A little personal story
My life, starting at the ripe age of 15, when I joined the Underground to liberate Israel from British occupation, was so full of challenging events that a month seemed like a year, a year seemed like a lifetime. From running way from British bullets when gluing pamphlets in the streets, to facing the reality that my young, beloved leader, Menachem Rivenbach, only 18, was just killed in a Lechi Underground operation. So much happened, so many friends lost, and so many emotions were buried in me since I could not share them with anyone. I was not alone with this isolation, since we knew that we could be the next one to go, our emotions were well-hidden, no external recognitions of personal loss. Even when the body of our murdered kibbutz friend was in a casket on the truck with us seating around it, we just made jokes.
And we just kept going.
In the Lechi underground, I was mostly alone, until I found my girlfriend, that is. I had to be quiet and unassuming to disappear in a crowd. No personal friends. Not outside, or inside Lechi either. Secrecy above all. Unlike military, we were alone with no release by shared experiences. Just a double life of lies. I was unable to share my story and especially feelings, with anyone. I was unable to tell the truth to any one, especially not to my own family. They must not know or I would be sent away like my brother was.
After spending four years in Lechi fighting the mighty British to liberate Israel - I spent a year at the Lechi border kibbutz, Neve Yair. We were close to the Gaza strip as well as to the established kibbutz Nirim. Arab terrorists murdered savagely three of our members, a few months apart. We got numb to death. On another occasion, coincidentally, when a bullet was shot towards my heart, a tall friend, Yaacov Avnery, was walking in front of me and got the bullet in his stomach since he was taller. Badly injured, he survived. I would not have. I risked my life to get him to the hospital, but that was standard to all of us. I barely thought about it, but when I do, I thanked him in all my heart.
Our small kibbutz was full of challenges, from security to lack of water, but especially for me since I was the only technical guy there. I enjoyed building the electrical system and repairing tractors. I enjoyed dancing nearly every night, until my legs almost gave up. I risked burning to death mounting phosphorus mines under the barbed wired fence since I did not trust anyone else to be as diligent as me. I slide slowly on my back, inch by inch, underneath the barbed wired fence, mounting these fiery mines one after another and activating them. I knew all the time where every part of my body was while I slided on my back not to ignite the mines. In addition to doing all the hard technical tasks nearly alone, I had almost no rest since I also had to guard during my time off.
But the toughest thing was being far from my girlfriend R. - (I missed her a lot, she visited but did not stay in the kibbutz since she was a city girl, desiring comfort that a new kibbutz was unable to give). So, eventually I left the kibbutz after a lot of soul searching. Our Lechi leader Itzhak Shamir (later Israel Prime Minister) asked me to return to the kibbutz. It was hard for me to refuse him since I admired him considerably, but I did not want to return. I then started to relax, with no need to look behind my back if someone was ready to shoot me, either British or an Arab. I was happy to spend some time with my girlfriend, teaching new Yemenite immigrants Hebrew and a new way of life, in a transition camp, a tent city.
And then I was called to military service, I joined the Israel Defense Forces, IDF.
Two months of IDF basic training taught me to take orders, which I did not like, and train others to safely throw live hand grenades. And despite all the discipline troubles I caused my sergeant, (we actually did like one another but he ordered me frequently to run around the training grounds with my gun in the air...) He wanted to send me to officer training, but I was tired of years of duties and did not look forward to committing extra years to military service and told him: thank you, but no.
I served in the Air Force late 1950- to early 52, just 18 months, a shorter service than normal because I got 6 months credit for my four years of Lechi service. I worked in Unit 206, the electronics unit. My huge base originally was Sarafend, later called Zrifim. It was peace time and in the beginning it was not too interesting, equipment maintenance and the like. However, one thing that made it enjoyable was the daily visit from my older brother Pinhas.
Pinhas was doing his officer training at that same huge base, and he felt that he was insufficiently fit physically. So, every day he run around that huge base and visited me on the way.
It was lovely to see him frequently especially after his years in a British prison and later in a British detention camp in Africa after he was arrested as a Lechi leader.
