Tuesday, November 11, 2008
An Interview With Israeli M.K. Dr. Arieh Eldad
Jerry Gordon (Nov. 2008)
Israeli Knesset Member, Dr. Arieh Eldad, is a nationalist gadfly among the country’s politicians. He is a member of the Moledet party list of the minority National Union faction that favors the willing transfer of “Palestinian” Arab refugees from the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria to the de facto Palestine: Jordan. With more than 70% of Jordan’s population composed of Palestinian Arabs, Eldad considers that the real ”two state solution.” Jordan has plenty of territory to absorb their fellow Arabs now languishing in the squalid UNWRA camps in Samaria, Judea and Gaza. Eldad and others in his party argue that international investment in agricultural production, water, energy, urban and jobs development in Jordan is required to help facilitate absorption. This has not made Dr. Eldad, a world ranked plastic surgeon and reserve Brig. General in the IDF Medical Corps by profession, a welcome party in the current discussions between the Kadima government and PA President Mahmoud Abbas leading to a possible “peace agreement.” Neither would secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the waning days of the Bush Administration look with interest on Dr. Eldad’s suggestions. The agreement under discussion is virtually in tatters given the waning days of the Bush Administration in America and the prospects for a general election in Israel. Eldad is pleased with this outcome, as it stifles any ‘shelf agreements’ from being concluded.
Eldad, however, has a more expansive agenda. He is gathering world parliamentarians in Jerusalem in December, 2008 to attend a conference on “Facing Jihad.” He considers Israel as the “canary in the mines of radical Islam,” something his fellow Israelis would rather not think about. He is bringing courageous Dutch parliamentarian, Geert Wilders to show his controversial film “Fitna” (strife or chaos in Arabic) and legislators from Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, the U.K. and America to formulate a declaration against Islamization among Western democracies. Eldad deems it to be crucially important for Israelis to become educated about the nuances of this existential threat that seeks to extinguish the Jewish state as well as other non-Muslim nations. Eldad has traveled to conferences in Brussels and America to confer with anti-Jihadists and in the process create an alliance to oppose the Grand Jihad. In Manhattan in late September, while attending a Hudson Institute conference featuring Wilders, he took time to speak at a protest rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where the latter was attending an interfaith Iftar dinner during Ramadan.
Eldad’s late father, Dr. Israel Eldad was a nationalist philosopher, teacher and leader in the pre-state, Lehi resistance group. He was a Revisionist in the mold of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Dr. Eldad is frequently complimented after public talks when people come up to him and tell him that he reminds them of his father.
Eldad has excoriated Israel’s government leaders for the debacles of the unilateral withdrawal from the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza in 2005 and for the failure to defeat Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. He was injured in the massive protest and clash at the Judean hilltop settlement of Amona in February, 2006, when more than a5,000 Israeli police and IDF troops confronted 4,000 protesters. As a result of his injuries at the Amona protest, he may not be able to return to his profession as a plastic surgeon and head of the program at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem.
Eldad has been a vocal critic of many public figures through his weekly columns in leading Israeli newspapers, Yediot Aharonot and Ma’ariv. Then, the editors were changed and his jeremiads against corruption in government and Israeli society were silenced. He has frequently debated with the extreme left-wing former Labor Justice Minister, Yossi Beilin. Beilin is the father of the failed Oslo Accords and Geneva Agreements.
In this wide ranging interview with Dr. Eldad, you will gain some insights into his Zionist nationalism, the necessity for Israeli political reform and the military defeat of Iran’s proxies, both Hezbollah and Hamas. The creation of an enduring alliance of Western politicians to combat the Grand Jihad poised to engulf their countries and the State of Israel is a significant element in his efforts.
Gordon: Your father, the late Israel Eldad was a heroic independence fighter, educator and opposition leader in Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) or Lehi. What can you tell us about him and his influence on you as a member of the Knesset?
Eldad: My Father, Prof. Israel Eldad, was a rare combination of a rabbinical scholar, philosopher, and underground leader in the pre-State of Israel era. He was a teacher, a trenchant idealist, but also a person full of humor and love: love of his family, his people, and the Jewish Homeland, Israel.
