Many of Israel’s friends on the left tell us how truly concerned they are about Israel’s image in the West. These friends are also concerned that Israel, by not taking the required risks for peace, is setting herself up for disaster. Israel, they warn us, will become an apartheid state, or be overwhelmed demographically by Palestinian Arabs, and or have all her population centers hit by rockets.
As concerned friends they are urging Israel, or more specifically the Netanyahu government, to be more flexible. They counsel that not only should there be a freeze on settlement construction, but rather a clear Israeli offer to hand over the entire West Bank/Judea Samaria to the Palestinian Authority. Further, that Jerusalem be divided and that east Jerusalem become the capital of the Palestinian state. If these steps are taken, Israel, they say, will be living next door to a friendly Palestinian state and the entire Arab League will accept Israel as a regional neighbor and open full diplomatic relations with Israel ensue.
I will assume that all these friends have Israel’s best interest at heart. But even friends can give bad advice, and worse. Case in point: Yossi Beilin, the former head of the Meretz Party and the architect of the Oslo Accords, is a sincere Zionist who believed that the Oslo agreements would lead to real peace. We all know that’s not when happened.
Israel took a major risk by withdrawing from all the major population centers in the West Bank/Judea Samara and all of Gaza, minus the Jewish towns there. By 1998 more than 95 percent of the Palestinian Arabs in those areas lived in a Palestinian proto state. The PLO, a sworn enemy of Israel, was now literally armed by the IDF and deployed throughout the area. Former terrorists became policemen. What used to be illegal, anti-Israel propaganda became the staple of Palestinian textbooks, TV, radio and websites.
But the euphoria of the peace process had give given way to the horror of suicide bombings and drive-by shootings. Hundreds of Israelis were killed. The average Israeli understood that Jerusalem had walked into a trap, and terror was at its highest level.
We know the ongoing, sad story of Israeli concessions leading to Palestinian terror.
In total during the period of the peace process, from 1994 to today, more Israelis were killed by terrorists than were killed in the entire “war period” of 1950 to 1993.
Throughout this time, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been disseminating the type of anti-Semitic messages and imagery that would make Goebbels jealous.
Why is this all happening? Shouldn’t the Palestinians recognize Israeli concessions as steps leading to their sovereignty? They would if they thought like Israelis or Westerners. But the Palestinians are a radicalized Arab population residing in the tribal Islamic Middle East. Hence the Palestinians view the world through the prism of strength and weakness.
In their worldview, Israel signed Oslo because she was weak, and crumbling. The Zionist enemy sensed its days were numbered so it scrambled to make a deal with the Palestinians. The suicide bomber was not motivated by desperation, but rather by a sense of power. The Zionist enemy is on the run, and has no will or ability to fight back. The suicide bomber is the doomsday weapon the Zionists have no answer for. If the Palestinian suicide bombers were truly motivated by desperation and humiliation, they should have appeared in the years following the 1967 Six-Day War, the most humiliating period for the Palestinian and Arab world. Instead, the suicide bomber appears after Israel began handing over chunks of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria and most of the Gaza. They appeared when the IDF handed over base after base to the new Palestinian security forces; they appeared just as the PA was born and began to be treated as a government by most of the world.
Connect the dots. When Israel makes sweeping concessions, the Palestinians smell fear and weakness. This is not a theory I have concocted, but rather an observation of the last 16 years.
So to Israel’s friends on the left I say, thanks for the friendly advice. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Israel has been through the hell of Palestinian terror that came as a direct result of Israeli concessions during the peace process period.
Presently, Israel has no reason to sacrifice more of its citizens to the false God of The Peace Process.
Now is the time for Israel to look the Palestinians in the eye and say we have shown you how serious we are about peace. Israel created the PA, granted Palestinian autonomy, gave the PA control of the Palestinian population, lobbied for Western investment for the PA, armed the PA security forces, freed thousands of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli jails, and orchestrated the withdrawal from Gaza.
In return Israel received an unprecedented wave of terror. Peace is not about the process, it’s about the reality. If the Palestinians are serious about peace with Israel, let them begin by recognizing the fact that Israel is a Jewish state, then let them end the horrific anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement that spews forth daily from their state-controlled media. And let them start educating their young that Israel is their neighbor and not their future homeland.
Yotav Eliach is principal of the Rambam Mesivta yeshiva high school in the Five Towns and core educator of Write On For Israel, The Jewish Week’s advocacy program for high school students.
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