Thursday, October 24, 2002

Setting Priorities

Setting Priorities
Oct. 24, 2002


On Saturday night Ariel Sharon participated in a very late night meeting, which concluded after two in the morning. The meeting was of such dire importance that the Prime Minister himself realized that he had no choice but to become personally involved.

Why was the Prime Minister so concerned? Who did Sharon meet with and what was the subject spoken about?

The answer to the first question, why was Sharon so concerned, is blackmail.

The answer to the second question, who did he meet with, is Amir Peretz, head of the Histadrut, Israel’s contradictory and labor union monopoly.

The answer to the third question, what was involved is Money and Garbage.

That’s right. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, responding to Amir Peretz’ stranglehold, doing what he does best, squeezing the life out of the State of Israel, had to sit down and talk, and agree to compromise. Why? Because Israel’s little children couldn’t attend nursery school because their teachers were on strike. Why? Because Israel’s streets stunk sky-high, because the garbage collectors were on strike.

Following this late night meeting Peretz agreed to reduce the strike for three days and Sharon pledged to again personally intervene should the monetary issues at stake not be resolved.

It doesn’t make any difference that Israel’s financial situation is catastrophic. The two year old Oslo War has taken a tremendous toll on our economy. It makes no difference that the world-wide fiscal woes have had a negative impact on Israel too. It makes no difference that Israel’s coffers are empty. What does make a difference is that Amir Peretz can close up the country just by snapping his fingers. He’s done it in the past, closing the airport, stopping radio and television broadcasts, implementing anything that comes to mind, and it’s all considered to be justifiable, because it’s about money. The Israeli left, many of whom are considered to represent Israel’s financial elite, would never even conjure up in their wildest dreams any negativisms concerning the right to strike, and literally close up the country.

But when it comes to Eretz Yisrael, when it comes to small new communities founded in the midst of a war, when it comes to Hebron, well, that’s another story. Years ago Israeli land dealer Moshe Zar purchased land in the Shomron. Following the murder of his son Gilad, Zar and his family decided to construct a small agricultural farm on some of this land, in Gilad’s memory.  Gilad’s brother Itai and his wife Bat-tzion and their children have lived there for over a year. Yet, according to Defense Minister Binyamin ben Elizer Havat Gilad, or the Gilad Farm, is an illegal settlement.

Last week the farm was in danger of imminent destruction. On Tuesday night, in the middle of the night, together with many others from Hebron, I ventured to this ma’ahaz, or small community. Arriving at about 2:00 in the morning I found there over 1,000 people, who too, were very concerned about ben Eliezer’s threats to dismantle the farm. Through the early morning rumors were rampant. What was going to happen? In the early afternoon we learned that a compromise solution had been reached. The farm would still be worked during the day, but at night no one would live there. The few structures that had been constructed would be left there.

Over one thousand people then left the farm, not liking the compromise, yet accepting it.

On Saturday afternoon, just a few days later, hundreds of soldiers, some of them religious, were forced to desecrate the Shabbat, and were transferred to the farm. On Saturday night, following orders, they began to destroy the remaining structures at the farm, despite promises to the contrary. That night, and for most of the next day, the Gilad Farm could be called the scene of a battle: those trying to save what had been built, and those trying to destroy those structures, according to the orders of the Defense Minister (see last week’s article “Declaring War on Eretz Yisrael). The end result was massive destruction of the ma’ahaz. Yet the Zar family has undertaken to rebuild the farm.

Prior to the Succot holidays, following the abandonment of Bethlehem to Arafat’s terrorists forces, the Defense Minister decided to again abandon Hebron by transferring 80% of the city to the same terrorist forces who were responsible for almost two years of shooting at the city’s Jewish community. Due to considerable pressure applied by senior IDF officers, this move was averted. Until today. Yesterday the Defense Minister, sitting with the Prime Minister, the Chief of Staff and other high-ranking IDF officials, decided to again move Israeli troops out of the previously Arafat-controlled part of the city. They decided that due to the ‘relative quiet’ in the city, Arafat’s forces should be given another chance.

What is relative quiet? Well, only one person, 48 year old Shlomo Shapira, was murdered and his three children injured, during the Succot holidays. Tel Rumeida has only been shot at two or three times over the past month, with bullets barely missing Hebron residents, including a five year old girl.

And why is there ‘relative quiet?’ Anyone with any brains understands that as long as the Israeli armed forces are present, patrolling the city, the terrorist’s ability to function is severely limited.  But now that it’s ‘quiet,’ why not give it back to them? Right?

What’s the compromise? Israeli forces will stay in the hills surrounding the community’s Jewish neighborhoods, Abu Sneneh and Harat a’Shech. But already Israel is getting ready to enter negotiations with Arafat security officers on the other side of the city, trying to convince them to protect us – to provide Jewish residents of Hebron with security by foiling terror attacks. This, in direct contradiction to Sharon’s promises that no contact would be made with PA security forces in Hebron before a discussion in the cabinet on the ministerial level, a discussion which, needless to say, never occurred.

So, there you have it. Ariel Sharon’s priorities. He prefers to negotiate with Amir Peretz about money and garbage, while decreeing death to Israeli settlements and relinquishing security in Hebron to the terrorists. In other words, if you have the ability to blackmail the government and close up the country, you get what you want. Otherwise, forget it.

Arik Sharon’s priorities are a little off.  Whatever anyone says, Eretz Yisrael is still more important than money, and Hebron is more important than garbage pickup. And it’s not blackmail, - rather it is our right to live freely in our country, in our land.

Arik: Stop playing games and set your priorities right.

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