By Berel Wein
In my pre-rabbinic days as an attorney, I had a sign on my desk that read: "Confidence is the feeling that one has until one truly understands the nature of the problem."
The Jewish people here in Israel and in the Diaspora as well are currently suffering from a severe loss of confidence in themselves, in the fairness of the nations of the world and in achieving the better tomorrow that we thought was assured to us. This is definitely a negative development and is directly traceable to what we lovingly call the Matzav - the situation - of terror and violence foisted upon us by our erstwhile partners for peace. Yet, there is a silver lining even in this heavy and dark cloud. And that is the realization that we are finally beginning to recognize the true nature of the problem that faces us. A heavy dose of realism always occasions a temporary downturn in confidence.
The problem, quite clearly, is that the Arabs are not prepared to accept the right of the Jews to any state in the Holy Land, no matter how large or small in territory or population it may be. The Arabs have made this quite clear over the past century of Jewish return to our ancient homeland. It is simply that we have not been paying attention to this message, since it is an unpleasant one and does not fit into our plans for a "democratic Jewish state" situated in the heart of the rose garden of the Middle East.
But now it is apparent to most Israelis that Madrid, Oslo, Wye Plantation, and Camp David were all part of the problem and not pieces of the solution. No cosmetic, half-hearted cease-fire agreements, no well-meaning but basically unenforceable international commission reports, can paper over the hard reality of the problem that faces us. The Arabs do not want us here.
It is not only that the Arabs don't want us to be in Beit El or Ofra or Efrat. They don't want us to be in Ramat Aviv or Lod or Jaffa either. The struggle is not about "settlers" or "settlements."
These are only code words for Jews living in the Land of Israel. The Arabs want the "occupation" ended. But they have never clearly delineated the territorial and political parameters of the "occupation." Barak offered an independent Palestinian state, dismantling almost all of the settlements, granting half of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount, etc. to Arafat but was rebuffed, because that still would not end the "occupation."
The "occupation" in the eyes of the Arab populace, raised on generations of poverty, squalor, hatred and religious fanaticism, is the fact that there are five million Jews living in an independent Jewish state.
The Arabs refuse to accept this fact as being permanent and non-negotiable. Hence, the current Matzav, which is merely a continuation of the Matzav that has persisted here since meaningful Jewish immigration began in the 1800s. To pretend otherwise is not understanding the true nature of the problem that we face.
Stating the problem clearly will in itself be a positive step towards rebuilding our badly damaged sense of confidence. The democratic world paid an awful price for not clearly stating what Hitler, Mussolini, the Japanese warlords and Stalin were really up to in the crises of the past century. The Western leaders then preferred to whistle past the graveyard in the forlorn hope that somehow the situation would right itself and that the tiger would be happy with an extra plate of chicken.
When Churchill and after him Roosevelt finally stopped the self-flagellation of the isolationists and peace-at-any-price-lovers and spoke truthfully and boldly about the contest of wills and arms, the Western world took heart and gained confidence.
When Truman and much later Reagan took on the "evil empire" of Soviet imperialism with forceful words and deeds, that monstrous Marxist entity finally collapsed.
We need leaders who will speak the truth forcefully and calmly. We are tired of suicidal delusions and shopworn slogans, of apple-cheeked youth dancing in celebration of a mythical peace while our enemies prepare again for an armed attempt to end the "occupation."
Belief in the justice of our cause, knowledge of our past, pride in our heritage and traditions and a calm, firm hand on the steering wheel are the ingredients of rebuilding our confidence, even now when we fully realize the nature of the problem that confronts us.
Reprinted with permission from the Jerusalem Post Internet Edition - www.jpost.com.