WHO ARE WE DECEIVING?
by Boris Shusteff
In just ten days we will learn the results of the latest Israeli elections. The short election campaign has been marred with non-stop corruption scandals and only a few people noticed that no real political debates have taken place in the last three months. The gigantic red flag of "the Palestinian state," to which Nadav Shragai finally pointed on January 13 in an excellent article in Ha'aretz, remained unnoticed in the brouhaha of mutual incrimination that politicians poured on each other's head trying to convince frustrated Israelis to vote for this or that party. The real issue - the sword of Damocles of an Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) - instead of being at the forefront of all discussions, was artfully swept under the carpet. As Shragai puts it
"Anyone who labels 'the Palestinian state' as the terminus in the permanent status agreement, and lines up with the United States and Europe on such a key issue, knows very well that the Palestinian state cannot remain mere lip service, or a means of dragging the conflict out endlessly - no matter how stringent the conditions set forth by Sharon for its establishment are."
It does not matter today whether Ariel Sharon's or George Bush's commitment to this surrogate state-to-be is greater. They have both agreed to send Israel on a suicidal journey toward the creation of another Arab state on primordial Jewish land, with Israel becoming America's hostage. Sharon confirmed this when he said in his speech on January 15 at the Weizmann Institute,
"We have arrived at an agreed-upon plan with the United States, and once we deviate from it, the United States will also deviate from it, despite the great efforts invested in a long and difficult negotiation process. My seven visits to Washington during the last eighteen months have not been easy, and they have certainly not been in vain."
It appears that Sharon's constant refrain that "the President's [Bush] peace plan is a reasonable, realistic and feasible one" has become so engraved in people's minds that they have lost the ability to think critically. They are apparently unable to notice that Sharon's approach can never lead to a decisive victory. To the contrary, by following along the road of self-destruction towards a "Palestinian state" in Yesha, Israel will continue counting dead and wounded citizens and will never know a day of respite. Nothing explains this better than the complete incompatibility of Sharon's strategy with the vision of the Arab world. On January 18 in the interview with Newsweek the Israeli prime minister said that he is "ready to recognize a fully demilitarized Palestinian state without final borders-having only police equipped with light weapons. Israel will control the external borders and will have the right to fly over the territory." Since he made similar statements many times it is clear that his declaration is not a pre-election ploy and he really considers a semi-independent, demilitarized, surrogate Arab state on 42% of Yesha, stripped of any military capabilities, with the "complete cessation of incitement and the nurturing of an education system that teaches the values of peace and coexistence." Sharon's program cannot be farther removed from the Arab position on this issue. It was presented almost simultaneously by Saeb Erekat and Amr Mousa, Arab League Secretary General (ALSG). Erekat was quoted on January 4 by Palestine Media Center. He stressed that,
"The shortest path to peace and security is the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, withdrawal from the territories Israel occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and solving the Palestinian refugees' issue according to UN resolution 194."
Two days earlier, the ALSG "reiterated the Arab League's full support for the Palestinian just struggle till the restoration of all their rights including the establishment of their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital." In a statement to the Egyptian daily "Al-Akhbar" Mousa affirmed that,
"The Arab peace initiative and the international legitimacy resolutions, which call for complete Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories till June 4th 1967 line, are the base for any movement aiming at realizing a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Arabs would not sign any final peace with Israel prior to the liberation of every inch of the occupied land."
Let us pause for a moment. Whom are we deceiving? How in the world can a sane person think that it is possible to reconcile two absolutely irreconcilable positions? This is not a kindergarten. And we are not trying to resolve an argument between two three-year-old children who cannot share a toy and whose problems can be resolved in a second by distracting one or the other child. We are talking about irreconcilable ideologies. The Arabs are not going to change their position. They have proven this by stubbornly sticking to it for over thirty six years. No brainstorming can produce even a SINGLE example of Arab flexibility since the day of their defeat in the Six Day War. But during all this time there was a party that has been constantly blinking. The Jews have conceded a lot of their previous red lines. They have behaved like a rabbit that slowly moves towards the boa-constrictor, hypnotized by it. The only thing that Sharon can achieve through his plan is a slowing of the rabbit's movement. However, he will never change the Arab position. In the best case scenario, Arab enmity and hatred will be tamed for several years, but will eventually again explode when Israelis are ready for another round of concessions. Does this mean that Mitzna's stand on unilateral withdrawal from the majority of Yesha lands or the Beilin/Sarid push for full and complete withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders have any merit? Certainly not. Mohammad Haikal explained the fruitlessness of these sorts of Israeli "peace moves" in an editorial in Al'Ahram as early as February 25, 1971, when he candidly wrote that,
"There are only two well-defined goals on the Arab scene: erasing the traces of the 1967 aggression by the Israel's withdrawal from all areas occupied by it in that year and erasing the aggression of 1948 by Israel's total and absolute annihilation. This is not really a well defined goal, but an oversimplified one; and the mistake of some of us is starting off with the last step before beginning the first."
It should be obvious to any student of elementary logic that by voluntarily embarking on the "first step," (following Mitzna/Beilin/Sarid) Israel will make it much easier for the Arabs to take the "last step." However, it is still possible to see a light at the end of the tunnel. In the tumult of the empty Israeli pre-election rhetoric almost no one noticed a uniquely sane pronouncement by Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who said on January 4 in a short radio interview: "I don't see a solution to the problem of terrorism coming from the left nor the right. We need a new strategy. The time has come to examine whether Israel is heading in the right direction." It does not matter if Katsav himself knows what this new direction might be, but by his statement he has inadvertently unveiled the important truth. The road that Israel has been following for fifty four years can bring it only to disaster. The only way to stop the approaching catastrophe of total capitulation and demise is through adopting a Jewish national strategy. This strategy is offered by the united Herut-Yamin Yisrael party. The first ideological principles of its platform state:
"Eretz Yisrael is the eternal, God-given patrimony of the Jewish People. The right of the Jews to settle in all of this land is absolute. Therefore, the Oslo Agreement is null and void and must be explicitly abrogated. Israel's essence as a Jewish State must be the State's paramount principle."
No other Israeli party has so proudly and explicitly announced its Jewish nature, and so clearly said "NO" to an Arab sate on the Jewish land. And now it is up to the Israeli Jews to prove that their Jewish spirit and pride is still alive. They should disregard all the whispers that sow the seeds of doubt in their hearts, by warning them not to waste their votes since Herut has only a marginal chance of making it into the Knesset. The truth is that Herut needs only 50,000 votes to pass the threshold and win two seats. And if it is impossible to find 50,000 Jews in Israel who believe in Israel's essence as a Jewish state, then perhaps the Jews do not deserve to have a state after all.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.