Honesty is rare in Israeli political discourse, and dramatic honesty straight from the heart, such as that of Dr Hagi Ben Artzi, even rarer. During an interview with Yoni Kempinski of Arutz 7 Israel National News on 29 October 2023. Dr Artzi opens with damning words:
The failure of Israel in the terrible event, in the massacre that took place three weeks ago, is much greater, is much more severe, because in the Yom Kippur War, civilians were not involved at all. In the Yom Kippur War, Israeli soldiers fought against Syrian and Egyptian soldiers. Civilians were not hurt. In the massacre in the Negev, thousands of civilians were killed, wounded, murdered, tortured, raped.
Damning, but true, and pointing towards a bigger tragedy: a tendency on the part of Israeli leaders to be bloody-mindedly stubborn to the point of their own nation's destruction. They will not countenance, not even for a second, the possibility that they might be wrong, even, or perhaps especially, when being wrong would put their country in peril. Dr Ben Artzi identifies Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu as the main culprits in getting Israel into a position where a ragtag band of ignorant savages almost brought a great nation to its knees.
The first, the basis, the beginning of this disaster is the Oslo Accord, which was led by Rabin and Peres. They brought thousands of terrorists into Israel, to Judea and Samaria and Gaza, gave them the best weapons and, of course, they used these weapons to murder and to massacre Israeli civilians in the Second Intifada.
Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres demonstrated personalities singularly unsuitable for such critical roles. Yigal Carmon, founder of the formidable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) think tank, gives a devastating account of the conduct of these two men in the lead-up to the catastrophic Oslo Accords. The ultimate loose cannon, Ariel Sharon, Dr Ben Artzi charges as follows:
Later Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon continued the Oslo Accords and even went further. He gave the Palestinian Authority the Gaza Strip and Tzahal [the IDF] left Gaza and the Jewish settlements there were destroyed. As a result of this, Hamas took control of Gaza.
Ben Artzi sees the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon, the "Gaza of the North," as leading directly to the disastrous withdrawal from Gaza. Barak left South Lebanon, which was the protection of the settlements in the North, in the Galilee. Yoni Kempinski quotes Ben Artzi:
"Obviously, the withdrawal from the security zone on the northern border, led by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, exposed the residents of the Galilee to another disaster, which also caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of citizens in dozens of villages and towns. These are the founding fathers of this disaster.
And so we arrive at the high principle of never negotiating with terrorists, regarding which Dr Artzi, presumably referring to Netanyahu's biography, writes, "Bibi himself wrote it in his book: 'by releasing terrorists we strengthen terror.'" Kempinski continues his quotation:
It is clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also a partner by contributing to the strength of Hamas. He released over a thousand murderous terrorists, who today are the Hamas leadership in Gaza and who planned and led this heinous massacre. Prime Minister Netanyahu is also responsible for the prisoner exchange deal for the release of Gilad Shalit.
One of the feats for which the Israeli security services are justly famous is the successful 1976 raid on the Entebbe airport in Uganda, 3,560 Km away, to rescue 106 hostages held by Palestinian terrorists, the people who made hijacking a household word. There was no question of negotiating with the Palestinians to get the hostages released, although who knows what did take place behind the scenes. The lesson for today, however, does not come from the successful 1976 Entebbe hostage rescue, three years after the Yom Kippur War, but two years before that nation-splitting event. The lessons for the Gaza hostage crisis today are to be found in the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis and massacre.
In the German establishment then, as in the Israeli establishment today, reality had to yield before stubborn idealism. The Germans were Hellbent on throwing out the security baby with the Hitler bathwater, and through arrogant self-righteous idealism enfeebled themselves to the point of being sitting ducks for the world's terrorist gangs, including the Fatah offshoot Black September, whose jihad masqueraded as national liberation. Of course local German terrorists, disaffected from their own state, would stand ready to assists the Palestinians in their raid on the Munich Olympics.
The German security services were not entirely complacent, and did go through the motions of assessing security scenarios. Police forensic psychologist, Georg Sieber, was tasked with hypothesising scenarios that might arise. According to Don Yaeger, writing in Vault:
Studying the most ruthless groups of that era, from the Irish Republican Army and the Palestine Liberation Organization to the Basque separatist group ETA and West Germany's own Baader-Meinhof Gang, he [Georg Sieber] came up with 26 cases, each imagined in apocalyptic detail.
