City of Ariel

Posts Tagged ‘territories’

In the Wake of the Persian Gulf War

In International, Letters, National on April 16, 1991 at 11:18 am

Dear Friends, 

The war is over. The mastery of the Coalition forces has resulted in a permanent ceasefire. We cannot, however, measure the extent of the victory, not as long as Saddam Hussein is still in power. We must keep in mind that this is the Middle East. Many Arabs refuse to accept that Iraq has been defeated because Saddam Hussein still leads his country. Had the Americans marched into Baghdad, pulled the cruel Iraqi dictator from his bunker and arrested him for committing heinous war crimes, there would be no doubts about the American victory or about what actions are acceptable, even in war. 

Iraq waged war against the civilian population of Israel, launching missiles against women and children with no regards to age or infirmity. As each attack rocked the country, Israelis entered their sealed rooms. The isolation was terrifying: waiting in sealed rooms for the missiles to hit, as fears of chemical warfare grew – a clear reminder to Israel that poison gas had been used before in an attempt to eradicate the Jewish people. 

Israel has been commended by the world community for not retaliating against Iraq’s vicious attacks, but it is not just the government who has behaved with admirable restraint. The people of Israel were the true heroes of the war. After the first few Scud attacks, I watched the young men and women of my city return to routine, despite the stress of sleepless nights in sealed rooms. I saw the children of Ariel after a night of screaming sirens and broken dreams, walking resolutely into their schools, gas masks in hand. I watched our teenagers come forward to help, eager to do their part in any way the could. I saw the people of my city open their homes and hearts to relatives from Tel Aviv, many of whom would not even visit Ariel during the three years of Intifada. I have watched and felt a new love for these brave young families and a new pride in being their mayor. 

We have regained the respect and affection of the free world during this war, and we are indeed worthy of this solidarity and support. Still, I have no doubt that when the war ends, President Bush will remind us in no uncertain terms that it was U.S. soldiers and weapons that fought Iraq, Coalition forces funded by Coalition governments the defeated Saddam Hussein, eliminating the Iraqi threat. And then he will present us with the bill – an itemized list of concessions we are expected to make. That is when Israel will begin to truly fight for survival, to stop our friends and allies from gouging pieces of our flesh in the name of peace. I wonder if we will still be everyone’s darling then. 

In the last issue of “Shalom Ariel” I stressed three main points. The first was about territory and its importance in times of war, even in this age of missiles. I said then that a ground war would be the decisive factor in the war. In the end, foot soldiers and tanks overrun a country or serve to defend it. This has indeed been the case, for it was the ground offensive that brought about the Iraqi surrender. For five weeks, Allied bombers pounded Baghdad. The United States, England, Saudi Arabia, France… all the great powers did their utmost, but in the end, territory dictated the outcome of the war. Yet there are those who suggest we give away our “territories”. Are we seriously expected to relinquish our little margin of national security?  

In the six weeks of the war, Israel was attacked by 39 scud missiles. Those that hit their mark left devastation in their wake. But what if Israel had given in to world pressure to cede territory? Can you imagine Iraqi soldiers marching through Jordan to join their Palestinian brothers and move against Israel’s eastern border? Add the dangerous potential of such conventional weapons as artillery and tanks, to the destructive capability of missiles, and it becomes clear that Israel would be facing a dangerous and cruel Arab alliance, bent on eradicating the Jewish Homeland. 

I also emphasized how long it took for American to deploy troops in the desert after the invasion of Kuwait. Moreover, seven months elapsed from the Iraqi invasion to the liberation of Kuwait. What if it had been Israel depending upon the world community in time of war? Here on a strip of land only 50 miles wide, we could not wait all that time. The price would be too steep. We could be risking a second Holocaust – this time in the Jewish Homeland.

My third point was that finally, the world saw the true face of the PLO and the Palestinian Arabs. Until the Gulf War, American policy-makers regarded them as moderates, suggesting they would be amenable partners for peace negotiations. The war exposed the truth – that Arafat, the PLO and all their adherents in Judea, Samaria and Gaza sided fully with Saddam Hussein. They are the real enemies of the United States, the enemies of peace. 

The true character of King Hussein of Jordan was also exposed when he allied himself with Iraq and took a firm stand against the U.S. and the western world. Today, he gives lame excuses and makes frail attempts to explain his difficult position, but the world will not be fooled. We can draw our own conclusions, looking to the future, but keeping the lessons of the past in focus. 

Israel proved once again to be the only true Middle Eastern ally of the United States. As such, it is Israel’s security that must be of first and foremost concern. To this end, Israel will continue to seek bridges to peace – a real peace – with sovereign Arab States. Once we have peace agreements with Arab States, then – and only then – can we begin to concern ourselves with the rights and needs of other people. 

Sincerely,

Ron Nachman

Mayor of Ariel

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