Much Ado about Nothing

When Ya’alon declares that Jews have a right to settle in all the Land of Israel, he is voicing an opinion shared by the vast majority of Likud supporters, and probably by many other Israelis who are not Likud voters.


By Moshe Arens

(A version of this column appeared in Haaretz on August 25, 2009.)

Now that the media has had a field day lambasting Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon for his remarks at a gathering of supporters of Likud member Moshe Feiglin, the time has come to take a sober look at this incident that has caused such a splash on the political scene.

First, Ya’alon chose a very poor venue to explain his views on the situation. For some years now, Feiglin has been leading a band of followers who are not traditional Likud supporters and may not even vote for the party in the Knesset elections. He has been leading them in a transparent effort to impose his views on the majority of Likud members by exploiting the permissiveness of the party’s constitution that permits anyone prepared to pay the annual membership dues to join its ranks. By entering Likud’s ranks in an organized manner, they have been planning to leverage their relatively small numbers to gain a dominant position in the party.

Although not successful so far, they have not given up and keep trying. The majority of Likud members do not see them as an asset to the party. Quite the contrary, their noisy presence in Likud probably loses the party votes at election time. Since Likud would be better off without them, it makes little sense for one of the party’s leaders to legitimize them by appearing before them and creating the impression that he may share their extreme views. So the venue was really a poor choice. But what about the contents of his remarks? That, after all, is the important thing.

When Ya’alon declares that Jews have a right to settle in all the Land of Israel, he is voicing an opinion shared by the vast majority of Likud supporters, and probably by many other Israelis who are not Likud voters. From the beginning, this right was and continues to be a foundation stone of Zionism. It is what brought us here and what keeps us here. A minority of Israelis believe that this right is limited to the area west of the 1949 armistice lines, or in the view of some, should not be exercised beyond these lines. If we have a difference of opinion with the Obama administration at present it is on this very principle, a principle not fully understood by those in Washington who mistakenly believe that the Holocaust led to the creation of the State of Israel.

In response to a question, Ya’alon said the rebuilding of the Homesh settlement was something that needs to be considered. The settlers of Homesh, a settlement in northern Samaria, were uprooted from their homes four years ago during the disengagement. Whereas the proponents of the move insisted that the disengagement from the Gush Katif settlement bloc would allow the Israel Defense Forces to withdraw from the area and thus improve Israel’s security situation, no such claim was made for the disengagement from the settlements in northern Samaria. As is well known by now, the disengagement from Gush Katif led to a deterioration of Israel’s security situation, and the IDF did not withdraw from northern Samaria and remained in control there. That being the case, the possibility of rebuilding Homesh is worthy of reexamination and should not be rejected out of hand. In any case, there is nothing here in Ya’alon’s answer to get excited about.

Whereas many people may not have liked Ya’alon’s characterization of Peace Now, it should come as no surprise that this movement is opposed by Likud and its leadership, just as it itself opposes Likud. Moreover, its tactics of spying on the settlement movement and passing information it garners to friends and foes abroad are downright distasteful. The funding it obtains for the support of these activities from foreign groups verges on the illegitimate. So don’t be surprised if Likud members think Peace Now does not serve Israel’s best interests.

Last, but not least, we should all remember that Moshe Ya’alon was the chief of staff who led the IDF to a brilliant victory over Palestinian terrorism that had been making life intolerable for all Israelis. It was a victory that many claimed was unachievable, and it’s now being studied by the armed forces of nations facing terrorist threats throughout the world. So a little respect, please!

Translate »