Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Sivan 5761 - May 30, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Trying to See Ahead

Prime Minister Sharon definitely deserves credit for finally taking the battle with the Palestinians to the field which has the most crucial action: the international press. His first action in that area seems to have been moderately successful.

Last week Sharon held his first press conference since taking office. Speaking mostly in Hebrew and, uncharacteristically, from a prepared text, Sharon delivered a long statement whose upshot was a unilateral declaration of a cease fire with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians immediately rejected the offer both in word and deed. Without even bothering to try to put up a peace- loving appearance, Palestinian spokesmen rejected Sharon's offer as "not serious" and as "failing to address the major issues." In the eyes of the world media, the exchange was clearly a victory for Sharon, who held out his hand in peace and was rejected by the Palestinians.

One of the main public relations problems for Israel in the current conflict is that the Palestinian spokesmen paint the situation as an action-counteraction conflict in which Israel is as aggressive as they are. Few bother to ask about Israeli aggression, and to find out that the "aggression" that the Palestinians accuse us of is basically our existence. The "settlements" are said to be the problem, though Palestinians often include Tel Aviv and Rechovot as well as Ofra and Kfar Darom in this category.

Sharon's initiative, to the superficial news consumer, will make the truth evident: that the initiative for the violence is entirely from the Palestinian side. The Israeli army only responds to Palestinian attacks. The Palestinians are unashamed to include on the list of their dead those who died as suicide bombers, those who died in the process of preparing bombs and those who were killed in self-defense as they shot at others. (Several on the Palestinian lists of intifadah dead are known to have died of natural causes.) The list of Israeli dead is made up of people who were engaged in entirely innocent activities such as shopping or driving when they were murdered.

Still it is clear that Sharon's good move must be just the first in a persistent campaign that will have to be played out over several months if not longer. Media images are not so easy to change, and the Palestinians have certainly created a strong world perception of powerful Israel using "excessive force" against the poor Palestinians who only want their basic "rights." The fact that this is so distant from the reality of unbridled, savage, incessant Palestinian attacks on innocent civilians eliciting measured responses in self defense makes the Israeli task easier, but nonetheless far from easy.

One of the difficult aspects is the murkiness of the situation which makes it almost impossible to formulate tactical goals. Is there a functioning Palestinian Authority? At Camp David the younger leaders were said to be more pragmatic; it was Arafat and his friends who refused to consider any agreement. Should the goal be to force Arafat back into negotiations, or to force him out and to cultivate new leaders? Should efforts be concentrated on military achievements or public relations (these two seem to conflict)?

We see that murderous efforts of our enemies produce minimal casualties, while our own greed and sloppiness causes the collapse of a building with dozens killed and hundreds injured.

We are constantly forced into the realization that everything is directed from above and, whatever our tactical goals, our most effective tactics are Torah and tefilloh.

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