Israel Resource Review 24th August, 2006


Rationale Used by "Peace Now" to Destroy Jewish Communities in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights
Yariv Oppenheimer
Secretary General of Peace Now

[The following article, published in Maariv on August 23rd, 2006, cannot be ignored. There are two reasons: 1. "Peace Now" is represented on the highest levels of decision making in the Israeli government. Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz and Israel Education Minister Yuli Tamir are both founding, active members of "Peace Now". Therefore, what we read should be seen as an informal policy statement of the government of Israel.

2. "Peace Now" continues to be funded through the good offices of six European governments, (!revelation), working with an operating budget of 600,000 Euro per annum with an unchanged mandate to influence public opinion to destroy Jewish communities in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. - db]

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Israeli-Syrian conflict, play into the hands of Iran, which seeks to destroy Israel, and serve as fertile ground for expanding the opposition to Israel in the Middle East, in the Arab countries and throughout the entire world.

In the internal Arab arena, Hizbullah and the extremist Islamic elements are using the conflict with the Palestinians and with Syria to justify their actions against Israel, and to unite the Arab world on their side. It is very difficult to convince the world in general, and the Arab world in particular, of the justness of our cause, when in recent years Israel has appeared as an occupying state, which controls some 3.5 million Palestinians and constantly battles against them. The continuation of the occupation undermines Israel's international legitimacy in the world, and portrays it as the aggressor in the Middle East.

Militarily speaking, the war with the Palestinians strengthens the situation of our enemies from the north and the east. Even before the outbreak of the confrontation in the north, large forces were forced to deal with routine security tasks throughout the West Bank, instead of training and preparing for a violent military clash that could break out at any moment. From a budgetary standpoint as well, the IDF has been forced to invest huge sums in guarding settlements and fighting the Palestinians, at the expense of training and buying equipment for confrontations with Arab states and terror organizations.

Instead of training for fighting the enemy, soldiers of the Armored Corps, Engineering Corps and infantry were compelled to stand for hours at roadblocks in the territories and to run around in the Palestinian villages in search of wanted men.

Moreover, the war in the north exposed the fact that in the Intifada years, the Palestinian terror organizations carefully studied the IDF's modes of operation, and passed on the information to hostile elements such as Iran and Hizbullah. All these things weakened the IDF's strength and damaged the army's readiness for the approaching war.

Within Israeli society, the war in the north proved that even if there are differences of opinion on the necessity of the military operation and the tactics by which it was waged, at the end of the day the national consensus is broader than ever.

When there is no question of controlling another people, establishing settlements and occupying land, the IDF and the government are given full backing from the Israeli public to fight an enemy that seeks to destroy the entire state.

At the conclusion of the warfare in the north, Israeli society must accept the immediate need to quickly move towards peace with Syria and the Palestinians, and to establish a Palestinian state that will live as a neighbor alongside Israel. Resolving the conflict with Syria, ending the occupation and establishing a permanent border between Israel and the Palestinians are a strategic need, which will enable Israel to stand firm against the increasing threats on the part of Iran and the extremist Islamic movements, which seek the destruction of the state.

Only peace agreements with the Palestinians and Syria will succeed in isolating fundamentalist Islam and leading to final and absolute recognition by the Arab world of the State of Israel's status and right to exist.

In the new reality, peace is neither a privilege nor a luxury. Peace is a strategic asset of the first order, which will enable Israel to face existential dangers. Conversely, the continuation of the confrontation in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the conflict with Syria, will continue to weigh down on Israel's neck like a millstone, and will damage the state's military, diplomatic and internal fortitude in the face of existential threats from without.

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For Uzi Landau, the Handwriting was on the Wall
Mazal Mualem Haaretz 24 August 2006

[With thanks to IMRA for bringing this to our attention]

A day before the current government was sworn in, on April 17, former Knesset member Uzi Landau found out he has prostate cancer. This grave news came on top of the Likud defeat in the elections, his personal failure to obtain a realistic place in the party's Knesset list and the failure of the rebellion he had led in the Likud to stop the disengagement.

