Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I never thought that I'd be writing you with any words other than support for you and your leadership of the State of Israel. Your pragmatic decisions have always been for the best interests of your people and your State.
Until now. Something has changed. Perhaps it's your age. Perhaps it is your friendship with President Bush. I don't pretend to know. But something has changed.
You stand at the twilight of your career. It has been a career of dedication to Israel in times of war and in times of peace. Your legacy has been one of a fighter for the Jewish people. Now your entire lifetime of achievements hangs in the balance.
Are you going to divide and destroy the Likud party? Are you going to bring into a "unity government" those Leftists whose policy was rejected by almost 70% of the population? Are you going to turn your back on 8,000 Jews, some of whom have lived in the Gaza strip for twenty years?
This is not pragmatic behavior. This is the wanton destruction of the fabric of the Jewish people.
Consider why you were born? Why were you created?
The people of Israel have turned to you and voted for you in overwhelming numbers as their choice as Prime Minister of the State of Israel. This is not like any other job. You do not merely have six million constituents. You are the chosen leader of the entire Jewish people. Over twelve million people look upon Israel as their hope and defender worldwide.
Israel never hesitated to rescue Jews from war torn Europe, from the Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Uganda, Yemen and Iraq. So why are we too weak to defend the Jews of Gaza?
This is not a political decision. It is a denial of the purpose of the Jewish State. The State of Israel was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust. The community of nations voted to create a Jewish state, not so that some Jews could live by the beach in Herzliya, or that some Jews could own villas and many cars. Jews can do that anywhere in the world. Israel was created to defend Jews the world over. If Jews are evicted from a country today, Israel stands ready to bring them "home". If Jews are endangered anywhere in the world, Israel is their spokesperson in the world's political bodies and their defender when their lives are threatened.
No Prime Minister of Israel has the right to tell Jews "Move out of your homes". Au contraire, it is the responsibility of the State of Israel to help these people defend their homes and their right to live in them. Mr. Prime Minister, do you wish to go down in history as the Israeli leader who advocated "ethnic cleansing" of Jews? When Arab majorities pressure European governments to evict Jews from Denmark, England and Holland, how can the Israeli government protest, if the same government adopts the same policy for Gaza?
Mr. Prime Minister, you know in your heart that this policy is wrong. You know that Israel will never have peace with an Arab government that doesn't allow Jews to enter the country, or doesn't allow Jews to own land. We are part of the Western world, we share Western values. Our case before the world court of opinion is clear and correct. There is absolutely no justification for supporting Arab policies of clearing all Jews from any areas under their control.
We all know that quietly Israel is participating with America and the Allies in the War against Terror. We know that this war will not end tomorrow. We also know that your plan of removing settlements will not bring us closer to peace. Peace will come when our enemies understand that they must live in peace and cooperation with their Jewish neighbors. Peace will come when the price of continued Intifada is too high for the Palestinian Arab population to bare. Peace will come when Jewish shoppers and tourists can buy their goods in stores in Nablus, Hebron, or Bethlehem, just as Arabs today shop safely in Haifa, Hadera, Netanya, and Tel Aviv.
We can make a political decision to turn over sovereignty of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. That is within our choices. We cannot desert those Jews living in Gaza, nor can we "ethnically cleanse" Gaza for our Arab neighbors.
If you turn over Gaza to the Palestinians, so be it. The treatment of these Jewish residents of Gaza will be a story for all the world to watch and to understand. We have often heard that Arab leaders have no quarrel with Jewish citizens, only with the State of Israel. Jews in Gaza are a test of Arab intentions.
If the PA decides to evict these settlers, Israel has justification for appropriate reaction. If, on the other hand, Jews can live peacefully besides Arabs in Gaza, real peace between the two peoples just might have a chance. In any case, it should never be the policy of a Jewish government to "ethnically clean" Jews from any part of the world, least of all an area only a few kilometers from the border of the State of Israel.
It is not too late to reconsider your strategy and patiently continue to move against terrorist elements within the Arab population. This is the best method of fighting terror, and is inconsistent with any territorial surrender involving dislocation of Jews from their homes.
Michael J. Stern, 15/July/2004