Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Interview with MK Eldad

Background Information:
Member of the Knesset (MK): Leading Israeli opposition figure Moledet Party which is part of the National Union Party.
Professor of Medicine: Head of the Plastic Surgery and Burns Unit at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem; internationally recognized specialist in this field. In wake of the 1994 genocide and cholera epidemic in Rwanda, Dr. Eldad headed the IDF medical contingent to that region.
Brigadier General (reserves): was Surgeon General of the IDF Medical Corps.

MK Arieh Eldad is the second ranking member of his party and was hailed by the Israeli press including Ma'ariv and Yediot Achronot as a man of integrity, hardworking, and a dedicated lawmaker. He heads the Ethics Committee of the Knesset. Recently, he helped launch the Ami-Chai Youth Movement to advance Zionism and educate Israeli students about the rich history of the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

WRITING THE WRONGS (WTW) invited MK Eldad to share his thoughts and ideas regarding Israel today and we are most pleased to present his responses. The format includes not only direct comments by the Minister but a summary of some of his concerns.

WTW: Given that international law does give Israel authority within the disputed territories, do you think that the country or even the Diaspora has communicated this message effectively to the world community?

WTW: It seems that we failed if the whole world is speaking about the 'occupation' and the 'illegal settlements', 'illegal roadblocks' between the Palestinians; it seems that we failed the battle of propaganda, PR, if not in the real battle against terrorism.

WTW: How can we change the language in general that stigmatizes Israel - like 'occupation' instead of 'disputed'? Do you think there is something we can do?

MK: Yes, for example, many, many countries, even the United States, distinguish the attitude about east Jerusalem that we annexed in 1967 and what I call the West Bank which we didn’t annex. We can still change the attitude from an Israeli point of view-for example, Jordan occupied the West Bank for 19/20 years; we have occupied the area for 40 years and we gave it a chance. It seems we have failed all of these trials for peace; we have dead-end solutions and we shall seek other solutions. We will start it with annexation of Judea and Samaria to the state of Israel. Of course, the world will not recognize it; the world does not recognize Jerusalem is our capitol.

The way to change the world’s attitude about the 'occupation' is to first change our view of the occupation. If Israel thinks this is 'occupied' territory, there is no question that the world will think the same. Only if Israel will change its attitude toward this status, this is the only chance that other states in the world will change attitude toward it and their positions toward this territory. We will have to explain to the world what did change, the two-state solution is no longer part of our plan; we have taken the two-state solution off the table. We have to think of another solution. We have to take the step to explain to our coalition our position and then we should work toward the solution of the conflict as we see it. We must address the state of the refugees; this is a regional solution, we must say that Jordan is Palestine and then work toward the humanitarian problem of the people. Millions of dollars was poured into the refugee camps and they were taught to become terrorists. We must now undo the damage that was done all these years and teach them not to be terrorists and then communicate to the world the need to correct the mistakes that were done to these people.

WTW: What can we do?

MK: First, we must change the government. It failed; it is a non-functioning government. It is not only a failed government; it is a corrupt government. We must make sure that the next government is a pro-Zionist government. This is not a pro-Zionist government; it is a post-Zionist government. Once we are able to take this action, we can go to election, we will have to give Israelis the choice of a Zionist government and if we would be able to do that there is a chance that the next government will be able to turn things back, given we are on the edge of a catastrophe.

WTW: How can we get individuals to stand up and take such a position?

MK: It’s a difficult question because I do not know how to change someone like Bibi Netanyahu and make him a real leader. He is a politician that calculates all of his steps, by surveys and polls and not by ideology. If he would have a survey or public opinion poll that would say the majority of the people want him to speak to the Hamas, he will speak to the Hamas.

I’m trying to be realistic that we cannot change Bibi Netanyahu, but what we can do is create a situation in the political arena where even Bibi would have to create a coalition government based upon the concepts of the Right; the coalition would be strong enough to prevent him from slipping toward the Left or detouring toward a two-state solution.

WTW: Will you prioritize what you think are the urgent issues that Israel must address-now?

WTW Commentary: In response to this question MK Eldad was very clear-he indicated that security and corruption were the two most important issues Israel is facing today. He minced no words and indicated that corruption was pervasive across the spectrum of life here in Israel. He mentioned, but did not elaborate, that not only was there corruption throughout the government, he pointed fingers at banking, the Supreme Court, the judicial system, business , and even the military.

MK Eldad offered several examples, indicating that the Likud Party was corrupt during Sharon’s time in power. One of the outcomes of this was that respected Chief of Staff (COS) Moshe ”Bogie” Ya'alon (now retired was ousted because he disagreed vehemently with PM Sharon’s disengagement plan for Gaza. This did not fit PM Sharon’s plans and he looked for a 'yes-man'- thus, General Halutz became the COS. It was a political nomination that ensured PM Sharon of support for his plan.”

MK Eldad took this argument one step further and indicated that the generals of the northern, central, and southern commands had all at one time or another been secretaries to then PM Sharon. They owed their command appointments to Mr. Sharon and thus let us pick up MK Eldad’s further statements with regard to this issue:

MK: Corruption and the outcome of corruption even inside the IDF, the northern, central, and southern command leaders worked for the COS previously in the capacity of the right hand of Olmert so the military became political. People in the military see what this promoted in the military-the military must give the prime minister the truth, the arguments, the facts, the plans of the military are no longer the view of the military.
Let us look at Lebanon; any honest military man would agree that it is pure nonsense that the war could be won strictly by the air force, but this was the plan wanted by the politicians. There were not enough honest generals in the military to say, This is rubbish, it is not going to work. They knew once they said this, they would not be promoted by the leaders, so the military became corrupted in the same way as the Minister of Agriculture. Once the system is corrupted, the only way to protect the military is to clean the state of corruption. Once we do this, the natural forces will work.

WTW: Would you like to be part of this process and would you provide the leadership?

MK: I am trying to fight corruption in any means that I have. I'm trying first to present an example. My main message is not very popular. I do not try to get closer to rich people so they do not try to control my point of view nor am I trying to impress the media. I support looking out for ourselves. We need ideological leaders not people who will just "run the government".

WTW: Please complete the following sentence:
"Peace in the Middle East will occur when ..."

MK: … when the Arabs will realize we are here to stay to fulfill the mission of the Jewish People."

WTW Commentary: MK Eldad’s style has been to lead by example. According to those who serve with him, who know him professionally, he does indeed do what he says he will do. During our time before, during, and after the interview we found him to be forthcoming, calm, and unpretentious; never once did he try to impress us with his previous activities, honors, or services.

May 29, 2007

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