Has There Been Progress Since Oslo?

By Bernard J. Shapiro

A year and a half ago I released a statement (Jewish Herald-Voice, September 2, 1993) on the Oslo "peace" process in which I said: "...the rush to embrace the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is both foolish and ultimately is a trap for Israel...the PLO has violated and trampled on every agreement it has ever made during its nearly 30-year history." I concluded: "Despite the media hype surrounding these developments, let me make something very clear: a leopard does not change its spots. You can say a berachah (blessing) over a ham sandwich, but that doesn't make it kosher. And a deal with the PLO is like a dance on quicksand -- before you realize it, you have sunk into the muck and slime."

Events have proven that the statement above was accurate to an almost uncanny degree. Some have tried to paint a different picture of events in Israel. A massive documented report on PLO violations of the Oslo Agreement was compiled by Col. David Yahav, Assistant Chief Military Judge's advocate for International Law, and turned over to the Israeli government on December 13, 1994. This report shows deliberate and systematic violations of the Oslo Agreement by the PLO. As serious as the violations were, the Israeli reaction to it was equally serious. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres successfully suppressed the report and even denied its existence before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset. It was only in February of 1995 that MK Benie Begin leaked the full text of the document. While some of the facts contained in the report had appeared in local newspapers, it is the full text that is so damning. It demonstrates beyond any doubt the total disrespect with which the PLO held both the Oslo Agreement and their "partner in peace" the Israelis.

The real question is why have Israeli government leaders, including Peres tried to suppress this report and prevent the Israeli public from acquiring this information. The answer, though disturbing, is quite simple: The reality of the post-Oslo period does not conform to the governments predictions and promises. If reality is not favorable to the "peace" process, then myth and fantasy must become paramount. The government has developed a universe of "smoke and mirrors" to hide the truth from the Israeli people. This fantasy universe has many components. Israeli leaders travel frequently to many countries including Arabs countries previously forbidden to them. Photo ops appear in all the papers almost every day. Peres is with one world leader after another and in every place the "peace" process is praised. Government-controlled Israeli television is told not to cover opposition demonstrations; not to report attacks on Jews unless there is loss of life; not to interview or feature opposition spokespersons. The government has developed a whole vocabulary of newspeak (Orwellian term referring to words that mean the opposite or not what they seem). Jews killed in terrorist attacks are called "sacrifices for peace" as if their deaths serve some purpose. Opponents of the Oslo Agreement are labeled "enemies of peace" while terrorists are now labeled Islamic Fundamentalists so that they will not be confused with the "good Palestinians."

There is a problem with the government campaign to obscure reality. It won't work. Reality has a way of imposing its will even on the most dedicated devotee of fantasy. The bombing near Netanya a few weeks ago in which 21 young soldiers were killed had a very sobering effect on most Israelis. And it was not just the murder and mayhem that made the Israelis change their attitude toward the "peace" process. The Palestinian reaction outraged many. The deaths of the Jewish soldiers brought out the true character of the Arab enemy. In Gaza there was a mass celebration in which condolences were shouted to the suicide bombers:"...Condolences to the heroes of the killing of 20 pigs and injuring of 60 monkeys." The family of one of the perpetrators issued a statement reading: "We take pride in the martyrdom of our son who carried out a daring operation thus becoming worthy of G-d's words."

One of the most enduring fantasies encouraged by the government is that the Arabs are changing their attitude toward Israel and the Jews. The official line is that we can not expect full acceptance immediately but that a process of reconciliation has begun and needs to be encouraged. Like the other myths of the "peace" process, this one falls in the face of reality. Following the terrorist attack at Beit Lid (near Netanya) the Palestine Center for Public Opinion surveyed Palestinians in the territories and discovered that 53% supported such attacks against Israelis( 34% opposed, 13% no opinion).

PLO leader Yassir Arafat said the following on January 1, 1995 at a celebration of "Fatah Day," "We are all suicide-bombers, and I say to the martyrs and the suicide-bombers who already ...Our sworn oath (to liberate Palestine) is still standing and it is still our obligation to continue the revolution." The Associated Press (January 23, 1995) reported the words of Sheik Abdullah Sham, spiritual leader of Islamic Jihad: "It is open war between us and the Israelis....The solution lies in the uprooting of the problem...the state of Israel....The Jihad (holy war) against the enemy will continue.

