by David Wilder
Interim – Where Do We Go From Here
June 7, 1996
We have had all of a week to start getting used to the MaHapach – the fall of
Labor and the rise of Bibi, and the rumor mills are working full time. “Arik is
out” … “Redeployment in Hebron, in spite of everything.” There are the big
two Ariel Sharon and Hebron. And I don’t believe either one.
Bibi isn’t stupid. You don’t get elected Prime Minister by doing dumb
things. Bibi knows exactly why he was elected – he knows what the Israeli
people want. And he knows that in another four years he will face a reelection
campaign – and four years has a way of creeping up on you. That was Labor’s
mistake – (at least, one of many). They thought that the four years would never
end. But, thank G-d, they did.
So, after having worked so hard to get Bibi elected, now we have to give him
a little credit and a little time. Decisions about an issue as important and as
sensitive as Hebron aren’t decided overnight. They also aren’t decided without
a Defense Minister, a Foreign Minister, and a government.
We shouldn’t fool ourselves and expect that everything Bibi does will be 100%
agreeable with us. I’ll be a little surprised if he calls us ands asks us what
we think he should do. After all, we elected him to do that work – it’s his
headache. I have no doubt that he will not redeploy Israeli forces in Hebron –
he will not give the city to “palestinian soldiers.” He will initiate a policy
of expansion and development throughout Israel, including Hebron.
He also will not forget Arik Sharon and his centrality in the election
victory. A few words about Arik – Hebron has many friends, but none like Arik
Sharon. He doesn’t only talk – he does. He is a real bulldozer. He is
personally responsible for literally hundreds of thousands of dollars that have
reached Hebron’s institutions. He is a real doer. And he deserves all the
credit for it. He backed out of the Likud race for Prime Minister, in spite of
his personal goals, because he looks first at the good of Israel, and not at his
own desires. He brought together David Levi and Bibi – (almost a big a miracle
as the election results), and unified them with Raful. Had that not been done,
there would have been four candidates for Prime Minister: Peres, Bibi, Raful and
David Levi. Had that happened, at best, today we would be facing a runoff
Arik convinced the religious parties and the “Haradim” to back the Likud and
Bibi, and to vote. That too, was no small feat.
And have not doubt – if I know it, so does Bibi. He won’t leave Arik Sharon
out in the cold. So far he hasn’t made any public statements. We have to give
him a little time. Let’s wait for the results before jumping to conclusions.
Where do we go from here? The “we” in the question should be capitalized –
“WE”. – All of us – not just in Hebron, but all over the country. There is
little doubt that there are tremendous political differences between two halves
of Israel’s citizens. That has been clear since the 1980’s, when the first
national unity governments were formed. But the last four years have witnessed
a polarization that could tear the country apart. The fact that the ‘enemy’ was
turned into the friend, and the ‘brother’ into the enemy is a symptom of a
greater illness. The animosity generated between ‘left’ and ‘right’ could tear
the country apart. So, how do we solve the problem?
The answer doesn’t depend on compromising values. It is, rather, a question
of defining values, and setting priorities. The most important value known in
Judaism is UNITY. (For those of you who read Hebrew, see Em HaBanim Smacha by
Rav Yisachar Shlomo Teichtel HY”D – especially the last chapter, called “Unity
and Shalom – The Rectification of Israel.) There is no greater strength in
Israel than Unity. So how – how do we bridge the gaps that seemingly divide two
segments of the population?
In short, there are two stages: short-term and long-term. First, we must all
reach agreement that we cannot ignore each other and that we cannot and must not
relate to each other as separate peoples. “Settlers” are not subhuman
extremists, just as the far-left “Meretz” supporters are not monsters. There
must be a mutual acceptance that allows us to disagree, without totally
alienating each other. We must accept the legitimacy of all others to exist.
The past four years have seen an attempt to dehumanize and delegitimize the
Israeli ‘right.’ Not all ‘right-wing’ activites were ‘purely’ motivated. We
must accept the fact that there are different philosophies of life, that we must
all live with.
How then, can we continue implementing our policies? First of all, we don’t
have to trample the ‘left.’ We don’t have to make decisions and ‘shove them
down their throats.’ Not everything has to be done tomorrow. There will be
changes in policy, as dictated by the results of the elections. But Bibi
doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t implement these changes the way Rabin and Peres
A in-depth discussion of values and priorities is perhaps the topic of a
separate article. But the overlying goal of whatever is done must be to keep
the peace within the family – as Bibi said – first there must be peace between
the Jews. If there isn’t peace among ourselves, we’ll never reach and maintain
a true peace with our neighbors.
If we are aware of this goal, and make efforts to achieve it, we will, with the
help of G-d, succeed.