"Sharon Prefers The Nobel Peace Prize"
Interview by Shai Gefen

Three years ago, Mordechai Sonez, a resident of Nachliel, wrote a report publicized by Machon Ariel for Strategic Studies. The report focused on an Israeli governmental sanction of preparations made by the Palestinian Authority for complete invasion of Yesha. The report described the state of affairs of that area in the past six months. * In an interview with Beis Moshiach, Sonez says the worst is yet to come - the situation for the residents of Yesha is likely to worsen, ch’v - if the Israeli government doesn’t take immediate steps.

Rabbi Mordechai Sonez has been living in Nachliel, in western Binyamin, for eight years. There’s a Chabad community there consisting of 25 families. In the past, Mordechai worked in military and political research and analysis for the Senate Foreign Relations and Defense Committee in Washington. In more recent years he has begun researching the situation in Yesha and the preparations being made by the P.A. for war against the settlements.

Sonez is considered an expert on the subject, and newspapers around the world quote his analyses about Yesha. His reports are publicized by the Ariel Research Center for Strategic Analysis.

* * *

Three years ago, a religious Israeli citizen publicized a terrifying report about the preparations the P.A. was making for all-out war against the settlements in Yesha, against thousands of citizens who travel the roads, and against Israeli forces serving in Yesha.

His report sounded too severe, far-fetched. The Yesha council disassociated itself from him and his report; I.D.F. commanders mocked it, and politicians ignored it. However, the violent actions of the Intifada that erupted this past half-year confirmed much of what had been written. He described shooting at cars on the roads of Yesha, sniping at Israelis, shelling of homes, and all-out war.

Now, three years later, Beis Moshiach revisits the writer and his nightmare, which has unfortunately turned out to be quite real.

You published a report three years ago that made it into the headlines. Many laughed off the frighteningly pessimistic data you presented. What precisely was included in the original report?

The report dealt primarily with the situation in the area, which is the result of the Oslo Accords. While many called it a Peace Process, we said it meant war, the abandonment of the settlements, and above all else, the sanctioning by the Israeli government of the abandonment of the settlements of Yesha to terrorists. Our report was based on senior military sources and was backed primarily by the facts on the ground.

What points did your report focus on?

The report focused on one central point - that the P.A. is preparing for war against the Jewish settlements of Yesha. The report’s release was planned to coincide with the pronouncement that was going to be made about a Palestinians state. We said back then that the P.A. was preparing for war against the settlements and that the situation we were witnessing then on the main roads of Yesha was part of this war. We still have not reached the stage described in the report, but we certainly see that we’re heading in that direction.

What made you prepare this twenty-page report?

It all began when we heard shooting near the settlements. At first they told us it was "joyful shooting" at weddings, etc. I realized that the P.A. was getting ready for a time when they would feel that the situation was ripe for war against the citizens living in the settlements.

At the time I said that ten-year-old Palestinian kids were being trained with weapons and Palestinians girls were constantly singing the anthem of their youth movement, which includes the lines "Beware Zionists, we are accustomed to drinking Jewish blood."

You depicted a war against the settlements, which sounded far-fetched ...

We described a sudden attack by the P.A. in which entire settlements would have no choice but to flee for their lives. I said that the P.A. had 120 armored vehicles with which they were capable of penetrating the settlements. We described the process in which the P.A. would take over settlements, for which they were presently preparing by acquiring equipment, forming units, and training for a night attack against the settlements.

What evidence did you have?

We based the report primarily on the existing conditions, as well as reports and leaks by high-ranking members of the I.D.F. After analyzing the facts, we concluded that the P.A. was assembling weapons in huge numbers to use in attacking settlements and roads. They were also conducting extensive training exercises for a night attack against the settlements and were gathering information from Arab workers in the settlements.

Our analysis concluded that the P.A.’s ongoing training program with armored vehicles (and since the completion of the report they have many more) indicates their ability to carry out a night raid against 40 small, isolated settlements at one time.

The facts we based this on were reliable, but people laughed at the conclusions and dismissed us, saying, "Mordechai, you’re not serious. It’s not as bad as that. You’re just causing panic..." But now what we predicted seems more realistic. Today everybody knows the P.A. is preparing for war and for conquering the settlements. The Chief of Staff speaks about this openly and the army is preparing security stations in the settlements.