Orthodox Jews often refer to their fathers as "my father, my teacher". This is a very apt description of my father. He taught me the Torah and to play chess. He taught me history and what lay in the future. He taught me not to be afraid to be in the minority of prevailing opinions and always to be cautious when praised by rivals. He taught me that the Jewish people can only rely on themselves. He taught me to put my personal interest after my nation's interest, and to always seek out where I can serve my country in the most effective ways. When I was a child he took me to the fields to watch the ants. When I grew older he took me on the Ninth of Av (that sorrowful commemoration of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in 586 B.C.E. and 70 C.E and the Jewish Republic in 135 CE) to the Israel Museum. We stood before the statue of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who smashed the last rebellion of Bar Kochba at the fortress of Betar in Judea. My father would look into his eyes and ask him:" Nu? (Well?), where are you and where are we?"
Israel Eldad was not only a great father and a teacher. He was a prolific author of many important books. These works include: “About the Torah“ (Hegionot Mikra), memoires of his years in the Revisionist Movement of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and the LEHI underground – "The First Tithe" (recently translated into English by Ze’ev Golan); the "Jewish Revolution" – which I was privileged to publish the second edition of recently; his lectures about the poet Uri Zvi Greenberg that I edited with my eldest daughter Karni; four volumes of articles entitled "Chronicles – the news of the past”; and eight volumes of translations of the German Philosopher Frederic Nietzsche.
My father’s writings provide me with a veritable encyclopedia and fount of wisdom. When I need answers to define our current situation, speak in a synagogue on Shabbat, or teach in a pre military preparatory school his thoughts provide answers. He taught me well and left me a living legacy of what is to be done. My best compliment is when people approach me after a talk and say: “You remind me of your father."
Gordon: As a National Union opposition leader in the Knesset, you have espoused a doctrine of “willing transfer” with regard to “Palestinian” Arab communities in Judea and Samaria. Dissident Israeli Arab citizens and even Arab Members of the Knesset (M.K.) have engaged in sedition and support of the terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas opposing Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Could you explain what “willing transfer” entails and give some examples of internal Arab sedition?
Eldad: Humanitarian resettlement of Arab refugees is neither original to me nor is it new. Arab refugees are not under the responsibility of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees, but instead are controlled by a special agency designated only for Palestinians. – The UN Refugee Works Relief Administration or UNWRA. 50-70 million refugees have been resettled since the end of World War II. More than four million Palestinians are the only ones still in these UNWRA refugee camps. Because the UNWRA camps are virtually administered by Palestinians, these UNWRA refugees, now in the third generation in 60 years, have been taught incitement to hate against Israel and Jews, all thanks to funding of nearly a half billion dollar annually donated by tax payers in the West. How bad are these UNWRA Camps? An average refugee family in the camp at Balata, near Nablus, has an annual income of $700 and lives in appalling conditions. I am convinced that these people must be resettled, preferably in Jordan. Jordan is effectively, Palestine. 70% of the Jordanian population are Palestinians. This is the de facto fulfillment of "the two state solution.” If a large scale international program was created to bring water, energy, housing and jobs to a designated area in Jordan a willing transfer could happen. Within a few years we would be able to resettle 2-3 million refugees in Jordan.
This plan will not solve the problem of Arab Israeli citizens who oppose the state of Israel as a Jewish state. They do not want individual rights. They want national minority rights in Israel. They demand that Israel become a Bi-National state. They are not satisfied with Jordan as the Palestinian state. They want a third state for Palestinians only. Effectively what they are seeking is a ‘Judenrein’ (Jew free in German) state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. They seek to undermine the State of Israel and reject it as a Jewish state. They want to eliminate Israel so that Jews will not have a state of their own in the world. They want to change the national Anthem “Ha’tikva" to something else that they can identify with, change the flag, and erase "the law of return" that grants Israeli citizenship to every Jew who makes Aliyah. In other words they are the enemies within the Jewish state of Israel.