One of these, Sieber's Situation 21, was sketched out as follows:
At 5:00 one morning, a dozen armed Palestinians would scale the perimeter fence of the Village. They would invade the building that housed the Israeli delegation, kill a hostage or two, then demand the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails and a plane to fly to some Arab capital. Even if the Palestinians failed to liberate their comrades, Sieber predicted, they would "turn the Games into a political demonstration" and would be "prepared to die.... On no account can they be expected to surrender."
The security experts established that the only way to prevent such scenarios would be to scrap the Munich Olympics, which would simply not do, as the Games were intended to atone for the 1936 Nazi Games in Berlin. The Munich Olympic Games were envisioned as "the Carefree Games."
There would be no place for barbed wire, troops or police bristling with sidearms. ...Where Hitler's Olympics had opened and closed with cannon salutes and der Führer himself presiding, these would showcase a new, forward-looking Germany, fired with the idealism pervading the world at the time. Security personnel, called Olys, were to be sparse and inconspicuous, prepared for little more than ticket fraud and drunkenness. They would wear turquoise blazers and, during the day, carry nothing but walkie-talkies.
On 5 September, as Deutsche Welle reports:
At around 4:35 a.m., eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September stormed the Israeli athletes' quarters in the Olympic Village. They demanded the release of 232 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, along with left-wing militants Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof of Germany, and Kozo Okamoto of Japan.
German negotiators were inclined to give in to the demands but Israel strictly rejected them. "If we should give in, then no Israeli anywhere in the world can feel that his life is safe," said Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. By the end of the day, after a poorly planned rescue attempt, 11 Israeli Olympic team members, five Black September attackers and one policeman were dead.
At this point, one might recall Ben Artzi's observation in reference to Gaza:
It's not just what happened the week before the terrible massacre in Gaza. All the heads of the security forces, unfortunately, supported the Oslo Accords. They said, 'It's fine, the Palestinian Authority will fight Hamas,' and in the end, we found out that they cooperated with them. The heads of the security forces enthusiastically supported the Disengagement that brought about this disaster, and they also supported the Shalit deal.
"The organizers [of the Munich Olympics] asked Sieber if he might get back to them with less-frightful scenarios – threats better scaled to the Games they intended to stage."
This is the problem. When fantasy comes up against reality, reality is made to yield to fantasy at whatever cost. In post-Yom Kippur Israel, reality was simply banished. But that would be the generous assessment. It is an assessment that wants to ascribe to the actors involved mere naïvety, possibly ignorance. It is not an assessment that allows for self-serving politicians and officials feathering their own beds, or for politicians and officials disaffected from their own state and more than ready to assist an enemy. In Israel today, we might be looking at all three.
Sieber said that he was not the only person to warn German authorities. "There were all kinds of agencies, from America to China, who said, 'We heard something and this and that will happen.'"
Sieber, now 82, raises the most serious allegations against former police chief Schreiber. It was he who was officially in charge of security for the Games. According to Sieber, Schreiber used the same line to brush off any warnings: "I am quoting literally: 'We receive laundry baskets full of warnings every day. If we were to process them all, we would have to delay the Olympic Games by 20 years.'"
One recalls the urgency with which "Disengagement" was bulldozed through. Ben Artzi continues:
The release of the terrorists in the Shalit deal, over a thousand murderers and abominable criminals, brought the terror of the last twelve years upon us, and especially the disaster of the Simchat Torah massacre. Then it was a thousand; today, we have two hundred hostages, and Hamas demands all the thousands of prisoners we are holding.
Ben Artzi warns:
If God forbid, the State of Israel is tempted to agree to a similar deal, the next massacre will not be of 1,500 dead, but of 15,000 dead. The State of Israel must not consider releasing even one terrorist. This will be a great victory for Hamas. Not only did they murder, massacre, rape, steal and rob – they were also winning and releasing all their terrorists. The State of Israel must not even think of releasing a single terrorist. We will release our hostages as part of the war. Those we fail to release – we will say that 1,500 were killed – and this is part of the price the nation has to pay for its freedom.
The miracle that Israel needs is for Otzma Yehudit and Yisrael Beiteinu to find their way towards each other, and answer Hayim Nahman Bialik's question: “How can we bring today’s secular Jews closer to their older religious cultural heritage?” Then the iron wall might finally be built. Because Benny Gantz is in the Emergency Government, many speak of unity, because that is what they want. It is yet another fraud, as Benny Gantz has just scuppered Itamar Ben-Gvir's attempt the strengthen the police in preparation for the expected pogroms by Arab Muslims inside Israel. Ben Artzi explains:
The rabbis were the ones who cried out against the Oslo Accords, against the Disengagement, and against the unrestrained release of thousands of terrorists in the Shalit deal. In the end, they were right. Therefore, the conclusion from a broad observation of the overall picture should be that the State of Israel should go back and listen to the rabbis and not to the generals. I say this in pain because "looking back at the past thirty years, it becomes clear that the rabbis were right and not the generals, and the State of Israel will not be revived if the heads of the state do not sit down again with the rabbis, listen to their opinion and consider it, just as David Ben-Gurion did.