At age 63, after 22 years in politics as a Knesset member and a minister, and after two turbulent years as head of the rebel group, Landau suddenly found himself outside the political game, with a cancerous tumor to fight. He is an organized man, stubborn and rational; predictably he saw no symbolism between the newly found tumor and the blow to his political career.

After consulting several doctors, Landau decided on a treatment strategy, and he had a successful operation a month ago in Paris. Fortunately the tumor was discovered at an early stage and had not spread.

Granting a first interview since his illness became public, Landau adamantly blocks discussing it or how he has coped. He sums up the ordeal with typical briefness and distance. "Prostate cancer is very common among men", he says.

"I had to treat it. I consulted experts. I treated it. That's it. Now I'm in after-care."

"Now" is the middle of August 2006. Precisely a year to the Gaza disengagement, a week from the end of the second Lebanon war, which of course Landau links to the Gaza withdrawal, eight months from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's exit from the political arena. A different era.

He arrives for the interview in sandals, far from the buttoned-up image of Landau the politician. These days he is looking into a few job offers in the private sector and academia; he has a doctorate in civil engineering.

He does not miss politics nor most of the politicians. He stays in touch with Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, and Knesset members Natan Sharansky and Moshe Kahlon, but says he has no intention of returning to political life. A man who was one of the media's most celebrated politicians in the two years prior to the disengagement has not been seen on televisions screens for several months. He is forgotten, along with all of his fellow rebels, who held center stage in the public discourse for a long while.

You probably want to shout out that you were right? Qassams, Katyushas.

Landau: "I have nothing new to say. It doesn't interest me to say I was right. Nothing came as a surprise. The disengagement caused a terrible split in the nation, has promoted the radicals and made Hezbollah understand that the Jews understand only force. We are now in a much worse situation than we were a month ago. But I was made to look delusional, because part and parcel of the campaign against the disengagement opposition was a nonsensical discourse. They said I was a war monger."

Surely you assess the next war to be approaching?

"The odds are much greater today of a war with Syria. The only possibility to prevent a war is to make clear to everyone that you are ready for it. Because when you face a terror organization that sees you as cobweb, there is no way to avoid confrontation. We found ourselves in the current conflict in Lebanon because we were not ready to take chances, so we paid a heavier price. If a Palestinian terrorist is released now from prison, we are laying the foundations for the next kidnapping."

Do you sympathize with those calling for Olmert, Peretz and Halutz to resign?

"Yes. In any normal country the trio would not be allowed to go on functioning. You don't have to wait for outsiders to tell you so. This is our tragedy. I was disappointed. I thought Olmert would behave differently.

I expected him to be firm. I thought we would end this war on a different note. This is a trio of unworthy people. Olmert is very clever. He knows how to make decisions, but not regarding policy and war. Peretz has no understanding whatsoever. He speaks of negotiations with Syria, so the Syrians are confident that we lost, since they understand only force. And we have a foreign minister who is doing her internship in foreign policy.

All of this at Israel's most difficult period, with the public paying the price."

The question of whether a state commission of inquiry should be established brings him back to the days of Sharon and releases pent-up anger against the media:

"I'm not a lover of inquiry commissions", he says, "but I wish a committee would be set up to examine the media, which has to ask itself how it was used as a mouthpiece for the government during the last five years, particularly during the disengagement. It was one of Israel's greatest tragedies. The country was run by a gang of media spinners, Sharon's media consultants were only concerned with Sharon's interest, and not with the country's interest.

"Journalism in Israel is a cartel. You cannot express yourself, and you cannot conduct a debate. This journalism has deluded the public and prevented a serious discussion. For a long time there was a desire to keep the facade. Even now the same interviewers are inviting the same commentators and the same consultants and all those who drove us into the mud. For 13 years the elite has been explaining to us that we are the occupation and justice is with the Palestinians. We were brainwashed that the Israel Defense Forces cannot win, that it is all about the occupation. No real debate took place.

