The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, April 17, 2002  


Ha'aretz Daily, the best Israeli newspaper you've never heard of -- because its opinions don't often sit well with those of the chattering classes here in the U.S.-- today took the occasion of Independence Day to call upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. In blunt language, Ha'aretz blames Israel, and more specifically the 35-year-old preoccupation with building settlements on the West Bank, for the failure to reach a peace agreement.

Moreover, Ha'aretz affirms that Ariel Sharon is not the man to bring peace to Israel. If we assume that Ha'aretz believes the current situation requires a practical solution as soon as possible, we think it's fair to interpret the editorial as calling for Sharon's resignation, a lonely but brave stance for which the paper should be applauded.

"In its 54th year of independence, Israel has tried to use force to solve security problems that have threatened the country, but it has been an unsuccessful effort. The various military responses -- sieges, assassinations, incursions and Operation Defensive Shield -- to murderous attacks by Palestinians have not yielded their desired results. On the contrary, these efforts, in which the Israel Defense Forces has given of its best, including those Israeli soldiers who have sacrificed their lives, have increased Palestinian enmity and have strengthened those seeking to wreak destruction in the streets of Israel.

"The ramifications of the security burden affect every dimension of life in Israel. . . . This is the negative balance of the developments of the past year, despite the feeling among most Israelis that they are only defending themselves against an evil terrorism orchestrated by a foolhardy Palestinian leader who rejected a far-reaching peace offer and violated an agreement to avoid the use of violence.

"The conclusion should be self-evident: To free itself of the stranglehold, Israel must remove itself from the territories. The public is ripe for the emergence of a leader courageous enough to correct the tragic mistake, made by every Israeli government since 1967, to build settlements. The territories were to be a bargaining card in peace negotiations, when the time came that the Arabs agreed to such talks. Everyone knows that if not for the settlements, it would have long since been possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. [Ed.: Emphasis added.]

"Several recently-raised proposals present reasonable chances for Israeli-Palestinian and an Israeli-Arab peace, based on the principle of land for peace. Israel now needs a leader who will grasp these ideas and lead the majority of its people to recognize that the path to the realization of the founding fathers' vision lies in a withdrawal to the 1967 borders. As far as can be determined, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is not the person to take on this historic role." [Ed.: Emphasis added.]

Now if we could just find an Amen Corner for sentiments such as these.

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