Tough Times and Hard Choices
July 29, 2013
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Tough times for Israel. The whole debate over the peace process has become highly ideological and personalised. From the Left, come accusations of occupation, oppression of Palestinians and Israeli intransigence or worse. Some of this is outright wrong (the ”occupation” for instance) and much else is oversimplified and distorted. But the cry goes out: peace along the two-state paradigm is the key to Israel’s survival; at least amongst those who care a damn whether Israel survives or not. And the world, much of the Jewish Diaspora and segments of Israel believes it.
From the Right come accusations of Palestinian incitement, denial of Jewish identity and rights in the Middle East and Arab-Muslim fanaticism, backwardness and anti-Semitism. Some of this is racist and some of it is insensitive to Arab-Palestinian feelings of dispossession and humiliation. Nevertheless, there is greater truth in much of what the Right asserts, even though I don’t like the language or the refusal to see possible glimmers of opportunity.
But most Israelis are centrist. They are extremely wary of the Arab-Muslim-Palestinian world out of hard experience but are willing to concede deeply prized territory for the sake of real peace. What they deeply fear is that Israel is being pressed into a weak negotiating position for a false dream of peace and that, just around the corner after the piece of paper has been signed to much public fanfare and photo-ops, a new causus belli will be found, new grievances will be manufactured and the whole process of demonisation will continue. And after a brief interregnum of peace, hostilities will flare up, the Western and Middle East propaganda machines, only temporarily in mothballs, will be resurrected and the drive to total victory and the destruction of Israel will continue unabated.
If that happens, the world should know that millions of Jewish centrists like me will support any act by the Israeli government to ensure their security. That includes the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and/or Gaza, loyalty oaths and the like. The release of 104 Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands and the likely spectacle of Palestinian rejoicing, even gloating, is a bitter pill for Israel to swallow. What a step forward it would be if the Palestinian leadership, for once, forwent the opportunity to rub Israel’s nose in its own gesture of appeasement.
Let us all pray that it is worth it: that the moderates and peacemakers in Arab-Palestinian society will find the courage to assert themselves and that the US and the West does not continue with a policy of appeasement at the expense of Israel. Because if that happens I am sure that Israel will, once and for all, take her fate back into own hands and do what is necessary to survive and prosper.