At the same time I maintain that the Israeli government is not taking the necessary steps to prevent this raid from taking place.

In other words, the state of affairs you described has yet to take place, ch’v?

Many people come to us today and tell us that we were right, what we envisioned is taking place. I tell them this is only the beginning and they should prepare for far worse. What’s happening now is only the preparation for the real war - and who knows what they’re plotting.

Back then, the army denied that the Palestinians had armored vehicles, but today they admit it. People can’t begin to imagine what an enormous store of arms the P.A. has, and how much Arafat smuggles in with his private plane and helicopter.

Today they’re talking about stepping things up by shooting mortars at the settlements. I wrote about that three years ago.

How did those in official positions respond to your report?

The Yesha council washed its hands of it. Others preferred to ignore it. The exceptions were those in unofficial positions, some of whom thought the situation was far worse than people imagined.

Won’t the I.D.F. protect the settlers?

What will the army do in a situation where Palestinian terrorists take over one isolated settlement? Will they conquer Area A or prefer to just evacuate the settlement within a couple of hours so as not to escalate hostilities?

We already hear Sharon planning to continue the arrangements with the Palestinians despite the fact that they continue to kill us. Over 70 Jews have been killed since the Intifada El-Aktza. Sharon promised no negotiations under fire, but they are continuing to negotiate.

Yet Sharon is considered tough on security?

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but in the report we publicized, a large part of the blame falls on Sharon, since he continued with the provisions of the Wye Accord. He displayed maps dismantling the settlements. When he went to the Wye Plantation with Netanyahu, he called on the settlers to hold on to the high mountains, but simultaneously he sold us out, as did Rabin and Peres.

There are things that only Sharon can do. Even people on the Left cannot do those things, like dismantling settlements. The government as it is constructed today, along with those on the Left, testifies that my concerns were justified - that Sharon will do the work for them, and then there won’t even be anybody to cry to.

I recently drove from Yerushalayim to my home in Nachaliel, and was shot at. The bullets whizzed around me. It was a miracle I survived. Sharon won’t stop this and I am afraid that that type of response will only continue to escalate the situation. Sharon won’t want to start a war against the Palestinians, so he will appease Arafat with another piece of the pie. Arafat will keep quiet for a few more months, and the situation will go on until they clear us out of here.

We already hear talk from Arafat’s direction about appeasement and we know exactly what he means.

But Sharon promised not to evacuate a single settlement?

We know that Sharon drew maps dismantling settlements. Before the elections, in order to calm certain segments of the population, he spoke about not dismantling any. I truly hope that it won’t happen; I am afraid that he won’t dismantle settlements, but that the settlers will have to evacuate themselves because of Palestinian terrorist attacks. The Palestinians admit that they intend to rule over the settlements of Yesha. All the military big shots talk about it. The big question is whether they have a solution to the situation.

Are the settlements ready for war?

No. The weapons they have will last them ten minutes. There isn’t enough ammunition, there are no defensive weapons, yet the Palestinians are formidably armed. In an attack against a few settlements, the I.D.F. won’t be able to do anything.

What do you think?

I am very pessimistic, and don’t see a short-term solution if, ch’v, an attack like this is carried out. The first question is whether Israel will dare to invade a Palestinian state. Sharon has already promised not to re-conquer Sh’chem and Yericho, despite the fact that acts of terror are constantly being perpetrated from there. In addition, is the army ready to prevent a Palestinian attack? And I fear they would prefer evacuating the settlers than enter into conflict with the P.A.

What should we do?

We know the halacha in Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim siman 329, that the Rebbe quoted many times, which is about gentiles approaching the border to seize straw and hay. We’ve publicized daas Torah and we went to rabbanim and gedolei Torah to sign that "According to Shulchan Aruch, the government must prepare itself for the imminent possibility of attack against the settlements of Yesha. They must publicly recognize the rights of the settlers to defend themselves, and they must immediately arm the settlements and provide military training so they can protect themselves."

As I said, there’s no question that the residents of Yesha will be forced to deal with far more serious attacks than what we’ve experienced until now, ch’v, and that the next stage will be the attempt to conquer settlements.

The entire Intifada El-Aktza was a training period for the critical stage. They speak openly about it - and that’s why the government must protect its citizens’ lives and supply them with the means to defend themselves in the event of war or attack.