I struggle to reconcile this rabbinic perceptiveness and honesty with rabbis who say that Islam is part of God's plan for the Jews, seemingly unaware that Islam has no meaning without complete extermination of the Jews. That would be the kind interpretation. One might wonder whether this accounts for the extreme reluctance on the part of Jews even to mention Islam, let alone confront it. After a massacre of 1400, the furthest Jews will go is to equate Hamas with ISIS. It is a badly-chosen cop-out, however, because ISIS tied every act of their grotesque barbarism directly to the exact chapter and verse of the Qur'an that commands it. So, those who say that Hamas is ISIS as a way of avoiding saying Hamas is Islam, have simply walked into their own trap. Be that as it may, religious Jews in general are far easier to reconcile with an Israel that has a future, than are secular Jews. In common parlance, they take no shit. A case in point:
In Arutz 7 Israel National News, 12 September 2023, we read what the political and security establishment must have known all along:
The Hamas newspaper Al-Risala published an article dealing with the consequences of the Israeli withdrawal on the Palestinian Arab terrorist infrastructure.
The Hamas newspaper noted, "The withdrawal of the occupation from the Gaza Strip in 2005 is a turning point in the history of the resistance in the Gaza Strip, which before that was in the stage of initial development from stone to weapons and rockets."
According to the newspaper, there is a consensus among the experts that "the withdrawal of the occupation from Gaza significantly helped to strengthen the strength of the resistance until it reached the point of adopting diverse conflict strategies."
The political commentator, Amer Saad, said that "the occupation believed that its escape from the Gaza Strip would bring it security, while the Gaza Strip districts became the starting point for the great liberation (of Palestine)."
Saad further noted that the Palestinian terrorist organizations have developed a deterrent force against Israel, and they established it in the round of confrontation in May 2021 (Guardian of the Walls). Today, he explained, the strategy of the resistance is based on the concept of unity of the different regions, which also includes the Judea and Samaria areas.
Journalist and political commentator affiliated with Hamas, Mustafa al-Sawaf, said in this context: "The withdrawal of the occupation from the settlements in the Gaza Strip was carried out under the blows of the resistance and not because of a deal or a negotiation plan."
"Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the town of Netzer and [the city of] Tel Aviv are of equal importance, whereas today we see that Netzer has passed from the world and the land has returned to its owners."
According to him, Israel had no choice but to "run away" from Gaza because of the intensity of the suicide attacks, the shooting attacks, and the launching of the rockets that took a heavy toll on it.
Al-Sawaf also said, "The withdrawal of the occupation from the Gaza Strip and getting rid of the security forces (of the Palestinian Authority) that persecuted the fighters was the golden opportunity that led to a significant development of the resistance (the armed struggle)," which "improved in quantity and quality," and today "constitutes a qualitative threat to the occupation." (My emphasis)
When asked how he would define "victory" in the current war, Dr Hagi Ben Artzi replied:
If the disaster is a result of Oslo Accord and the Disengagement, the withdrawal from Gaza, then victory means that we must change course. Victory means that Israel takes full responsibility over the Gaza Strip and full control. First of all, military control of the Gaza Strip and there is no military control without rebuilding Gush Katif. Only Israeli control of Gaza and the rebuilding of Gush Katif is the victory. There is no other possibility, because if any other entity will control Gaza, the result will be again another version of Hamas. Only Israel can ensure the security of Israeli citizens living in the south of Israel. This is the only possibility. Back to Gush Katif. Back to Gush Katif. (My emphasis)
"Back to Gush Katif. Back to Gush Katif." Indeed. A return to Gush Katif will be a defeat for Israel's leaders, but a victory for Israel; a defeat for Islam and a victory for Judaism; a gutting defeat for Muslims and a real nakba for the Palestinians. Their barbaric bloodlust has put an end to Israeli dreams of coexistence, and for that the Jews owe the Palestinians a debt of gratitude.
Screen grab: Arutz 7 Israel National News
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2464685
High Contrast - Own work, CC BY 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19948068