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Not with my vote: An Open Letter to Bibi

By Paula Stern
11/28/2009, 12:00 AM
It is strange to include this post in a blog about being a soldier's mother and yet, it belongs here. I write this as an Israeli, as a Jew living in the land of Israel. The mistakes the government makes this week, will require the army's cooperation to implement and ultimately, defend against.

An Open Letter to Bibi Netanyahu from a Former Likud Member


One of the first political things I did in the early years after making aliyah more than 16 years ago, was join the Likud party. It was the party of Menachem Begin; it was the party of strength. It was a party not afraid to make peace and not afraid to wage war. It did both with pride and determination. From Menachem Begin, the torch was handed to Ariel Sharon.

Ariel Sharon was supposed to be the lion of Judea. The war hero. Arik. He visited my yishuv in those early years and like many, I went to hear him speak. He stood gazing at the Mediterranean from a hill a few minutes from my home and explained that it would be insane for Israel to pull out of Samaria (Shomron). “You don’t surrender the hills,” Sharon said that day.

I voted for Sharon, as I would have voted for Menachem Begin if I had managed to come to Israel at a younger age. With pride and determination. I gave him my vote because I believed he would uphold the vision of the Likud party – strength, honor, and an unwavering commitment to the land and people of Israel.

Sharon lied. Beyond the corruption that he and subsequent Israeli leaders have shown, Sharon committed the worst sin imaginable in political life. He betrayed his followers. He stole my vote and used it to evacuate Gush Katif. He did it with malice and cruelty, to a people who had supported him, trusted him.

I vowed then and there to quit the Likud. Not with my vote will Likud betray its supporters and the land of Israel. Not with my vote...but friends convinced me that the worst of the party had pulled themselves out into Kadima and that the Likud that remained would return to its roots. I wanted desperately to believe. I canceled my cancelation. I decided to try to believe. I listened, I hoped, I voted. One last time, I listened to the voices who spoke of party strength and vision, a commitment to the land of Israel and the future.

I believed and voted for Bibi Netanyahu as the only viable candidate to save us from worse and almost immediately after my vote, I realized that I had been wrong, they had been wrong. Bibi was not the visionary; he would bend to the Americans and international pressure. I had voted for Bibi, and received Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres. The dream of the Likud is gone - we were following Yitzhak Rabin's road. Lost. Betrayed. Gone.

I couldn't change my vote, but I could stop my membership. What would be done, would not be done with my name, my support. A few months ago, I called my bank and canceled my membership in the Likud. “Not with my vote,” I told my friends. Whatever Bibi Netanyahu will do, it won’t be with my support.

In the last few days, as expected, Bibi betrayed the Likud members, as surely and as completely as Ariel Sharon betrayed the residents of Gush Katif and northern Shomron. Bibi turned his back on Menachem Begin and the doctrine of strength he believed would bring Israel to peace. With pride and determination, I tell you, Bibi, you do not have my support. You do not have my vote and you do not have my faith.

We have no peace partner. You know this, you have said it enough times. But you will do this – stop building in our land, in exchange for promises of American support from  Barack Hussein Obama. What a fool you are and what a fool you have made of Likud.

But this time, it was not with my support. This time, Likud veers to the left and I continue on the path that Menachem Begin and others proposed years ago. There will be peace when the Palestinians accept who we are, what we are, and where we are. Not because we pulled out of Gaza, not because we stopped building for 10 months, and not because of any other stupid and meaningless concessions you throw at their door.

All you do, as Sharon and Rabin did before you, means nothing if you can’t accept that simple fact…and more, if you lack the courage to explain it to the world. The closer you come to convincing the world that we might achieve this imagined peace you seek, the sooner bombs will start exploding in our streets. Hamas will push you back to sanctions and actions so that they can cry their tears and demand world condemnation.

And when the bombs explode…you’ll order a closure to try to prevent further attacks. Too late, as it always is, to save those murdered in cold blood, the innocents you were charged to protect. But you'll play the game Hamas has put before you. You'll talk the talk and impose a closure and you'll expect the world to condemn...but they won't. They never do. The world will condemn us again – as they did the last time, as they always do. This freeze means nothing other than your complete lack of courage.

You shame the Likud party; you shame Menachem Begin. Without doubt, Ariel Sharon and Yitzchak Rabin would take pride in what you’ve done tonight because in the end, what mattered to them, what matters to you, is what the world says, what the Americans think.

But what you haven’t done, is shame me because I disengaged from Likud. I left. I surrendered the party to you, but not the land. Perhaps in the next 10 months there will be no building in Judea and Samaria, but long before those ten months are up, the Arabs will prove you to be the fool we know you to be already.

As the old adage goes: Fool me once, shame on you – that was Ariel Sharon. Fool me twice, shame on me. You didn’t fool me, Bibi – I left Likud and in my leaving, I take my pride, my determination, and my love of the land of Israel.

There are words that become associated with people. Neville Chamberlain will forever be tied to the word “appeasement”. Ariel Sharon will be remembered for betraying his followers and you, Bibi, will be remembered for your stupidity.