Reading about an Israeli electorate that wishes Israel to give in to US "compromises" on ceding land to dangerous Arab adversaries, makes me see Israel's condition as one comparable to the policies of a land of sheep among the lands of the jackals.
What seems to be happening in this parable of the land of the sheep is that the sheep, responding to vicious jackal complaints, are proposing to allow the jackals additional salients, land penetrations, into sheepland by ceding sheep lands. The rationale is that this will slake the appetite of the jackal for sheep blood. The proposal appears as an expression of the "exhaustion" of the sheep at holding the jackal hordes at bay. The sheep apparently are willing to try anything, really anything, the irrational, if only it results in the pressure and tension in holding off the jackal can be relieved.
But the parable itself reveals the fallacy of such a program. Holding the jackal at bay, no matter how he bellows and complains, is not a choice among alternatives, but it is the necessary condition for the existence of the land of the sheep. In the parable outlined, the sheep have lost sight of their condition, that they face an adversary whose nature it is to devour the sheep and hence there can be no action undertaken by the sheep that can change this appetite, certainly not policies that would make it easier for the jackal to get his way. It is only when the jackal ceases to be what he is, perhaps when he becomes a rabbit, that new arrangements can be made with him. It will not suffice that the jackals wear bunny masks. Changes must be integral and permanent.
When one finds that Kofi Annan of the UN in his recent trip to Israel asserted that peace depended on Israel's ceding territories to the Arabs -- "Says Land for Peace Is the Key Principle" was the headline in the NY Times (3/26/98) -- that the Jewish sheep must give the Arab jackals the means whereby the Arabs can devour the Jews -- one can here read the gross failure of Israeli diplomacy. That there exists an Israeli government that does not immediately bristle at such an assertion by Kofi Annan, an assertion tantamount to the idea that the sheep must give way to the jackals, indicates that we have an Israel government and an Israel that has lost its way, if not its will to exist.
In trying to write a letter to a newspaper protesting this horrendous viewpoint enunciated by Kofi Annan in the light of all the sacrifices and "confidence building measures" that Israel had contributed in attempting to create peace between Israel and the Arab nations, I suddenly realize that the policy I protest as being an unjust expectation and a danger for Israel is in fact official Israeli policy. Can I want justice and safety and security for Israel more badly than Israel's people and government?
Something is really out of kilter here. It must be that Israel's people does not get the news and images we get here outside the land, the twisted, grimacing faces of maddened, impassioned Arabs -- growling salivating, wide-eyed jackals -- crying for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. While reality will eventually assert itself -- the force of gravity will bring down the air walker despite his soaring imagination -- it may just not be good politics in the short run in Israel to accept reality.
How long can this go on and how long should it go on? A constructive answer by an Israeli government is needed.
Anorexics are sick people who harbor intense self-hatred. They pursue the perfect ideal image in physical appearance. They wish to be slim and ever-young and will do anything that they think will enable them to achieve this fantasy, even starve themselves unto death. Others are amazed at how such good looking people can see themselves as ugly. Obviously such people don't see reality in their vain quest for perfection.
As one film documentary showed, when doctors try to cure anorexics, they face the resistance of the anorexic him/herself. It appears that such people have lost the will to live and are their own worst enemies. Really strong doses of tender loving care must constantly be administered to make them regain the will to live and to enable the victim to realize that he/she is worthwhile and worth saving.
I think of this as I think of Israel with its cadres of leftists laboring zealously to destroy their nation and thereby themselves becasue they don't think Israel is perfect. Recently I heard of a troupe of actors from Israel about to descend on Smith College in the US to teach young minds about the evils of Israel in daring to recreate the Jewish state that had long been conquered by a succession of rulers. But, then, this Smith College thing is the least of the anti-Israel propaganda of self-hate spewed out by Israelis, including from their governments.
