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“They Are Preparing For War”
By Shai Gefen
Interview with Professor Ezra Zohar, one of the leaders of a group of professors for political and economic strength

Professor Ezra Zohar, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Israeli Military Reserves, one of the leaders and senior members of the “Circle of Professors for political and economic strength,” which has a membership of over 600 professors and intellectuals. Until a year ago he served as the head of the organization.

Professor Zohar has also served as a department chief in Tel HaShomer hospital, founder of the Israeli Association of Ecology, and administrator of Machon Heller for medical research. He was director at the hospital in Refidim during the Yom Kippur War. Five years ago he published a book called Pilegesh B’Mizrach HaTachton (A Concubine in the Middle East), based on research on Israeli-American relations. The book is now translated into English. Presently he devotes most of his time to strategic research at the Ariel Institute.

Barak returned from Camp David without an agreement, but it seems that behind the scenes negotiations are ongoing. What do you think about what’s going on?

I hope that Yerushalayim won’t actually be divided as Barak is planning, and that this government falls. It doesn’t have the right to exist. Barak lied to the people, so the claim that he has the nation behind him is untrue; he has no mandate.

But Barak claims that he was elected with an overwhelming majority and that he derives his power from the people even if the Knesset is against him.

Barak was elected for other purposes, not for what he’s doing and wants to carry out. For example, he promised that he’d guard the Jordan River Valley and that he wouldn’t divide Yerushalayim. The moment he veers from this promise, the people didn’t elect him, certainly not by an overwhelming majority. I don’t believe the Left will be voted into power the next time around, after he has shown he’s in favor of dividing Yerushalayim.

Didn’t the nation know he would do this?

I don’t know if they knew or not. Something interesting has happened with Barak. Although they say that he knows how to break through impasses, he isn’t a smart person. He lived his entire life in constrained surroundings. A commander in the army can make decisions without anyone telling him what to do. Barak thinks he’ll go to Arafat, tell him what’s what and make an agreement. It doesn’t work that way.

Are you saying Barak is a dictator?

I certainly see signs of it, but not only in Barak the Prime Minister, but in the other Barak, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Israel definitely has dictatorial elements in a number of areas, for example in the sphere of justice, when someone thinks he can establish the laws and interfere in other areas outside of his jurisdiction. The same is true for the police and other domains. You can’t forget that even our economic sphere was dictatorial for years. In earlier years, the Israeli government was practically communist.

Do you think that the existence of the State of Israel is in danger?

I pray that neither Barak nor Arafat succeeds in destroying the state, despite everything going on here. Just as in the Yom Kippur War we were saved from the terrible mistakes made by the politicians, I hope the same will happen now.

I think that our leadership is not an independent leadership, but one that serves the Americans. They see the Americans as our friend, although America has caused and continues to cause us trouble. Dennis Ross, America’s special envoy to the Middle East, expressed this well when in ‘85 he wrote that Arabs know good and well that only one force can stop Israel during war, and that is the U.S. In fact, they did just that in every war. The Arabs attacked, and after they saw they were losing they got the Americans to quiet us down.

The Americans caused us many other problems. Even the economic aid they give us is meaningless. I’d be happy if we let it go altogether.

Many Israelis see America as our greatest friend who will come and protect us in the event of war.

The Unites States never lifted a finger for us and never will. This fact has been borne out over all the years the State has been in existence. In ‘95 I wrote a book about U.S.-Israeli relations, and in an exhaustive study I detailed each and every hostile position America has taken towards us. The U.S. consistently abandoned us, especially in ‘48 when their intelligence acknowledged that the Arabs were going to kill us, r’l.

You recently published a document for Machon Ariel in which you state that in light of the present situation, Israel will no longer exist ten years from now. On what do you base this?

The State of Israel without the Golan Heights and Yehuda-Shomron cannot protect itself. The nonsense said all these years, that in the missile era you don’t need land, is sheer stupidity. Missiles can cause damage, but they are not decisive in war. Tanks are the deciding factor in war and we saw this in the Gulf War when the Americans didn’t succeed in vanquishing Iraq despite the massive bombing they carried out for weeks. In order to actually win, they had to send in tanks.

