April 19, 2014
THE DEATH of Ron Pundak, one of the original Israeli architects of the 1993
Gideon Levy reminded us that the Rightist rabble-rousers, in their furious
onslaught on the agreement, called the initiators “
In his book, Mein Kampf (which is about to lose its copyright, so that anyone can print it again) Hitler also revealed another insight: that a lie will be believed if it is big enough, and if it is repeated often enough.
That, too, applies to the
Oslo is dead, we are told. It actually died at birth. And by extension, this will be the lot of every peace agreement in the future. A large part of the Israeli public has come to believe this.
THE MAIN achievement of the
On that day, the Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the
Prime Minister of the State of
Today’s younger generation (on both sides) cannot realize the huge significance of these twin acts.
From its inception almost a hundred years earlier, the Zionist movement had denied the very existence of a Palestinian people. I myself have spent many hundreds of hours of my life in trying to convince Israeli audiences that a Palestinian nation really exists. Golda Meir famously declared: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.” I am rather proud of my reply to her, in a Knesset debate: “Mrs. Prime Minister, perhaps you are right. Perhaps a Palestinian people really does not exist. But if millions of people mistakenly believe that they are a people and act like a people, they are a people!”
The Zionist denial was not an arbitrary quirk. The basic Zionist aim was to take
Recognizing the existence of the Palestinian people was, therefore, a revolutionary act.
ON THE other side, recognition was even harder.
From the first day of the conflict, practically all Palestinians, and indeed
almost all Arabs, looked upon the Zionists as an invading tribe that was out to
rob them of their homeland, drive them out and build a robber-state on their
ruins. The aim of the Palestinian national movement was therefore to demolish
the Zionist state and throw the Jews into the sea, as their forefathers had
thrown the last of the Crusaders quite literally from the quay of
And here came their revered leader, Yasser Arafat, and recognized the legality of Israel, reversing the ideology of a hundred years of struggle, in which the Palestinian people had lost most of their country and most of their homesteads.
But, of course, all this is far from the reality of peace which many of us, including Ron Pundak, envisioned on that happily optimistic day, September 13, 1993. Just over twenty years later, the flames of conflict are blazing, and most people don’t dare to even utter the word “peace”, as if it were a pornographic abomination.
WHAT WENT wrong? Many Palestinians believe that Arafat’s historic concessions
were premature, that he should not have made them before
Rabin changed his whole world-view at the age of 71 and took a historic decision, but he was not the man to follow through. He hesitated, wavered, and famously declared “there are no sacred dates”.
This slogan became the umbrella for breaking our obligations. The final
agreement should have been signed in 1999. Long before that, four “safe
passages” should have been opened between the West Bank and
There was no obligation under
The initial violations of the agreement and the dysfunctionality of the entire process encouraged the extremists on both sides. The Israeli extremists assassinated Rabin, and the Palestinian extremists started a campaign of murderous attacks.
LAST WEEK I already commented on our government's habit of abstaining from fulfilling signed obligations, whenever it thought that the national interest demanded it.
As a soldier in the 1948 war, I took part in the great offensive to open the way
The same technique was later used by Ariel
The start of
As a matter of fact, Arafat had kept the cease-fire meticulously. Since he wanted to avoid an Israeli invasion, he had imposed his authority even on the opposition elements. For 11 months, not a single bullet was fired on that border. Yet when I spoke a few days ago with a former senior security official, he assured me seriously that “they shot at us every day. It was intolerable.”
After six days of war, a cease-fire was agreed. However, at that time our troops
had not yet succeeded in surrounding
The present crisis in the “peace process” was caused by the Israeli government’s breaking its agreement to release Palestinian prisoners on a certain day. This violation was so blatant that it could not be hidden or explained away. It caused the famous “poof” of John Kerry.
In fact, Binyamin Netanyahu just did not dare to fulfill his obligation after he and his acolytes in the media had for weeks incited the public against the release of “murderers” with “blood on their hands”. Even on the so-called “center-left”, voices were mute.
Now another mendacious narrative is taking shape before our eyes. The large
BACK TO the
May Ron Pundak rest in peace – even though the peace he was working for still seems far away.
But come It will.