Photo: Tsafrir Avayov
Photo: Ronny Sofer
Gaza disengagement
Photo: Ronny Sofer

Olmert, enough!

Disengagement was glorious tactical success – and glowing strategic failure

Maybe it's all for the best, Mr. Prime Minister, that all this is going on now. Maybe it's good that before your realignment plan gets moving, before budgets are set and soldiers deployed, we are tasting the fruits of the last unilateral move.


I would ask you to decide whether that "great success" can be marked by the rise of extremists to power in the Palestinian elections, or by the import of terror tactics from abroad and weapons from Sinai or the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot. Perhaps it's the kidnappings of two young Israelis in Gaza and the West Bank.


Tactical success, strategic failure


The disengagement, my friends, was a glorious tactical success – and a glowing strategic failure. This, by the way, is exactly what generations of Israeli prime ministers thought about Ariel Sharon – great at tactical planning, terrible at long-range strategy.


The Sharon who decided the Yom Kippur War by pushing on to the Suez Canal was the same Sharon who just a few years later tried to create a new Lebanon from scratch.


And back to disengagement: Just remember the headlines: "Smooth as ice," "Over in a day," "Last soldier leaves Gaza," etc. It's all true – as a military and diplomatic move, the disengagement went as smooth as could possibly have been expected. Not one squeak was to be heard in the well-oiled wheels of Sharon's grand plan.


And oh, how we loved our tender-yet-determined police… but our great love, our desire to shout out "unilateralism is good for us, we will do whatever is good for us!" – no one stopped to think about the day after.


Threats and reality


There were threats, of course: "If they dare shoot at us…" or "If they dare send out a suicide bomber (after the pullout)…". If, if, if.


Since then we've gotten a mustachioed defense minister instead of a bald one, the Qassams have started, terror attacks have continued, a porous border with Egypt, instructions from Damascus. We left Gaza unilaterally? You must be joking. Gaza is still a fusty, bubbling infection that remains hermetically tied to Israel.


This sore is painful and is not going anywhere. Quite the opposite: The Hamas leadership is quite committed to sending Israel out for a little walk, preferably westward. Bye, bye, Jews.


Beating our chests


It is currently in vogue to beat our chests. How could we have not seen it all coming? Why weren't we warned?


But the truth is we did see it coming, we were warned. But everyone sounding the warnings was immediately dismissed in one of two ways: Either they must be "radical rightists" who certainly must be ignored, or they must be radical lefties, who certainly must be ignored.


Even this writer warned several months before disengagement that the process could have no long-term positive effects. In reaction, I got surprised phone calls from friends asking when I'd joined the National Union, and If I'd bought by copy of "Baruch Hagever," a book in honor of Baruch Goldstein.


And herein lies the problem: All analysis in this country is immediately categorized as a political slogan. This politicization of public discourse brings about a situation that no ordinary citizen can express an opinion without a huge chorus (of talkbackers or others) shouting, "Yeah, who did you vote for, anyway? Did you serve in the army? And isn't it true that you're good friends with Yossi Beilin/Baruch Marzel?


Bad planning


We can write and we can say that the realignment plan is bad, that the disengagement that preceded it was bad. Not because Israel doesn't need new, more condensed borders – it does – bur rather because those borders must be recognized, alongside a Palestinian state.


Especially at a time of war, like now, we must say these things over and over, in the clearest possible way. Whether talking about physics, nature, or in general, there is no such think as unilateralism. What appears as a unilateral move today will boomerang back in your face tomorrow.


Lives cut short


We are on the way to another round of bloodshed with the Palestinians. They hit us, we hit them. The media is quick to declare a "wave" of kidnappings and to publish headlines about a "third intifada," the "Gaza War," other such drama, and once again we see the smiling faces of our nation's finest, exemplary young lives cut short.


The problem is that when it all ends, we will once again have to sit and think of solutions. That's just the way it is. But what Olmert is offering is no solution. It is a deception, the price of which we are paying today. In blood.


Pushing forward


Despite all this, in recent days the prime minister has made clear that the realignment plan will be carried out, despite the fact that none of the conditions they promised have been fulfilled, and despite the fact that there is no Palestinian leadership, only a vacuum. Despite the fact that the world doesn't support the move – and despite the failure of disengagement.


"Only a donkey can't change his mind," said Moshe Dayan. Dayan was correct, but the time has come for a different sort of message from the prime minister. The time has come for the mythological "Sharon's legacy" to stop serving as Olmert's bible. Because he who follows Sharon's path – winds up in Lebanon.


Guy Benyovits is a Ynet news editor


פרסום ראשון: 06.29.06, 11:55
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