As time passed by, I was assigned to erect tall military antennas around the country. It was fun climbing a very thin 300 feet antenna without any safety belt, and calling friends from above as they passed below, not realizing where I was. I also had to change safety red light bulbs at the top from time to time. I was very careful, I would climb one-step at a time without safety belts, no one used them then, leaving one leg inside the tower structure, and so even if I lost balance, I would be stuck safely up there. Nothing bad ever happened. I learned to be very careful from sliding under the barbed wired fence in the kibbutz.
At other times, I maintained and operated short wave transmitters at several Air Force bases. With 24 hours on and 48 hours off, week, after week, I was busy. During my off periods, I had just enough time to earn money erecting home antennas for private people on Tel Aviv roofs. It was much safer than the IDF jobs. Eliezer Sirkis, a friend from Lechi, had a radio store a short block west of Magen David Square and gave me jobs from time to time erecting roof antennas. My Air Force salary was $4 a month, and it was not sufficient even for bus tickets to go home on vacation. So I used my BSA motorcycle to drive around and worked during my time off to pay for the expensive gasoline.
With all of these risky Lechi understood and border kibbutz life behind me I thought I was safe. Little did I know what was awaiting me in a quite shelter underground.
CLOSE TO DEATH
For several months, I worked at a radio communication station in a bunker at Ramat David, an Air Force base in central Israel . At that quiet base, at that peaceful time in Israel , I came closer to death than any other time in my life.
It was a long trip to the base from my home in Tel Aviv, but working there 24 hours on and 48 hours off was a good arrangement for me. An “Egged” bus would drop me three miles from the base and I would walk to it. As long as it was good weather, it was no trouble at all, especially with a tasty compensation along the way.
The walk to the camp was between lovely apple orchards, belonging to a nearby kibbutz. Many soldiers walked back and forth to the base that way and also liked fresh green apples. They were not bashful stealing them, neither was I. The kibbutz placed foot square green and red signs all along the path saying: “private property, stay off.” And these signs were enforced by five foot high wired fences all around the orchards. Luckily they did not use barbed wired on the top like the ones that surrounded our military bases.
I love fresh fruits and vegetables and I ignored both the signs and the fences and always took my illegal apples as I passed by. I would first check left and right to see that no one was around, and listen that it was quiet for a time. I would then climb quickly the unstable fence, and pick two apples and climb back fast. I knew a lot about fences. I had already build wired fences in our Lechi kibbutz, and even climbed once a ten foot barbed wired fence, which I survived with millions of cuts, so these apple fences were a child’s play to me.
I stuffed the apples immediately in my backpack that contained spare clothes, books, etc and proceeded to the base, my home away from home.
One time I went to the base, but almost did not return. I was so close to heaven, it was sheer determination that saved my life. It was nearly noon and I was eager for a thick cheese sandwich with all the trimmings. I brought with me: tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, all so fresh- it was picked last evening and brought to market in just a few hours. After smearing the olive oil on the thick slices of black Russian bread, I spread on slices of Feta cheese and vegetables on top, almost drooling with anticipation. Meals were very important events in this boring environment.
There was very little to do alone in these underground bunkers beside reading and studying. On that day, after studying mathematics for a time, I had to stop. I became saturated with numbers and equations. My best high school friend Naftali Vilensky and I were studying mathematics. We hired a private teacher together to help us prepare and I did my homework at the bunker. We were planning to go to the US to study electronics and thought that they were probably so advanced compare to us (since we were 5 years after high school) that we better be prepared. A year later, at the University of Washington , I found out I was so advanced compare to my freshman class that after a short time they moved me to a higher level.
For safety sake, we were supposed to work in teams at the underground transmission centers, but budget cuts had eliminated that a long time ago. We were solidly alone for the duration of the 24 hours shift. No one saw us or knew that we existed. Several times a day I had to change the transmitters’ operating frequency to improve reception at the various bases across the country. We changed frequencies by changing coils, taking one out and replacing it with a different unit.
