Peace Trap

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It must be said: There is no peace process. Yasser Arafat, who is the declared commander of Fatah-Tanzim, the proud perpetrator of Wednesday's kamikaze attack on babies and grandmothers in Jerusalem, and the enabler of Hamas, which perpetrated Tuesday's massacre in the capital, is a terrorist and a murderer. The Palestinian Authority is not simply a regime that "cavorts with terror," as US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice gently put it last week. It is a fascist regime that defines terror and is defined by terror.


Today, nine years after the inauguration of the Oslo process and 21 months into the official Palestinian Authority jihad, there are no credible voices for coexistence in Palestinian society. Even Palestinian leaders considered doves – that rarefied group of Jerusalem aristocracy which includes such luminaries as Sari Nusseibeh and Hanan Ashrawi – cannot find it in their hearts to recognize that life is an immutable right.



In their much publicized (and EU financed) declaration of opposition to terrorism published in Wednesday's Al-Quds newspaper, these Palestinian peaceniks only condemned the murder of civilians within Israel's pre-Six Day War borders which exclude both the Gilo and French Hill neighborhoods where this week's attacks took place. The full-page ad, which was condemned by the PA, was also silent on the barbarity of suicide bombings.


Stipulating that the first requirement of peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians is Palestinian recognition of all Israelis' right to life cannot be viewed as an unreasonable demand. And yet, we see to our revulsion and amazement, there is no Palestinian constituency with any legitimacy or power that recognizes this natural right. Therefore, it is clear today that for the foreseeable future, there will be no peace with the Palestinians.


What remains shrouded in ambiguity is the fact that the Oslo process was not a "peace process." The Oslo process was an agreement process. Its final goal was not to produce peace, but rather to produce agreements in the name of peace. And it was successful for a time in producing agreements.



This fact was clear from the very beginning. On the very day that Arafat signed the Oslo Accords with prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn, he gave a speech, aired on Jordanian television in which he invoked the decision by the Palestine National Council made at Rabat in 1974 calling for the phased liquidation of Israel. Israel remained silent because our government wanted agreements. To this day, the PLO has not clearly amended its covenant calling for the destruction of Israel, in spite of the fact that doing so was to be a precondition for all negotiations.


Accepting the distinction between the never-existent peace process and the still throbbing agreement process is crucial for understanding Israel's predicament. And, of course, understanding this predicament is the first necessary step to finding a way out.



Oslo's architects claimed and continue to claim that the goal of the process is to bring peace, but the simple truth is that this assertion is a distortion of reality. Peace can never be a concrete policy goal because peace is not concrete. Peace is an aspiration, a dream, or a state of reality for the lucky. Peace is not a policy, and it is not a policy goal in any real sense.


Israel, as a rational, moral, free, and democratic state naturally aspires to peace. However, as a country surrounded by autocratic, bellicose regimes, in need of an external bogeyman to justify their existence to their oppressed citizenry, Israel will get no peace from its neighbors. Although Israel has signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, Israel has no peace with those nations.



Egypt spends a quarter of its GDP on its military. Its official press and religious authorities have demonized Israel to such a degree that Israeli physicians must be flown to Cairo to treat sick Israeli diplomats because Egyptian doctors refuse to care for them. And so, relations with Egypt would be rightly characterized as a cold war.


Israel's close relations with the Hashemite minority regime in Palestinian-dominated Jordan are not the result of the 1994 treaty. Israel has been Jordan's strategic partner at least since the IDF saved the Hashemite regime from a PLO coup in 1970, and, some would argue, since even before the establishment of both states. It could be reasonably argued that the peace treaty, bringing these relations to the attention of rank-and-file Jordanians who reject Israel's right to exist, has weakened rather than strengthened Israel's partnership with Jordan. Today, our relations are susceptible to public calumny in Jordan that simply did not exist before.


At any rate, Israel's status vis-a -vis Egypt and Jordan did not improve much after peace agreements were signed from what it had been previous to their signing. That is, the agreements in and of themselves did little to transform relations in any positive way.


Policies and strategies are geared towards the achievement of tangible goals. Since the inauguration of the Oslo process, Israel's governments, either by design or by default, have subordinated all of Israel's interests to the goal of achieving signed agreements with Arafat.


Prior to Oslo, Israel's policy, like that of most peace-loving nations, was to do everything in its power to achieve security. Israel's unbending war against terrorists aimed to provide personal security for its citizens from mayhem and murder. And Israel's preemptive military doctrine and advanced arms industries were cultivated to ensure its strategic security from the threats posed by our neighbors' military capabilities.


Israel's pre-Oslo goals were rational and achievable, if sometimes only at great cost. Israel's success at deterring its neighbors from waging war against it and in providing decent security for its citizenry in spite of its enemies' high motivation to kill and terrorize was not inconsiderable.


Then came Oslo, with its delusion that peace is a policy, and security disappeared from our lives. We armed our sworn enemy and gave it the means to transform Palestinian society from a nascent, if violent and petulant, democracy, into a fascistic, jihadi lunatic asylum with an open-door policy for homicidal Islamikazes, who ecstatically massacre us as we sleep, eat, go to work, go home, and shop.


We are told by the policy wonks in Meretz that there is no military solution. We are told by the president of the United States that while we have a right to self-defense, we must be careful to prevent the "path to peace" from being blocked. Debates on television talk shows range from the pros and cons of having the Europeans, the UN, and the peace-loving Egyptians come in and enforce a "peaceful solution," to the inevitability of this loss of sovereignty.



When we build walls, (which will only allow the Palestinians to operate with greater immunity), we are reviled by the US State Department for harming prospects for peace, and threatened by the Palestinians, who claim we have no right – given our commitment to achieving agreements – to defend ourselves.


The problem with all of these statements and discussions is that they are addressing the wrong issue. Since Oslo, all debate on national policy has been subordinated to the dictate that we must all profess our dedication to peace as a strategic goal before getting a seat at the table. Every policy and every decision, has been judged from the prism of whether it advanced attaining Arafat's signature on a dotted line, or distanced such an event.



Still today, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer protest expelling Arafat and retaking territory in Area A. Their aversion to these actions is based on the pr
oposition that such actions by the IDF will make it harder to sign an agreement with Arafat or with one of his successors who will be equally respectful of our right to life.


For Israel to extricate itself from the intolerable situation in which we have found ourselves these past 21 months, it is imperative that we change the premise upon which our national debate is being carried out. Peace as a policy aim must be expunged from our national dialogue. Instead, we must anchor our national discourse on the rational pursuit of security.


All political, diplomatic, and military moves by the government must be based on the litmus test of whether or not such moves enhance or degrade Israel's security. In this way, we will open the national debate to a wellspring of grounded and worthy ideas that have been silenced for the past decade because they aim at achieving security, not agreements with the PLO.


All Israelis dream of peace, because peace is a dream. All Israelis demand security, because without security we cannot live our lives. This demand is fitting and appropriate, as protecting our lives is the primary task of our government.


Today we shake with rage and pain at the sight of so many precious lives blotted out. Our despair has reached such proportions that we cannot even muster the hope that protesting against our wholesale murder will do something to end this atrocious reality. Instead we sit at home, stare at the carnage on television, and pray.


Our prayers will only be answered when we wholly and completely reject the perverse notion that peace is a tangible aim for policy, and return to the rational determination that the provision of security at all costs is the primary responsibility of our leadership.



Originally published in The Jerusalem Post


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