January 27, 2006

Stop the Payments

You bought this American car at a dealership in southern Israel. The dealer was a grubby character and an anti-Semite; not someone you would wish to deal with in a hundred years. But still, it was a car you had been dreaming of all your life and the American makers – in their wisdom - had granted this crook an exclusive dealership in the area. Comforted by the American manufacture and an all-Europe breakdown warranty, you took the plunge. You signed up with a large deposit followed by 24 monthly payments and a balloon payment at the end.

From the very first day things went wrong. The car was constantly stalling. You called the dealership. They said it was your fault: “It’s new, give it time.” Two months went by and two more payments, but it kept on stalling. You took it back to the dealership. Turns out the crook had just died and now there was new man in a fancy suit. He said: “You are carrying too many passengers, maybe let us take out the rear seats.” More months and more payments went by and one night the car broke down in a bad neighborhood. You and your wife were attacked, robbed and left bruised and battered. You thanked G-d you gave back the passenger seats otherwise the kids might also have been there. You went back to the dealer and got more abuse: “It’s your own fault! You shouldn’t be driving outside these designated areas. Stay close to home, stick to this road map and you’ll be fine.” You soon realised that, aside from the fancy suit and aftershave, this dealer was just as much of an anti-Semitic rogue as the last one.

Still, you carried on making the payments and after many months of unremitting breakdowns, you came to the sad conclusion that the car of your dreams was actually a lemon. It was never going to run properly and might even get you killed. You wrote to the American manufacturers. They said: “You’ve made too many payments to quit now. And if you stop the payments, we won’t send you any more spare parts.” You went for the Europeans under their warranty. But they had the chutzpa to say you didn’t need such a big car to start with. “You should be happy with a 2-seater Fiat!” You then discovered that the Europeans were in league with this lowlife dealership and, having pumped millions of dollars a year into it, they were not about to take your side in any warranty dispute.

By now, things have got so bad that the transmission only works in reverse gear. Wherever you drive, you are literally going backwards. Just when you can’t imagine things getting any worse, a letter arrives in the mail. It’s the demand for the final instalment; the big balloon payment.

Mad as hell, you take a taxi to confront the wicked dealer. But, on arrival you find the dealership has been taken over by an armed gang of hooded thugs. They ask if you got their letter and whether you prefer to make the final payment by cash, check or in blood. You can’t believe this is happening. All those payments, no car to drive and now you’re at the mercy of these lowlifes! You grab your Pelephone and call the Americans again. “Too bad,” they say. “Of course we would never deal with such thugs ourselves, but – frankly – you have no choice. They took over the dealership fair and square and so they are the only legitimate party with whom you will simply have to deal from now on.”

If you hadn’t already figured it out, that car is Israel’s dream of peace, which has stalled at every turn on this utterly discredited road map. We bought it in good faith, making all the painful payments in blood, territory and prisoners with no reciprocation from the PA or the American inventors and European underwriters of this latest in a long line of failed prototypes of a mid-east peace model.

After all our painful payments we find ourselves literally going backwards, crossing many lines in our retreat: red lines which have come and gone and the green line which seems to have lost much of its legitimacy. We are reversing inexorably toward the last line; that thin blue line beyond which is the sea. In blind faith, we made those payments by destroying beautiful Jewish homes and farms, dispossessing thousands of our people who are still without homes and jobs, abandoning vital security checkpoints, slowing down work on the security fence and preparing lists of further prisoner releases. And for what in return? Missiles launched at closer range from the tomato fields we surrendered in the south, Egyptian troops crawling all over a Sinai that was demilitarised for 30 years, arms smuggling now out of the tunnels and onto the open road in quantities that would sink a fleet of Karine-A’s. And perhaps worst of all, the emboldening of our enemies who have witnessed our army’s hasty retreats from the North and South and been allowed to dance on the sacked ruins of our synagogues in Gush Katif. Never able to even dream of defeating the most powerful army in the region, our sworn enemies watch gleefully as the IDF is turned against its own people.

Despite all this, we offer even more payments in a new round of expulsions, this time from Chevron; a city whose Jewish ownership for thousands of years is beyond question and wherein King David ruled for 7 of his 40 years on the throne of Israel.

Ariel Sharon may have bought us this car, paid the deposit and most of the monthly payments for nothing in return. But even as he slumbers, blissfully unaware of the coming Hamas landslide in the PA elections and the near certainty of a 3rd Intifada, his successor is intent on continuing the payments. Worse still, Ehud Olmert now even talks of moving to “final status”; the balloon payment on this whole fraudulent peace agreement.

Common sense says: If you are in a hole – stop digging.
This peace is a lemon.
Let's stop making the payments.

[This article first appeared in the Jewish Press]
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