Gordon: You have been the leader in the formation of a new party in Israel, Ha’tikva (the “hope”). Why did you and others in Israel feel that a new secular nationalist party was required? What is the timetable for Ha’tikva implementation before the next Knesset General Election?
Eldad: I am a Member of the Knesset (Israel Parliament) for Moledet (“homeland” in Hebrew) which is part of the National Union party faction. Moledet was established by the late Minister of Tourism Rechavam Zeevi, Gandi, who was murdered by Arab terrorists in Jerusalem on October 17, 2001. Moledet embraces the idea of willing population transfer as an integral part of a comprehensive plan to achieve real peace between the Jews and the Arabs. It promotes the view that Jordan is Palestine. Moledet is neither a religious or secular party in the Knesset. It is a party for the entire national wing in Israel. After Gandi was murdered, Rabbi Benni Elon took over leadership of Moledet. It gradually merged with religious parties (Tequma, Ahi and NRP) and the National Union became a de facto religious party. Israelis who are secular and do not wear a Kippa (male Jewish head covering) did not vote for the National Union. They voted Likud. These secular nationalists were alienated by former PM Ariel Sharon when the settlements of Gush Katif in Gaza and North Samaria were uprooted. Israel Beiteinu, M.K. Avigdor Lieberman’s Russian émigré party in the Knesset also advocates the division of Jerusalem and creation of a Palestinian State. Effectively, these secular nationalists had no place to go and many simply stayed home. The National Union stands at a cross road. The Knesset faction could become a united, non-sectarian party by going to the voters and asking them in primaries to elect their representatives to the Knesset. Or the faction could become religious-only party, with a nominating committee of Rabbis' and public figures to decide who will represent it. If National Union can preserve the original spirit of Moledet I will stay. If it becomes a de facto and de jure religious party, then I will go with the newly formed Ha’tikva party list, to attract the non- religious voters in the nationalist camp. This would assure them that they can vote for a true ideological party. Only in Israel can such a split enlarge the power of the right wing nationalist camp.
Gordon: You are a world ranked plastic surgeon, Reserve Brig. General in the IDF Medical Corps, as well as an Israeli opposition Knesset member. How has that professional background influenced your membership on Knesset Committees regarding Israel’s national security and counter terrorism policies?
Eldad: I am an active member of the Labor, Welfare and Health committee of the Knesset and the chairman of sub-committees on various health issues.
My legislative efforts leverage my professional background and experience, as both a burn wound surgeon and as an IDF Commander in the Medical Corps. Unfortunately, my expertise as a plastic surgeon does not help me in the fields of national security policy making and foreign affairs. Sometimes I feel that a psychiatrist could do a better job. The decisions of the current leaders of Israel cannot be explained by any other modality in medicine.
Gordon: There was an incident at a Beersheba Hospital involving a Palestinian woman terrorist who had received skin transplant treatments authorized by you. Could you describe that incident and what it illustrates about Israeli humanitarianism versus fanatic Islamic Jihadism?
Eldad: I was instrumental in establishing the Israeli National Skin Bank, which is the largest in the world. The National Skin Bank stores skin for every day needs as well as for war time or mass casualty situations. This skin bank is hosted at the Hadassah Ein Kerem University hospital in Jerusalem where I was the chairman of plastic surgery. This is how I was asked to supply skin for an Arab woman from Gaza, who was hospitalized in Soroka Hospital in Beersheba after her family burned her. Usually, such atrocities happen among Arab families when the women are suspected of having an affair. We supplied all the needed Homografts for her treatment. She was successfully treated by my friend and colleague Prof. Lior Rosenberg, and discharged to return to Gaza. She was invited for regular follow up visits to the outpatient clinic in Beersheba. One day she was caught at a border crossing wearing a suicide belt. She meant to explode herself in the outpatient clinic of the hospital where they saved her life. It seems that her family promised her that if she did that, they would forgive her.
This is only one example of the war between Jews and Muslims in the Land of Israel. It is not a territorial conflict. This is a civilizational conflict.