You can tell that with Israel we deal with deep pathology of the anorexia type since even her governments, whose function and essence is supposed to be to protect its land and people, accept the enemy's propaganda and play into its hands. Abdul Husseini Arafat rounds up Hamas muderers for the cameras to "prove" that it "fights Arab terrorism." Of course, when the cameras are no longer present, Abdul will release his brother terrorists as he has done in the past. He indulges in this exercise because Mr. Netanyahu has said he will have Israel withdraw from territory when Arafat fights terrorism. This is a situation much like having the head jackal say he will curb his own pack of jackals from gobbling up the sheep. Both situations cannot happen. But what will happen is that Abdul Husseini Arafat will call on Israel to make good a new withdrawal, thereby gaining permanent concessions in return for insubstantial fluff.
No one but anorexics, dedicated to self-destruction, would play along with that. And true to character, Israel's defense minister, Yitzchak Mordechai, publicly thanks Abdul Husseini Arafat for indulging in this ploy whereby Israel cedes the country for empty gestures and he thanks the enemy yet. This Israeli's praise of Abdul's efforts will now be used as part of the pressures on Israel to cede land to enemies for no peace. That Mordechai said it suggests that a new round of surrendering territory is about to occur.
But then there is more. Israel speaks of creating an elevated highway across Israel from enemy Gaza to the enemy controlled Arab territory in Israel's territories. Doing so will link the Arab enemies in both areas so that they can coordinate and ferry guns and weaponry across to do -- guess what?
To self-destructive anorexics, this kind of thing would make perfect sense and would even seems like some great mitzvah since it gives them the illusion of worth -- doing something for a change that the world admires, like Jews committing suicide. But we all know that if one indulges in a self-destructive act it really speaks of self-hate, the opposite of worth.
But that kind of action is what Begin indulged in when he ceded Sinai and its oil wells while Israel was still locked in battle with an Arab world. Could not Begin have insisted that the fruition of such far reaching transfers must await a condition in which there is true, demonstrated peace between Israel and the Arab civilization?
Instead, Israel cooperated with the enemy's salami tactic of slowly whittling down herself before the enemy. After all, Begin's deal allowed Egypt, at absolutely no price, to be strengthened financially and militarily and for Israel to be weakened and more dependent on the capricious U.S. ally. The promises of financial aid made by the U.S, to pay for Israel's sacrifices that ingratiated the US with the Arab world create a public relations problem for Israel when the US taxpayer little remembers the reasons for this financial aid. The Arabs are still using this salami tactic, marching forward toward their goal and Israel still cooperates instead of first seeing a new situation in actuality before she undresses before the enemy.
To be sure, even anorexics have their healthy parts, which is why there can be hope for reclaiming these sick people. In the same way, there is a security faction in Israel that is fighting for the right of Israelis to be a free people in their own land. This faction is composed of a mixture of sane, self-respecting secular Israelis and traditional Israelis who are determined to resist the depredations of the Arab enemy.
The Jewish traditionalists provide the invaluable service of continuing in practice the great civilization of the Jewish people, a civilization admired even by Israel's enemies who copy it as their own at every chance they get, often picking these fruits without acknowledgment. It is this Jewish civilization that was able to supply the dynamic that enabled the Jewish people to survive and thrive during the night of its exile and which can supply the dynamic to resist the dynamic of Muslim-Arab Jihad, a Jihad which is in full force.
But will an anorexic Israel recognize its healthy parts, among which is its glorious Jewish civilization? Anorexics characteristically don't, and regard a lovely, beautiful figure as ugly on their way to starvation. Too many Israelis and members of their government act like such anorexics, starving themselves to gain a phantasy perfection that the enemy defines. The time is short to combat such tendencies before irreparable harm is done to the Jewish nation, and the work is surely great.
David Basch is a city planner in New York and a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies. He is also an expert on Shakespeare and has proven that Shakespeare had a Jewish background in his recent book, SHAKESPEARE'S JUDAICA AND DEVICES.