Thursday, March 29, 2007

My meeting with Dr. Aryeh Eldad

Last night I had the pleasure and privilege of spending an evening with Dr. Aryeh Eldad, MK National Union Party, at a small parlor meeting in the home of a friend. His party in Knesset is the only one currently which opposes making any land concessions to the arabs. Dr. Eldad is a world-class physician who specializes in treating burn victims, and had a decorated military career in the IDF, advancing all the way to the level of Brigadier General. Recently, he has helped launch the Amichai youth movement to advance Zionism and educate the kids about of the the Land of Israel's rich Jewish history.

I have to say that Dr. Eldad is an exceptionally approachable, passionate and genuine man. He doesn't sugar coat or pull any punches like American politicos usually do. Also, unlike the vast majority of today's national Zionists, he is completely secular in both style and appearance. What he clearly seems to be hoping to do is make more secular Jews see that they can be in favor of policies of a Greater Israel (the Land of Israel from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea), too, without feeling they don't belong in the movement. This is a very, very difficult task, however, as the evening would eventually help to demonstrate.

The gathering included mostly liberal leaning Jews who get knee-jerk offended by any suggestions of transferring the Palestinians to Jordan and declaring Israel a state where only Jews can be citizens. They were polite and quiet, for the most part, that is until MZ riled things up after the lecture was over - but more on that later.

Here are some of the very interesting points that Dr. Eldad offered during our shmoozing and Q/A periods.

MZ: Dr. Eldad, about the fractured status of the rightwing in Israel - what can be done to improve it's chances of ever gaining a majority?

Dr. E: The best we can hope for right now, in the next elections, is to have Netanyahu win a majority that depends on our party for a coalition majority. If that happens we can drive policy in the right direction.

MZ: Bibi? He has hardly been a rightwinger towards the arabs. In fact, Likud today is virtually indistinguishable from Labor in how they approach the moslem problem.

Dr. E: True, but Netanyahu is weak and maliable. When we were voting on the disengagement from Gaza, Sharon sat like a rock for six hours waiting for his votes to come through, while Netanyahu ran around sweating and panicked not knowing what to do. He literally changed his position four times. He is weak and can be pushed to whichever is the stronger political tide. If we on the right have the stronger political influence, he will fall into line with us. We can use his weakness to our advantage.

MZ: What do you think about Ehud Olmert?

Dr. E: He is going to go down soon. He has been caught so deep in corruption that nothing can save him. The Winograd Commission will be reporting their results within the next two weeks on how he mishandled the war in Lebanon, and at that point there will be new elections. He is a criminal and must be run out of politics permanently, if not sent to prison.

MZ: How is your broken arm feeling since you were attacked by Olmert's police in Amona?

Dr. E: It was actually not broken, what they did was grab me by the thumb and twist it back as far as they could until they heard it snap causing serious ligament damage.

MZ: My God...I can't even imagine. In America that's like a Senator being beaten at the order of the President. I remember seeing the pictures of Effie Eitam bloodied up badly, too. Do you think that Olmert will still try and expel the Jews from Judea and Samaria and divide Jerusalem?

Dr. E: No. His popularity rating is right around the percentage of fat in lowfat milk [he's at 3% in the latest popularity polls] and will not be able to call for anything like that while he is so weak. Besides, now the polls reveal 59% of Israelis think retreating from Gaza was a terrible mistake, and without popular support Olmert can do nothing. I also told Emir Peretz to his face: If you try to remove even a single settlement from Judea or Samaria, what you saw in Amona will seem like nothing compared to the uprising that you will face if you dare attempt such a thing.

MZ: What must be done to turn the political tide and make the rightwing a force again in Israel?