Gordon: As a Knesset opposition party leader you have criticized and protested against the Sharon /Olmert governments on their unilateral withdrawal from the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza in August, 2005. Why did you oppose the Gaza disengagement? How has that retreat made Israel less secure and more vulnerable to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist rocket and missile attacks?
Eldad: People did not open their eyes and see what inevitably happened in Israel after the unilateral disengagement from Gush Katif in Gaza and Northern Samaria in August, 2005. The IDF Chief of Staff, General Moshe Ya’alon said such a step would be a huge boost for Hamas terrorism. The people of Israel trusted Sharon, but neither he nor they heeded these warnings. My colleagues and I from the National Union warned about the looming catastrophe. We warned that Hamas would take over and turn Gaza into the largest terror base in the Middle East. The government did not listen. They accused us of being "Messianic" and blamed us because we wanted the Settlements in Gush Katif to stay forever. That was true. We believe that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel and that Jews have the right to live everywhere in this land. But the combination of hatred from the Left in Israel against the settlers and trust in Ariel Sharon, as “Mr. Security,” was lethal. The public did not question the logic of the plan. Sharon never tried to prove how this was going to improve our security situation. Gaza fell into the hands of Hamas turning it into a huge ‘terrorstan.' Once this had occurred, the failed and corrupt Kadima government of Olmert did not dare go back and destroy Hamas. They knew that reentering Gaza would prove that they were wrong to withdraw. Sharon insisted on going back to the last centimeter of the old "Green Line" (the 1949 Armistice line referred to as the”Auschwitz line” by the late Abba Eban, Israel’s veteran Foreign Minister). This set an unfortunate precedent for any future agreement with the Palestinians: uprooting of Jewish settlements and ethnic cleansing of Jews in the region. Arabs are allowed in Israel, while Jews are not allowed in the areas of the Palestinian Authority. This anti Zionist step undermines the very basis for Jewish settlement in the land of Israel. We have yet to pay the full price for this crime.
Gordon: You were injured in the Amona settlement protest in February, 2006. How did that affect your professional career? Did the protest demonstrate resolve against further unilateral withdrawals from disputed territories in Judea and Samaria?
Eldad: During the terrible evacuation of Gush Katif in August, 2005 no real resistance to the police or the IDF occurred. The deportees wept, hugged and danced with the soldiers. They climbed into buses only to see their homes, where they lived for 30 years, destroyed in minutes. For many settlers it was not only the destruction of their dreams and homes, they also lost their trust in Israeli political leadership.
The Israeli Supreme Court on February 1, 2006 ordered the destruction of nine houses built without permission in the Judean hill top settlement of Amona. PM Olmert of Kadima had been in office only a few weeks. He wanted to show the hated settlers that he was a strong leader. The settlers, in turn, wanted to wipe away the stain of the non-resistance in the face of the Gush Katif expulsion of the preceding August. The collision was inevitable. More than five thousand Israeli Police, Israeli Border Police, and IDF soldiers faced 4,000 protesters. Within the first moments of the clash, I was brutally attacked by policemen who knew that I was a member of the Knesset and had immunity. However, they had orders "to teach us a lesson." One of the Policemen named Ibrahim Rihal, held my right hand, and twisted my thumb until he tore the ligaments. I lost consciousness. Operated on after a few days, the torn ligaments were sutured. However, I remain with 10% permanent disability. This does not prevent me from voting in the Knesset. However, I do not know if I will be able to perform surgery, if and when I try to go back to my profession following my service in the Knesset. At the end of the clash that fateful day in Amona there were 250 settlers and 60 policemen in hospitals. Nine houses were destroyed. A parliamentary committee was formed to investigate the events at Amona. But a new standard of resistance was achieved. No government in Israel will take for granted that they can evacuate a settlement and destroy it. They know very well that the next time they try it; they may have to kill some of us first. They know that no government in Israel will survive such brutality. The fact that the government avoids any attempt to forcibly evacuate settler outposts after Amona is the direct result of that very traumatic day.
