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Op-Ed: Within the Walls

Many things are allowed someone involved in politics, but naivete is not one of them. We know that Ariel Sharon may need the National Religious party and National Union in order to pass some harsh economic measures, in order to get through the Gulf war period, and afterwards, if he is then able, or coerced, to open negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, he can remove those
Published: Monday, March 10, 2003 1:09 AM


Approximately 3,200 years ago two women stood at the center of two international events that changed the course of history - Rahav the harlot and Helena of Troy.

Rahav the harlot hid the Israelite spies, assisted in their escape and made the conquest of the first city in the Land of Israel possible. It was, perhaps, the first example of political harlotry. Helena of Troy, one of the heroines of the Greek epos, was kidnaped and became the excuse for a war that was eventually won thanks to the interjection of a giant horse, within which were secreted the conquering soldiers, into the city of Troy. It was, perhaps, the first example of wartime deception; and it gave birth to a term used until today - the Trojan Horse.

About three years ago, I completed a long period of service in the Israel Defense Forces. After having been the senior commanding officer of the medical corps, which was an administrative position, I very much wanted to return to clinical medicine, to treat the sick and injured. I was also thankful for the opportunity to express my opinion freely on diplomatic, security, social, and other public matters, in the media. I was able to say exactly what I wanted to, to express my opinion, and my opinion alone. I was not responsible to any entity, to any organization. I was able to say what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is good, what must be done and what is forbidden.

However, at the moment I decided to cross the line, to leave those who write columns to join those involved in politics, I knew that I was imposing limitations on myself. I knew that I would not always be able to say what I wanted and that I would have to take into account the impact of my words on the general direction of the party of which I am a member. The Moledet party itself, when it entered into the coalition making up the National Union, took upon itself limitations stemming from the larger framework, which can bring greater success to the central ideas that we seek to promote.

These statements are not made as simplistic platitudes of a political novice. The question of whether or not Moledet should join the government of Ariel Sharon while the coalition agreement included his ?Herzliya speech? was the main question we debated. Some of my best friends vociferously expressed their opinion against joining the coalition. They said to me the same pure truths that I would have said in their places, just a few months ago.

There was a need to make a decision regarding a practical matter: What would best serve the interest of preventing the creation of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan - to remain outside the coalition because of an indirect mention in the coalition agreement of the prime minister?s intention to create such a state, or to enter the government and, in so doing, prevent the entry of the Labor party, and to build within the government a bloc that has the power to prevent the creation of an enemy state west of the Jordan?

It is undoubtedly far more comfortable to remain within the walls of the hospital. It is more pleasant to be involved in healing people. It is more aesthetic to remain on the purely ideological level, and to say: the coalition agreement that supports - yes, even with such stringent terms and prerequisites that it perhaps cannot happen in our generation - the creation of a Palestinian state, such an agreement undermines the very essence of the claim of the people of Israel to the Land of Israel. However, I did not enter the world of politics in order to be aesthetic or correct. With eyes wide open, I entered that world - which has those involved in political harlotry, which has horses and riders, and which also has wartime deceptions - in order to attempt to contribute, even if only a little, to the victory of the national-diplomatic idea in which I believe. I entered into all of that in order to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, for such a state west of the Jordan will bring about the destruction of the state of Israel. Therefore, even if we be accused of political harlotry, of the Rahav school, we will breach the walls, and we will be the Trojan Horse that will prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Many things are allowed someone involved in politics, but naivete is not one of them. We know that Ariel Sharon may need the National Religious party and National Union in order to pass some harsh economic measures, in order to get through the Gulf war period, and afterwards, if he is then able, or coerced, to open negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, he can remove those opposing a Palestinian state from his government and bring in the Labor party. That possibility is very clear to us, but we have already learned that such an eventuality is only one of several possible future scripts. It is impossible to know if it will come to pass, and if it does, it is impossible to know when. On the other hand, it was clear to us that if we stayed out, the prime minister would have taken his coalition agreement and joined with the Labor party already. And that, to my understanding, is bad for the people of Israel.

Despite this political analysis, I sat in the Knesset with a heavy heart as the prime minister introduced his government to the Knesset. Only when I heard representatives of the opposition, from Labor through Meretz and to the Arab parties, did I then know that we made the right decision. All of them charged the new government with being the most ?right-wing and nationalist? of Israeli governments ever, that Avigdor Lieberman and Effie Eitam will not allow Sharon to take one step towards the creation of a Palestinian state. But for precisely that reason we are there. Rest assured, opposition members, that your words have put my mind at ease.
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Professor Eldad, a 25 year veteran of the IDF medical corps (Brig.-Gen.) and a department head at Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital, is a representative of the National Union faction in the Knesset.
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