Time to Act
Michael Freund, Arutz Sheva (right-wing on-line
radio station), Israel, June 6, 2001
World Press Review, August 2001
Sitting on the couch in front of the television, full of anger
and frustration, I clench my fists and consider whether pounding
on the screen will somehow bring this madness to an end. I am
sick and tired of watching Jews die nearly every evening on the
The events of recent weeks have left us all breathless and
bewildered. One shocking terror attack is followed abruptly by
another, which is then quickly forgotten as the next incident
flashes on our screens a few hours later. Despite occasional respites,
such as the present cease-fire, the macabre dance of death continues
to haunt us, threatening to re-ignite at any moment.
For over eight months, the Palestinian Authority has been
committing atrocity after atrocity, Iynching our soldiers, burning
down our holy sites, and blowing up Jewish children.
We know who the perpetrators are, we know where they live,
and yet we seem powerless to stop them. According to the Israel
Defense Forces, there have been a total of 4,823 shooting attacks
against Israeli soldiers and civilians since the start of the
second Intifada last September, an average of nearly one attack
every hour over an eight-month period. If this is not a war, then
why are we calling the current hiatus a "cease-fire"?
And if it is a war, then why aren't we fighting it?
It is hard to believe this is the same country that vanquished
its enemies in just six days back in 1967, or rescued Jewish hostages
at an isolated Ugandan airport called Entebbe in 1976. Where have
all our heroes gone? What has happened to the Jewish pride and
the Zionist values that enabled Israel to withstand the most difficult
of challenges? It is as if we have learned nothing from history,
not one thing. After 2,000 years of exile and persecution, the
Jewish people did not hang on just to create another Diaspora,
like outpost of fear on the shores of the Mediterranean. l Through
our passivity, we have tragically begun to turn the State of Israel
into the Shtetl of Israel, as we hide under our beds waiting helplessly
for the next Palestinian pogrom.
The cold, hard truth is staring us all in the face. Everyone
knows we are at war, everyone feels we are in a battle for the
country's survival, yet we continue to delude ourselves, refusing
to acknowledge what we know to be the truth: Yasser Arafat has
declared war on the Jewish people. It is time that he be treated
No other country would tolerate ongoing terrorist incursions
into the heart of its territory. The Palestinian Authority has
become a threat to the safety and well-being of Israel's citizens,
and it is a threat that must be overcome. The United States spares
no effort to track down and punish Osama bin Laden, going to the
ends of the Earth if necessary to protect its citizens. There
is no reason why Israel should refrain from doing the same.
The Oslo process is dead because Arafat killed it. Former
Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinian leader far more
than he could ever have hoped to receive from an Israeli leader.
Rather than responding with a counteroffer, Arafat reached for
his pistol. He drew first blood, and now it is time for him to
The Jewish people must regain their composure and raise their
heads with pride and determination. This is a people that survived
the ovens of Europe and the prisons of Siberia. We overcame Nasser's
armies, Assad's air force, and King Hussein's artillery. The Jewish
people do not have to apologize for winning nor must we excuse
ourselves for surviving.
At this difficult hour, Israel needs a "fireside chat."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a man of integrity, and the country
needs to hear from him, to be reassured by him, just as President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt's candid addresses bolstered the morale
of the American people during World War II. Sharon's message should
be straight and to the point: This is a war. We didn't ask for
it, and we didn't start it. But we will end it.
No one knows better than Prime Minister Sharon what needs
to be done. That is why he was chosen by an overwhelming majority
of the electorate. If there is a war to be won, he is the man
to do the job.
Yes, the Security Council will convene, the Europeans will
be hopping mad, and the Syrians will make threatening gestures.
Israel will pay a heavy diplomatic price for defending itself,
but it is a price that pales in comparison with the innocent lives
that are being lost to terror every day. It is not a pretty picture,
nor even a particularly desirable one. But we have no choice.
This cannot continue. Your time is up, Arafat. The Jewish people
have had enough.
The writer was deputy director of communications and policy
planning under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.