Gordon: Given your membership on Knesset Security and Defense Committees, why, in your opinion, did Israel fail to win the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah in 2006? Has the IDF overcome deficiencies in unit training, material and equipment cited in the Winograd Commission report? Can Israel cope with another possible conflict on its Northern border with Lebanon?
Eldad: Israel failed to win the war against Hezbollah in August, 2006 because it had a cabal of incompetents. We had an incompetent crook as Prime Minister, Olmert, with no military understanding. We had a Defense Minister Peretz, who was a union activist clown. We had an IDF Chief Of Staff (COS), Halutz, who was a pilot who did not understand how win a ground war against Islamic guerrillas. This tragic combination was the result of the criminal decision of Ariel Sharon who nominated his yes-man, IDF COS Halutz, in order to perform the unilateral disengagement from Gaza a year earlier. I asked PM Sharon, in Knesset defense committee deliberations, if Halutz was nominated because of corrupt political reasons to command the IDF in a real war. Sharon mocked me, lowered his glasses, looked me over and said: "I see you are worried, Doctor ...Do not worry, and I am here." Another criminal decision by Olmert was nominating, as Minister of Defence, Peretz, who did not have a clue about security and military issues. He did so even though Peretz asked to be the Minister of Finance. However corrupt Olmert wanted that cabinet post for his good friend Hirshzon (now facing trial on the accusation that he has stolen millions from the public and could possible spend years in jail, if convicted). The third corruptive element was the pattern of behavior of the IDF general staff. They all knew that the way that Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz conducted the Second Lebanon War led to military failure. They were careerists. They did not want to risk their personal careers. There was not one among them who was ready to resign publicly to tell the people of Israel the truth about the way the war was conducted.
There are many myths about the low level of training of the reserve units of the IDF. It is true that this level was very poor. But the regular excuse was: "No money for training.” It is true that budget cuts were made in the years before the war, and the military needed an additional million training days annually. But one should not be confused by these arguments. The IDF spent 4.5 million training days to prepare the army for the Gaza disengagement. 50,000 soldiers and policemen were trained to evacuate the settlers, including "mental preparation." The government of Israel spent what was needed to fight a real war in Lebanon on the futile training of the IDF to evacuate Jewish Israeli citizens from Gaza. An action that enabled Hamas to build a terror state.
Since the Second Lebanon War, IDF reserve units have been trained, and the country has rid itself of the corrupt and incompetent triumvirate that led Israel during the debacle. Yet, there are more lessons to learn, and unfortunately the wrong conclusions were taken by the current political leadership. They think that the next time a conflict with Hezbollah or Hamas occurs that they can avoid war. They did that in the case of the continuous Kassem and Katyusha rocket bombardments from Gaza on Israeli towns in both the western Negev and the south of the country. The government of Israel allowed a cease fire that gave Hamas the freedom to arm, train, build weapons and ammunition depots. Unfortunately, this will lead to needless loss of IDF soldiers’ lives in the inevitable re-occupation of the area in order to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure. The IDF is better now. The military plans are ready. However, there are no effective leaders to command the IDF. What Israel needs urgently is capable and effective leadership.
Gordon: In light of the virtual veto power that Hezbollah has over the Lebanese government of PM Fuad Saniora and the failure of UNSC 1701 to prevent the restocking of tens of thousands of rockets and missiles threatening Northern and Central Israel, what can the next Israeli government do to combat this threat?
Eldad: The only way to remove the threat of the Iranian proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon is a large military operation equivalent to the First Lebanon War in 1982. This will be an essential step before any attack on Iranian nuclear weapons development facilities. Israel should understand that if we decide to attack Iran and remove the nuclear threat, we will be attacked from Lebanon, Gaza strip, and, perhaps, Syria. Thus, the first step in the attack against Iran should be a pre-emptive strike against Hezbollah and Hamas. The timing of the war against Hezbollah should be coordinated with the plans against Iran.
Gordon: The Western Negev town of Sderot has been under daily siege from Palestinian Islamic Jihad Kassem rockets for over seven years. Why has the Sharon-Olmert government tolerated this? What could be done to destroy terrorist rocket factories and firing teams?