This rejection of Israel, despite its major concessions at Oslo, pervades the whole Arab world. Even in Jordan, where the "peace" is supposed to be more evident we find the opposite. On February 13th, El Quds reported that the Jordanian Lawyers Association was enforcing a boycott of Israel, including Palestinian lawyers who had appeared before Israeli courts. On January 23rd the Chairman of the Israel Chamber of Commerce went o Amman hoping to meet his Jordanian counterpart. The Jordanian refused to meet him. Fahri Kawar, Secretary of the Union of Arab Writers put it clearly: "Opposition to normalization with the enemy is a general national obligation which must be maintained in all fields." Muanes Elrazaz, head of the Association of Jordanian Writers recently said: "The struggle is not just against Israel, rather the racist Zionist movement. This movement has tremendous international controls most of the Western media." Nazia Abu Nidal: "The Zionist Jews who failed to establish normal ties with anyone in the course of two thousand years won't succeed in doing this with the Arabs....The Jewish Shylock will try to turn the Arabs into servants and workers for the Hebrew state and the chosen people." Dr. Hashem Rasib recently stated: Those who favor normalization with the Zionist enemy....(forget that)The Zionists and Israel do not have a defined national culture. They represent the most racist and reactionary trends in the West which are the most inhuman and fascist. Our relations are one of struggle." Newspaperman Muhamed Harub: "I strongly oppose normalization, with is based on erasing the entire history of our continued struggle against Zionism."

Israel has had a "peace" agreement with Egypt for over 15 years, so if the process of reconciliation were to take place, it should have manifested itself there. Unfortunately Egyptian hostility to Israel has been quite obvious to everyone except member of Israel's Foreign Ministry. In March 1994, Dr. Ahmed Zaree of Egypt's Al Azhar University completed a five-year study of university graduates and post-graduates ages 30-35 who were in college when the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed. The study found that 92.8% regarded Israel as an expansionist, aggressive state headed by terrorists, fanatics and liars. Over 63% said that normalization of relations with Israel would constitute a major threat to national security.

In conclusion, it seems clear that there has been no change in the very negative Arab atitudes toward Israel. It is also clear that the Israeli government's attempt to hide this fact from the Israeli people will fail as myth runs headlong into reality. It is obvious that the very real and major concessions made by Israel to resolve its 100-year war with the Arabs have failed to accomplish that task. In fact the concessions have whetted the appetite of the Arabs and their Jewish supporters for more serious concessions. At two One-Day Conferences held recently at Haifa University and at Tel Aviv University, Jewish leftists and Arab speakers appeared, calling for a "revolutionary" change in Jewish-Arab relations. Among the proposals raise were:

1. Abolishing Israel's Declaration of Independence.

2. Its replacement by a "New Accord" between Israel's Arabs and the State of Israel.

3. In this new Accord it will be stated that:

A. The Law of Return is Abolished.

B. All refugees from 1948 will be allowed to return from Lebanon and Syria to their original homes.

C. Return of all Arabs living within Israel who were forced out of their original villages to those home (they mean Biram and Ikrit and others). All in all, this would involve 250,000 people.

D. Return of all lands in the Galillee that have been expropriated for public purposes to their Arab owners.

E. Abolishing the Israeli flag and its replacement by one without a Star of David.

F. Abolishing Hatikva as the national anthem, and its replacement by an anthem that does not threaten Arabs.

G. Abolishing the definition of Israel as a Jewish State and declaring it as a State of all its inhabitants.

H. Paying of reparations to Palestinian Arabs by the Jewish people (sort of like German reparations?) because of the theft of their property and their suffering throughout the 47 years of the existence of Israel. This because the State of Israel was created through an act of aggression by the Zionist Movement against Palestinians, one of whose aims was the expulsion of Arabs.

This is where the "so called peace" process is heading. If you were on a train headed for Auschwitz and learned about what lay ahead -- wouldn't you try to get off the train? It is past time for Israelis to get off the Labor train.


[This article was published in the Jewish Herald-Voice on March 1, 1995 and the March 1995 issue of THE MACCABEAN.]

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