The closer Israel comes to her fiftieth's anniversary the more she dilutes her Zionist nature. Recent statements by leading Likud politicians, people who were always considered to be the pillars of Zionist ideology, make this tendency even more gruesome. One cannot betray the ideology without paying an impossible price for it. It is tantamount to Faust's selling his soul to the devil. The major difference is that Faust was supposed to unilaterally bear the consequences of his deal, while here the downfall of the "pillars" will bring the destruction of the whole Temple.
It is like rust. It appears first in one spot, then in another, then it spreads and covers a bigger surface. It penetrates into the solid metallic body and does its ruinous invisible work until, suddenly, the metal, seemingly strong, crumbles to dust.
In his book The PLO, Jullian Becker quotes one of the PLO ideologists, Dr. Mahjub who stated that if "the PLO aims and reality do not accord with each other, then it is reality which must be changed." He further said the following: "If 'politics is the art of possible' in everyday practice, then the revolution is the art of making the necessary possible. ...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 overtly 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...is slow though growing all the time. We...expect through a long struggle to strengthen that tendency."
Dr. Mahjub was very frank explaining what he meant by the word "struggle." It was an "armed struggle" and this "armed fight" was the "only means for the liberation." He elaborated that it is "really unthinkable that we accept ... the demand to recognize the Zionist entity in one way or another, on the pretext of being practical, or realistic, or pragmatic, or seizing the opportunity. Even a mere tendency towards such a 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."
In the former Soviet Union there was a joke, that, before the revolution the Czar left the country on the brink of a gigantic abyss, and that during the Soviet regime the country made a big step forward. Unfortunately this joke very appropriately describes Israel's situation. In February 1978, when Dr. Mahjub was instructing his listeners, only the "terminally ill" leftist were preaching the creation of a second Palestinian state. Twenty years later the virus of defeatism had stricken the nationalist camp. Likud coalition head Meir Sheetrit declared "that it would be better if a Palestinian state were to be created while the Likud is in power, than under a Labor government." Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon said that to his regret "the defining of a Palestinian state is a fact" and that "in the near future the Palestinians will declare an independent state and the world will recognize it."
With regard to "proclamation" and "recognition" of the Palestinian state it makes sense to recall that these events had already taken place on November 15, 1988 when the State of Palestine was proclaimed by the Palestine National Council and was immediately "acknowledged" by the United Nations. This "paper" state is destined to remain on paper as long as Israel does not create conditions allowing it to increase its foothold on the lands of Judea and Samaria. It will not exist, no matter how many countries recognize it, if it does not have land.
On November 15, 1997 the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported that "the Governor of the municipalities of Ramallah and Al-Bira, Mustafa 'Isa, said in a speech on behalf of Arafat delivered at the Al-Saraj Stadium: '...The Palestinian national independence...started with the first bullet [fired] in 1965. ... The 15th of November is not the true birth date of [our] independence and the declaration of the state. The true date is every minute and second in which a drop of blood of a martyr [Shahid] or of a wounded was spilled."
General Muhammad Yusef 'Amru Al-'Amla, President Arafat's National Security Advisor, wrote on the same day in the Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, "we swear to our martyrs... to continue the struggle for the removal of the hated forces of occupation from the soil of this homeland." Decoding the above statements of the Palestinian leaders one can see that Ariel Sharon was wrong when he said that Palestinians "will declare their state." They have already declared it countless times with every suicide bombing attack, with every anti-Jewish riot when the "blood of a martyr or of a wounded was spilled," and they are going to keep "declaring" it with each future murderous attack.
Both Sheetrit and Sharon were very well aware that the creation of another Palestinian state could lead eventually to Israel's demise. So why did they make these statements? Apparently there is an opinion among some in the Nationalist camp that if a second Palestinian state were created it would immediately start guerrilla warfare and Israel, under Likud, would defeat it and re-enter the relinquished territories. As MK Rehavam Ze'evi said, on November 26, 1997, in an interview with IMRA, "If I knew that this was a government I could rely on then I would pray for guerrilla warfare. We give them the wherewithal and then we say: look guys, we tried but it doesn't work. Oslo is void - you voided Oslo."
Even if this opinion is valid, statements by the Likud leaders that show acceptance of the creation of the second Palestinian state are absolutely inadmissible. The price of the "word" is extremely high in the Middle East. Every retreat in "words" transforms into a retreat on the ground. The best proof is the issue of Jerusalem. No Israeli government, before the Oslo agreement, entertained any thought of any arrangements on Jerusalem. A consensus existed that Jerusalem was the united and undivided capital of the Jewish state. All public opinion polls showed overwhelming support for this position. PLO leaders only occasionally mentioned Jerusalem in their appeals while the world media was not interested in the issue at all.
