Prefers The Nobel Peace Prize"
Interview by Shai Gefen
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.
BIO: RABBI MORDECHAI SONEZ
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.
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.
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.
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.
three years later, Beis Moshiach revisits the writer and his nightmare,
which has unfortunately turned out to be quite real.
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?
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.
points did your report focus on?
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.
made you prepare this twenty-page report?
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.
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."
depicted a war against the settlements, which sounded far-fetched ...
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.
evidence did you have?
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.
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.
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.
the same time I maintain that the Israeli government is not taking the necessary
steps to prevent this raid from taking place.
other words, the state of affairs you described has yet to take place, ch’v?
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.
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.
they’re talking about stepping things up by shooting mortars at the
settlements. I wrote about that three years ago.
did those in official positions respond to your report?
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.
the I.D.F. protect the settlers?
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?
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.
Sharon is considered tough on security?
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.
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
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.
already hear talk from Arafat’s direction about appeasement and we know
exactly what he means.
Sharon promised not to evacuate a single settlement?
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.
the settlements ready for war?
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
do you think?
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.
should we do?
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."
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.
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.
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.
there a certain policy approach that prefers to look at what’s going on now
and not at the future?
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
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.
are the rabbanim, community leaders and the public at large supposed 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
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.
we start by demonstrating against the Sharon government?
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.
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."
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.
the I.D.F. become more realistic in view of what has been happening this past
half a year?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Hashem’s help we will merit the immediate revelation of Moshiach, and all our
problems will disappear.