JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan to withdraw from most of the West Bank is against the interests of America’s war on terrorism, will prompt a rocket war against major Israeli cities, and will result in Christians and Jews being barred from key West Bank holy sites, warned popular radio host Rusty Humphries.
Humphries just returned from a week-long trip to Israel where he met with terror leaders from Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, interviewed former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and toured several West Bank Jewish communities slated for evacuation.
“I thought the civilized world learned its lesson about appeasement from Hitler, but clearly we haven’t,” said Humphries, speaking to WND from his home in Florida outside Disney World.
Humphries interviewing Hamas leader Mohammad Abu Tir.
“The terrorists attacked. Israel retreated and gave them the Gaza Strip. Now Hamas has been propelled to power promising to get the Palestinians the West Bank. Rockets are being launched almost daily from Gaza, which has become a terror sanctuary for even America’s enemies, including al-Qaida, according to many reports. Attacks are being stepped up in the West Bank, and in response Israel is planning to retreat next from there.”
Continued Humphries: “The message being sent loud and clear is that terrorism works. I’ve talked with the terrorists. They tell me they won’t stop until they get Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and all of Israel. And you know what? I believe them. Why should they stop when Israel responds by giving them more territory?”
Olmert’s Kadima Party won last month’s parliamentary elections here. The new prime minister has announced he aims to complete his West Bank withdrawal plan before President Bush leaves office in 2009.
The West Bank borders most major Israeli cities and is within rocket firing range of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.
“Originally, I didn’t have a dog in the fight,” explained Humphries. “I am not Jewish or Muslim. I just wanted to figure out the problems and see if there could be a peaceful solution. So I studied the history and read the news and listened to what the politicians on both sides had to say.
“The Israelis believe if they give up land they will get peace. But listen to the tone of the Palestinian media, education system, leadership and the terrorists. They say the withdrawal from Gaza hasn’t made a bit of a difference to them except that it whet their appetites for more. All they care about is the destruction of the Jewish state. They wont be satisfied until that happens,” said Humphries.
Humphries predicted Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank will lead to a massive escalation in terrorism.
“The West Bank borders and is above many major Israeli cities. When Israel gets out, the rockets will start flying into Jerusalem, and the violence will get out of hand because the terrorists will believe their tactics got them Gaza and the West Bank so why not Jerusalem and the rest of Israel.”
The radio host said he is worried the withdrawal will damage the U.S.-led war against terror:
“I am afraid not just about Israel but also about the rest of Western world. Terrorists all over will take notice. They will see a democratic country retreating in the face of terrorism and it will teach them that terrorism works. It will motivate the terrorists to use the same tactics in other places – that if just the right amount of terrorism is applied in Iraq and Afghanistan and eventually worldwide it will cause the West to retreat.”
“The Rusty Humphries Show,” live from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern, is featured on more than 230 radio stations nationwide, including WDBO in Orlando, WCBM in Baltimore, KSFO in San Francisco, KOKC in Oklahoma City, WNIS in Norfolk, KHBZ in Honolulu and KVI in Seattle.
Humphries last week interviewed Mohammad Abu Tir, the No. 2 Hamas leader in the newly formed Palestinian Authority government. He also met in Bethlehem with gun-toting leaders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, currently the most active Palestinian terror group.
He toured a series of West Bank Jewish communities and conducted an interview in Israel’s Knesset with former Prime Minister Peres, an architect of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords and a leading Kadima strategist.
Peres told Humprhies the West Bank withdrawal was necessary “because Israel cannot continue to govern another people. The Palestinians need a state.”
“I feel sorry for the man,” said Humphries, referring to Peres. “His policies are not thought out long term militarily or diplomatically. You don’t cede strategic territory bordering your major cities to an enemy sworn to your destruction. The only emotion I have toward Peres is sadness, because once he gives up the West Bank it will lead to Jerusalem and the rest of Israel.”
About 200,000 Jews live in the West Bank. A separation barrier, still under construction in certain areas, cordons off nearly 95 percent of the territory from Israel’s pre-1967 borders. More than half the West Bank’s Jewish residents reside on the side of the fence closest to Israel. About 80,000 more Jews live on the other side of the barrier. Olmert officials have stated the past few weeks the acting prime minister plans to enforce a withdrawal from all 68 Jewish towns that fall outside the barrier.
Many villages in the West Bank, which Israelis commonly refer to as the “biblical heartland,” are mentioned throughout the Torah, including areas now slated for evacuation under Olmert’s plan.
The book of Genesis says Abraham entered Israel at Shechem (Nablus) and received God’s promise of land for his offspring. He later was buried in the West Bank town of Hebron, home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, considered the second holiest site to Judaism.
The nearby town of Beit El, anciently called Bethel meaning “house of God,” is where Scripture says the patriarch Jacob slept on a stone pillow and dreamed of angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. In that dream, God spoke directly to Jacob and reaffirmed the promise of territory.
And in Exodus, the holy tabernacle rested in Shiloh, believed to be the first area the ancient Israelites settled after fleeing Egypt.
Commented Humphries: “Even for people who don’t think Jews should have a homeland, every religious Christian out there needs to be concerned that Israel is giving these communities – which contain holy sites – to the Palestinians. The one thing I have seen is that when Jews are in control of Christian sites, I as a Christian can go and visit. But when Muslims have control I am either not allowed or am greatly restricted. Either Muslims have to give up their selfish attitude or they cannot be given any authority over other religions’ holy sites.”
Humprhies pointed to restrictions placed by the current Muslim custodians of the Temple Mount, which bar Jewish and Christian visitors to the holy site during most hours of the day and during all Christian, Muslim and Jewish holidays. Non-Muslims are also bared from praying aloud on the Mount and cannot bring holy objects to the site.
Humphries also referenced what he called the “sad history” of Palestinians taking over West Bank holy areas.
In October 2000, after Israeli troops evacuated the city of Nablus as a peacemaking gesture, scores of Palestinians stormed into the Joseph’s Tomb compound and destroyed the site believed to be the burial place of the biblical patriarch Joseph – the son of Jacob who was sold by his brothers into slavery and later became the viceroy of Egypt.
Within hours of the Israeli withdrawal, smoke was seen billowing from the tomb as a Muslim crowd burned Jewish prayer books and other holy objects. Palestinians used pickaxes, hammers and later bulldozers to tear apart the stone building. The dome of the tomb was painted green, and a mosque was subsequently erected in its place.
Said Humphries: “The withdrawal on all levels is just disastrous. The Palestinians and the Arab world only understand strength and power. When Israel is strong it is respected. But when it is weak and it retreats its enemies will smell fear and they will pounce.”