Eldad: Israel policy towards the Kassem bombardment from Gaza on Sderot and the western Negev is the tragic story of mainstream Zionism. From the very beginning there was a conflict among Zionist leaders about the true nature of this national movement. There were those who claimed that Zionism was born to solve the "trouble of the Jews,” and therefore the State of Israel was created to be the "safe shelter." The lessons that I have learnt from my father were that Zionism should be a double edged sword of a freedom movement: to liberate the Jewish people from the Diaspora and to liberate the land of Israel from any foreign rule. Unfortunately, mainstream Zionists shaped the State of Israel as it is today. They emphasized the basic needs of citizens for food and shelter, but not the aspirations of the Jewish people who sought independence, sovereignty, and the liberation of our ancestral homeland. When the political leaders of Israel run for re-election, they believe that they must promise its citizens peace. Peace and not redemption, peace and not liberation of the land of Israel from the Arab occupation that started in the 7th century. Peace and not fulfilment of our destiny as a nation. They reflect the refugee state of mind. So they endeavour to mollify voters with a short-term cease fire rather than victory over enemies. This led the political leaders of Israel to embark on the "Land for Peace" formula. Even when reality proved that giving land to the enemy only leads to more bloodshed and there was no peace partner. They were afraid that if they admit they were totally wrong, the citizens of Israel would kick them out of office. The price for the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish State was too heavy for these leaders. They were Chamberlains, not Churchills. They did not have the deeper roots in the land of Israel that the religious Zionists have. If it is only a shelter the political leaders can decide if the country needs to be bigger or smaller. They can decide if the shelter needs to include Gush Katif, Sderot in the western Negev or only around Tel Aviv. That is why they were ready to give up Gush Katif. They are ready to give up Judea, Samaria, and the Golan and divide Jerusalem. That is why the Kassem and Katyusha rockets fell on our land from Gaza. This attack on our sovereignty did not lead to an all-out war against the enemy who dared to attack us.
Gordon: This year, Hamas received shipments of Katyusha rockets from Iran and launched those against major Southern Israeli population center of Ashkelon. The IDF failed in an attempt to create a security belt in Northern Gaza to destroy these Hamas rocket launching sites and supplies. What should have the Israeli government and the IDF done to intercept and destroy the rockets, arms and munitions coming into Gaza from Iran to counter this threat to Israel’s Southern border?
Eldad: There is only one answer to the challenge of the Jihad from Gaza: a military one. Israel should create a five kilometer wide corridor in the south of the Gaza strip to separate it from the Sinai Peninsula. It should reoccupy the northern part of Gaza in order to rebuild three settlements that were destroyed during the unilateral Gush Katif disengagement, and annex these areas into the State of Israel. This would tell the Arabs that they will pay permanently for any further attack through our building new settlements and acquiring more land. The IDF should enter the Gaza Strip to eradicate Hamas. The concept that we can run away from terror and the terrorists will let us live quietly, has failed. We have to understand that there is a price to pay if we want to be an independent Jewish State. It is still a lower price then what we will have to pay as Dhimmis living at the mercy of the Islamic terror.
Gordon: Young IDF Sgt. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in June, 2006 by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Why have the Olmert government and the IDF failed to seek his release from a Hamas dungeon and what could be done to accomplish it?
Eldad: Olmert, his government, and previous ones in Israel were not courageous enough and surrendered to terrorist demands. The spirit of Entebbe (the rescue of nearly 100 Jewish hostages in July, 1976 in Uganda by IDF commandos) is no longer the spirit of our current leaders. The only answer to the kidnapping of Sgt. Gilad Shalit would be an ultimatum to Hamas that Israel will kill one Hamas commander in Gaza every day until Shalit is back home. Only if they knew that Israel was not going to release terrorists and murderers as a prize for kidnapping, would they release captives like Shalit.
