How to Torpedo
If, in May 1967, an
Arab prince had proposed that the whole Arab world would recognize
Israel and establish normal relations with it, in return for Israel’s
recognition of the Green Line border, we would have believed that the
days of the Messiah had arrived. Masses of people would have run into
the street, singing and dancing, as they did on November 29, 1947, when
the United Nations called for the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab
state in Palestine.
disaster struck: we conquered the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the
Labor and Likud governments filled them up with settlements, and today
this offer sounds to many like a malicious anti-Semitic plot.
The leaders of
Israel tell us: Don’t worry. Just as we survived Pharaoh, so we shall
survive Emir Abdallah.*
is an allusion to a famous Israeli song.
So what will happen?
Israel, every international initiative designed to put an end to the
conflict passes through three stages: (a) denial, (b)
misrepresentation, (c) liquidation. That’s how the Sharon-Peres
government will deal with this one, too. It can draw on 53 years of
experience, during which both Labor and Likud governments have succeeded
in scuttling every peace plan put forward.
(We must nor
suspect, God forbid, that the successive Israeli governments were
opposed to peace. Not at all. Every one of them wanted peace. They all
longed for peace. “Provided peace gives us the whole country, at least
up to the Jordan river, and lets us cover all of it with Jewish
settlements.” Until now, all peace plans have fallen short of that.)
PHASE A is
designed to belittle the offer. “There is nothing new there,” the
Political Sources would assert. “It is offered solely for tactical
purposes. It is a political gimmick”. If the offer comes from an Arab:
“He says it to the international community, but not to his own people”.
In short, “It’s not serious.”
method is to concentrate on one word and argue that it shows the
dishonesty of the whole offer. For example, before the October 1973 war,
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt made a far-reaching peace offer. Golda
Meir rejected it out of hand. Her Arabists (there are always
intellectual whores around to do the dirty job) discovered that Sadat
spoke of “salaam” but not of “sulh, which “proves” that he does not mean
real peace. More than 2000 Israel soldiers and tens of thousand
Egyptians paid with their lives for this word. After that, a salaam
treaty was signed.
are already being applied now to the Saudi offer. First it was said that
Crown Prince Abdullah had spoken about his initiative only with an
American journalist, but not addressed his own people. When it
transpired that it was widely published in all Saudi papers, both at
home and in London, another argument was put forward: the prince has
made his offer only because Saudis had become unpopular in the United
States after the Twin Towers outrage. (As if this matters.) In short,
Abdullah has not become a real Zionist.
was widely discussed in the Israeli media. Commentators commentated ,
scholars showed their scholarly prowess. But not one (not one!) of them
discussed the actual content of the offer.
PHASE B is
designed to outsmart the offer. We do not reject the offer. Of course
not! We a longing for peace! So we welcome the “positive trend” of the
offer and kick the ball out of the field.
method is to ask for a meeting with the Arab leader who proposed the
offer, “to clarify the issues”. That sounds logical. Americans think
that, if two people have a quarrel, they should meet and discuss the
matter, in order to end it. What can be more reasonable than that?
But a conflict
between nations does not resemble a quarrel between two people. Every
Arab peace offer rests on a two-part premise: You give back the occupied
territories, and you get recognition and “normalization”. Normalization
includes, of course, meetings of the leaders. When the Israeli
government demands a meeting with Arab leaders “to clarify details”, it
actually tries to get the reward (normalization) without delivering the
goods (withdrawal from the occupied territories). A beautiful trick,
indeed. If the Arab leaders refuse to meet, well, it only shows that
their peace offer is a sham, doesn’t it?
Many peace offers
have fallen into this trap. Ben-Gurion offered to meet with Muhammad
Naguib, the Egyptian ruler after the 1952 revolution. Several Prime
Ministers asked to meet Hafez al-Assad. Only Sadat outsmarted the smart
ones and turned the tables on them. He came to Jerusalem on his own
General Assembly of the United Nations adopted resolution 242, the
Israeli government did not accept it. Only much later, when there was no
way out, it accepted it “according to the Israeli interpretation”. This
concentrated on the article “the” that is missing in the English version
(which demands withdrawal from “occupied territories” instead of from
“the occupied territories”), contrary to the French version, in which
the article duly appears. (The Soviets were caught napping, because
there is no article in the Russian language.)
method is to kill the spirit of the offer slowly, to talk about it
endlessly, to interpret it this way and that way, to drag negotiations
on and on, to put forward condition which the other side cannot accept,
until the initiative yields in silence. That’s what happened to the
Conciliation Committee in Lausanne, that is what happened to most of the
European and American peace plans.
PHASE C: If
phases A and B have not worked, the liquidation stage arrives. Nowadays
it is called “targeted prevention” or, simply, “ascertained killing” by
original UN mediator, the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, “targeted
prevention” was applied literally: he was shot and killed. The killers
were “dissidents”, but Ben-Gurion did not shed any tears.
Israeli governments use two deadly torpedoes in their arsenal: the US
Congress and the American media. William Rogers, President Nixon’s
secretary of state, for example, proposed a peace plan that included the
withdrawal of Israel to the pre-1967 border, with “insubstantial
changes”. Israel released its torpedoes and sunk Rogers together with
his plan. His job was taken over by the Jewish megalomaniac, Henry
Kissinger, and that was the end of peace plans.
Saudi initiative be scuttled in the same way? If the Saudis stay their
course, it will not be easy to intercept it. This time the target is not
a small frigate, not even a destroyer, but a mighty aircraft carrier. A
great effort will be needed to torpedo it.
Peres and his foreign office are experts at this kind of job; they have
been at it for decades. Ariel Sharon will push them. The pitiful Labor
party, under the leadership of a small-time copy of Sharon, will join
the chorus. Faced with the terrible threat of having to end the
occupation, the Israeli media will rally behind the government.
revolts, nobody cries out. In Israel, real public discourse has died
long ago. The national instinct of survival has become blunted. Thirty
five years of occupation and settlement have eroded the nation’s abilty
to reason, leaving instead a mixture of arrogance and folly.
perhaps unique opportunity may be missed. Hundreds, thousands, tens of
thousands may pay for it with their lives. They will not dance in the
streets any more.
To discus this article:
haGalil onLine 04-03-2002