The powerful 500-watt short wave transmitters were US made, 4 feet cube, boxy, and ominously black. On the front, they had several small lights; one of them -bright red- was especially important. That light indicated that the thousand-volt DC power, enough high voltage to kill you several times over, was on. It alerted us to the danger of possible electrocution when we opened the unit. And several times a day we had to open the top of the transmitters and replace a set of coils.
Another safety feature was wisely built in- a visible power switch. In order to change the coils I had to open a 10 by 10 inch door at the top of the unit to reach the coils. As I opened that little door I saw clearly a large 2-inch long, open safety switch. I could see that the power was interrupted when the door was open by the position of the safety switch. And to be safe I looked again at the front red light. It was dark- clearly off. I believed that all was safe and I started to replace the coil.
I inserted my right hand inside the unit, grabbed the coil inside and froze. I saw only black with some bright stars moving around. I was awake but unable to move at all. Just a piece of granite, for all practical purpose. But something was still alive in me, my brain. I knew that high-level electricity, especially if crossing the heart from my hand to the ground, froze the muscles and thus I had negligible time to act, or die.
I ordered my body: "PULL, PULL, PULL, YOU MUST BREAK THE CONNECTION!" "DO IT NOW."
But my muscles were frozen by the one thousand volt going through me.
As electronic technician I was always careful with electricity, almost always wore rubber-soled shoes for insulation from electricity. I never wore a ring or other metal things on my fingers, to reduce likelihoods of electrocution. And luckily then, I was standing on a thin rubber mat. But none of it helped enough then.
I pulled and pulled with the last strength in my muscles. Nothing.
Finally, my determination broke my frozen state and I pulled my right hand away from the coil with the infinitely small strength I still had.
I have no idea how long it took, but it had to be in milliseconds otherwise I would not be alive. I did not feel any damage or pain. But I did not wait, I was not sure I was really ok so I ran up the concrete stairs to the ground above, saw the beautiful sunlight, breathed my lungs full again and again and said to myself loudly: “I am alive, I am alive!”
A few soldiers passed by looking at me and my strange exhilaration. One of them asked me, are you ok? You seem so white?
I wanted to tell him: if you just knew. But I told him, everything is fine. I could not explain what happened. They would not understand.
I sat on the entrance at ground level, looking around and continued to smile.
Wow! That was a close one.
Finally, after enjoying the beautiful day for a time I went back down and as I approached the door to the transmitter room, I saw again the big sign on the door:
IF YOU LOVE WINE, WOMEN AND SONG, BE CAREFUL, ELECTRICITY CAN KILL YOU.
I saw it many times before, but this time I did clearly know what it meant.
I felt then like killing the bastard who modified the safety switch. If he were there then I would have loved to give him a test of my 1000-volt DC.
I never found that idiot.
You know the story, of course. The Palestinians wandering in the desert for forty years, led by Yasser Arafat, in search of someone else’s promised land. At least that’s how Anglican Bishop Riah of Jerusalem sees it.
For the past forty years we have been largely alone on this desert fighting a predator that not only has robbed us of all but a small piece of our historic homeland, but threatens the traditions and holy sites of Christianity.
Riah omits to mention suicide bombing and the only ‘terror’ is that of Israelis as they defend themselves from the murderous barbarians he shields behind dishonest words.
In Bishop Riah's world, the map of the Middle East consists mostly of Gaza and the West Bank. Everywhere else, including Lebanon, is squashed in round the edges and exists only in relation to it. Riah gets carried away by his favourite subject, and grows inventive in his description of Gaza.
Garbage and sewage have created a likely outbreak of cholera as Israeli strategies create the collapse of infrastructures.
‘have created a likely outbreak’?
Here is Riah’s twisted version of the conflict in Lebanon.
This week, war broke out on the Lebanon-Israeli border (near Banyas where Jesus gave St. Peter the keys to heaven and earth). The Israeli government's disproportionate reaction to provocation was consistent with their opportunistic responses in which they destroy their perceived enemy.
Speaking of which, a couple of weeks ago, he did express an intention of going there.
