Why Now?

Who would have guessed that Sharansky would become an Israeli politician and government minister? Who would have predicted that he would become so internationally respected? And who would have thought that I'd be so suspicious of him?

Batya Medad,

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My father, who'll G-d willing be 85 this summer, keeps telling me that he thinks that I write well, but he wishes that I wouldn't write such depressing things. I'm sorry, but even when I plan something "light", it evolves into thoughts I'd rather not have.

I have no real control over my musings. No matter how much planning I put into them, something takes over. Even if I know exactly what I am going to write, there's no guarantee that the final product will resemble the essay that I planned.

This time, I certainly can't promise something cheerful. My father, the CPA, always warned me to be suspicious, and I learned the lesson well, maybe even too well. My problem is that I see dangers where others don't and I have difficulties trusting politicians. You know what they say about paranoids having enemies? Unfortunately, sometimes I'm right.

Close to thirty years ago, demonstrating for the release of Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky from Soviet prison, I never would have guessed that I'd be writing an article like this. Then, it was known that he was brilliant and charismatic, but who would have guessed that he would become an Israeli politician and government minister? Who would have predicted that he would become so internationally respected? And who would have thought that I'd be so suspicious of him?

Today's headlines proclaim: "Sharansky: Would Be Immoral to Remain in Gov't" and "Sharansky resigns over disengagement"

I have a problem with his timing; why now? Disengagement was proclaimed months ago. Other ministers who disagreed with it were fired. Why particularly now has Natan Sharansky decided to resign? Also, when you read the "fine print", his reasons and rationale, further down in the articles, things look different and less noble. Listen carefully to him, and learn that: "Although he has in the past supported withdrawal from parts of the Land of Israel, Sharansky says the current plan goes too far." (Arutz-7) And the Jerusalem Post writes: "In a long letter of resignation, Sharansky cited the need for democratization of Palestinian government in Gaza as a pre-requisite for an Israeli pullout."

This is very different from the anti-Disengagement lobby. I don't see him as opposing Disengagement in principle. He is in favor of withdrawal, but just wants to change the details of the agreement. Or he just wants to wait until the Arabs act more like "Westerners".

There are two simple possibilities for his resignation at this time. One is that he wants to improve his standing as a national leader, figuring that he has more charisma, international standing and better "name recognition" than the three most prominent leaders - Dr. Aryeh Eldad, Ruby Rivlin and Uzi Landau. He figures that there's a vacuum in Israeli society and he wants to fill it.

Another reason is more sinister, or mercenary. According to the Jerusalem Post, by resigning he is no longer employed and therefore no longer restricted: "[U]nemployment would allow Sharansky to accept honoraria for speeches abroad promoting his book, The Case For Democracy, which has been endorsed by US President George W. Bush."

One thing for sure, all the headlines proclaiming that Sharansky resigned because he opposes Disengagement are misleading. And they are meant to make us think that he is anti-Disengagement and anti-withdrawal. His aim is to weaken the support for the real leaders, Eldad, Rivlin, Landau and all the others who have been consistently opposing withdrawal and destruction.

It's all a trick. Sharansky may have survived Soviet imprisonment, and you can respect him for that. But he is not an anti-Disengagement leader. We don't need Sharansky pretending to be one of us and we don't need the media cooperating with him.

It is particularly my neighbors who emigrated from the former USSR who are most spooked by the familiar intrigues emanating from Israeli government officials; it's deja vu for them. Many of them, like Sharansky, are experts in the game of chess. They know that one must watch from all directions and predict how each move can influence the future.

One should never be too naive or too trusting when playing with a pro like Sharansky.

Copyright©2005BatyaMedad, Contact me for publication permission; private distribution encouraged.