An Open Letter to Minister Rafi Eitan
by Walter Bingham
I know that you are a member of the security cabinet, but that's a mistake. You and your ministry should concentrate on, and deal with, the matters for which the pensioners and their supporters have elected you: to help the underprivileged, the hungry and homeless, and, most of all, to obtain better conditions for the pensioners.
Dear Minister Eitan,
At the time of the last general election, I was unfortunately out of the country and could not vote. If as a pensioner, and I am four years your senior, I had voted for your party, the Pensioners party, I would today be extremely upset after having read your interview published in the Jerusalem Post this week.
You tried to resurrect the dead-and-buried, warped ideas of trying to achieve tranquillity in Israel, and among its enemies, by forcibly evicting Jewish residents from Judea and Samaria, with the exception of a few settlement blocks. Even Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has realised that punishing Israelis for the misdeeds of Arab terrorists is not the solution, but an invitation to more of the same. To give in to the enemy's demands, even on the basis of any vague promises, was proved in Munich to be a fatal mistake. You were about 10 years old at the time and, surprisingly, although it's in long-term memory, you don't seem to want to remember it. But I do, vividly, and I wouldn't want it to happen here.
You have obviously forgotten the glorious future that our government, backed by much of the world community, predicted for Gaza after we forcibly evicted 8,500 Jews who wanted nothing else but to conduct a peaceful life and go about their businesses that they built up over 20 or so years. What was the effect? What has been achieved? The area has became a haven for terrorists, the infrastructure of the extensive horticultural and agricultural enterprises have been reduced to rubble at the hands of the Palestinians charged to guard them, and their founders and staff have become a drain on the economy of our country, to which hitherto they contributed considerably.
Many of the other effects of the Gush Katif expulsion - such as interruption of children's schooling, the trauma, the homelessness - are all well documented. I suggest that you read up on it, if you have forgotten, before sprouting ideas that would bring disaster not upon 8,500, but on 10 fold that number of our citizens. All that has apparently slipped your aging mind.
How about the idea of Knesset Member Effie Eitam to expel the Arabs, rather than the Jews, from that region? I suppose you, in concert with our Arab MKs, are up in arms about such an idea. You'd consider it inconceivable; it would be a humanitarian crime, creating another refugee problem to add to the 60-year-old one that nobody cares about. But don't worry, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNWRA has been specifically established for that purpose. May I remind you that they are the only relief organisation in the world solely set up for one small group of people, Palestinian Arabs, who could have been absorbed a million times had their Arab ?friends' wanted to do so.
Seeing that Gazans are now looked after by Hamas, UNRWA can move off their comfortable chairs, get into their luxurious 4X4s, and earn their money - provided by the world's taxpayers - for a change. So, I support Effie Eitam's idea, because frankly, I cannot see the difference in humanitarian terms between expelling Jews or moving Arabs from their homes.
Actually, I just realised that there is a difference. The Palestinian Arabs have an internationally funded relief agency and the Jews have a bankrupt government that will do anything to distract from their corrupt activities, even to the detriment of its own people. Where else in the world are so many high-ranking government personalities, from the president down, under police investigation for alleged criminal activities? The British would call it: "Blow you, Jack, I'm alright."
Before anyone dares to suggest the creation of a massive Jewish refugee problem, let them first assess how the relatively 'small' one of Gush Katif and northern Samaria was mishandled and is still, to a large extent, unresolved.
That, Mr. Minister, is where you come in. I know that you are a member of the security cabinet, but that's a mistake. You and your ministry should concentrate on, and deal with, the matters for which the pensioners and their supporters have elected you: to help the underprivileged, the hungry and homeless, and, most of all, to obtain better conditions for the pensioners.
Are you aware that the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), that hitherto commendable charitable organisation, is fighting in the courts to evict all the residents from its beautiful Beit Horim senior citizens home in Tel Aviv? You ask why? Well, it's the same corrupt streak that filters all the way down from the top: greed. The property is worth tens of millions of dollars that could help to finance an even bigger empire, generating even larger incomes for the boys and girls at the top. All that, at the cost of the quality of life of the old and frail, those who have given their life's work, and often military service, so that today's fat cats can exploit them with impunity. Their children are spending thousands of shekels of their hard-earned cash in the defence of their parents' quality of life. This is a job you should be doing, because you were elected for and by the pensioners, some of whom are now threatened with eviction.
And what about the hungry and homeless? Have you seen the recent statistics, or does your ancient mind not stretch to figures anymore?
Personally, I believe you resign and go spend your time on a golf course; especially after the kindest words you could find for the thousands of people affected by the rockets from Gaza and Lebanon were that the rockets were, and I quote from the Jerusalem Post, "a technical matter that needs to be overcome in one way or another.? It is a quote I would not even expect from a school child. You also said: "I can have influence, little by little, until people realise that if we don't withdraw, we won't be able to stay anywhere in Judea and Samaria." Don't kid yourself old man; we, our children, and their children will be there long after you and I have had to answer for our actions in this world.
Of course, it is much more glamorous and newsworthy to meddle in cabinet politics than to work for the mundane tasks of improving the lot of the underprivileged and old. But that's the job for which you were elected and, until you are demoted, be the chief in your own department and leave the others to theirs.
Yours is a very rewarding task. Fulfill it with honour.
Shalom and Shanah Tovah.
21 Elul 5766 / 14 September 06