The plan is that I will be able to go to Lebanon next week - where we are presently without a resident priest - to bury the dead, and comfort the victims of war.
Or maybe he was just making it up.
We were tenting at Teton National Park for two weeks when the Lebanon war started, and could not respond earlier. Also, it is not easy to comment in the middle of a war, we know so little and so much is undecided, but allow me to make a few observations:
Iran’s and Hezbollah’s mental attitude is a great danger to our global security!
This reality is very difficult to grasp. Our survival depends on grasping it in time.
We are dealing here with people who have no morality, no truth, and no humanity in them. However, they have great wealth and power to drastically influence global events. They are eager to kill any one, including themselves, in the interest of their ideology. They hide behind women and children, happy when Lebanese civilians are killed by their actions (statement of a UN official). They are bombing Israel killing Arab women and children, and then calling them heroes. We, in the West, including many in Israel, are unable to comprehend their brutality and inhumanity. It is beyond our experience. We do not want to believe that human beings can degrade to that level. It shakes our core belief, the very culture we have bases our lives on for many, many years.
Make no mistake, Iran’s leaders are not uncontrolled emotional fanatics that are likely to falter by their own actions; they are clever, calculated and determined to get their way. They work long and diligently to achieve their strategic goal of Iranian style global Muslim power.
The verbal attacks and criticism of Israel by Western leaders and media are hindering Israel’s military actions. Many in the West are anti Semitic and use this opportunity to condemn Israel’s self defense. Our Sacramento Bee regional newspaper, for example, has been anti Israel for decades and uses every questionable opportunity to condemn Israel of atrocities, based on unproven and doctored pictures. Most people are unable to understand how the editors of media sources such as PBS, NY Times, and BBC manipulate the news to present Israel in a false light. If they care about innocent lives how can you explain that previously these media sources did not expressed outrage when Putin caused the death of over a quarter of a million Chechnyans, the three hundred children who died in a school in Russia, and the ten thousand civilian deaths when NATO bombed the infrastructure of Bosnia for three months. Why they kept quiet when two million civilians, natives and Christians, were murdered in Sudan by the Muslim government, and the deaths and suffering now at Darfur. The editor’s outrage rises only when a Muslim child dies (which we all regret) by a stray Israeli bomb. The Bee places a huge picture on the front page of the Sacramento Bee of this sad event, but the other million innocent casualties are rarely mentioned nor seen.
I rejected the notion of wide spread anti-Semitism most of my life. I did not experience it in Israel growing up and laughed in the face of it when I was confronted by it in the US. However, I am unable to find any other reason for the continuous condemnation spread by many Western world leaders and some of the media of Israel. Israel is not allowed to defend its citizens from unrelenting Arab attacks. Even in this clear case of self defense they are unwilling to see what is going on in the Middle East, blaming Israel for atrocities it did not commit.
Now, let’s look at some additional facts:
People are amazed by the support the US Administration and the President are giving Israel. I am pleased by it, but the US is looking for its own interest here. It let’s Israel fight a war that the US should have taken a leading role in- the elimination of global terror. Hezbollah has caused more US deaths than any other group except al Qaeda at 9/11. Iran’s and Hezbollah’s goal is destroying the “Great Satan” - the US, as they call us. Iran is pouring out one hundred million dollars a year to equip, support and train Hezbollah. In reality Hezbollah is a branch of the Iranian military. It is meticulously trained, supplied and supported by Iran’s fanatic leadership. Iran is a dangerous state and has feverishly worked for decades to fortify itself with nuclear weapons. Russia under Putin, in his effort to restore Russia’s global power, is the major supplier of Iran’s nuclear program and does very little to restrain them. Iran’s aim is clearly stated by their leadership: initially to dominate the Middle East and its vital oil supply, and then the world. China supports Iran because of its quest to secure oil supplies for its expanding economy, which we encourage by buying much of their production.
We ignore these facts of wide spread Islamist fascism since we do not want to do anything to upset the apple cart of a seemingly stable world. We can not visualize the alternative life the fanatics are working to impose on us.