"Oslo does not represent only a physical withdrawal. It was a mental withdrawal. The entire country was reprogrammed. We escaped from Lebanon. The Four Mothers model also hurt us. All the rhetoric since has rendered Israel's rational capacity impotent."

But the public did not go for your proposal. The disengagement happened and the great revolution failed.

"I don't think that the rebels failed. That period was the height of my political activity in my 22 years of Knesset membership. We proved that not everyone in the Likud is for sale."

The disengagement took place, you brought about the splitting of the Likud, and most of you stayed outside the Knesset. That's a failure.

"The Likud would have split in any case. Maybe we shouldn't have voted against the appointments of Ministers Ze'ev Boim and Ronnie Bar-On in the second round. We gave Arik an easy way out. Ruby Rivlin told me, 'Arik is looking for an excuse to leave the Likud, so even if he intends to appoint a horse, I am going to vote for it. I will not give him an excuse.' In retrospect, Ruby was right."

Landau, the leader who contended for the party leadership, was left without a relevant central message. Without a real opponent. At the end of the day he also forfeited the dream, withdrew his candidacy and teamed up with Netanyahu. These were already the days of his political decline. In the Likud's elections for the Knesset list, he found himself 14th, an unrealistic place.

Landau believes that the combination of his inexperience at wheeling and dealing and punishment for spliting the Likud kept him out of the Knesset. He says he had lost the joy of politics and hoped not to be elected: "On my way to the trade fairs, while I was listening to the polls on the radio, I said to myself, 'I wish the Likud would not reach 14 mandates.' I didn't want to be in this Knesset."

Do you think of Sharon sometimes?

"Of course. I also have had several conversations with Omri. On a personal level, I am grieving. All the ganging up on Sharon was a very difficult thing for me. I appreciated him. In 1973 I was part of his force that crossed the [Suez] canal, and it was a sweet song. All the glory was his. Sharon's honor is dear to me, but the honor of the country is even dearer.

"To this day it is unclear what he was thinking of with the disengagement. In 1995 Sharon was asked, 'How did Rabin go to Oslo?' Sharon replied, 'Rabin is a different man'. I can say the same of Sharon. He was a different man when he commanded the disengagement. I have no other way to explain it. That is not the Sharon I knew. To this moment I cannot grasp the disengagement issue. As far as I am concerned, it's the handiwork of media spin."

Is it like they claim, that Sharon is one of the responsible for the Lebanon failure?

"When I was the minister in charge of secret services overview, we had a cabinet meeting on an occasion when Hezbollah attacked our soldiers. 2001 if I recall correctly. Arik ordered for the first time to respond with an attack on a Syrian target. We took down a Syrian radar station. For me that was like breathing clear mountain air. A government that understands that the real enemy is Syria, and not anyone else. It was one specific operation, but we held to that guideline. In effect, Arik did not deal with Lebanon. We did not deal with the Lebanese issue properly. Naturally all the attention was on the terror."

Landau sees all the processes that Israel has undergone since Oslo as a consistent weakening, "A slippery slope."

"I look at the Arabs. When they wage their war against us, they are certain they are right. The Arabs fight for justice, we fight for peace and security. It has a devastating effect".

According to Landau, the social and leadership conduct since Oslo projects weakness. He finds another expression to this "in the behavior of the Arab Knesset members", whom he calls a fifth column. "This is our stupidity", he says. "We are the only country in the world which allows use of the democratic instrument to undermine its Jewish democratic nature. It's another expression of our inner weakness. Ahmad Tibi cannot be a member of the Israeli Knesset."

Any thoughts of returning to politics?

"I cannot find a reason to come back to politics today, unless it is to a position from which I have crucial influence. I was already a Knesset member and a minister. On the personal level I have achieved everything a politician could aim for."

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