(Editor’s Note: The following column originally appeared in The Jewish Press in April 1994. Given the recent events in Hebron, the 2005 Gaza disengagement, and other policies implemented by Mr. Sharon and maintained by the Kadima Party he created, it’s striking to read what Mr. Sharon was saying thirteen years ago.)
It wasn’t easy for me to come out with a public call to Israelis to oppose the evacuation of Jews from Hebron with passive, non-violent resistance. Hebron is Jerusalem, not Yamit.
It is only because I am convinced that the security and inalienable rights of Jews in every part of Eretz Yisrael will be irreversibly eroded if the government carries out its plans in Hebron that I decided we must arise and passively resist the uprooting of Jews from Hebron.
And if, God forbid, the government does carry out its intention, it should know, in advance, that we will return to Hebron.
I have no doubt that Jews in Israel and abroad feel the government of Israel has lost its sense of Jewish/Zionist direction. The mere thought of sending IDF soldiers to evacuate Jews from Hebron is clear proof of this.
For most of my life I have obeyed orders as well as issued them as a soldier and commander in the IDF. Therefore, I am aware of the absolute importance of the duty incumbent on every soldier to carry out legal orders, in order to preserve the military system that defends us.
At the same time, warning must be given: If the Israeli government dares to uproot Jews from the heart of Eretz Yisrael, a situation will develop in which the military will eventually have nothing to defend except itself, and will ultimately fall apart and disintegrate.
After all, the IDF was organized to defend the Zionist settlement drive, which was threatened from the start as a result of Arab aggression, even before we returned to Hebron. It was only with tremendous pain that we were able, in 1948, to retain part of Jerusalem.
Therefore, though every soldier and commander must obey the legal orders of the government, so too must every citizen in a democratic country ask himself what he is supposed to do when he is convinced that the policy of the government endangers him, his future and his family.
This question is a particularly burning one with regard to the security of the Jewish state – which is increasingly being jeopardized as the government continues giving the Palestinians a hold on our land and uprooting Jews from their homes.
We must understand that if we will not stop the uprooting of Jews from Hebron, we may very well, in the future, be uprooted from Tel Aviv and Haifa.
In contrast to the days of exile, it is not only the right but the obligation of every Jew in a Jewish democratic state to stand up and warn his government, through passive resistance, of the disaster that it is bringing on us all. What Jews could not do in Germany and Poland before their extermination, they must do in their own country. They have to rise en masse and resist.
The moment the government raises the question of the fate of the Jewish settlers in Hebron, or in any other place in Israel, and uses them as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the Palestinian enemy (who did not erase, and will not erase, its covenant that calls for the destruction of Israel) it is liable to cross the danger zone line of being unable to protect the majority of Jews in Israel.
How will this government be different from the Jewish leaders in the darkest days of Europe who negotiated with the Nazis in order to save some Jews while abandoning other Jews?
There are great democracies that can afford to reach the brink of disaster and then save themselves at the price of hundreds of victims. This is what happened in France, which sold itself to Nazi Germany during World War II, through the Vichy regime, headed by Marshall Petain, who collaborated with the enemy.
The British democracy also paid a very heavy price when it attempted to carry out the policies of “peace now” emanating from the Chamberlain-Hitler negotiations in Munich. By the time England realized its mistake, London, the capital of the empire, had already become a target for bombs and Churchill had to enlist all his nation’s resources to fight a war of blood, sweat and tears.