Too many commentators expect another “military miracle” from Israel, like the victories of 67 and 73; mistaken perceptions. Israeli military does not defy the laws of nature; these wars were not miracles; victories came with thousands of Israeli military deaths. Israel was not prepared in 73 and it was touch and go for a while especially in the Golan, and Sharon saved the day in Egypt by a brilliant maneuver, counter crossing the Suez Canal. No missiles or air attacks were rained on Israeli civilians in those wars because Israel could have retaliated on enemy civilians.
In addition, these wars were fought by Israeli reserves which came from across the population. This war is being fought mostly by regular IDF troops, almost all young. Israel has great sensitivity for the death of its young soldiers.-their sons, grandsons, their brothers, and their hope for the future. If Israel initiated a massive ground war in Lebanon the Israeli public would not have tolerated it because it would have been accompanied by possibly of death of thousands of Israeli soldiers. My friends in northern Israel now under missile attacks are very concerned not so much about their own lives but the death of Israel’s young soldiers.
The world’s attitude to Israel is drastically different than in past wars, and cannot be ignored in today’s global economy. Israel can not survive economically without free global commerce, and a great amount of money is needed to fight a war and maintain a strong military- (as I discussed in details in a previous letter to you). In previous wars much of Europe was supportive of Israel; it now opposes Israel on all occasions. It is excellent that the US is now very supportive publicly but is not giving Israel a free hand; it pressured it many times less than a year ago to the detriment of Israel’s security in Gaza. Secretary Rice forced Israel to open wide the Egyptian/Gaza border allowing missile flow to terrorists. I hope she learned her lesson. We don’t know what pressure is being exerted now under the surface.
We should not jump every time we hear accusations of Israel, it is a standard practice. We also have to learn to accept, sadly, Israeli casualties. Wars cause casualties of civilians and military on both sides.
Clearly there is a wide difference between collateral Lebanese civilian casualties that Hezbollah caused by hiding among them, and Israeli civilian casualties that Hezbollah missiles are causing.
The Israeli public is solidly behind this war. I talked to Israelis that in the past were against all Israeli military actions; they are now fully behind it and ask for more aggressive attacks to eradicate Hezbollah "and teach the Arabs once and for all" to leave Israel alone. Even previous "peace activists" in the North understand now first hand what Arab aggression is like and are fully behind this war. When it affects their security, like most people, they wake up to reality.
Israeli civilian casualties are much lower because Israelis were always prepared for war. Every home, every apartment building has a solid bomb shelter.
The famous accusation that Israel caused the death of many women and children in Qana is misleading at least. First the number was double the actual count, second, if these civilians died in Israeli counter attack Hezbollah caused them by hiding and firing from around their apartment building. Even with guided missile the swiftness and dangers of war do not give the time to be sure each target in enemy territory is fully empty of civilians. It is simply impossible to prevent civilian deaths. There is considerable doubt that the Israeli caused these casualties, they seem to have been staged by bringing corpses from other locations to fake another "Israeli massacre".
Click or Google this address to see detail analysis of the Qana misinformation:
The world is so complex now that we should expect the unexpected! Prepare for events beyond our willingness to expect and to tolerate. We also must grasp that the results could be NOT what we wished for.
Roll up! Roll up! See the amazing acrobatic Anglican bishop! Watch his agile attempts to escape the pointed questions aimed at him by Stephen Sackur in "Hard Talk"! See Bishop Riah weave and twist about! Watch him perform somersaults and swing from a trapeze ? anything to avoid answering the questions. Watch with amazement as he wobbles along a verbal tight-rope, trying not to condemn suicide bombing. What a performance!
You can have the joy of watching him here, on Hard Talk.
Stephen Sackur is evidently well-informed about Riah, and his questions are intelligent, but Riah tries to deflect them by throwing large handfuls of clichés in the face of his pursuer.
