Self-defense more important than “peace process”

A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of antisemitism. One of the West’s old demons is back. Despite twenty years of a so-called Israel-Arab “peace process” (involving major Israeli territorial and political concessions) both the State of Israel and Jews as such are vilified. Jews are threatened and even physically attacked on the streets in several European countries, as well as in the United States. Jews have been murdered in France and the US simply for being Jews. Recall last year’s massacre of children in Toulouse as well as the weeks of torture, then murder, of Ilan Halimi outside Paris, while several cases in the USA and other Western lands have gotten less attention. These Judeophobic crimes took place despite all of Israel’s concessions to perpetually aggrieved Arabs in the 1993 Oslo accords and since. No concession was or ever will be enough.

The inspiration for this upsurge of anti-Jewish hate was in part the so-called Second Intifada, which erupted after talks in which Israel offered far-reaching concessions to the Palestinian Authority. A particular trigger was the alleged killing of young Muhammad al-Durah at the Netzarim junction in Gaza on 30 September 2000. French state TV, France2, broadcast a short, truncated film clip of a boy supposedly shot by Israeli troops, blood spurting  from his belly. Yet the fuller film shown in a French court shows that the blood was a red cloth in the boy’s hand which he opened on cue, later looking around “after death.” Since the al-Durah hoax, violent assaults against Jews have increased dramatically worldwide, along with violent speech. Again, the film clip, repeatedly shown on France2, incited the large Muslim population in France not only against Israel but against French Jews, their neighbors, many with old roots in Algeria like most French Arabs.

France2’s role  shows that the problem is not only the millennial Jew hatred of Muslim Arabs, but the incitement practiced by a Western state institution. This occurred  in several Western countries. Think of the BBC. The European Union, ever overflowing with platitudes about peace, human rights, transparency, civil society and solidarity, does its part through funding the Palestinian Authority which  in turn broadcasts vile anti-Jewish hatred and lies over its radio and TV (documented by MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch), indoctrinates school children in hatred in its schools, encourages hate sermons in its mosques and publishes anti-Jewish hate-inducing lies in its controlled press. The EU also funds NGOs that incite hatred of Jews while speaking in the name of human rights, civil rights and peace.

Is a “peace process” or even a “peace accord” a way out of this situation? Before answering that, let us note that advocates of the “peace process” assured us long ago that engaging in such a process would calm the situation on the way to full peace. Yet, the first ten years of the Oslo Accords brought with them unprecedented murderous violence on Israel’s streets and public places. The number of civilian dead from terrorism in Israel in those ten years (1993-2003) exceeded the number of civilian victims of terrorism in Israel in the 45 years from 1948 to 1993. Far from Oslo leading to mutual respect and good neighborly relations, hatred increased on both sides, on the Palestinian Arab side where hate indoctrination was virulent, first under Arafat and now under Mahmud Abbas, and on the Israeli side as a reaction to terrorist assaults.

Now the notion of a “process” conveys for many the illusion of a known and certain outcome, like a chemical or industrial process, just as water heated to 100 degrees Celsius will turn to steam. But a “peace process” involves human interests, desires, and passions in conflict, and humans in conflict are  given to deception. The outcome is not certain. Moreover, if a document labeled a peace accord ensues, that in itself is not peace. Will each side perform its treaty obligations? Will each side keep the peace? If not, do treaties enforce themselves? Germany and Poland were formally at peace up to September1939, 74 years ago, when Germany invaded Poland.

Let’s look at another solemn international treaty not specifically a peace accord. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in force since 1970. Yet everyone knows that Iran is working towards a nuclear bomb while concomitantly building long distance ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear bomb. But no power or group of powers has stopped the Iranian nuclear bomb project. To be sure, the Security Council passed several resolutions against Iran’s nuclear project and economic sanctions have been in place, but the recent agreement between Iran and the P5 + 1 group of powers no longer insists on Iranian compliance with those resolutions nor with the NPT. They are reducing the economic sanctions that brought Iran to negotiate in the first place. In effect, the P5 + 1 powers are giving Iran time to finish its work on the bomb. Moreover, the USA and Iran disagree on the terms supposedly agreed upon at Geneva, as if there were no full agreement. And Iran continues its incitement and threats of war against Israel, which are themselves in violation of the UN Charter (Article 2:4). So much for the reliability of treaties and accords.

Indeed, the powers that ought to be guarantors of the NPT are rather lackadaisical about enforcing it. This reminds us of what former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir  asked when the US was offering Israel guarantees –like now– for rendering itself less capable of self-defense: Who will guarantee the guarantees?

Of as much concern to Israel as the nonchalant American attitude toward the Iranian nuclear project is the American role as sponsor of the Oslo Accords. President Clinton brought Rabin and Arafat together for a handshake on the White House lawn. Now today, the Palestinian Authority, under Arafat’s successor, Mahmud Abbas, has violated those accords in many ways, among others by demanding concessions –as preconditions to negotiations– on issues that those accords stipulated were to be the subject of final status negotiations. Those issues include settlements, borders, and Jerusalem. Yet, the United States under President Obama does not insist that the PA abide by those stipulations. Instead, Obama and his administration join with the PA in its demands while disavowing President George Bush’s commitments in his letter to Prime Minister Sharon of 2004. Bush’s letter did not mention the 1949 armistice lines (also called “1967 lines”) but it did state

The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself. [emphasis added-EAG]

In regard to Iran, Israeli commentator Amnon Lord writes that President Obama prefers the ayatollahs’ Iran to democratic Israel.