Gordon: Iran’s nuclear threat to Israel’s existence looms large as a concern for you and other MK’s in Israel. Does Israel have the military and strategic capabilities to carry out a unilateral pre-emptive attack on key Iranian nuclear facilities?
Gordon: We have written about the Syrian bio-warfare threat. Does Israel have programs and resources to defend its citizens against this non-conventional threat?
Eldad: We can defend ourselves beyond the protective means and medicine. But, the best defence is deterrence.
Gordon: You have been a relentless critic of the corruption in the Olmert government. With the recent indictments of PM Olmert and the Kadima party leadership vote, do you believe that the ruling coalition can survive? Will there be a call for general elections to form a new Knesset in the spring of 2009?
Eldad: Internal corruption is an existential threat to Israel. The lessons that I have learnt in the case of former PM Ariel Sharon taught me that one should not accept a corrupt Prime Minister in Israel even when he builds settlements. You never know when he will flip and change his ideology under threat. The crisis of leadership in Israel is reflected in Kadima due to the weakness of other major players in the political arena. Labor can only lose from a general election, while Shas is always for sale to any coalition party leader. That is why I am afraid we may see another Kadima Government that could be formed by Livni. The coalition will exist thanks to the utmost weakness of its partners.
Gordon: Why is corruption so pervasive in the Israel political system and what can be done to reform it?
Eldad: Some deep reforms are needed in the political system in Israel. I believe that at least half the MK's should be directly elected by their constituents. An important step should be the conduct of open primaries for all parties, to elect leaders and the list of candidates for the next Knesset. There should be strengthening of the National Police and separate the Attorney General from being the legal advisor for the government. These are essential steps in the struggle against the corruption in the political system in Israel.
Gordon: What is “protektsia” – the system of graft – and why is it so prevalent in Israeli politics?
Eldad: "Protektsia” was the system developed by the Labor Socialist parties in Israel to assure that they would keep the government in their hands for ever. The system was adopted by Likud, Shas and other parties when they were in the government. The reforms advocated against corruption are relevant because "Protektsia" is just another form of corruption.
Gordon: Why in your opinion haven’t Israeli citizens done more than complain about political corruption?
Eldad: We are doing much more than just complaining about corruption. We have rid ourselves of a corrupt PM, his Minister of Finance, a previous Minister of Justice, Commissioner of National Police and many others. I am sure the situation now is better than it was a few years ago.
Gordon: You have been a weekly columnist for major Israeli newspapers Ma’ariv and Yediot Aharonot. That has afforded you an opportunity to air your views to the general public. What have been the reactions of readers to your commentary?
Eldad: Yediot Aharonot and Ma’ariv were important media outlets for me. I could see the reactions in talkbacks and through the echoes in the media. My weekly commentary was so influential that people who were worried that the words that I wrote would harm them politically did everything they could to silence me. When Yediot Aharonot changed its chief editor, I could no longer write for them. Then I moved to Ma’ariv. When Ma'ariv changed editors, among his first actions was stopping my weekly column.
Gordon: The Israel Broadcasting Authority has a virtual monopoly on TV news in the country. What should be done to break this monopoly so that a wider set of views can be aired?
Eldad: In order to break the government electronic media monopoly we will have to stop the special tax collected from citizens to keep Channel 1 and Kol Israel (Radio) alive. Then we will have to "open the air" to anyone who wants to broadcast. This way we will have Channel7 Radio (and perhaps television as well) that were closed by the Supreme Court because they were telling the truth. The formal reason given by the Supreme Court was, of course, that they did not have the permits needed to broadcast. However, no such steps were taken against the left wing “Voice of Peace” when they broadcast from a ship off the coast of Israel. We will have to attract investors to open new TV channels. 55% of Israelis define themselves as "right wing" so they deserve a broadcasting station that will reflect their opinions.
Gordon: You have undertaken a program to reach out to the future generation of Israelis through a series of debates in the public high school system. Has this aided in conveying the Zionist ethos and your views to audiences of young impressionable minds?
