The Oslo Delusion is the mistaken belief that if only Israel would jump through certain hoops then there would be peace between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. At the center of the Oslo Delusion is the notion that the Jews of the Middle East have oppressed the Arabs in their tiny part of the world and if only Jews would be nicer then Hamas would have no reason to shoot rockets at them and dictator Abbas might stop encouraging genocidal hatred toward Jews on Palestinian Authority television.
It was the Oslo Delusion, of course, which gave us the failed Oslo “peace process.” The reason that the peace process failed is not because Israel failed to do this, that, or the other, but because the goal of the majority population throughout the Middle East is not to live in peace with the Palestinian-Jews, but to eliminate Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. Palestinian-Arab nationalism, and, in fact, Palestinian-Arab ethnic identity, was born out of racist-religious opposition to Jewish self-defense and Jewish autonomy on Jewish land. Period.
The Long Arab War Against the Jews of the Middle East has, as of this moment, five phases.
Phase 1, 1920 – 1947: Riots and Massacres
Phase 2, November 1947 – April 1948: Civil War in the British Mandate
Phase 3, 1948 – 1973: Conventional Warfare
Phase 4, 1964 – Present: The Terror War
Phase 5, 1975 – Present: The Delegitimization Effort
I date the Delegimization Effort from the 1975 United Nations declaration of Zionism as racism. It is the Delegitimization Effort which is currently proving to be the most effective weapon in the anti-Israel Arab arsenal. The reason for this is because it not only erodes Israeli support throughout the world, but because it also justifies the never-ending violence against us. According to the delegitimizers Israel is a racist, colonialist, imperialist, militaristic, apartheid, racist state that should never have come into being to begin with.
It is the Big Lie and it serves to weaken the Jewish minority will to defend itself even as it inflames the vast Muslim majority to hatred against Jews and, thus, violence toward Jews.
What delegitimizers would have the world believe is that despite the fact that the Arab Middle East is a brutal and entirely illiberal region, it is the democratic Jewish State of Israel which represents the main abuser of human rights and therefore Israel must be perpetually condemned and eventually eliminated. This is, in fact, a continuation of the National Socialist delegimization effort against the Jews of Europe in the early part of the last century transplanted to the Middle East with the assistance of people like Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini, the former “Grand Mufti” of Jerusalem.
My central argument is that the Oslo Delusion has inclined Jews, and others, throughout the world to use the very language of delegitimization to discuss the conflict. Because during the 1990s many of us held considerable hope that a reasonable conclusion of hostilities was possible with a Palestinian-Arab State living in peace next to Israel, we tended to employ the language of our enemies because we hoped those enemies might become friends.
The language of the Oslo Delusion includes terms such as “Occupation” and “Settlers” and “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” among others, but let’s focus on these four because they are exceedingly prominent throughout the international media and, in themselves, do very serious damage to the ongoing cause of Jewish self-determination and self-defense on historically Jewish land.
The first thing to note about each of these terms is that they are entirely false as descriptors of reality in either an historical sense or a current sense. The second thing to note is that each of these terms condemns the Jews of the Middle East as aggressors in the argument before the argument even begins. Because they do so, they also incline well-meaning and self-reflective Jewish liberals to turn inward even as those very same terms incite Arab-Muslim hatred toward us.
Let’s start, in reverse order, with East Jerusalem. Your average interested and concerned westerner would very easily get the impression that East Jerusalem is a separate entity from Jerusalem proper and one that rightly belongs to the Arab-Muslim population, but not Israel. It is therefore considered Occupied Palestinian Territory. I am writing this from Oakland, California and I am writing this from the perspective of a highly assimilated diaspora American Jew. I can therefore tell you that in the United States people think of East Jerusalem as the section of Jerusalem that rightly belongs to the Arabs and should, in any final conclusion of hostilities under the Oslo Delusion, go to dictator Abbas and his cronies.
The only problem, of course, is that there is no such thing as East Jerusalem. There is Jerusalem. Jerusalem has a northern section and a southern section and a western section and an eastern section, but “East Jerusalem” is a fiction that is generally employed throughout the international media. It is a term that we accepted in our Delusions of Oslo because many of us, including me, were willing to accept the partition of the city if it honestly would bring about peace. The term is neither historically accurate, nor reflective of current conditions in the city, but it gained currency during the period of the Oslo “peace process” because our hopes for peace far overreached Arab willingness to make peace.
The current use of the term does nothing so much as bolster dictator Abbas’s claim to the ancient Jewish city which is a Jewish birth-right. Jerusalem is the city of the Jews in much the same way that Paris is the French city and London is the English city. From an historical perspective, Jerusalem has never been the capital of anyone else’s land.
It is our home.
Others may live there and they may do so in something very close to equal rights, but Israel is, and will remain, the home of the Jewish people.
The international press refers to Judea and Samaria as “the West Bank.” I always did, as well, because as someone who was raised within the Oslo Delusion this was simply the term that we used. What I did not know until fairly recently was that “West Bank” was a term created by Jordan shortly after 1948 for the purpose of erasing Jewish history on historically Jewish land. Under the Oslo Delusion it did not really matter because the presumption was that much of that land would go to the Arabs, anyway, within a final status agreement. Now that we understand that there will be no final status agreement within a “two-state solution” there is no longer any reason to continue to referring to Jewish land in terms designed to erase Jewish history.
