We’ve just celebrated Rosh Hashanah here in Israel. For the next year, our individual destiny has been decided, but nevertheless the serious time for introspection continues. According to the Torah, our fate in the next year hangs in the balance. One’s “decree” is already on the “record,” but it can be ameliorated by repenting misdeeds, doing good acts, and giving charity. In any event, on Yom Kippur the Book of Life is sealed, so I wish all my readers a “good listing” in it!
During this year, we commemorate two significant events: the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the 30th anniversary of the 1993 Oslo Agreements. Both were earthshaking events. The Yom Kippur surprise attack was devastating from start to finish, even though our enemies were eventually overcome. The so-called peace agreement was over-the-top optimistic and had disastrous results.
Many of you have seen the recent film, “Golda,” which recreated some aspects of the fraught few days from just before the surprise attack on Yom Kippur to the point when Israel’s victory was assured. Of course the film was not a strict history lesson, but I think the cinematic portrayal of Israel’s first and only female prime minister, Golda Meir captured the atmosphere of those days in a dramatic way.
Just six years after the quasi-messianic Six Day War, which lifted Israeli spirits literally to the heavens, the Egyptian-Syrian attack on our most solemn day of the year was devastating. There is no doubt that hubris on the part of the Israeli military and government played a part in 1973’s Arab “answer” to the momentous, unbelievable defeat Israel’s neighbors suffered in 1967. Hardly any Israeli thought that our overpowered neighbors would dare to challenge us again after their collective humiliation. Quite the contrary… that overconfidence nearly doomed Israel. In addition, the insistence by the US that Israel not “fire the first shot” resulted in hesitation to call-up our reserve forces, the backbone of Israel’s defenses.
As depicted in “Golda,” during the first days of the war Israel’s morale was devastated, its materiel inadequate and in poor repair, and the initial battles unsuccessful. This caused Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan to lose his vaunted bravado. He prophesied that the “‘Third Temple’ (modern Israel) was falling.” He even suggested that the nuclear option might be necessary, an option that was immediately quashed by Prime Minister Meir and the IDF leaders.
Dayan’s defeatism was soon proven to be premature, as Israel’s forces rebounded and won incredible battles against great odds in both the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. But the damage to the Israeli psyche had been done. The citizenry fell into depression, first because of the huge number of casualties, 2,656 dead and 9,000 wounded, and secondly because the threat of defeat had deflated the overconfidence that the Six Day War had brought. The one positive result of the war was the eventual peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, which has been in effect since 1979.
The “Oslo Agreement” of 1993 was the result of secretive talks between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a terrorist organization. The preliminary, back-channel discussions were conducted by Yossi Beilin under instructions from Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, without the knowledge of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. These talks somewhat legitimized a radical, Islamist terror group, putting on the same footing as the established State of Israel.
A five-year plan was developed in which both sides were to take specific actions. The main issues were to be negotiated at the end of the interim period. I won’t explain the many details of the agreement because I, and many, many others rejected the entire failed proposal. Why? Isn’t peace with the Palestinian Arabs desirable? I can’t say “no” to that improbable concept, but the idea of negotiating with the arch-terrorist Yasir (or Yasser) Arafat is untenable. He and his terrorist cohort had been exiled to Tunis from Lebanon in 1982, after devastating that country. This followed the PLO evacuation from Jordan in 1971 for the same reason! Why would any government expect a different outcome from arch-terrorists intent on Israel’s destruction? There was never an indication that the PLO would accept a truncated portion for their “State of Palestine.” Its founding and permanent goal was to usurp Israel and expunge the Jews.
This is proven by excerpts from the Palestinian National Charter: Resolutions of the Palestine National Council July 1-17, 1968 – WHICH HAS NEVER BEEN ALTERED:
Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.
Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution.
The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland [NOT], and aims at the elimination of Zionism [JEWS] in Palestine.
The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.
The liberation of Palestine will destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence and will contribute to the establishment of peace in the Middle East…. The demand of security and peace, as well as the demand of right and justice, require all states to consider Zionism an illegitimate movement, to outlaw its existence, and to ban its operations, in order that friendly relations among peoples may be preserved, and the loyalty of citizens to their respective homelands safeguarded.
The PLO has never changed its Covenant, the revision of which was supposedly guaranteed in the Agreement. Middle East pundit Daniel Pipes wrote in 1994 (one year after the signing): “Yasir Arafat senses this urgency and fully exploits it. For example, he solemnly and publicly assured the Israelis in August 1993 that he would change the PLO Charter, eliminating its many references to destroying Israel. But he took not a single step in this direction. The Israeli leadership not only did not call him to task on the matter, but Foreign Minister Peres even apologized for Arafat, saying the offensive portions of the Charter are ‘just words.’”
Clause 33 of the PLO Charter as amended in 1968 specifically states that there can be no change to the Charter unless 2/3 of the full membership of the Palestinian National Council votes for it at a meeting specially noticed for an amendment change. This did not occur.
Mr. William K. Langfan, recently deceased, was a 100-year-old WWII veteran, lawyer, proud Zionist, and philanthropist. He publicly offered a $1,000,000 Wells Fargo check to the first person who presents a validly voted written PNC resolution carrying out the claimed PLO Amendment. No one ever claimed the reward.
The current, elderly dictator of the Palestinian Authority, “President” Mahmoud Abbas, is in the 19th year of his 4-year term. He has never deviated from the PLO Charter. With his doctorate in Jew-hatred from a Moscow University, and his suit and tie, Abbas is lauded by the mass media as a “peacemaker.” No such peace has occurred with the Palestinian Arabs, nor will it occur, until such time as their “all or nothing” approach is dropped by the PLO: All Palestine/No Israel. I cannot foresee any possibility of that.
Is there any solution to the “Palestinian Problem?” What might be possible is a sort of “Palestine Emirates” composed of the main Palestinian Arab cities run by their ruling clans/tribes, their most powerful grouping. This has been proposed by the noted intelligence and Arab affairs lecturer, Mordechai Kedar. (https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/318014)
The fact that the US, the EU, and the UN, as well as some Arab states and some Israelis insistently promote a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs is a major hindrance. No democratic state in the world would assist in the development of a terrorist state adjacent to it. Yet, in a letter last month to President Biden, 75+ signatories, including the heads of the Reform and Conservative religious denominations, former executives at AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the ADL, the Conference of Presidents, and the Jewish Agency along with former US ambassadors to Israel urged him to only pursue a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia that includes “measures that tangibly advance prospects for a two-state solution.” (https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/us-jewish-leaders-push-biden-to-include-moves-toward-2-states-in-saudi-normalization)
With the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War and the apparent death throes of the Oslo Accords, it’s time to learn from our mistakes and think optimistically. The way forward demands compromise between the factions of Israel’s left and right. Power must be shared between the secular and the religious. If Israel becomes just a secular state with a majority of Jews, its future is problematic. If it becomes a theocracy, its future is also problematic. But if Israel retains the Jewish mission as its backbone, its future is unlimited!