The Golan Heights

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By Bernard J. Shapiro

The Meretz/Labor government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres works vigorously to rid Israel of the burden of the Golan Heights. You may be sure that they are likely to succeed unless a powerful countervailing force can be created to oppose them. In exchange for a piece of paper signed by Syrian dictator Hafez Assad, Peres is willing to relinquish the following:

  1. 35-40% of Israelis scarce water resources Agriculture Minister Ya'acov Tzur said that water sources on the Golan Heights were of "vital importance" to the future of the State. "The water coming from the Golan to the Lake Kinneret catchment area is between 200 million and 300 million cubic meters [per year]," he said. "This is a critical, vital and even fateful matter in terms of the future of the State. I have to say that I'm not aware of any replacement for this water." [The Jerusalem Post December 27]
  2. The electronic surveillance/intelligence outpost on Mount Hermon No amount of techno-wizardry can replace fixed mountaintop installations with line of sight radar and electronic surveillance. All talk about third-party intelligence, AWACS, or even balloons is absurd. Israel has the best possible intelligence now. Why destroy it and then search for an inferior crutch to replace a healthy system.
  3. Forward Israel Defense Force positions within artillery range of Damascus It is this military position that keeps the Syrians from starting a war. Once the IDF is removed by a pseudo "peace" the probability of WAR increases.
  4. Defensive positions along a ridge line of mountains on the Golan that allow a small force to hold off a large invasion force while the necessary mobilization takes place.
  5. The right of some 14,000 Israelis to stay in their homes and businesses This represents acceptance of the idea of ethnic cleansing as a legitimate tool of government.
  6. The Golan is legitimate territory of the State of Israel annexed by the Knesset n 1981. Not only does Israel have a legal claim as a victim of aggression from Syria, but historically the Golan was always considered a part of the Land of Israel, even in Biblical times. The Golan was a part of the original League of Nations Mandate at the San Remo Conference in 1920 to Great Britain, for the purpose of establishing the Jewish National Home. In 1921, The British gave Eastern Palestine to Emir Abdullah, who named it Transjordan. Then in 1923, they gave the Golan to the French to become part of the French Mandate of Syria. In both cases, the intent of the League of Nations was violated and the area of the future Jewish state was diminished. Going back even farther, one finds reference to the Golan as an Israelite territory in the Holy Scriptures (Deut. 4:43; Josh. 20:8; I Chron. 5:56). Israeli archaeologists have also found numerous ancient synagogues on the Golan.
  7. And finally in the words of the late Yitzhak Rabin: "Whosoever gives up the Golan Heights, abandons the security of the State of Israel."

The time has come to clear the smoke and mirrors. There is a significant Israeli dilemma in the negotiating framework with Syria. I call this dilemma: the "Mubarak gambit." After Egyptian dictator Anwar Sadat's death, his successor Hosni Mubarak discovered that Egypt could ignore its peace treaty obligations to Israel with impunity. Sadat had signed over 50 agreements and amendments to the Camp David Accords, which spelled out in great detail normalization of relations with Israel. These included trade, tourism, science, cultural and other attributes of peaceful relations. The late Menachem Begin, of blessed memory, fully believed that his sacrifice of Sinai, with its air bases and oil, was worth the inauguration of peaceful relations with the most important country in the Arab world.

With every passing year, it became clearer to Mubarak that the Israelis were too timid to protest Egyptian violations. It also became clear that America would continue to supply aid in the billions of dollars to Egypt, despite Egypt's obvious violations of their most solemn commitments to both President Jimmy Carter and Begin.

From this experience Mubarak devised the "Mubarak gambit," which sets out the principle that an Arab country can promise Israel peace and full normalization as a negotiating tactic in order to force an Israeli withdrawal from territory. Then after the territory is recovered, the Arab country can ignore the normalization part of any agreement.

It is such a painless gambit, one would have thought that all of Israel's neighbors would have rushed to use it. In the Arab world, however, symbolism is very important and it took many years before they were ready to use this tactic. Mubarak, first convinced terrorist leader, Yassir Arafat, to try out the "Mubarak gambit." We all know what has happened, including the famous handshake on September 13, 1993. We also know that all of Arafat's promises to the Israelis, including revising the PLO Charter and stopping violence, have not been honored.

Now, after much tutoring, Assad has learned the principle. It has been with great difficulty that he even speaks about peace with Israel. While he is never very clear about his meaning of peace, one thing was clear: he has learned to use the "Mubarak gambit." We will be hearing a lot from him and State Department officials about how he has changed and now "really" wants peace. Don't believe it.

There are many reasons to oppose a negotiated "peace" with Assad. One of the more obvious is the fact that he is a sociopathic paranoid personality, who kills, with no remorse, all opponents to his regime. Israeli pow's who have fallen into his hands have been tortured to "vegetable status." Many of the Israelis captured by his force during the Yom Kippur War were horribly mutilated (genitals cut off and stuffed in their mouths) before being killed. While supposedly helping the allied effort during the Persian Gulf War, Syria completed the brutal occupation of Lebanon. Some 600 Christian pow's, tied and gagged, were executed at his order. Assad personally ordered the murder of 20,000 Syrians in the village of Hama because some of his enemies were hiding there. And finally, It was Assad who facilitated the bombing of the American base in Lebanon, killing hundreds of our young soldiers.

One could mention many other reasons not to put your faith in a "peace" with Assad. For example: (a) his support for international terrorism (b) his role in the international drug trade and (c) his widespread counterfeiting of U.S currency (which has done damage to the American economy). Since Syria is ruled by a one-man dictatorship, who can guarantee that any commitments made by Assad would be kept by a successor. Of course, we must also understand that Assad has never kept his own treaty obligations either.

There are some Israelis who believe that a peace agreement with Assad would bring about a Messianic Age in the Middle East. They also believed that a deal with PLO terrorist Yasir Arafat would bring "peace." The rising stack of dead Jews would seem to disprove the proposition that lions are indeed lying down with lambs.

Israelis need not behave like lemmings. Why the rush to suicide?

Bernard J. Shapiro, Editor

The Golan and the Real Middle East

Contrary to Prime Minister Peres' position, Israel's C-O-S, General Shahak, testified at the Knesset's Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs (Haaretz, 12.27.95), referring to the Golan: "Territory is significantly important at wartime during the era of advanced weaponry."Some may claim that signing an agreement with Syria would end Israel's wars with its neighbors, and would therefore justify a withdrawal from the Golan. However, unlike agreements concluded in the stable, democratic, relatively peaceful Western world, the nature and duration of agreements signed in the Mideast should be assessed against the reality of inter-Arab unpredictability, inconsistency, instability, volatility, violence and violation of agreements, which still dominate inter-Arab politics.

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