I’d like to ask the security experts: If the settlements are, ch’v, not sufficiently prepared, how will we stop an attack when the P.A.’s army, the elite units, and the Arab populace suddenly unite to attack the settlements? Read the map correctly - you’ll see it’s going to happen sooner or later.

Is there a certain policy approach that prefers to look at what’s going on now and not at the future?

Unfortunately, the critical situation has worn away at the settlers’ position, though I must say that few people have left the settlements, especially the religious settlements where there has been zero attrition. But you have to understand that the settlers are dealing on a daily and hourly basis with non-stop attacks. We don’t have armored vehicles like the army has, and every trip we make is dangerous.

A certain public figure came recently, in an armored bus, of course. We, the residents here who regularly travel the roads, are exposed to terrorist shooting and travel in ordinary cars, but the army is protected with half-tracks and armored cars like in Lebanon.

What are the rabbanim, community leaders and the public at large supposed to do?

To fulfill one’s Torah obligation of not standing by your brother’s blood, people have to intensify their identification with the settlers of Yesha, to come and visit and even live here. People must flock to Yesha to encourage the settlers and to demonstrate to the murderers that they won’t chase us out of here.

This isn’t a far-out request. We settlers are on the frontlines, and physically prevent the enemy from advancing. If I had to delineate the most important task right now, it would be to increase the visits to Yesha, encourage the settlers, and show the Israeli government and the world that the Jewish people are not abandoning Yehuda, Shomron, and Gaza.

Should we start by demonstrating against the Sharon government?

I’m sure we’ll have no choice but to demonstrate against Sharon’s government when we see what direction he’s heading in. Sharon’s speech did not mention Yerushalayim, and he left out an entire paragraph about a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol forever.

I am quite afraid that Sharon prefers the Nobel Peace prize over solving the problem. Sharon won’t want to be caricaturized as someone who came to power and began a new war, and so he’ll try to bring calm "in exchange for painful concessions," as he called it during the elections. Only a fool would believe the nonsense Sharon says about the painful concessions meaning "not re-entering Sh’chem and Yericho."

We are definitely in a more critical situation, facing a broad-based government with all the power, which includes Gandi and Lieberman. We have to make it clear to Sharon that he must remember what happened to all his predecessors who conceded parts of Eretz Yisroel, where they are today and what happened to them when they traded the nation’s security away.

Hasn’t the I.D.F. become more realistic in view of what has been happening this past half a year?

Unfortunately the answer is no, and this is despite the thousands of shooting incidents and despite the intolerable situation. The army prefers to defend itself and not react in an honest way about what’s going on. Yes, we have already begun hearing the P.A. being called "the terrorist authority," but nothing serious has happened as a result.

With Sharon’s becoming prime minister, only cosmetic changes have taken place, but the same thing is happening that happened in Lebanon - utter anarchy, and in the end, Israel left with its tail between its legs. Arafat and his pals speak openly about copying Hizballah’s success in Lebanon.

Everybody sees how what the Rebbe said is coming true. The Rebbe said what ought to be done in order to have security, but of all the political parties, not one follows the Rebbe’s counsel, which is why the lives of millions of Jews are in danger.

There is only one solution and that is the one the Rebbe spoke about constantly: strength, Jewish pride, and no concessions. All other solutions will fail, even if Sharon is the great and glorified commander.

In conclusion...

We are entering an era no less difficult than the one under Barak, and perhaps more difficult. We will have to fight those who ostensibly represent our views. The damage they can do is far greater than what we’ve had until now.

I hope we will wake up before it’s too late. We have to realize once and for all that any concession only causes our security to deteriorate and leads to additional wars on additional fronts. That is what happened after our withdrawal from Lebanon, and we saw how it led to a deterioration of the situation with the Palestinians.

With Hashem’s help we will merit the immediate revelation of Moshiach, and all our problems will disappear.


Rabbi Mordechai Sonez




While many called it a Peace Process, we said it meant war, the abandonment of the settlements, and above all else, the sanctioning by the Israeli government of the abandonment of the settlements of Yesha to terrorists.





People can’t begin to imagine what an enormous store of arms the P.A. has, and how much Arafat smuggles in with his private plane and helicopter.





If the settlements are, ch’v, not sufficiently prepared, how will we stop an attack when the P.A.’s army, the elite units, and the Arab populace suddenly unite to attack the settlements?


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