Bishop Riah describes Bush and Blair as ?Christless Christians?. Well, it takes one to know one. While he lauds Muslim suicide bombers as ?martyrs? and plays his dhimmi role by pretending that Jews have never been persecuted by Arabs or refusing to acknowledge that Islamic extremists pose a threat to the Christian minority ? just what religion is he?
Irene Lancaster?s blog provides this interesting bit of information:
Revd Lisa Battye writes: Please will you post the following comment on your weblog in respect of Bishop Riah's recent 'Hardtalk' performance: The Broadcast shows Bishop Riah caring only about the establishment of a Palestinian state for his own people. I am concerned that he is laying the blame for the exodus of many of them from the land at the door of Israel, when my information is that they are leaving to avoid having to live as a minority under Shariah law. He has recently issued an impassioned plea to the Christian world to support his Diocese financially (Church Times 4th August p3) saying that his diocese is going through a 'severe financial crisis' through drawing on its reserves to support St Luke's Hospital on the West Bank. The problem seems to be that 'since the death of Yasser Arafat the hospital has not received any of the money promised it by the Palestinian Authority'. It is obviously not a priority of theirs.
Is he like a performing monkey, hoping the Palestinian Authority will give him some bananas to eat if he jumps and gibbers enough to please them? Or does genuine hatred drive his frantic dance?
Here’s a worrying development. Tony Blair rang the director of Christian Aid about the Lebanon crisis. Yes, that’s right. Christian Aid didn’t ring him – he rang this notoriously anti-Israel organisation.
Dr Mukarji stressed the initiative came directly from the Prime Minister. “The call came direct from Mr Blair and I welcome that. It was informal, private, positive and very constructive. The Prime Minister heard and recognised Christian Aid's concerns.”
• Legitimizes Hezbollah's attack by stating that it was "an attempt to negotiate the release of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails."
• No mention that the three Lebanese prisoners held by Israel are terrorists, one of whom, Samir Kuntar, was convicted by an Israeli court in 1979 of two murders, including the beating to death of a four year old girl.
• "Days of dread and despair long-lived by the Lebanese during the war seem to have returned." No mention of emotions of Israelis under rocket fire. As in other recent CA reports, the text was emotive so as to direct the reader to a clear political agenda.
• One sentence about attacks on Israel: Hezbollah "fired rockets from Lebanon today, killing one Israeli civilian and injuring 29 others."
Maybe Tony Blair is not aware of this. You can contact him here
Here is a powerful speech made by Ehud Olmert on 31 July. Don't expect to see it quoted by media sources whose hypocrisy is revealed by his words, as they prefer to show performances in the circus run by Hezbollah.
Indeed, his speech makes transparent the hypocrisy of those who run governments, churches and aid agencies. They should read it and hang their heads in shame!
With thanks to Dr Irene Lancaster, who sent this to me.
Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world. I, the Prime Minister of Israel, am speaking to you from Jerusalem in the face of the terrible pictures from Kfar Kana. Any human heart, wherever it is, must sicken and recoil at the sight of such pictures. There are no words of comfort that can mitigate the enormity of this tragedy. Still, I am looking you straight in the eye and telling you that the State of Israel will continue its military campaign in Lebanon.
The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack targets from which missiles and Katyusha rockets are fired at hospitals, old age homes and kindergartens in Israel. I have instructed the security forces and the IDF to continue to hunt for the Katyusha stockpiles and launch sites from which these savages are bombarding the State of Israel.
We will not hesitate, we will not apologize and we will not back off. If they continue to launch missiles into Israel from Kfar Kana,we will continue to bomb Kfar Kana. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Here, there and everywhere. The children of Kfar Kana could now be sleeping peacefully in their homes, unmolested, had the agents of the devil not taken over their land and turned the lives of our children into hell.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time you understood: the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon. We will no longer allow anyone to exploit population centers in order to bomb our citizens. No one will be able to hide anymore behind women and children in order to kill our women and children. This anarchy is over. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you can stop visiting us and, if necessary, we will stop visiting you.
