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Terror and the Likud Primaries

29 November 2002

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Yesterday, the Fatah/Tanzim El Aksa Brigades attacked the Likud primaries polling station in Bet Shean killing six and wounding dozens.  A few hours before there was a double attack in Kenya, apparently by El Quaeda.  A car bomb exploded in the Israeli owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa, killing 15 (including three Israelis), wounding 80 and causing the structure to burn down.  At the same time shoulder launched surface to air missiles were fired at an Arkia airliner bringing Israelis home from an African vacation.  Fortunately the terrorists missed their target.

All this took place on the day of the Likud primaries in an effort to disrupt the Israeli election process, both directly in Bet Shean and abroad.  The Palestinian terror organizations certainly revile Israel, but it should be remembered they, along with the international terrorists like bin Laden detest democracy no less. 

Islamic fundamentalism wants to destroy western democracy as freedom of thought, speech and assembly are their greatest enemies.  Pluralism, multiculturalism, religious tolerance and democracy are anathema to them.  They want none to enjoy life and demand a kill-joy Khomeini style religion.  The Palestinians may not all be fundamentalists but in their society power comes out of the end of a rifle or by way of a suicide/homicide bomber.

The Left is busy negotiating with Sari Nusseibah, Abu Mazen, Abu Ayla Abed Rabo and other ‘moderate’ Palestinian politicians who have no military power.  Even assuming these leaders favor a two-state solution they have no ability to enforce any agreement they will sign, so any joint solution is only an academic exercise.

As for the Likud elections, the recent terror attacks did not bring about a Netanyahu victory.  PM Sharon won with 56%, Foreign Minister Netanyahu received 41% and Moshe Faiglin of the Likud far right 3.5%.  Sharon speaks of a Palestinian state, but in limited terms.  The declared Revisionist ideology of the Likud of no Palestinian state west of the Jordan is finished despite what many claim in the name of the founding ideologue, Ze’ev Jabotinsky.

The Likud has always been known for great Land of Israel oratory and demagoguery.  Yet, Netanyahu not only signed agreements with the Palestinians over Hebron (Jan. 1997) and at Wye in Oct. 1998, he even called Arafat “a friend”.  Sharon did nothing of the sort and dealt in ‘realpolitic’, dealing in damage control all along. 

Sharon is adopting Ben Gurion’s perspective, playing hard ball and dealing in reality, a reality he will stretch to its limits and only make concessions when he has no choice.  Today when discussing a Palestinian state there is no choice, especially when considering the demographic reality of the Arab birth rate in the Palestinian areas and inside Israel.  Sharon is much more akin to the historic Mapai (Ben Gurion’s Labor party) than to the Likud of years past.  Now finally, the Likud has openly turned its back of hard line Revisionism.

But it’s not so simple.  In the secret testimony given by Jabotinsky to the Peel Commission (1936 – 37) after the outbreak of violence in British Mandated Palestine, Jabotinsky was also ready to allow for an Arab national political presence west of the Jordan River, albeit with limitations, meaning privately this was always the case.

Netanyahu’s father, the eminent historian Ben Zion Netanyahu served as Jabotinsky’s personal secretary and was certainly privy to such discussions and understandings.  The younger Netanyahu, as mentioned, signed two agreements with Arafat.

If the foreign minister would like to be prime minister sometime in the future it would be best to drop the unrealistic rhetoric and shift to the center.  He could learn not only from Ben Gurion and Sharon, but from his ideological mentor, Jabotinsky.