The facts above mean in the last analysis that Israel cannot put any trust in signed international accords, particularly with the serial accord violators of the Palestinian Authority. Nor can Israel trust the major powers to enforce or ensure compliance with accords made by the Palestinian Authority (or by a future Palestinian Arab state) that they may sponsor, in view of the record of the Western and Arab powers. If there is now a relative de facto peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,  it is likely sustained only thanks to Israeli military superiority over the PA. If that superiority –especially in terms of strategic terrain– were removed in the context of a peace accord, the result of the peace accord might mean war, especially since the PA shows no signs of giving up –in practice— its fundamental desires regarding Israel – destroying the state and expelling and/or slaughtering its Jewish population. Moreover, the West treats with contempt Israel’s historic national rights, recognized in international law by the San Remo Conference (1920), League of Nations (1922) and confirmed by Article 80 of the UN Charter. Can Israel expect that future accords and promises will be respected –either by Arab or Western powers?

Indeed, all state powers have their own interests. But we see a clash of interests not only between Israel and the Palestinian Authority but with the current US administration. Washington has openly favored Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt and indulged Erdogan’s threatening bluster in Turkey (against NATO & EU member, Greece, as well as EU member Cyprus) with Erdogan reported to be Obama’s favorite foreign leader. Yet Erdogan sponsored the hostile convoy to Gaza, while MB rule in Egypt is hardly in Israel’s interest, as the MB is openly Judeophobic, sympathized with Hitler, and threatened to cancel the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. If we go farther back in history, we see anti-Jewish bigotry in the West for nearly 2000 years. Whereas most  European countries took part in the Holocaust in some way, be it ever so minor, powers outside the Continent did little if anything to save or rescue Jews in the maw of the Holocaust. One of President Obama’s models, Franklin Roosevelt, hardened his heart like Pharaoh to Jewish suffering and acted for minimal rescue of Jews only under great pressure.

It is no secret that today previously acknowledged Jewish national rights are rejected by major powers, while Jewish civilians in Western lands often fear physical attack. Israel cannot expect a real peace to emerge from the current negotiations, although an  accord may be signed on paper. To be sure, the Arab world is today in disarray as bloody conflicts rage in several countries. Hence a conventional attack by armies is unlikely. Yet a change in the military situation on the ground, a diminished Israeli strategic deterrence ensuing from a treaty or accord, is likely to encourage Arabs sooner or later to conventional war or rocket attacks. Chronic “low intensity warfare” would not be long in coming despite the Arab disarray.

It should be understood that an Israel without its defenses in terms of strategic terrain –accord or no accord—would tempt and be prey to Arab irredentist attacks. Furthermore, if there are negotiations, Israel’s goals have to be not only military security but the national, human and civil rights of Jews. Can an accord be accepted that takes away Jewish rights to live in ancient Jewish towns like Hebron, where Jews lived until a massacre in 1929, or parts of Jerusalem (where Jews have been a majority since 1853)? Furthermore, abrogation of Jewish rights of residence in Judea-Samaria jeopardizes Jewish civil and human rights in Diaspora countries. The hatred and physical attacks on Jews in Western countries –and not only by Arabs—show that much more is at stake than a flimsy peace with a future Arab state populated by people indoctrinated with Judeophobia of the most vile sort. We can expect more bad than good to emerge from an accord like the one that John Kerry is pushing towards. Moreover, isn’t Kerry ashamed to presume to make peace between Israel and Arabs in view of the mess that Washington has left in Iraq and Afghanistan? A peace accord is not peace and may be worse than the status quo.

In this situation, Jews and Israelis in and out of government need to focus on self-defense in the court of public opinion. Yes, the deck is stacked against us. But this does not mean that nothing can be done. Private individuals and officials need to tell the world the truth about history and about the Land of Israel’s legal status as the internationally designated Jewish National Home, a status never revoked by any international instrument as it could not have been legally revoked. Fair-minded people ought to know the Jewish history of this Land, ancient, medieval and modern, as well as the history of Jewish-Arab relations in which Jews were subject to oppression, exploitation and humiliation in Israel and other Arab- and Muslim-ruled lands as dhimmis under Muslim law (to be sure, all non-Muslims living under Islamic rule were dhimmis).

Do those who ignorantly or maliciously accuse Israel and Jews of Nazi-like behavior toward Arabs know about the Nazi and Holocaust collaboration of Haj Amin el-Husseini, mufti of Jerusalem? He spent most of the war in the Nazi-fascist domain and incited Arabs over Radio Berlin to “Kill Jews wherever you find them.” He urged the Germans to prevent Jewish escape from the Nazi domain and urged Nazi satellite states to send Jewish children to Poland where, he said, they would be under “active supervision.”

Do people know that Britain, charged with fostering development of the Jewish National Home by the League of Nations, prevented Jews from finding refuge in their national home when they most needed a home?

There is a great deal to tell to the world. And that also means that Jews too have to learn the relevant facts about history and international law, without being taken in by hostile propaganda which is widespread in Western lands as well as in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Some among us believe in an imaginary “enlightened world” that rightly scolds us. But look at the real world. The West and the rest are not morally fit to judge us. Of course, peace with the Arabs and the rest of the world is desirable. But peace with the Palestinian Authority is not now on offer, whatever John Kerry may say.

We are taught to not put our trust in princes, in the powerful and wealthy. Successive Israeli governments have been remiss in the field of public education in the necessary subjects of study. But there is much that the average person can do.

About the Author
Elliott A. Green is a writer, researcher, and translator living in Jerusalem. He has published in Nativ, Midstream, the Jerusalem Post, and other publications.