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  1. Yes. And the ability to express it succinctly, effectively, persuasively, and articulately. The one major quality of the Bush Admin that is terribly lacking.

    Moshe Sheskin

    Britain’s greatest Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, said after the Second World War, “There was never a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action.” He was referring to Hitler’s violation of international treaties and to the fact that a pre-emptive attack on Germany would have prevented the war with its horrendous loss of life because Germany, at that time, was not strong enough to withstand an onslaught by the Allied forces. A deterrent for “timely action” preceded Churchill and the Second World War. It was Chamberlain’s return to England after a visit with Hitler proclaiming “peace in our time”. Distaste for war, apathy, looking the other way and paralysis caused by inaction, gave Hitler the tacit approval to move into Europe and the rest is history.

    So what have we learned since then? Absolutely nothing. Chamberlains “peace in our time” was as useless as the League of Nations, created after the First World War and its successor, the United Nations. Self-interests guided the member nations and peace was not high on their agenda. What motivates countries is military advantage to protect economic and technological development. The inaction of the UN and the West in preventing Iran from acquiring atomic weaponry is indicative of the paralysis and lack of timely action, and has been part of the United Nations since its inception.

    In Israel, timely action (pre-emptive strikes) and paralysis is prevalent. Prime Ministers have shown their inability to recognize timely action due to conflicting interests, which could and would have prevented loss of life and property. The evacuation of Gaza and the Second Lebanese war are examples of what ‘timely action’ would have resolved. Yes, there were successes in the past and they were due to quick thinking, planning, and having the ability to make decisions, such as the destruction of the Iraqi atomic reactor and the 1967 six day war, brought about by escalating border raids and the closure of the straits of Tiran and Suez Canal by Egypt. These are but two of a number of well developed and thought out moves through timely action. Unfortunately, we cannot rest on our laurels. The leadership of some former Prime Ministers to guide us through one of the most difficult periods we have ever encountered are now memories.

    What Israel needs is probably a Winston Churchill, but what it has received is Ehud Olmert, a Prime Minister, lacking in experience, ability and every other attribute of leadership. As the batboy for Ariel Sharon, his mentor, Olmert together with the Labour party, Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, and other members of his government, pose a threat to the future existence of Israel. With the lowest popularity ever received by a Prime Minister, anywhere from 1-3 percent, Olmert has managed to survive despite the interim report of his appointed Winograd Commission, accusing him of mishandling the Second Lebanese war and leaving the citizens of Israel to fend for themselves, particularly those residing in the north.. He has ignored the calls of the State Controller for an accounting that led to the war; he is contemptuous of him and thoroughly discounted the public demonstrations calling for his resignation.

    Israel’s dilemma is that Timely action is not in Olmert’s vocabulary, nor does he understand the concept. The war in Lebanon would never have happened had the settlements in Gaza remained. Our unilateral evacuation showed weakness on our part. This weakness was interpreted by Hizbullah as permission to attack and gives the Syrians the idea that it is possible to regain the Golan by force. But even more so, Western allies and other nations see it the same way and our reputation, based on past wars, has been severely put to the test.

    Is it lack of gathering intelligence or were we sitting on our hands for 6 years while Hizbullah and Fatah accumulated their war material? We knew they had the means to bombard Israel with rockets. We knew about the tunnels, rocket emplacements in Lebanese urban settlements and the huge stockpiling and smuggling of arms. Instead of attacking we tried diplomacy. It is another example of failure to implement “timely action”.

    In Gaza, Hamas is permitted to bombard Sderot, kibbutzim and Ashkelon with impunity. Our response should have been an invasion of Gaza, eliminating their bases of operation. Instead, we send them fuel, water, food, drugs and electricity. After all, we are supposed to be humanitarians, the people of the Bible, and their thanks are the preparation for a major conflict by smuggling weaponry, digging tunnels and firing missiles. Terrorists that are wounded often end up in our hospitals for treatment. Our error in judgement is not implementing in Gaza what we are doing in the West Bank. There our troops have freedom of movement in order to prevent the firing of katushas and hinder access to our cities and settlements.

    Olmert now has a new bosom buddy, Abu Mazen. Both share being unpopular by their respective constituents. They are being sandwiched and manipulated by the Americans on one side and the Arab League, China and Russia on the other. To garner support for Mazan, Bush’ insisted on Israel returning hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority and the release of a prisoners. Other provisos were that those released sign a document stating that they will not engage in terrorist activities against Israel, and that Fatah turn in their weapons. This, like the many other documents wasn’t honoured. Israel’s paralysis and dilemma is giving in to the whims of George Bush, the anti-Israel State department, Abu Mazen, and to the left wing of Israel’s government. The failure is not taking ‘timely action’ when the opportunity arises and leads to paralysis, another war and more loss of life and property. Olmert and company must not be allowed to continue to give in to the demands of George Bush, the State department and all those whose attitude towards Israel is questionable if not downright hostile.

    Timely action means that we must not bargain with terrorists, say no to the Road Map and with it the convergence plan, which would cut Israel in two, Empathically no to the return of refugees’ and we must stop putting the future of Israel in the hands of the incompetents and get the leadership that we rightly deserve.

    Eventually the Palestinian Authority will reunite with Hamas in Gaza, but not until the Palestinians will have received enormous financial support and arms by the nations of the world. In the meantime, Israelis, Americans and other nations continue to support and encourage Abu Mazen. Israel must not make concessions or be blinded by what is called ‘moderates’, for there is no such entity. Palestinians have not proven that their intentions are honourable. According to senior military officers, a clash with Hamas is inevitable and may very well spill over to the West Bank.

    Timely action would prevent deterioration in Israel’s morale and minimize any threat by a united Palestinian Authority and other neighbouring states, not a remote possibility.


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