The State of Israel without Yesha and the Golan will be in a situation where enemy tanks can arrive in Tel Aviv in an hour, without our being able to stop them. This is a real threat to us. I am not afraid of Iran’s missiles. I fear the terrorist acts of blowing up buses and attacks on civilians.

If you look at history you see that the Arabs always lost their wars with us. But they beat us completely when it comes to terror. I am very afraid that they will weaken us in this way. Look at what the Hizballah has done to Israel. Now the Arabs and Palestinians say they will copy the Hizballah.

Are you referring to the tactic of “civilian raids” against civilian settlements?

Yes. I don’t have to describe what will happen if, ch’v, the settlements will be given to the Palestinians by us. They will take the settler’s weapons, and what’s going on today in Gush Katif will happen ten times over in the yishuvim of Yehuda-Shomron. At first they will disarm all the settlements in Yesha and we will be weak and helpless. The Palestinians will take advantage of our weakness and will carry on with their plan of annihilating Israel.

Will the settlers be able to maintain their position in this impossible situation Barak plans to put them in?

I don’t think so. The settlers cannot agree to Barak’s placing them under Palestinian rule. If the State of Israel abandons them they will be forced to arm themselves and physically oppose the Arabs. I think there is no other alternative. They will have to defend themselves without the government’s help.

The I.D.F. is inadequately arming the settlers. The circumstances of the settlers now is reminiscent of 30 years ago and even further back. The settlers need new and modern weapons. If they don’t get them I fear a bloodbath, ch’v.

Do you think Israeli Arabs will take part in attacking us?

There are two types of Israeli Arabs. Some of them want to live under Israeli government rule, whereas others don’t. The main question is how Israel will respond. If Israel shows itself to be a weak nation which constantly compromises, then the Israeli Arabs will certainly join in attacking us. If Israel is strong, they won’t dare to join in a war against us. That’s how minorities always are. In principle, the Israeli Arabs are a real threat.

Israel is presently in a trap and in an untenable position, because it will be closed off from all directions and on all fronts, placing us in a far inferior position. These events can unfold a lot faster than we think.

You don’t think frightening people about the continued existence of the State of Israel is a bit exaggerated?

Giving back the Golan for example, simply means arming Syria through the U.S. and war. Today the Syrians are sitting quietly because the I.D.F. is 40 kilometers away from Damascus. If the I.D.F. is not there, why shouldn’t they attack? The same thing will happen if, ch’v, Yehuda-Shomron will be given to Arafat. It’s just unbelievable how a country can do this to itself. I have non-Jewish friends in the academic world who tell me we’re out of our minds.

I guess the Israelis really want peace ...

I think that today every citizen of Eretz Yisroel knows that it isn’t peace that is on the table. We sit with Arafat and negotiate peace with him, while at the same time their camps are training children to kill Jews, and their official text books and their media are constantly inciting hatred against us. They are preparing for war.

In Egyptian textbooks the State of Israel still doesn’t appear on the map. A while ago there was an interview with the former War Minister of Egypt. He said that war with Israel was inevitable. Just imagine, this is a country with whom we have supposedly had peace these 22 years! What kind of peace is that?

Barak speaks of a separation with us here and them there.

What kind of separation?! They are among us! He’s just lying in order to blind the public so that they will agree to these crazy concessions. If the nationalist camp would reach out with a reasoned campaign to inform the public, people would understand.

Do you think there’s an alternative to Barak on the Right?

First of all Barak must get out of the government. He’s dangerous to the future of the State of Israel. I think the situation can still be salvaged, which is opposed to what the Left claims — that we have reached the point of no return. Most of Yehuda-Shomron is ours. Even Barak officially said that nothing is final. Barak wants them to sign and finish negotiating already, but they don’t want to. Arafat would agree to having his hands cut off as long as nothing is signed. He needs the ongoing conflict.

In your opinion, the failure at Camp David was just a show and it’s not over yet?