Today I am serving as the voice of six million bombarded Israeli citizens who serve as the voice of six million murdered Jews who were melted down to dust and ashes by savages in Europe. In both cases, those responsible for these evil acts were, and are, barbarians devoid of all humanity, who set themselves one simple goal: to wipe the Jewish race off the face of the earth, as Adolph Hitler said, or to wipe he State of Israel off the map, as Mahmoud Ahmedinjad proclaims.
And you - just as you did not take those words seriously then, you are ignoring them again now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, will not happen again. Never again will we wait for bombs
that never came to hit the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for salvation that never arrives. Now we have our own air force. The Jewish people are now capable of standing up to those who seek their destruction - those people will no longer be able to hide behind women and children. They will no longer be able to evade their responsibility.
Every place from which a Katyusha is fired into the State of Israel will be a legitimate target for us to attack. This must be stated clearly and publicly, once and for all. You are welcome to judge us, to ostracize us, to boycott us and to vilify us. But to kill us? Absolutely not.
Four months ago I was elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens to the office of Prime Minister of the government of Israel, on the basis of my plan for unilaterally withdrawing from 90 percent of the areas of Judea and Samaria, the birth place and cradle of the Jewish people; to end most of the occupation and to enable the Palestinian people to turn over a new leaf and to calm things down until conditions are ripe for attaining a permanent settlement between us.
The Prime Minister who preceded me, Ariel Sharon, made a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip back to the international border, and gave the Palestinians there a chance to build a new reality for themselves. The Prime Minister who preceded him, Ehud Barak, ended the lengthy Israeli presence in Lebanon and pulled the IDF back to the international border, leaving the land of the cedars to flourish, develop and establish its democracy and its economy.
What did the State of Israel get in exchange for all of this? Did we win even one minute of quiet? Was our hand, outstretched in peace, met with a handshake of encouragement? Ehud Barak's peace initiative at Camp David let loose on us a wave of suicide bombers who smashed and blew to pieces over 1,000 citizens, men, women and children.
I don't remember you being so enraged then. Maybe that happened because we did not allow TV close-ups of the dismembered body parts of the Israeli youngsters at the Dolphinarium? Or of the shattered lives of the people butchered while celebrating the Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya? What can you do - that's the way we are. We don't wave body parts at the camera. We grieve quietly. We do not dance on the roofs at the sight of the bodies of our enemy's children - we express genuine sorrow and regret. That is the monstrous behavior of our enemies. Now they have risen up against us. Tomorrow they will rise up against you. You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste more.
And Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza. What did it get us? A barrage of Kassem missiles fired at peaceful settlements and the kidnapping of soldiers. Then too, I don't recall you reacting with such alarm.
And for six years, the withdrawal from Lebanon has drawn the vituperation and crimes of a dangerous, extremist Iranian agent, who took over an entire country in the name of religious fanaticism and is trying to take Israel hostage on his way to Jerusalem - and from there to Paris and London.
An enormous terrorist infrastructure has been established by Iran on our border, threatening our citizens, growing stronger before our very eyes, awaiting the moment when the land of the Ayatollahs becomes a nuclear power in order to bring us to our knees. And make no mistake - we won't go down alone. You, the leaders of the free and enlightened world, will go down along with us.
So today, here and now, I am putting an end to this parade of hypocrisy. I don't recall such a wave of reaction in the face of the 100 citizens killed every single day in Iraq. Sunnis kill Shiites who kill Sunnis, and all of them kill Americans - and the world
And I am hard pressed to recall a similar reaction when
the Russians destroyed entire villages and burned down large cities in order to repress the revolt in Chechnya.
And when NATO bombed Kosovo for almost three months and crushed the civilian population - then you also kept silent. What is it about us, the Jews, the minority, the persecuted, that arouses this cosmic sense of justice in you? What do we have that all the others don't?
In a loud clear voice, looking you straight in the eye, I stand before you openly and I will not apologize. I will not capitulate. I will not whine. This is a battle for our freedom. For our humanity. For the right to lead normal lives within our recognized, legitimate borders. It is also your battle. I pray and I believe that now you will understand that.
Because if you don't, you may regret it later, when it's too late.