As the Sabbath waned in a Tel Aviv hospital last Saturday afternoon, the last flickering energy of the Lion of Israel entered the World to Come. With that, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon joined his predecessors and passed into history.
Although Mr. Sharon's passing was said to be peaceful, his enemies and those of the State of Israel were unable to resist a parting shot; several, to be precise. Terrorists in Gaza launched a barrage of rocket attacks aimed at the former prime minister's ranch that night, and again just a short time after his body was interred on the property next to that of his wife.
Yet despite the violence and the body barely cold, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry didn't miss a beat, rushing to again press Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for concessions to the Palestinian Authority so they would "stay in the process" for the final status talks.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, a seasoned military intelligence professional, knew this truly to be "theater of the absurd," as he finally called it, exasperated with the ridiculous charade being played out in the public eye. He was forced to "apologize" for his words; in international diplomacy, honesty is rarely the best policy. It is only Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's "axe man," who can generally get away with such behavior. He has carefully cultivated the image of being a man of no culture at all.
Nevertheless, it is important to realize that Mr. Ya'alon spoke the truth. Equally important is the fact that although the prime minister himself cannot endorse it, the defense minister's statement likely could not have been made without Mr. Netanyahu's tacit agreement.
I'd like to believe that Ariel Sharon would have been proud of Ya'alon's statement, once upon a time, in the days before Gush Katif. . . before his own government expelled so many Jews from their homes and destroyed their livelihoods in 2005. We cannot judge him -- that is for the Heavenly Court. It is impossible to know what he would have or could have done following the Disengagement from Gaza because his career was summarily cut short just five months later by the massive stroke that silenced him for all time.
What we do know is that we have had no peace since the day Israel's security forces drove their brethren from their own homes. Even back then, we had no "peace partner" in the Palestinian Authority despite having shown "good faith" -- we evacuated an entire region for its use, rendering it entirely Judenrein. Instead, the fully functioning greenhouses we left for their use were destroyed, and towns that could have become new villages and campuses became instead terrorist training camps and missile launching sites.
Upgraded technology allowed those so-called "peace partners" to create newer and better weaponry. They improved their ability to kidnap hostages -- including an IDF soldier. We were later forced to exchange more than one thousand jailed PA Arab terrorists, among them hundreds of multiple murderers, in order to secure his safe return.
In the eight years that Mr. Sharon lay comatose in his hospital bed, more than 10,000 rockets, missiles and mortar shells were fired at southern and central Israel, reaching as far north as Tel Aviv. Hundreds of men, women and children were wounded; many died. Tens of thousands have been permanently disabled due to the trauma they suffered.
And yet they continue to live in their communities and life goes on. It's a beautiful region, southern Israel. Why shouldn't they live in their homes? Israel has learned how to protect its people despite the attacks, and the people have learned to deal with them.
Now the United States is pressuring Israel to repeat the process in the Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria, on an exponentially wider scale, and to include Jerusalem -- Israel's capital city, the holiest place on earth -- in the bargain. Jerusalem of Gold, the city of David, the heart of the People of Israel . . . for which every Jew has yearned through millennia. Where Jews have lived for more than three thousand years.
I am no gambler, nor am I a prophet, but I wonder whether the Palestinian Authority wouldn't prefer a state of war to a true peace at any price.
I do not believe there will be an agreement -- I believe there will be an agreement to disagree, quiet and unstated, understood and acted out. Everyone knows that no PA leader has any real mandate to ink an agreement on behalf of the Arab people living in Judea, Samaria and/or Gaza. Those regions are not united and never were. Nor will they ever be, because those peoples are not one people. They are as diverse as their ancestors were. It is time that "outsiders" give them the credit due them and begin to understand who they are.
It is impossible for any PA leader to sign an agreement because the next person to lead that entity has the choice to simply ignore what was signed. And more often than not, they do. For this reason in addition to all the others, Israel cannot and must not sign stupid agreements with the PA. They are not worth the paper on which they are written. Everyone in the Middle East knows this. Apparently only the Americans have not figured this out.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Earthlings. May I offer you some Bedouin tea?