At Camp David the Palestinians kept quiet while the Israelis kept making offers, giving it all away. The Palestinians wanted to squeeze out more and more and so they preferred torpedoing the summit in order to gain even further concessions in the next round of talks. Barak appeared as a fool who doesn’t know how to negotiate. Barak is ready to give it all away, but I don’t think the nation will let him.

Did you personally think things would get this bad?

No. But the truth must be stated loud and clear: The main fault for all this is Menachem Begin. He signed the Camp David accords which legitimized the Palestinian people, something he wasn’t allowed to do. I think that’s why he resigned in the end, because his conscience bothered him over the historic mistake he had made.

In Begin’s time there was no “Shalom Achshav” in Israel. He was the one who actually created this concept of “peace.” If you can make peace with Egypt, then why not with the Palestinians? It’s Begin who is responsible for the mess we are now in.

How do you explain the change in the Left, which just 50 years ago fought to force out the Arabs and today are doing the exact opposite?

Amongst those in the Left there are some people who don’t want the continued existence of the State of Israel, but I think that most Israelis here want a Jewish state. The Left has slogans that succeed in obscuring the issues. The funny thing is how today the Left is blaming the settlers for displacing the Arabs, when the old Left kibbutzim are located on land taken from the Arabs.

I am from Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek, and I still remember the events of ‘36 and ‘39. I was a young boy and the kibbutz I lived on is where three Arab villages used to be, whose residents fled in ‘48.

You have to know that the Left is a small minority and most of the Jewish nation doesn’t want this. These few people on the Left see the country as their private domain and whoever doesn’t belong to their clique is simply stealing the country from them. You saw how they reacted when Moshe Katzav was elected president of the country.

There’s a strange thing going on here in that the Israeli media is trying to prepare the nation for the division of Yerushalayim. Have you noticed?

Certainly. That’s just another sign of the dictatorial state we live in. I just don’t understand how a democratic country can have a one-sided government-controlled media. At the same time, people aren’t stupid and they know what’s going on.

Do you feel helpless?

No. People must demonstrate and not remain quiet. I definitely think there’s a lot to do and the feeling of helplessness is wrong. There is a lot to be done, and we can certainly succeed.

What is your organization working on these days?

The organization was founded at the beginning of the Oslo Accords era, in order to battle political agreements by allowing members of the academic world to publicly express their opinions. This is in the wake of the media presenting the members of the academic world as all being on the Left. Our organization contributes greatly to the ongoing struggle.

We advertise and organize demonstrations of people in our circle, which numbers over 600 professors. It’s not enough, and we definitely must continue working together. Just last week we put large ads in the newspapers with the signatures of hundreds of people in the academic world, calling on Barak to stop these dangerous policies.

How do you see the general situation in Israeli politics?

It’s the same as the one in Czechoslovakia in ‘38, when Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler and told the Czech people to agree even if they weren’t told to sign an agreement of capitulation. It was all because Chamberlain wanted to make peace, and so they fell and the rest is history. It was all for the sake of “peace.”

Are you comparing the Arabs to Hitler?

The Arabs decided that we Jews should no longer exist, and whoever thinks America will stand by us is mistaken, even if we make eight treaties with them. America never kept a treaty, not with Taiwan or Vietnam or any other country.

In conclusion:

We have to unmask Barak and present him as the charlatan he is, and as someone who portrays himself as Napoleon, yet with nothing to back him. He was a disaster from the day he stopped being Lieutenant-Colonel. He was a failure as general and an utter catastrophe as Prime Minister. He conducts himself in a way which demonstrates that he has no regard for democracy. The public must unceasingly demonstrate until we succeed.


We sit with Arafat and negotiate peace with him, while at the same time their camps are training children to kill Jews (ch’v), and their official text books and their media are constantly inciting hatred against us. They are preparing for war.





Menachem Begin signed the Camp David accords, which legitimized the Palestinian people, something he wasn’t allowed to do.
I think that’s why he resigned in the end, because his conscience bothered him over the historic mistake he had made.


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