thinking about.

    The rabbinic opinion about freeing terrorists because of the uncertainty as to whether that will result in future terrorist victims may have been valid when it was rendered before Oslo. Whether it remains valid today is problematic in view of Israel’s experience since 1993, and especially since Arafat’s terror war broke out in September 2000. Israel is now at war with an enemy that has a more professional army equipped with increasingly deadly weapons.

    Jewish law is not an intellectual strait-jacket. An underlying principle of Jewish law is probability. For example: in a town in which nine butcher shops sell kosher meat and one sells non-kosher meat, any meat found in the town is halachically kosher. What determines the status of the meat is not whether it was ritually slaughtered, but the supervening halachic principle of probability (Hullin 11a).

    This principle is so stringent in capital cases that the most compelling circumstantial evidence is not sufficient to permit the Sanhedrin to convict a person accused of murder. However, if murder has become frequent in Israel, the Sanhedrin can delegate capital cases to the King, under whose authority circumstantial evidence may be sufficient for conviction.

    Since the probability principle applies to Jews accused of murder or threatened with death, it may arguably apply to Arab terrorists whose release from Israeli jails has repeatedly resulted in the murder of more Jews. This is not all.


    Some commentators identify the Arabs as Amalek, Israel’s world-historical enemy. In Exodus 17:14, Moses is told, “Write this for a memorial in the Book … I will utterly obliterate the memory of Amalek.” Rashi comments that the Name of God will not be whole until the name of Amalek is blotted out.

    Amalek’s hatred of Israel is manifested in two ways: (1) murdering the weak—like blowing up a school bus—and (2) degrading Judaism—like building mosques on Jewish holy sites.

    After one-third of world Jewry had perished in the Holocaust, and on the very day a homeland was established for the Jewish people after millennia of exile—on that very day the organized armies of the Arabs attacked the fledgling, unarmed Jewish state. Now ponder Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary on Exodus 17:14:

    Esau’s grandson, Amalek, was the first and only nation that, completely unprovoked and unthreatened, attacked Israel on their way to national independence. However weak and tired out they were by their wanderings, this people with women and children seeking a homeland must have appeared … [yet] it was only Amalek … who hurried out of his way to gain renown and take up arms against [Israel] … Amalek’s renown-seeking sword knows no rest so long as one single pulse beats in freedom, and pays no homage to it, so long as any modest, quiet happiness exists which does not tremble before Amalek’s might….

    In Israel Amalek sees an object of mortal hate and complete disdain…. In [Israel], in the idea of the greatness that Man can attain by Peace—in that Jewish idea—Amalek sees the utter scorn of all his own [bellicose] principles. Sees in [Israel] his one real enemy, and senses somehow his own ultimate demise.

    This is the core of the Arabs’ eternal hatred of Israel. Maimonides says of them: “Never did a nation molest, degrade, and hate us so much as they. Thus, when [King] David, of blessed memory, inspired by the Holy Spirit, envisaged the future tribulations of Israel, he bewailed and lamented their lot only in the Kingdom of Ishmael.”

    Consider the obscene vilification and hatred of Jews appearing in the media of the Ishmael’s descendants. Add Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threat to wipe Israel off the map. Some halachic authorities suggest that any nation that arises against the Jewish people to wipe them out has the same status as Amalek, hence, that it would be incumbent upon Israel to wipe them out!

    Well, I will leave you with these thoughts to ponder if and when Israel’s government releases more Arab terrorists.


    *Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, December 24, 1007.

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