July 19, 2004
The week opened with all sorts of wonderful events. New coalition talks: meetings between Peres and Sharon; Labor-Likud negotiators squabbling over economics and cabinet positions; Shas huddling with the Likud demanding: Dump Shinui; Agudat Yisrael toying with an original idea: accepting a ministerial post in the government. Everyone is expected to get what he wants, especially Ariel Sharon: a majority government, permitting him to rule for another two years. And all for a sale price: Eretz Yisrael goes cheap!
And let’s not forget our favorite National Religious Party – in Hebrew, the “Mafdal” or NRP. What do they have to say? Of course the two ‘brave souls,’ Effie Eitam and Rabbi Yitzhak Levy have already taken the giant step, having resigned their ministerial posts and abandoned Sharon’s slimy ship. Yet others still remain, hanging on at all costs, stuck to their chairs. And what is really important to them? NRP minister Zevulun Or-Lev, battling Effie Eitam for leadership of the party, made headlines on Sunday morning. Why? What did he demand? Did he insist that all ‘disengagement’ talks from Gush Katif be stopped immediately, due to the massive ‘chaos’ in Gaza, as so described by the resigning PA Prime Minister Abu Ala? Did he blast Sharon for commencing talks with Peres and Co? Did he question Shinui’s continued membership in the government? No. None of these factors interest him. What he did request was that Shinui not receive another minister in the cabinet, replacing the disgraced Yosef Pariztky, fired for alleged criminal shenanigans. Or-Lev claimed that Paritzky’s, exclusion from the ranks of his party bring Shinui down from 15 mandates to 14, thereby reducing the number of ministers allowed from that party from five to four. That’s first on Or-Lev’s wish list this week. Really important, compared to everything else that’s happening in Israel. Impressive, for a guy who’s supposed to be smart and claims leadership of his party.
Why is Labor interested? That’s easy. Shimon has ants in his pants. He cannot sit by and watch his old buddy Arik get credit for emptying the Land of Israel of some of its extremist settlers, an event he’s wanted to accomplish for years. He too wants his name in the history books.
In addition, Peres still smells the Prime Minister’s office. He intends to campaign for Labor leadership, in order to run again for the premiership. He realizes that his chances will be much improved coming from a position of strength, i.e., a position of leadership, proving to his electorate that, without Shimon Peres, Israel would not be able to rid itself of Gaza.
What about Shas? What’s their excuse? That too is not difficult to solve. First of all, they must avenge the wounds inflicted by Shinui. After all, Tommy Lapid’s party is virulently anti-religious, almost anti-Jewish. They announced loud and clear: ‘we will not participate in a coalition with Shas or Agudat Yisrael.’ Shinui has done everything possible to take money from religious affairs, yeshivas, etc. Now, Shas smells blood. They want revenge. They want in, with Shinui out. At any cost. Even at the cost of Eretz Yisrael.
Of course, we cannot ignore money, power, and political struggles. Eli Yishai needs to prove himself, to prove that he too is a master political manipulator, that he too can squeeze money from the Likud, and that he deserves to continue on the throne of the Shas party. A leader can only accomplish such goals from within, not from the outside. So he wants in, even if that means that Gush Katif is out.
And what about Agudat Yisrael? They too have a sharpened sense of smell. Dollars, shekels, whatever currency you like, have a distinct odor. And money tends to attract. Need more be said?
But the real scoundrels are our friends with the knitted skullcaps on their heads, the National Religious Party. After all, they are keeping Sharon in the Prime Minister’s office. Without their votes, it might have been possible to bring Sharon down, evicting him from his office before he could complete his dirty deed. But no, they insist on providing much needed legitimacy to Arik’s abandonment from Gaza. How can they, or how can anyone else in the religious camp, complain about Shas or Agudat Yisrael, two other religious parties closing a deal with Sharon, when the “political symbol” of Eretz Yisrael is stubbornly insisting that they can ‘influence from inside.’ How can anyone demand that Shas and Agudat Yisrael keep out with the NRP in?
That’s one side of the coin. The other is, without a doubt, Arik himself. The question marks and exclamation points are so vivid, it’s difficult to comprehend his obstinacy. The past few days have witnessed total upheaval in Arab Gaza. Razi Jabali, head of Arafat-terrorist security, was kidnapped on Friday. Jabali, a known killer who has an outstanding arrest warrant hanging over his head in Israel, was grabbed by other Arab terrorist forces because of PA “corruption.” Arafat achieved his release by firing him from his position as PA security chief. When his replacement was announced, Yasir’s nephew, Mussa Arafat, Arabs took to the streets in Gaza, rejecting the appointment. Several others were kidnapped and released in Gaza, including western peace activists. There is no Palestinian Authority – this so-called framework, if it ever did exist, has totally disintegrated. And this is all before Arafat’s demise. When he goes, the remains of the PA are going to fireball, engulfing Gaza and much of the Arab-occupied cities and villages in Judea and Samaria. The ensuing power struggle will include not only kidnapping; it will involve killing, killing and more killing. After all, that’s how the Arabs get things done.
With all this, Arik is giving the green light – let’s get out as fast as possible, uproot the Jews, flee from Gaza, and let them worry about themselves. Without giving a thought to the repercussions of such a conflagration on Israel, on how many lives it will cost us!
Arik doesn’t want to go it alone. Somewhere, in the back of his head, is a little red light, blinking on and off, warning him. So he wants someone to hold his hand, someone who can share the blame when things get out of hand – like Shimon, Shas, Agudat Yisrael and the NRP the more the merrier.
Ariel Sharon reminds me of a woman who wants to be a prostitute, but is afraid to stand on the street corner and sell herself. So what does she do? She dresses in really skimply clothing, showing just about everything, and strolls around the wrong part of the city. In her actions, she is teasing and inviting, suggesting to the lucky guy, ‘come on, rape me.’ That’s what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is doing – he is prostituting Israel, begging the Arabs: Come on, rape me!