Marc Goldberg

Bibi enough, I beg you

Why, after 50 days of conflict, have you again chosen settlements over peace by seizing 1,000 acres of West Bank land?

It’s been 10 years almost to the day since I finished my mandatory service. I was so proud to have come to Israel and earned the red beret, I still am. It was Aviv Kochavi, then commander of the Paratroopers who pinned the unit insignia to my chest and my officer whispered in my ear that nobody there deserved it as much as I did.

I was proud that I had earned the right to be one of the chosen, one of those called upon first when there was trouble. It was the al Aqsa Intifada and trouble was something there was no shortage of. We raided Nablus time after time, then Jenin and then a whole range of smaller villages whose names have left me with time, if I ever knew them to begin with. But the al Aqsa Intifada wasn’t a battle that we won, it was just a meat grinder that we operated. We killed their people in the West Bank and they murdered our civilians in Tel Aviv and Netanya and anywhere else they could.

There was no glorious battle that ended everything and left us victorious. There was just the constant of kicking down civilian doors, raiding houses hoping that the name we had been given was there, ambushes in the middle of nowhere and creeping around petrified while looking for trouble.

Now I watch as it’s referred to as some kind of special campaign which the army fought and won. But that’s a distortion of history. It took five years to put down that revolt and it ended not with a bang but with a whimper. Now I see people around me crying for the fact that Protective Edge wasn’t the all consuming defeat for Hamas that would have ended their grip on Gaza. But anyone with a modicum of common sense knew that was never going to happen. We simply went back to the meat grinder until they had lost so many, been so badly damaged that they were forced to stop. For now.

And I and all Israelis understood this. With heavy hearts and sirens going off in Tel Aviv and the rest of the country we backed you and we backed the IDF while they struck in Gaza. You did what had to be done to defend the country and if the rest of the world can’t understand that then to hell with them! There’s no one in Israel who doesn’t understand what Hamas is, the poison that they represent. We lost over 70 soldiers and civilians and they lost over 2,000. The meat grinder did its job. Everything has gone back to being at a standstill. Until the next time.

So without the expectation of a great victory and in the knowledge that a great deal of damage has been done to Hamas in the Gaza Strip I wonder why on earth it is that you had to take the single positive moment of this whole war and ruin it. Surely it can’t be that you threw us all under the bus simply for the sake of maintaining your coalition?

Surely you didn’t just grab 1,000 acres of the West Bank simply to make sure that Bennet and Liberman remained in the cabinet with you?

Look, I’m sure that before my time in the reserves is done there’ll be another war or two. I’m sure that I’ll end up facing Hamas or Hezbollah or ISIS or even some other threat that hasn’t emerged yet and that’s fine. It’s the price we all pay for being Israelis in the only Jewish state on earth. During this last war I was lucky enough to marry the love of my life and I have no doubt that when we have children they too will have to wear green and put their lives on the line for Israel. And I can fathom that too.

Bibi I just can’t understand why it is that I have to sit here and watch you make it harder for us when you should be helping us. When I read that the reason we have taken this land is in response to the killings of the three students that provoked this war I couldn’t believe it. We have already killed 2,000 Palestinians, we have turned entire Gazan neighbourhoods into rubble and we did it specifically as a result of this tragedy. Specifically because of the three yeshivah students who were murdered so brutally. So why this extra? This non sequitur that seemed to fall on us from nowhere?

The one ray of light that came from this whole affair was the inclusion of the Palestinian Authority in the negotiations in Cairo. These are the same people who ensured that a third Intifada didn’t erupt in our back yard. The same people who were there negotiating right with you in Cairo. Do you really think that kicking them in this way is a smart move?

Did you really choose the people who would rather have settlements than peace over a country of people crying out for an agreement?

Bibi you don’t need to be doing this. Your approval ratings, even when they’re low dwarf your closest rivals. So why are you so scared to say no to them? Why do you insist on constantly allowing the settlement movement to intimidate you and drag a country that is crying out for peace further towards the inferno?

Jews have been killed around the world so often that our motto has become simply am Israel Chai, the people of Israel live. A more humble motto one could never have. Our lives are our victory in this cruel world. But you have the chance to make our lives better, all you have to do is spend some political capital to do it. We all know that we don’t need an extra 1,000 acres here, or another 2,000 there, we need leadership that is prepared to put the good of the many ahead of their own petty rivalries. We need a leader to do what’s right for the country instead of what’s right for his career.

Bibi we’ve suffered enough and so have they. Forget the 1,000 acres, leave them for the Palestinians and enter into a new peace process with Mahmoud Abbas. You and you alone are the politician with the strength to do so.

Bibi enough, I beg you.

About the Author
Marc Goldberg is the author of Beyond the Green Line, a story his service in the IDF fighting through the al Aqsa Intifada