The homeland is historically and geographically an entity. Whoever fails to recognize our right to the entire homeland, does not recognize our right to any of its territories. We shall never yield our natural and eternal right ..... (Menachem Begin, radio broadcast, May 15, 1948).
Does it really matter whether Benjamin Netanyahu was deceived by Bill Clinton when the latter said that he did not promise to release Jonathan Pollard as a part of the Wye River Memorandum? Maybe it is even better that Netanyahu did not come back with Pollard by his side. It would be hard to comprehend that Pollard, who went to jail attempting to prevent Israels destruction, would be released as a part of a deal that is tantamount to a death sentence for the Jewish state. Several hours prior to the signing of the Memorandum Arutz 7 radio reported that "the Yesha Council originally labeled it a traitorous agreement, but then announced that it would change its wording and call it a surrender agreement." Whatever the reasons were for this semantic change the factual substance of the agreement remained intact. If Netanyahu really plans to abandon 42% of Yesha to Arafats control, then it is a traitorous agreement.
The decision to surrender the lands of Yesha betrays the memory of the Israeli soldiers who fell liberating the heartland of Eretz Yisrael during the Six Day War. It also betrays the memory of the Israeli sons and daughters who sacrificed their lives defending this land in the Yom Kippur War. It betrays the memory of Netanyahu's brother Yoni, who wrote, "I see with sorrow and great anger how a part of the people still clings to hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Arabs. Common sense tells them, too, that the Arabs haven't abandoned their basic aim of destroying the State; but the self-delusion and self-deception that have always plagued the Jews are at work again."
It betrays the memory of Netanyahu's mentor Zeev Jabotinsky, who said in 1938, "Do not say that it is not important if we orally or on scratch of paper renounce our claim to Hebron, Shchem and Transjordan. Do not say that this rejection is only empty words, and everybody will understand this. Do not underestimate the power of rejection!"
Former Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens wrote on October 23 in The Jerusalem Post, "it should be clear that the transfer of areas in Judea and Samaria to Palestinian control at this time is beginning to shape the permanent borders of the State of Israel. Except in case of war, the IDF will not reenter the areas from which it withdraws. This is a one-way street." Arens is absolutely right. Without military intervention Israel is going to part for good with any territory that she grants to the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu was not the one who promised and gave this land to the Jewish people. He reminded us of this on October 5 in Jerusalem, at the opening night of the Christian Celebration during the feast of Tabernacles, when he said, "We have come back to our ancient homeland. Our claim to this land is based on the greatest and most incontrovertible document in creation the Holy Bible. It's the Bible that has given us the deed to this land." So how then does he dare to squander the patrimony of the Jewish people? By transferring the land to Arafat's control he facilitates the establishment of a second Palestinian state. The Associated Press reported that when "asked if the accord moves the Palestinians closer to becoming a state, Arafat spokesman Marwan Kanafani smiled and softly replied, 'Yes.'"
Netanyahu understands this much better than anybody else. He tirelessly explained on many occasions that Israel's withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and creation of a second Palestinian state is a sure move towards Israel's disappearance. Perhaps he is a tragic figure? Perhaps he really believes that the "deal" he achieved is "the best deal possible," and that by signing the agreement he gained more security for Israel? There was a similar precedent in Jewish history. Adam Czerniakow, the first head of the Warsaw Judenrat, with extreme honesty, courage and self-sacrifice fulfilled his (historical, as he considered it) role trying every possibility to postpone the death of Ghetto inhabitants. He believed that he was doing his best to prolong the lives of the Warsaw Jews, while trying to comply with the orders that the Nazis imposed on the ghetto. He loved the Jews who put their faith in him. He relied on his experience and wisdom, and tried to be logical. According to his logic, obedience and a low profile should have satisfied the Nazis. He did not know that Hitler's logic was different. He did not know that Hitler's plan to annihilate all of European Jewry required the Jews to be submissive and instrumental in their own destruction. Unwillingly, out of the best intentions, Czerniakow became Hitler's accomplice. He grasped this only when was ordered to send the "transport" full of Jewish children to the ovens of Auschwitz. He committed suicide, suddenly realizing the depth of the tragedy and his role in it. In the suicide note to his wife he wrote, "They demand from me to murder with my own hands the children of my people. The only thing that can be done is to die." Czerniakows death did not save the remaining Jews, and only the ghetto uprising allowed some of them to survive.