The situation drastically changed after Jerusalem was placed on the negotiation table as a result of the suicidal Oslo agreement. Now every single statement by the Palestinian Arabs' political and religious leaders mentions Jerusalem as a "capital of a future Palestinian state." The world media parrots Arab propaganda and, in every piece of news, related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, reminds the public that the Palestinian Arabs "want Jerusalem as their capital." The worst thing is that the Israelis themselves have lost their confidence. The Maariv poll on October 8, 1997 showed that, for the first time in Israel's history, more than 50% of Israelis were ready to give away at least a part of the eternal Jewish capital (30% were willing to transfer parts of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty, while 21% were willing to share sovereignty in East Jerusalem).
The establishment of any precedent in the Arab-Israeli conflict is fraught with serious consequences. Israel withdrew from Sinai; the Arabs interpreted the move as an indication that the Jewish state would withdraw from all "occupied territories." Israel evacuated Yamit; the Arabs expected "all Jewish settlers to be removed" from Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Israel permitted the reunification of Palestinian policemen's families; the Arabs immediately envisioned millions of "refugees returning to their homes."
Every Israeli retreat creates the perception that another will follow very quickly. Not only the Arabs but Americans, Europeans, Russians everybody expects that Israel will give up more and more. When Netanyahu proposes to abandon 6-8% of the territory he lets the genie out of the lamp. Now all the world and the Arabs know that Israel is giving up the territory, that Israel does not need it, that she retreats. The Arabs do not accept these lands right away only because they want MORE! They are absolutely sure that there will be another and another retreat. They already picture that after Judea and Samaria, Jaffa and Haifa will follow.
Sixty years ago during the polemics on the partition of Eretz Israel, Zeev Jabotinsky stressed the danger that lies in the minute concessions. In his speech for the Jewish population of Eretz Israel, recorded on the tape, he said: "Do not say that it is not important if we orally or on a scratch of paper renounce our claim to Hebron, Shem and Transjordan. Do not say that this rejection is only empty words, and everybody will understand this. Do not underestimate the power of rejection! Do you remember the miracle that happened twenty years ago, when the people of the world recognized our right to Eretz Israel? They did not even know, then, that we are interested in this country. They only knew that for two thousand years we never ever renounced our claim, and that settled it."
Today's tendency among Israeli leaders to renounce the rights to more and more parts of Eretz Israel, even if they hope to eventually get them back, is extremely dangerous. Equally dangerous are statements like one that Sharon made on December 1, 1997 on Channel 2, when he said: "We can't hide our head in the sand.... In the wake of the Oslo Accords, a Palestinian state is coming into existence. We should see this soberly and take the necessary steps to ensure the dangers [to Israel] from the establishment of such a state will be minimal."
The Arab propaganda will extract from these statements what it needed, i.e. that Israel is ready to accept the establishment of another Palestinian state, and that it is ready to cede lands to this state. The Arabs will interpret this as another huge crack in the Zionist ideology. It is a great argument to present to the world community -- "Even the hawk Sharon agrees that we must have a state." All previous scrupulous work that Israel did in the world arena, fostering the position that a Palestinian state -- Jordan -- already exists, becomes useless. That means that all other Israeli positions, such as on Jerusalem, refugees, approach loose credibility also.
Sharon is right. The continuation of the Oslo process will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He is wrong when he thinks that the "dangers from the establishment of such a state can be minimized." Douglas J. Feith, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration, wrote in the September, 1997 issue of Commentary: "A state would give them [Palestinian Arabs] a much greater capacity than they now have to facilitate terrorism against Israel, conduct anti-Israel diplomacy, assist or join enemy armed forces in the event of war, and destabilize local states (such as Jordan) that cooperate with Israel." A state will simply help the PLO to continue its war against Israel until the Jewish state is replaced with Falastyn. As the PA Legislative Council member Sa'adi Al-Karnaz said on December 2, 1997. in an interview on Palestinian television, "Our war with Israel and the Jews has not ended and will not end until the establishment of a Palestinian state on the entire land of Palestine."
The only way to prevent the establishment of a second Palestinian state is to abrogate the Oslo agreement. There will be no second Palestinian state if there is no continuation of the Oslo process. There will be no second Palestinian state if no more land is ceded to Arafat and his murderous gang. Sharon is right. It is extremely dangerous to hide one's head in the sand. Only when one's head is out of the sand it is wise to open the eyes and to clean out the ears. Then one will see the mortal dangers of the Oslo process and will hear the calls for Jihad that sound louder and louder each day. [12/4/97]
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.