Eldad: In a series of debates against Meretz leader Yossi Beilin in Israeli secular schools, I presented the plan "Jordan is Palestine – Resettlement of Arab refugees and No to Palestinian state west of the Jordan river." Beilin presented his "Geneva Plan" – the two state solution. After each debate the students voted. In 30 out of 32 high schools I won.
Gordon: You have opposed any peace plan with the Palestinians that entails a division of Jerusalem and cession of disputed territories in Judea and Samaria. Given current government deliberations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, how will such arrangements impact the territorial integrity of Israel? Will they fail to achieve approval in either a Knesset vote or a mandated national referendum?
Eldad: Olmert’s and Livni’s plans are suicide for Israel. His public statements created an impossible situation for anyone who tries to offer a lower price. Olmert or Livni will not be able to perform on their plans. The current situation is that such plans do not have a majority in the Knesset. Not because the MK's are very strong but because even those who want to give every inch of Judea and Samaria, Golan and Jerusalem, to our enemies do not have a relevant partner. It is obvious that if Israel withdraws from Judea and Samaria a Hamas State will be created within less than 72 hours. There is an urgent need to have a National Referendum as a condition to any land concessions. In this way we will be able to deter the corrupt and weak MK’s.
Gordon: The Olmert government through the intermediaries of the Turkish and French governments has engaged in discussions with the Syrian government of Bashir Assad about a possible ‘peace agreement’ that would entail cession of the Golan. You oppose such ‘discussions’. How do you end these ‘initiatives’?
Eldad: The "initiatives" to give the Golan to Syria can be stopped if we change the Kadima government in general elections. In the event that Livni can create a coalition government, a big if, given Shas’s alleged demand not to divide Jerusalem, we have to try to put it down and go for elections. Another important barrier is the national referendum that will be needed to approve any proposed ‘shelf agreement.’ Unfortunately, a lot of damage has already been done by the Kadima government.
Gordon: You have announced a meeting in Jerusalem in December with Israeli and EU parliamentarians to develop a plan to combat Islamofascism. What do you anticipate will be the outcome of this Jerusalem Conference? Was this the result of your attendance at the Brussels anti-Jihadist conference last year? Why aren’t the Israeli and most Western governments more concerned about the threat of Islamofascism and the advance of radical Islam? After all, Israel is the ‘canary’ in the mines of radical Islam.
Eldad: The current leaders of Israel are not interested in the struggle against global Jihad and the Islamization of Europe. It contradicts their thesis that if only we can solve "a territorial conflict" with the Palestinians we will have peace. But this is not a local territorial conflict. Rather, it is a local symptom of a global disease. As the conflict is a religious war territorial concessions are irrelevant. The "Facing Jihad" conference in Jerusalem, December 14-15, 2008, will be a Lawmaker Summit involving parliamentarians and legislators from Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Italy , UK, Switzerland, America and other countries. We will work in Jerusalem on various legislative initiatives to combat the spread of Islam in the world. The second half of the meeting will be educational, teaching Israelis the real nature of the conflict and what our enemy really wants. It is true that many Europeans still believe in appeasement of the Muslims as the way to act in the hope that the problem will disappear. However, more and more Western political leaders are not ready to sit still and do nothing. Among the agenda items for the Jerusalem “Facing Jihad” conference will be: 1) screening the film "Fitna" by the Dutch MP Geert Wilders; 2) drafting and promulgating the "Jerusalem Declaration" to condemn all forms of Anti-Semitism and Racism; 3) recognition of the State of Israel as a Jewish State; 4) rejection of the "two State Solution;" and, 5) a declaration to fight Islamization of the free world. Israel, the Canary in the mines of radical Islam will have found new allies at the conclusion of the conference.
Gordon: How do you see the future of Israel as an independent Jewish state in the Middle East?
Eldad: We must reintroduce the truth that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. Israelis must have the same commitment to the land of Israel that every citizen in the world feels towards their homeland. We must recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish State, not only a state of Jews. With God’s help we will overcome all challenges. The Arabs are not the problem. It is the Jews that we have to change.
Thank you Dr. Eldad for this wide ranging and fascinating interview.