While Czerniakow knew very little of Hitler's intentions towards the Jews, Netanyahu is well aware of what his "peace partner" has in mind. Arafat clearly explained that he "does not need Jews. They are and will remain Jews." He also was very clear when said that for him "peace means Israel's destruction." How is it that knowing this Netanyahu continues to entrust Israel's fate to Arafat's "good will?" Maybe he relies on legal casuistry? The Oslo agreement that was signed five years ago is just a set of principles that only oblige the Jewish state to negotiate to reach an agreement with the other party. Those principles are not binding. To the contrary, the agreement reached in Maryland is binding. On September 25, a month before the agreement was concluded, a senior U.S. State Department official said in a briefing, "because it's an implementation agreement you need a text. This is not a Declaration of Principles like was signed on the White House Lawn on September 13th, 1993; this is an implementation agreement. And therefore in many cases every word counts." Perhaps Netanyahu thought that he would outsmart everybody? Now, when we have the text and know the words, we can see that there is a loophole in the Memorandum that can allow Netanyahu to continue his favorite "foot-dragging." The preamble of the Memorandum says, "The following are steps to facilitate implementation of the Interim Agreement and other related agreements including the Note for the Record of January 17, 1997 (hereinafter referred to as 'the prior agreements') These steps are subject to the relevant terms and conditions of the prior agreements and do not supersede their other requirements."
The importance of this loophole can be demonstrated on the example of the PLO Charter. If Arafat fulfills the "step" of the Memorandum that says he must "reaffirm the letter of 22 January 1998 from PLO Chairman Arafat to President Clinton concerning the nullification of the Palestinian National Charter provisions" Israel has full legal rights to declare that the PA is still obliged to amend the Charter. The prior agreement requires it; and the only way to achieve this is through "the vote of a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose."
If this loophole is really Netanyahu's last line of defense, then he is playing with fire. He has made too many concessions in order to achieve it. He has violated the main principle presented in his book A Place Among the Nations, where he stated that "a small country, [that is] much more dependent on the international climate, simply does not have the luxury of ignoring the principle that a policy and its representation are inseparable," and further wrote that in the "absence of credible effort to explain Israel's position the situation will go from bad to worse." The situation has gone from worse to disastrous. Since the signing of the Oslo agreement only one message has been constantly delivered to world public opinion Israel has made it clear that it is ready to relinquish her rights to Yesha and to allow the creation of a second Palestinian state. When, on October 24, Netanyahu told The Associated Press that "any inch of land that we cede to the Palestinians is painful for me to cede, It is part of my homeland," the world heard only one word "to cede." All the other words were disregarded, since it is impossible to believe that anyone can cede parts of their homeland. People fight for their homeland and do not cede it. When in 1966 Arafat and his PLO tried to wrestle the land away from Jordan, the Jordanian King Hussein warned, "Any hand raised against this struggling nation will be cut off, and any eye which looks at us with a look of hatred will be gauged out." Arafat did not get the message and in 1970 his forces were mercilessly destroyed. When half a month ago Turkey felt that Kurdish attempts to gain some of her territory had become too threatening, she immediately mobilized her military forces, and the Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz demanded that Syria end its support for the rebels. On October 11, 1998 Yilmaz declared, "It is our incumbent duty to poke out the eyes of those who have eyes on our territory." Syria "came to it senses" and did whatever she could to ease the situation and escape confrontation with the outraged Turks. This is the way to respond to any encroachments on ones homeland and not to say meekly that "it is painfulto cede" the land. If it is painful, Mr. Prime Minister, do not cede it. Hold fast to it, cherish it, defend it.
Menachem Begin wrote in The Revolt, "If you love your people you cannot but hate the enemies that compass their destruction; if you love your country, you cannot but hate those who seek to annex it. Simply put, if you love your mother, would not you hate the man who sought to kill her: would you not hate him and fight him at the cost, if needs be, of your own life?"
The answer is a clear, resounding "Yes."
Boris Shusteff is an engineer in upstate New York. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies. [10/27/98]