Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Sivan 5761 - June 6, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Sharon's Next Moves

From the beginning of the current Palestinian-initiated violence on erev Rosh Hashana this past year, it was common wisdom that PA head Yasser Arafat was trying to use his weakness in the field to defeat Israel on the world media stage. It was clear that his strategy was to provoke Israel more and more, to try to use Israel's military effectiveness in order to bring world pressure against Israel, by introducing an international observer force in order to "protect" the Palestinians from Israeli military might.

Though it was clear from the outset that Arafat and the Palestinians were prepared for a long struggle and did not expect a quick resolution, yet Arafat's hope, it was said, was that Israel would, in the course of its retaliation against Palestinian provocations, cause some terrible, bloody civilian tragedy which would galvanize world opinion against Israel.

Now Israel, tragically and most certainly without soliciting it, has suffered precisely that kind of devastating attack. The savage murder of 19 innocent teenagers in the heart of Tel Aviv and the maiming and injuring of almost 100 others, has dramatically brought home the low, unbridled and indiscriminate violence practiced by the Palestinian terrorists in a way that the attacks on those who could be dismissed as settlers never did.

Prime Minister Sharon wisely elected not to launch an immediate military response to wring out the full impact as it was gathering in the world press. Even Arafat realized that his usual excuses would not be worth much and instead condemned the violence and called for a cease fire.

In the short term Sharon is in a good position. If Arafat actually implements a cease fire in response, then Sharon wins the significant increase in security that would bring. If Arafat's nice declaration is not followed by facts on the ground then Sharon becomes (at least for the time being) the established peace monger and more importantly he begins to take control of events; Arafat is responding to him rather than the other way around. Up until now all the initiative was on the Palestinian side; even Sharon could do no more than respond to Palestinian attacks, for the most part.

By deciding not to respond immediately and continuing his recent policy of restraint, Sharon has seized the initiative. He can still respond next week when the main excitement has died down. An important thing for the dynamics of the talks is that Sharon is in control and Arafat is merely responding.

Sharon has given Arafat another chance -- perhaps his last -- to return to the path of peace and civilized behavior, however the chances of this really happening are not great. Arafat apparently does not want, and perhaps cannot, assert his full control over the many independent terror organizations that operate throughout the West Bank.

Critical decisions and strategy will have to be formulated within the coming weeks.

The situation is grave and fraught with danger for Klal Yisroel, but we must remember that our true power is in our mouth -- the mouth used for tefilloh. We must beseech Hashem to help our brethren wherever they are, and to make an end to our troubles.

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