DO THEY REALLY KNOW?
By Boris Shusteff
On December 1 the New York Post columnist Sidney Zion wrote that the behavior of the Israeli Jews "may support the notion that Israel is the only nation in history to mass produce dumb Jews." Maybe this is the reason why the Israeli leaders have completely reversed their attitude towards their mortal enemies while their enemies' attitude hasn't changed.
On August 5, 1981 Israel's Government under Prime Minister Menachem Begin declared in its Fundamental Policy Guidelines:
"Under no conditions will a Palestinian state emerge in the territory of western 'Eretz Yisrael.' At the end of the transition period, set down in the Camp David agreements, Israel will raise its claim, and act to realize its rights over sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Settlement in the land of Israel is a right and integral part of the nation's security"(1).
Less than 20 years later, on November 30, 2000 Ehud Barak, another Israeli Prime Minister, announced that he is ready to recognize a Palestinian state in western Eretz Yisrael. The Israeli leader has not yet agreed to surrender ALL the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha). However, the Arabs have no doubt that this will eventually happen. Witnessing how Israel gives up one principle after another they know what to expect in the future.
They knew it already in February 1978, when Dr. Mahjub, one of Fatah's ideologues, gave a lecture to the Fatah leaders stressing that "the PLO must stick to its principles unwaveringly. No pragmatic concessions must be made, he said; no adaptation in the name of realism (2)." Today's proponents of "peaceful coexistence" with the PLO, who cannot understand how it is possible that Arafat rejected an extremely generous proposal from Barak, should go back to 1978 and listen to Dr. Mahjub. He said,
There is a clear example from our own experience Political powers within the Zionist camp have changed some of their positions to the point of admitting overly the existence of a 'Palestinian people.'
Moreover, some even recognize the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state alongside the continuation of the Zionist entity 'Israel.' Naturally, such a shift from an attitude of completely ignoring the Palestinian problem and people to another attitude, supportive of... the Palestinian revolution, such a shift is slow though growing all the time"(1).
Since Dr. Mahjub delivered his lecture the "attitude supportive of the Palestinian revolution" has grown in the Israeli peace camp to catastrophic proportions. The "peaceniks" decided that they must be the builders of the "bright Palestinian future." Therefore, when Arafat rejected Barak's Camp David's offer, they were aghast and unable to comprehend reality. On November 1 Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami admitted in a television interview with Jim Lehrer, "To some of us it means the collapse of the work of a lifetime. The peace camp in Israel is shattered to pieces. Those who believe that generosity, flexibility, the creation of the Palestinian state, what is due to the Palestinians, because the Arab world, when they occupied these territories, never gave to the Palestinians any rights, let alone self-determination[sic]" (3).
The Israeli "peace camp" wanted only one thing in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state. They naively believed that the Arabs would accept them. They were unable to understand that Arafat and the other PLO leaders never planned to "recognize the Zionist entity in one way or another, on the pretext of being practical, or realistic, or pragmatic, or seizing the opportunity" (1). They could not comprehend that "even a mere tendency towards such recognition of the 'right' of the Zionist enemy 'to exist' on the Palestinian land means not only giving up the land, but giving up the Palestinian identity" (1).
Almost at the same time that Menachem Begin's government stated that "under no conditions will a Palestinian state emerge in the territory of western 'Eretz Yisrael'" Crown Prince Fahd, who later became the King of Saudi Arabia, in a statement that became known as the "Fahd plan," demanded, among other things "First, that Israel should withdraw from all Arab territory occupied in1967, including Arab Jerusalem. Second, the Israeli settlements built on Arab land after 1967 should be dismantled. ...Fourth, an affirmation of the right of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and to compensate those who do not wish to return. ...Sixth, that an independent Palestinian state should be set up with Jerusalem as its capital" (1).
While Begin's "under no conditions" has, in less than 20 years, transformed into Barak's readiness to recognize a second Palestinian state, the Arabs have not moved an inch from the "Fahd plan." This is why they were absolutely unimpressed with Barak's offers at Camp David. This is why Arafat will never agree to return to the point at which Barak interrupted his concessions. On November 2 Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States, explained in Washington,
It is obviously not going to be enough to go and put on the table exactly what was put on the table at Camp David. It was put on the table by the Israeli side with a feeling that they had gone far beyond what any other Israeli government had done; and it was rejected by the Palestinian side as being grossly insufficient and not responsive to their legitimate rights or their concerns. Now, it obviously was not enough. ...And if peace is our objective, Israel will have to put on the table more than what it had put at Camp David (4).
The Arabs make no secret of what this "more" should be. These are the same old elements of the "Fahd plan." Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and the Palestinian Authority's minister of local government, gave a brief summary of these requests: "Israel must carry out a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, including East Jerusalem, and acknowledge that Palestinian refugees have the right of return" (5).