Dr. E: Today, of the new soldiers entering the IDF 50% have NEVER BEEN TO JERUSALEM! Keep in mind, we are not talking of America where someone from Oregon may have never made it to Washington DC because of the great distance. In Israel, over 70% of the population lives within 1 hour of Jerusalem! Our worst enemy is not the left or the arabs right now, it is apathy. We need to instil pride in Zionism back to our youth, because we cannot survive if people think the work ended when Israel became a state and now we can just relax.

MZ: What do you believe must be done to solve the arab problem in Israel?

Dr. E: First of all, you must understand that the two state solution is dead. The arabs don't want it, we don't want it, nobody wants it. However because Sharon pushed President Bush into accepting his desire to give them a State of their own in Judea, Samaria and Gaza we have to listen to Condolizza Rice come and talk to us about that plan. It is absolutely dead.

So, we can either just have a multinational state of all of its people that is not Jewish, and if the Arabs manage to eventually vote the Jews out, fine, or we must do something else entirely. The only solution to keeping the state Jewish is to make all of the land West of the Jordan river Jewish and the land east of the river Palestine. We will make it attractive for all sides financially, make the transfer beneficial to them for jobs and income, and then we'll be able to have peace.

Those arabs who do not want to leave Israel, and are not criminals of the state, will be able to stay as residents but they will not be citizens. Ctizenship is only for Jews. These arabs can vote for elections in Jordan/Palestine as visitng resident citizens currently out of their country. This is the only way.

MZ: Thank you so much, Dr. Eldad! You were fantastic, and speaking with you has been an incredible honor.

Now, after Dr. Eldad was finished with the lecture we all resumed coffee and shmoozing. At this time, I began a conversation with a wonderful, brilliant friend of the family and another friend of his who I've never met, about Dr. Eldad's discussion and his policies. WHAM! They began right off the bat with "he's a rightwing extremist, his positions will never be tolerated by Israelis, his agenda is crazy, yada, yada, yada...

Now, I asked right away why would they say that?

"Oh, because you can't just shove them on cattle cars and ship them out. You want them on cattle cars leaving at gunpoint?"

I responded by saying, "Well, if you mean me in the singular I'd personally be thrilled to be pointing my gun at the moslems and forcing them out of Israel, and I'd have no problem at all killing every single one of them who tried to forcibly to resist."

Then I was told how it is only the tiny minority of moslems who are bad, and how moslems really just want to make a living and build white picket fences and don't want to hurt anyone, yada, yada, yada...

So, I took it upon myself to ask them: "Why are you so bigoted against moslems? Aren't they just like everyone else in that they have pride? Don't you think they all believe the land is rightfully arab and that the Jews stole it from them? Don't you think that they stand for more than just a picket fence and they want that land for themselves at least as much as Jews want it for ourselves? You think they renounce their claim to the country because of a picket fence?

"No! If anything, they want it MORE than we do! Our brethren in Israel are so apathetic and tired of conflict that they are willing to just resign themselves to defeat, while the moslems are willing to do anything, whatever it takes, to take it back for themselves. You think they like knowing the land they claim is theirs is called a Jewish state? That their national anthem is Hatikvah? That they like the Mogan David on their national flag? They may not say it to your face all of them, but not one of them likes it and all of them would throw us into the sea in a heartbeat to get the land back they say belongs to them.

"We either will fight for it like it is the most important thing to our existence or we shall cease to exist. When two sides say one thing belongs to them, it is resolved only when one of the two are defeated. As long as we keep giving our property away we are being beaten and they are winning. We must annex all of the land west of the river, take away their citizenship, and give them a country east of the river, period. They must go if we hope to stay."

At this point Dr. Eldad was turning beat red with anger overhearing my argument with these guys, and came over with guns blazing. Let's just say by the time he was done tearing apart their arguments the only thing left was a few cleared throat chuckles, a sheepish acceptance of the idea on their parts, and a feeling of great satisfaction and pride on my part!

In the end, we all parted as friends. But, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life going toe-to-toe in a political fight, with Aryeh Eldad standing right beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder, as an ally who had my back. I'll never forget it.



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