By Boris Shusteff
The Israeli leaders have invented a slogan that they use as an argument in order to relinquish the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha). Explaining why they so desperately want to establish one more Arab state on the primordial Jewish lands, they declare, "We do not want to rule over another people." While this slogan could be a great title for a Utopian novel, in reality it is an attempt to shun responsibility and to put it on somebody else's shoulders.
Just imagine for a second if America were to use the same slogan in reference to some of her states with a predominantly Spanish speaking population, and if the American president were to come out with the idea of establishing another Mexican country since Americans do not want to rule over the Mexicans. Or picture a German Chancellor who does not want to rule over the Turks living in Germany and, hence, offers them another Turkish state. While nobody thinks that such imaginary actions of the American and German leaders are even remotely possible, many Jews accept the Israeli argument at its face value.
It is important to note that Israel did not even try to rule "over another people" when she liberated the lands of Yesha in 1967. First of all, this was because Israel did not know that this people exists. The Arabs in Yesha did not know this either, since their national identity had not developed yet. In 1967 the whole world, including Israel, called them "the Arabs," and the Jewish state was unsure about what to do with them at that time. Instead of annexing the territories outright and making all the people dwelling there Israeli citizens, the Jewish state started to behave like a parent that has adopted a child and does not care about it. Israel allowed the child to be influenced by a bad neighborhood, bad company, other grownups, and then was surprised when the child demanded independence.
But independence given to one child will lead to demands for the same by another one. Why does Israel think that it is reasonable for her "not to rule" over the Palestinian Arabs in Yesha, but why, at the same time, does she want to rule over the Palestinian Arabs living in Israel? A poll conducted by Dr. Assad Ganem of the Institute For Peace Studies at Givat Haviva among a representative sample of 500 Israeli Arabs demonstrated that despite being citizens of Israel only 4.2% among them consider themselves to be Israelis. All the rest call themselves Arabs or Palestinians. So how can Israel justify to them the necessity of "ruling over them?"
By deciding "not to rule over another people" Israel not only diligently works to support the myth of the separate (from the Jordanians) "Palestinian" people, but also adds to the fragmentation of Eretz Yisrael. At the same time the Arabs are not hiding the fact that they view the territory which was once under the British mandate as an indivisible unit. In a recent lecture delivered in Amman on March 27, 2000 former Prime Minister of Jordan Taher Masri said,
"Citizens of Trans-Jordan have always believed that Palestine is part of their country, and they have provided weapons and refuge to the freedom fighters. It is for this reason that the 1948 unity between what remained of Palestine and Jordan was established. It was an attempt to re-establish unity between the people on the two sides of the river."
While the Arabs try to cement unity between the Palestinian Arabs that live in Jordan and in Yesha, Israel tries to help the Arab nationalists by emphasizing the uniqueness of a separate "Palestinian" people. The problem here is that the Arabs do not see any difference between the so called Palestinian "refugees," Palestinian Arabs from Yesha and Palestinian Arabs from Israel, or as the Arabs call them "Palestinians of the territories occupied in 1948."
It is because the Palestinian Arabs consider Yesha and Israel to be one territory that on February 29, Dr. As'ad Abd al Rahman, member of the PLO Executive Committee and official in charge of the refugees issue, said that:
"when the PLO talks about the right of return, it means the refugees' right to return to behind the Green Line in accordance with Resolution 194. When we talk about return, we are talking about the return to Yafo, Haifa, Akko, Al 'Abbasiyah, Nazareth, and all Palestinian cities and villages behind the Green Line."
When Barak neglects Rahman's comments and says "We have to think about this realistically, and ask ourselves whether we are ready to rule over a smaller piece of land in exchange for not having to rule over a people," (1) he is actually being very unrealistic. He is completely wrong when he says that by giving the lands of Yesha to Arafat Israel will reach "a final territorial separation." Vice versa, by doing this Barak will bring the Arabs closer to the "Palestinian territories occupied in 1948" and thus will only whet their appetite.
Barak is not only disregarding the comments of Arafat's cronies, but what is much worse, he completely ignores what the "Palestinian street" thinks about the "peace process." An extensive survey conducted on December 16 and 17, 1999 by Jerusalem Media & Communication Center on "Palestinian and Israeli Attitudes Towards The Future of the Peace Process" painted a very worrisome picture. When asked: "How genuine do you think the present Palestinian Authority is about reaching peace with Israel?" 73% of the Israeli Arabs, who know their brethren much better than Barak does, answered "not genuine and not genuine at all"(2).
Even more frightening are the answers to the last question of the survey. After being asked "From the point of view of the Palestinians, will an agreement [based on a two states-two people solution - i.e. Barak's version] mean the end to their historical conflict with Israel?" 19.3% of Palestinian Arabs answered "Probably No" and 41.5% said "Surely No." (2).
The results of the survey can be summarized by one sentence, taken from Article 19 of the Constitution of "Fatah", the main faction of the PLO that states:
"Armed struggle is a strategy and not a tactic, and the Palestinian Arab People's armed revolution is a decisive factor in the liberation fight and in uprooting the Zionist existence, and this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated "(3).
By helping the Arabs to "liberate" part of Palestine by relinquishing the lands of Yesha, and by expressing his reluctance "to rule over another people" Barak provides for the conditions when the "other people" will rule over Eretz Yisrael. Moreover, by doing this Barak and the Israeli leaders are not only shunning their responsibility for the people living in Yesha - both Jews and Arabs - but are also relinquishing the responsibility for Eretz Yisrael itself.
They are well aware that in 1937, during the 20th Zionist Congress, David Ben-Gurion's warned against "giving up the right of establishing [i.e. settling] the Jewish Nation in [all of] the Land of Israel." They know his famous statement, "Even if at some particular time, there are those who declare that they are relinquishing this right, they have no power nor competence to deprive coming generations of this right."
By ignoring Ben-Gurion's words and relinquishing this right the Israeli leaders put the responsibility of returning the land to Jewish possession on the shoulders of the coming generations. We should not doubt that the coming generations will fulfill their duty and return Eretz Yisrael to the bosom of the Jewish people, but they will never forgive today's leaders for their spinelessness, betrayal of the land and lack of Jewish pride. [04/07/00]
1. The Jerusalem Post 2/28/00
2. IMRA , February 28, 2000.
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.