Utterances are not just words. They are predecessors of deeds.
Listening to Netanyahu's speech, I almost got carried away. Almost. For a fleeting few moments I thought that we might just get through the event without any damage. It almost seemed that Netanyahu had read my ‘dream speech’ and was actually influenced by it.
Even when he mentioned the unmentionable two words (hyphenated with the add-on –demilitarized) I wasn’t overly surprised. My immediate reaction was, ‘well, he had no choice, and he’s laid down conditions that are far beyond the capabilities of our next-door neighbors to even attempt to agree to.' After all, we know that they’ll never agree to Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ because that undermines their basic premise that Israel equals Palestine. The Arab's ‘right of return’ demand guarantees that this will not only remain a statement, but rather a not too distant reality.
Clearly, they will also reject a ‘demilitarized state’ because these two terms are seemingly contradictory. A ‘state’ which is sovereign must have the right to a military force, otherwise it really isn’t sovereign. So, one way or the other – is it a state, or not?
Of course, the password, a ‘united Jerusalem’ was almost the icing on the cake. (Except that Netanyahu forgot to add on the final clause, ‘under Israeli sovereignty.’)
Much of the speech was positive, speaking of our rights to our land, speaking complementarily of the ‘settlers’ in Judea and Samaria, and perhaps most importantly, declaring that the major obstacle to peace is Arab rejection of the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel.
All well and good.
Then, with a little thought, reality caught up with me.
Clearly Netanyahu believes, and perhaps very rightly so, that Israel’s Arab neighbors will never accept the conditions he has required in order for Israel to agree to creation of a palestinian state. But Bibi has made now the same mistake he made 10 years ago, a mistake first made by one of his predecessors, some 30 years ago.
At the end of last week my wife and I (celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary) spent a couple of days wandering around Jerusalem. One of our stops was the Davidson Center, adjacent to the Western Wall, which presents a fascinating computer reproduction of the vicinity of Temple Mount 2,000 years ago. Still having a couple of hours free Friday afternoon, we decided to visit the Begin Center, not far from the Old City. We had heard that the exhibit there was interesting and decided to check it out.
The Center itself, I found to be enchanting. Tremendous thought and work were invested in telling the story of the life of Menachem Begin, a most significant character in pre-State, and later, post-State Israel. The exhibit was broken up in various periods in Begin's life. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the content, up to a point.
When the program was over I told my wife that twice during the presentation I almost cried: when Begin was elected Prime Minister in 1977, and later, seeing a destroyed home in Yamit, with Begin quoted as having said that the pain of the destruction would remain with him till his dying day. She dittoed my thoughts.
Begin surely opposed a Palestinian state. He suggested only 'palestinian autonomy.' The magnetic magnitude of peace surely took precedence over a few thousand people in Yamit and the other Sinai communities. So Begin thought. But he never took into account the historic significance of the precedents he established with those fateful decisions in the early 1980s. Autonomy has translated into sovereign statehood and Yamit into the legitimacy to obliterate Gush Katif and north Samaria communities four years ago.
One of the most serious repercussions was not only the actual decisions, but the person who made and implemented them. Menachem Begin was the leader of the Israeli right, with a capital T. He set a precedent, not only for Rabin-Peres, but also for Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997 in Hebron, and for Ariel Sharon in 2005. Netanyahu and Sharon were also undisputed leaders of the right. If the right can do it, than what can they possibly say when the left takes power and follows in their footsteps?
This was the trap set for Binyamin Netanyahu again, now, in 2009, and he fell for it, hook, line and sinker.
When Bibi opened his mouth and spilled out the mantra - palestinian state, despite the fact that he hyphenated that phrase with the word 'demilitarized,' he too acknowledged and sanctioned this vile concept as legitimate, even in the eyes of the Israeli right. This is an historic error of which the ramifications are beyond measure.
In 1997, prior to finalizing the Hebron Accords, Bibi met with Hebron leaders. He promised them explicitly that should the community come under attack from the hills or neighborhoods abandoned to Arafat, he would 'send in the tanks.' Bibi made many mistakes, but one of the most serious was his illusion that he'd be Prime Minister forever. When the shooting did start, he was far, far from the Prime Minister's office.
As is was then, so too it is today. It might be assumed that Netanyahu really doesn't want a Palestinian state and that the conditions he set down will prevent creation of such a terrorist entity for the time being. At least during Netanyahu's reign. But what about after Netanyahu? He will not be Prime Minister for eternity. Just as Begin's autonomy has filtered into 'a sovereign state,' so too, Netanyahu's demilitarized Palestinian state will transform into a 'palestinian state' with the 'demilitarized' lost in the paperwork. So too, his demand that Israel be recognized as a "Jewish state' will fade into 'acceptance of Israel, leaving the door open for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of so-called 'palestinian refugees' to 'come home.' Where will we be then? After all, THE LEADER - a RIGHT-WING LEADER, gave his stamp of approval!
I have no doubt that the 10 spies, some 3,500 years ago, had no idea of the damage they would cause when they rejected Eretz Yisrael, as we read in last week's Torah portion. Had they an inkling of the historic backlash of their words, I'm sure they would have acted differently. But that cannot be an accepted excuse. We are held accountable for our actions, and serious errors can have even more serious aftereffects. Utterances are not just words. They are predecessors of deeds.
So too with Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to acquiesce to King Hussein in the White House. He has placed the gods of the 'international situation' above the G-d of Israel. He spoke of the intrinsic value of Eretz Yisrael, while in his next breath admitting that part of our beloved homeland would be sacrificed to the idols of 'peace.' He praised residents of Judea and Samaria, but… what about Hebron and Kiryat Arba, what about Shilo and Beit El, what about Eli and Tapuach, what about Beit Hagai and Maon? What will be the fate of Ma'arat HaMachpela, or more importantly, Temple Mount?
Netanyahu's acceptance of a palestinian state in the heart of Eretz Yisrael is the ultimate betrayal of our land, our people, our Torah, our G-d. He has placed himself on a very short list of ignominious people.
Binyamin Netanyahu – the latest eleventh spy.