A peaceful solution?

Efraim Halevy in August 2014 Source: Eli Itkin/Wikimedia

Efraim Halevy in August 2014
Source: Eli Itkin/Wikimedia

A recent and interesting after dinner chat with a sabra, gave me a different perspective – always welcome – on the forthcoming Israeli elections, and the goal of the electorate.

He asked me what the central problem Israeli society faced was. I told him social inequality. He disagreed, saying the problem was the lack of peace. I told him I had discounted that, because I don’t think there’s a solution, and assuredly not one that can be, or will be, promoted as part of a party manifesto.

He told me that he remembers the situation being the same before Israel attained peace with Egypt: it was thought to be impossible, but it happened. At that point, the discussion ground down a bit as we covered the comparison of Sadat with Abbas (and, indeed Arafat).

Broadly speaking, there was agreement that many Israelis do not see peace as a possibility because of the Palestinian situation. For example, how does Israel avoid any neighboring Palestinian state being or becoming a souped up Gaza rocket factory? For example, an agreement with Fatah has as much chance of being binding on Hamas and Gaza, as Bibi has of becoming politician of the year in Ramallah.

The response was that we should ignore Hamas and Gaza because they really are beyond the pale. However, in my opinion that is unrealistic, mainly because no Palestinian leader will do a deal that is not universally backed. It may be that an Arab League initiative would be enough, but even that is not in sight. But overall, the suggestion was that we take the issues and the problems, and we negotiate.

With all of that in mind, this Times of Israel interview with Efraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad intelligence agency, is interesting.

[He] accused the outgoing government, especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, of having violated the fragile status quo in Jerusalem. The elections of March 2015 are not merely a referendum on Israel’s leadership, he said, but constitute an unprecedented opportunity to determine Israel’s policy vis-à-vis the peace process.

And:

There is no word in Hebrew for dignity, he quoted a friend observing once. The Arab world has long felt deeply inferior, and Israelis are basically telling Arabs that they don’t suffer from an inferiority complex but are indeed inferior, Halevy said. “The problem we have had over the years has been that they have sought dignity and the last thing we ever thought of was addressing them in a manner that gave them a feeling of some dignity.”

His criticisms of Bibi are ones I would endorse, in the main. But the stuff about dignity is misleading, as it absolves the Palestinians and their leadership from all blame. Their lying, their incitement, their previous intransigence when deals were on the table, cannot be explained away by dignity. It can be explained away by other, more negative, characteristics. For example, there are many who say the Palestinians do not want a single square centimeter of a Jewish state. So, discussion about the borders of a Palestinian state are, at best, a temporary situation, and a cover for a future war of obliteration. It is difficult to see the peace loving bridge building aspects of Palestinian society. I am almost sure they exist. I am almost sure they are insignificant.

It’s important to stress that while I don’t agree with Halevy’s rationalizations, or his perspective, I don’t exclude the possibility that his approach may be worth trying. As I previously posted, we have a duty to our children – and their children – to do the best we can to make peace.

Share:

Education as a tool of oppression

And by oppression, I mean oppression of the Palestinian people by the Palestinian leadership.

Try this for size:

“I was born in Jerusalem in an Arab culture that, to put it mildly, ignores the Holocaust and avoids discussing it. As a young girl, I had to overcome social and educational restrictions to learn more about these closed chapters of history. Not only were books on the subject unavailable, but we were told that our responsibility as Palestinians was to memorize only what teachers told us, so as to reinforce our collective memory of loss and grievance and support our national identity and quest for a homeland.

However degrading and unfair our situation in Palestine is today—and yes, it is degrading and unfair—it pales in comparison to the dehumanizing evil perpetrated by the Nazis.

So people were educated in a narrow focus to support their national identity. Memorize only what teachers teach. Do not ask questions. No books. It’s like 1984 without the liberty…

The quote, not so incidentally, comes from a participant in a Palestinian trip to Poland and the camps in March of this year. Read it all, here, and weep for those poor people. Cursed they are. Cursed by their leaders, and the international community – calling Catherine Ashton – that tolerates, excuses and ignores, Holocaust denial, threats of terrorist activity, and Jew hatred.

Read it and weep for what these people could be, were they to have peace.

Share: