“ISRAELIS GO ON WITH THEIR LIVES IN SPITE OF IT ALL”
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach an article titled "We won the Intifada," written by Yishai Fleisher, a hard-line Israeli, for the website Israel Insider.
Fleisher believes that Israel has "won the Intifada". "The Intifada's planners wanted Israelis to die like flies," he says. "Instead Aliyah [Jewish immigration to Israel] is up, Oslo is dead, the army is strong, and Israelis go on with their lives in spite of it all."
He adds: "The Intifada is nothing but a tick on our national history, which has been ticking for around 3500 years. Israel is our home and it is our destiny, and no bunch of liars and terrorists can take away what's rightfully ours."
Because this is a controversial article, which many will not agree with (especially coming on the day when yet another suicide bomber struck in a Tel Aviv suburb), after it I attach a selection of the letters written to Israel Insider by other Israelis in response to it. I have selected those letters that are generally critical of Fleisher's views, and shortened some for space reasons.
-- Tom Gross
“ISRAEL HAS SHOWN ITSELF TO BE DEEPLY ROOTED AND UNSTOPPABLY BUOYANT”
We won the Intifada
By Yishai Fleisher
October 9, 2002
It's simple: the Intifada was intended to scare the Jews out of living in Israel. Daily terror was implemented and aimed at Israel's civilian society. Mothers with children, bus drivers and shop keepers, these were the targets. Israelis were supposed to hole up, skip town, shut down, and give up hope. The Intifada's planners had very wide ambitions – this was going to be the great push of the "Palestinian" cause. Israelis would die like flies and scurry like rats. Every night Israelis would witness another charred bus skeleton, and scores of body bags filled with Jewish remains. This constant barrage would break the Jews; the death of Israel was finally at hand.
But none of that has occurred. Just the opposite: Aliyah is up, Oslo is dead, the army is strong, and Israelis go on with their lives in spite of it all. We have won the Intifada.
No doubt, the Intifada has brought depression throughout Israel by bringing death to many homes, by slowing down the economy and killing our tourism industry. Yes, there is unemployment, there is malaise, but Israel is solidly trucking through this hard time. We must understand that we have withstood the "Palestinian" onslaught to an amazing degree and we have totally foiled their plot to drive us out of our homes and off of our Land. That is our victory.
Once, when I was in the army, our jeep spotted a stolen Israeli car on its way to an "Area A" zone controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The car fled and we pursued it vigilantly. Alas, when the car was able to beat us to the impenetrable borders of "Area A" we turned our jeep around like a dog with his tail between his legs. The petty street thief had beaten the invincible IDF, a sad state of affairs. That was in 1996. Today in 2002, two years into the cancerous Intifada, our soldiers resolutely penetrate Ramallah, Nablus, and Bethlehem daily. The Israeli Army stands at the perimeter of every major Arab population center. The disastrous Oslo process, which gave land to dreaded terrorists, is effectively over.
Furthermore, our army, whose morale was steadily declining in the past few years, received a great boost when 120 percent of reservists showed up to defend Israel from its attackers in Operation Defensive Shield. Their attitude and their valor repelled the terrorists and reminded Israel of her great strength.
In the arena of world opinion we have also been victorious. Certainly we have many detractors out there, but Israel's crackdown on Arafat, its targeted killings of terrorists, and its sieges of Arab centers have become accepted military tactics without too much criticism from the peanut gallery of nation-states. The Intifada and the Twin Towers disasters have actually garnered support for Israel and its plight against Moslem terrorism. Arafat and his henchmen badly miscalculated the affects of this un-holy war, and although "Palestinian" spokespeople continue to distort truth to the point of absurdity, the world has largely gone deaf to false claims of Israeli atrocity.
However, the most important victory for us Jews in this conflict is the return of Israel's centrality in our modern history. The Arabs have always sought to erase the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. In the Middle Ages, successive Arab rulers of the Holy Land did their best to erase the marks left by our Temple and by our living presence there. Arabs have always tried to rewrite history to say that Jerusalem is a Moslem city, that the Holy Land is their rightful inheritance. When Zionism began to appear, the Moslems reacted fiercely; they terrorized us and fought bloody wars in the hope of destroying us. Now they are at it again: they threaten our lives, they try to pit the world against us, and they are working day and night to get rid of archeological artifacts which undeniably link the Jews to the Temple Mount.
Yet we Jews are not reacting the way they would like us to, we are not going away.
Amazingly, American Aliyah is up, not down. The Intifada has started a counter-intuitive trend of Israel-consciousness amongst Jews of the exile. Every Jewish newspaper in the Diaspora is infatuated with Israel and every Jewish table is hot with the discussion of Israel's future. The topic of Aliyah is back on Jewish lips precisely because the Intifada has awakened the demon of world anti-Semitism, and the rise of world anti-Semitism has awakened a generation of Jews who otherwise would have been asleep. The Nefesh B'Nefesh plane, which brought over 400 American Jews to Israel in one shot, is an indication of this Jewish awakening. The Arabs are quaking in their keffiyehs at the prospect of another major Aliyah wave.
Recently the Hebrew University released a startling demographic study. In it, Professor Sergio Della Pergola predicts that while only 37 percent of the world's Jewry lives in Israel now, by 2030 more than 50 percent of Jews will live in Israel. Assimilation of Jews in the exile, a high birthrate of Jews in Israel, and global Aliyah are all factored in. One can waste time debating the pros and cons of these figures, but the key point here is the bottom line: Israel's centrality in modern Jewish life is growing exponentially, while the role of the Diaspora is diminishing. Although our enemies wish for the opposite, Israel isn't going away, it's only beginning to arise.
In this current conflict Israel has shown itself to be deeply rooted and unstoppably buoyant. The people of Israel have proven themselves again to be brave, strong, and resilient. We have stopped the "Palestinians" from achieving their objectives and we must continue to fight to achieve ours. Israel's resolve in the face of constant terror, war, and economic adversity is Israel's great victory over all its enemies. The Intifada is nothing but a tick on our national history, which has been ticking for around 3500 years. Israel is our home and it is our destiny, and no bunch of liars and terrorists can take away what's rightfully ours.
[Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Israel Insider.]
LETTERS FROM ISRAELIS IN RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE
“WE ARE LOSING, BOTH OF US”
Having lived here for 3 years myself, after immigrating from the U.S., I can tell you that everyone here feels not only that we are not winning, but in fact are losing. I don't discount the Israeli people's strong will and resilience, but I guarantee you that we are much more losers than winners, both us and 'them' (the Palestinians). We have both lost friends. We have both lost family. We are both losing money. We are losing out on hope. We are lost as a people. We lose sleep every night over gunfire. We lost our sense of security. We have lost faith in our leaders. We lose our minds over the news. We have lost our freedoms. Plain and simple, we are losing, both of us. Palestinians and Israelis.
“BOTH PEOPLES ARE LOSING BIG TIME”
You should be aware that both nations, both peoples are losing big time with this intifada. Stop pretending like everything is sugar coated and sweet here. Our lives suck here. And its only gonna get worse.
“THE DEOMGRAPHIC WAR IS THE LONG-TERM PROBLEM”
Mr. Fleisher is dreaming when he says aliyah is up. The Central Bureau of Statistics show that up to the end of August 2002, aliyah was radically down from the previous year and that there was a net emigration of almost 30 000 people. The facts are that the year 2002 will record a net emigration of over 40 000 people, the highest ever recorded in Israel's history. This will in large part cancel out the natural growth of around 59 000 for the Jewish population. Winning the military war against a rag-tag bunch of militias was never in doubt and is not the fundamental problem. The demographic war is the long-term problem. Destroying the possibility of a two-state solution by creating a bantustan-like situation in the West Bank will be an unmitigated disaster for Israel as it was for South Africa. This is not an ideological argument; it's just plain common sense. All of South Africa's military superiority (including nuclear weapons) was in the end useless against the demographic reality of masses of poor blacks living amongst the whites. Israel never lost the military intifada; however if it blindly pursues repression and land-grabbing in the Palestinian territories, it will lose the long-term war for it's existence as a Jewish state; A self-inflicted defeat as well, I might add.
“NO ONE HAS THUS FAR WON”
I think this whole discussion makes little sense, as Intifada is progressing and no one has thus far won, though there are plenty of people who lost. Some lost their lives, others their peace. I do believe that Israel is holding up better than the Palestinians, – but that is something very difficult to gauge. The war is going on, and there is no end in sight, – that, I think, is the only thing that is certain.
“ISRAEL HAS ONE FRIEND”
The Israel army is bogged down in the Palestinian territories, it has one friend and one friend only, the USA. Even there many people are beginning to see it as a liability ... see recent CNN and Fox news reports.
“ISRAEL IN SAME POSITION FOR FIFTY YEARS”
Israel is in this situation for over fifty years. Anyway, only twenty years ago, Israel struggled to survive. Now, it is 'just' fighting terrorism, which is less threat.
“THE ARAB STATES ARE CONTROLLING U.S. POLICY TOWARDS ISRAEL”
Remember that day last June when George Bush declared that there will be 2 nations living side by side? So far Israel is unable to win sh-- and not for lack of initiative but because the US is putting it's interest ahead of Israel's survival. Ok, getting rid of Saddam will benefit Israel too. The Arab states are controlling US policy towards Israel with this even handed stuff to the point that Bush rewarded the terrorism with his June declaration. According the Bush the vast majority of Palestinians just want to work and live in peace. In fact only a small percentage of the Arab population has the fundamentalist view. Who did this study? Read the Hamas or PLO charter and see the plan. Ask the Imams in Iran, Saudi, or Egypt what the plan for the Jews are?
“YOU MUST BE JOKING”
What a depressing and short sighted view. Are there really any sane and thinking Jews who believe that we are victorious? The past 2 years have been a disaster for all concerned; they have served only to ensure that peace and security remain a distant goal. This column made the mistake of thinking that a few pyrhic victories are worth celebrating. It is the lack of hope & the constant failure to turn Israeli strength into a positive force that means that this disastrous state of affairs will remain out of control for a long time. And whilst there is a government that is disingenuous and incapable of any rational thought Israel will continue to be devalued in the eyes of the world. The dreams of Israel's founding fathers have been tarnished and its about time that the majority of people who do not believe that the government has covered itself in glory start to speak up rather than be cowed by Sharon's ability to manipulate and create fear as a pretext for nonsensical tactics. A victory – you must be joking.