Another PA Minister, Minister of Refugee Affairs As'ad Al-Rahman reiterated the same demands in even stronger terms. On November 22, he wrote in the PA newspaper "Al-Quds,"
"The danger is not, as some believe, in allowing the Intifada to continue, but rather in stopping it without any accomplishments or appropriate political guarantees that satisfy the national Palestinian and Arab Minimum Plan: the Right of Return; self-determination on all lands of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital" (6).
Even if one disregards the fact that Al-Rahman placed the "Right of Return" as the first priority, one should note that the PA Minister speaks about the MINIMUM plan. In order to learn what a more extended plan will imply we should become familiar with a debate hosted on November 17 by "Al-Jazeera," the Qatar-based Arabic TV news channel. One of the debaters, PA Minister Abd Rabbo, was very diplomatic when he said:
"There is almost a consensus among Palestinians that the direct goal is to reach the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the June 4, 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital,... regarding to the future after that, it is best to leave the issue aside and not to discuss it"(7).
However, Musa Abu Marzuq, one of the other debaters and deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, was more explicit when he said , "it is clear that if a state is established within the 1967 borders, these will not be its final borders. We must further aspire for borders that will include Palestine in its entirety"(7).
If Israelis want to know what the "entirety of Palestine is" they should tune in to the November 29 Special Broadcast on official PA TV when Dr. Jareer Al-Kidwah, Arafat's Education Advisor, gave a description of Arab Palestine. "I want to say that our Palestine [is] from Metulla [Israel's northernmost city] to Rafiah [Southern border] and to Aqaba [Israel's southernmost point], from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea; whether they want it or not"(8).
All those Israeli "peace seekers" who still believe in "separation" with the Arabs through abandoning Yesha, hoping thus to preserve the "Jewish character of the state" are well-advised to pay attention to Abd Rabbo's satement during the November 17 debates. When asked whether Israel would still be the state of the Jews after the establishment of a Palestinian state, he said that "every attempt to establish a racist state in the region has failed in the past and will fail in the future."
Bilal Al-Hassan, another participant in the debates, who is an analyst with the London-based daily "Al-Hayat" elaborated on the issue of the Jewish state, explaining why the idea of a Jewish state is unrealistic.
"Since the first day of its existence, Israel wanted to become the state of the Jews... but it has failed because of the Palestinian Arabs in its midst. Today, one fifth of Israelis are not Jews. The goal of a Jewish state is not realistic, and if Israel adheres to it, it will become a racist state, in the literal sense of the word. Israel must choose between becoming a state of its citizens or a racist state. To choose a Jewish state is to choose a racist state, which means that we will have to fight Israel as if we were fighting a racist state like South Africa" (7).
While the Arabs are more and more vocal about their plans, the Jews remain in a state of a blissful ignorance. A November 29 Gallup poll conducted in Israel clearly demonstrated this. "Imagine that a cease fire will be reached and Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat reach an agreement for a permanent arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians and there was a national referendum in Israel. From what you heard or know up until now, would you vote for or against it in a national referendum?" In the response to this question 59% said that they would lean to vote for it (9). Asked if they will support "reaching an interim agreement with the Palestinians that includes setting the territory of the Palestinian state, its borders and security arrangements with it, but not including Jerusalem and the right of return, that will be postponed to a later period" 52% said that they will support it (9).
Since the Arab leaders are not hiding their views and openly declare all their plans, an objective observer looking at the results of these polls can only come to the conclusion that Sidney Zion was right about the mental status of Israeli Jews. Though there may be one more explanation of the results. Perhaps the Israeli public is absolutely unaware of the plans of their "peace partners," since the Israeli media and Israeli officials try to suppress the real intentions of the Arabs. Do the Israelis really know what is at stake? If they do not, then the crime that the Israeli leaders are committing against their own people is unforgivable. 12/03/00
1. Walter Laquer and Barry Rubin, editors. The Israel-Arab Reader: A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict. Penguin Books, 1995.
2. Jillian Becker. The PLO. St. Martin's Press, New York, 984.
3. News-hour with Jim Lehrer. Interview with Israeli Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami. Interviewer: Ray Suarez. November 1, 2000.
4. Remarks by Egyptian Ambassador to the United States Nabil Fahmy at
the Federal City Club Luncheon. Topic: The Middle East Peace Process. Location: The Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C. Time: 1:00 P.M., November 2, 2000.
5. Saeb Erakat . "What We Want." Washington Post. 11/09/00
6. The Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI), 11/30/00
7. The Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI), 11/22/00
8. Palestinian Media Watch, December 3, 2000.
9. Ma'ariv 1 December 2000. Gallup Poll Wednesday 29 November, 2000.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.