By Dr. Steven Plaut

Shortly after the 1967 war, the anti­Semites of the world discovered a new formula for making peace in the Middle East. The formula was very simple: Israel would be asked to place its neck in an Arab hangman's noose and in exchange for this goodwill gesture, the Arabs would promise not to pull the rope. Do­gooders around the world would assure both sides that the formula would work. The Arabs would be reassured by Israel's good behavior. Once reassured, they would have no need for any rope pulling and peace would break out.

The rope in question was a return to the 1949 borders, which Abba Eban once called "Auschwitz borders". The "territories" would be rearmed, Arab armies would return to the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where they had stood on June 4, 1967.

When Israel refused the offer, the anti­Semites had "proof" that Israel was the obstacle to peace. By refusing the reasonable offer, by refusing to place her neck in the noose, Israel was demonstrating irrational obstinacy. Indeed, the refusal was testament to the militarism and war­mongering aggressive nature of Israeli society. Peace was just around the corner if the Jews would agree to the noose arrangement, but they were preventing peace out of racism and cussedness.

The Israeli Left at first was as obstinate in rejecting the noose offer as were all others. True they might consider nooses under special circumstances that the Arabs were not offering, such as reinforced concrete or steel beams that could prevent ­ they believed ­ the noose from being pulled. But as long as the Arabs and their apologists were offering an ordinary noose with no constraints on its pullability, then it was no deal. After all, when the Israeli neck had been in the noose before 1967 this did not produce peace and the Arabs had repeatedly tried to pull the rope. Why should they not try again?

But over time, attitudes changed. The Israeli far Left and then the Labor Party slowly rejected the old refusals to entertain peacemaking through noose wearing. Such rejection was out of date. The world had changed. Not only should Israel agree to wear a noose, they argued, but Israel should take the initiative to arranging for the noose to be worn. This would prove Israel's new goodwill and peaceful intentions. The Arabs would no longer feel threatened by Israel. Peace would break out in a New Middle East.

The Arabs themselves were confused by this. Some assured the world that the noose would be pulled as soon as the Israeli neck was firmly inside, while others continued to promise that noose­pulling was not on their agenda. Still others said both at the same time.

The result was Oslo/Wye. Noose wearing as a fashion caught on most belatedly when it came to the Syrian front. But now at long last it has arrived. I do not think there were any unilateral­surrender ideological movements in the United States in the 1940s. (There were though in Britain.) Such people would have been regarded as traitors and tarred and feathered. Sure there were unilateral surrenderists during Vietnam, but the situation in Israel is far more like the US in the 40s than the 60s.

Unilateral surrender is now suddenly the main banner of the Israeli Labor Party. There are two "mass movements" advocating unilateral surrender to Syria on the Lebanese/Syrian front (which is one and the same). Both are in essence front groups for Labor and Meretz. One calls itself "Four Mothers", and the other is The Movement for Withdrawal from Lebanon, headed by Shimon Peres' pet poodle Yossi Beilin, the godfather of Oslo. Both advocate unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and from the Golan Heights.

It is the same old handbook for making peace. If Israel would just agree to noose wearing, the Arabs assure us they will never pull the rope. And if Israel refuses, then it is Jewish obstinacy and aggression that is the root cause of the conflict. We even have the Labor Party to confirm this for the entire world.

Unilateral withdrawal and surrender. This is the essence of the phantasies of the Oslo "peace process". Noose wearing as the key to peace. Be it with the PLO or Syria. Churchill said that when offered a choice between shame and war, the Chamberlainites chose shame and got war. History repeats itself.


Dr. Steven Plaut teaches business at the University of Haifa.

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