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Barak’s call to Clinton induces the wrong call-to-arms. PUBLISHED 3/13/2001

Throughout the ages, Jewish people are taught more about the weaknesses of their leaders than about their strengths — beginning with Moses. Even King David, the greatest of Jewish warriors, too had feet of clay, sending his captain to the front line so that he could continue a liaison with his warrior’s wife. Calling the leader of the free world on behalf of Marc Rich, a fugitive from justice, is all too telling to people of all ages.

Barak’s actions are strikingly at odds with the message of Israel’s first prime minister who in the twilight of his life challenged Israel’s future leaders to become “A light unto the nations”, a people abiding by the highest moral standards. The day after the 1973 Yom Kippur War ended and just weeks before Ben Gurion’s death on December 1st 1973, Marc Rich began to profit from the Arab oil producers’ shakedown. A decade later he arrived in Zug, Switzerland with his suitcases full and plenty of cash in the bank to begin buying his own protection.

Clinton has a history of lapses but why would Barak allow himself to be used to set such a bad example, lacking the foresight to realize that he would ultimately be blamed for Clinton’s decision? Despite his highly touted ability to read maps, Barak lost his way in this maze filled with the glitter of Richy Rich, golden calves no doubt playing their part two (sic). Mr. Arafat must also take his share of the blame. He wasn’t exactly a potted plant at Camp David, or was he?

Israelis and Palestinians should recognize the events of the recent past as a call-to-arms to eliminate protection rackets throughout the region. Following the example of their forefathers they should raise a shield and band together, encouraging the business community who understand that a win-win results in long term mutual prosperity to mention little of the protection it affords. Trading with each other is the only possible way out of this crisis. Fostering interdependency is the only way to win the peace and end the rhetoric of hatred that allows despots to obfuscate their own poor performance.

Both peoples have in their arsenal a potent weapon, much holier than anything contained in a Swiss lock box, their commonality. Their forefather wrote the book on how to win holy wars that really count. Not King David, the warrior, but rather, Abraham, the first of the free traders, with whom Jews and Arabs share everything in common.

One day Clinton and Barak may want to take a trip to Sde Boker in the Negev Desert and visit a no-frills library. Once briefed on the legacy of Ben Gurion who envisioned an undivided Jerusalem they can then set forth and promote the whole world as one holy place, not just Jerusalem. Both former leaders may also be encouraged by the time they have inhaled the crisp unpolluted air that blows off the desert to speak to the youth about the lessons they’ve learned since leaving office; that the right call-to-arms is to reward those who stimulate competitive business practices.

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