Furthermore, when we speak of Judea and Samaria as the West Bank we give people around the world good reason to believe that Judea is somehow not Jewish and that both Judea and Samaria is Arab land, which of course it is not. Four thousand years of Jewish history tells us that Judea and Samaria are Jewish. This is Jewish land and it has been Jewish land since pre-history and why in this world would Jewish people use anti-Jewish language to describe their own historical homeland?
If the Israeli government and the Israeli people wish to carve out the heart of our historic home in order to give even more land to the Arabs that is OK with me so long as the agreement results in a peaceful resolution of the Arab war against the Jews in the Middle East. But it must be understood that this decision is entirely up to Israel and that the Palestinian-Arab occupiers of that land have no rights to it beyond whatever generosity Jewish Israelis may have toward them for the purposes of a peaceful resolution.
Within the mainstream media and throughout progressive-left venues and newspapers, only the Jews in Judea and Samaria are considered “settlers,” while the Arabs are said to live in “villages.” Despite the fact that Jews have lived in this region for four thousand years the obvious implication is that the Jews are usurpers of the land while the Arabs represent its “indigenous” population. This is historically false. The Jews lived on that land for thousands of years before the vicious Arab conquest of the seventh century. When “progressives,” or “progressive Zionists,” refer to Jews who live where neither Barack Obama, nor Mahmoud Abbas, want Jews to live as “settlers” they are quite consciously undermining Jewish claims to Jewish land which they think of as “illegal” and “illegitimate.”
Among the various failures of progressive-left Zionism, whipping up hatred toward other Jews is among the most immoral and odious. Because most progressive-left Jews, diaspora or otherwise, remain blinkered by the Oslo Delusion they are more than willing to spread hatred toward their fellow Jews who live beyond the Green Line. They do so because they continue to blame Arab aggression toward Jews on the Jewish victims of that aggression.
One of the major lies peddled by people such as Mahmoud Abbas and Barack Obama and Muhammad Morsi is that the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria is the primary impediment to a conclusion of the Long Arab War against the Jews in the Middle East. This also is false and, indeed, entirely racist. There is no reason why dictator Abbas cannot sit down with Prime Minister Netanyahu and draw a line on a map even if Jews are living within the Palestinian-Arab section of that map. To suggest that Jews cannot be allowed to live in a Palestinian-Arab state is to justify long-standing Koranically-based race-hatred toward Jewish people and this is precisely what Obama does every time he complains about the so-called “settlements.”
This is the big one. When the western left, including progressive-left “Zionists,” refer to the Occupation (with a Big O in order to give the impression that the Jews are conducting the Big Mama and Source of All Previous Occupations) they immediately convey the impression that the Jews have no rights whatsoever to the historical Jewish heartland. After all, if Israel is “occupying Palestinian land” then dictator Abbas has every reason to demand that Israel ethnically cleanse Jews from Judea.
The term “Occupation” means that the argument is closed before its begun and I find this to be a terrible injustice toward the Jewish people.
The truth of the matter is that what people mean by the Occupation is Jews building housing for themselves in Judea and Samaria. It means Jews protecting themselves from Jihadi violence through the erection of the security barrier and the various check points which inconvenience Arabs. But what the Occupation really is is the means by which Jewish people protect themselves from Arab aggression.
The Necessary Context:
What we need to do, it seems to me, is discuss the conflict within the long history of Jewish oppression under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperialism from the 7th century until the end of World War I. This is the necessary context without which discussing the conflict would be something akin to discussing the history of African-Americans with no reference to either Jim Crow or to slavery.
The conflict as it stands now cannot be understood without direct reference to the fact that Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria were conquered by the Arabs in the seventh-century wherein they immediately placed the native Jewish population under the yoke of imperial domination. In some places and times it was better and in some places and times it was worse, but from the seventh-century until the twentieth-century the Jews of the Middle East never had it better than did African-Americans under the racist, violent, and humiliating system of Jim Crow in the United States.
The tendency in the west is to think of Jews as the oppressors of Arabs in the Middle East when the exact opposite is actually the case. The Middle East contains about 6 million Jews and about 400 million Arab-Muslims who, for the most part, do not accept Jewish sovereignty on Jewish land out of Koranically-based anti-Jewish bigotry. For thirteen centuries the Jews in that part of the world were, essentially, slaves within the Arab-Muslim system of racial supremacy known as dhimmitude and the moment that the we freed ourselves via the Zionist project of national liberation, the Arab governments launched a war that continues to this day.
It is a war of the vast majority population against a tiny minority huddled together on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel is losing the argument on the international stage because, at least in part, the terms that we use to discuss the conflict are the very terms created by the enemies of the Jewish people. We can never win the argument if those terms, such as “Occupation,” suggest Jewish aggression when, in fact, it’s really a matter of self-defense against a much larger, hostile majority population in the region. We must rethink the very terms of the conversation because if we stick with Oslo terminology than we have no chance.
Here Comes Obama:
Barack Obama will soon be landing at Ben Gurion Airport. My suspicion is that his visit will kick off the next round of the Delegitimization Effort against the Jews of the Middle East. If we wish to stem the tide of hatred toward us then we need to stop discussing the conflict in the terms created by Jewish enemies.
We need to stand up for ourselves and we need to do so within the context of the long history of Jewish subjugation on our own lands under Arab occupation.
Placing the conversation within these terms is not only helpful toward the goal of freedom from ongoing Arab persecution, it also happens to be historically accurate.
It’s also about standing up for the human rights of the Jewish people.
Mike Lumish is the founding editor of Israel Thrives.