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Kill Oslo Before Oslo Kills Israel
By Paul Eidelberg
This essay is based on the assumption (daily demonstrated) that Israel must kill Oslo, i.e., the Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles of September 1993, before Oslo kills Israel.
It will not be enough to abrogate Oslo, along with the Hebron and Wye agreements, as proposed in a bill introduced in the Knesset by Michael Kleiner. To kill Oslo it will be necessary, first, to defeat and disarm Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and its army of 50,000 terrorists, and second, it will be necessary to implement an alternative to Oslo, such as that described in Section III of this essay.
Israeli military experts agree that the first objective can be accomplished in a short time, and the sooner the shorter the time. The highly decorated Peter Malkin, who was Mossad operations chief for fifteen years, said in a June 4, 2001 interview with New York Post journalist Sidney Zion: "The army, first of all, must go into Gaza and take the heavy arms that Arafat has been smuggling in for eight years. This can be done in two or three days. If we don't do it, Arafat will be able to turn on the terror whenever he pleases-even if he stops it for a while now." These weapons, says Malkin, are buried in the sand and they can be seized without endangering the civilian population. As for the rifles in the hands of the Palestinians, Malkin claims that most of the latter will run away, and that "if we go in with full force it will not be a terrible problem."
The question is: What prevents Israel's Government from taking military action to put an end to the Oslo fiasco, which has cost the lives of almost 700 Jewish men, women, and children, and which has also undermined Israel's deterrent power in the bellicose Middle East? To answer this question we must understand the internal and external obstacles to Oslo's demise. Only then can we logically propose a way-I dare say the only realistic way-of burying Oslo.
I. INTERNAL OBSTACLES: POLITICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL
So long as the Labor Party is in the Government, Oslo, Labor's offspring, will thrive and, like a cancer, destroy Israel. Labor's power, however, depends very much on the Arab vote and on the Arab parties. If the latter were expelled from parliament for having violated Basic Law: the Knesset, which prohibits any party that negates the Jewish character of the State, this would not only diminish Labor. It would humble Israel's scornful Arab citizens, who identify with the PLO, and it would raise the fallen morale of Israel's Jewish population.
Unfortunately, the Jewish Knesset Members (MKs), with insignificant exceptions, fear the canard of "racism" and thus lack the fortitude to uphold the law against Israel's internal Arab enemies. Besides, Jewish parties in the Knesset, secular and religious, seek the votes of Arab citizens. What prompts them to do so is this: In Israel, unlike 74 countries having democratic elections for the lower (or only) branch of parliament, the entire country constitutes a single electoral district, such that a few Arab votes can give a Jewish party an extra mandate. Tens of thousands of Arabs have voted for Jewish parties!
If this were not enough to prevent the expulsion of seditious Arab MKs, Israel's Supreme Court, a self-perpetuating oligarchy with emphatically egalitarian, secular, and anti-Zionist tendencies, would exercise a judicial veto against expulsion (as it did in the indictment of Ahmed Tibi). To curb this judicial power, the Knesset would have to amend Basic Law: The Judiciary. For example, it could democratize the appointment of judges by having them nominated by the President with the advice and consent of the Knesset. This reform, by the way, might produce a more Zionist Supreme Court, one that would uphold petitions, which, in the past, have challenged the legality of the Oslo agreement.
In any event, reform of the judiciary is not to be expected if only because the Knesset is dominated by secular parties favorable to the Supreme Court's anti-religious orientation. We see, therefore, that to kill Oslo, Israel's political and judicial institutions would require drastic reform. What prevents Oslo's demise is not Jewish public opinion-which actually opposes Oslo-but the demonstrably unrepresentative character of Israel's political and judicial institutions.
Although a substantial majority of Israel's Jewish population oppose Oslo, this majority is politically fragmented and rendered impotent by the 1.5% parliamentary electoral threshold and by the oligarchic system of fixed party lists. The latter enables MKs enjoying safe seats (like Shimon Peres) to ignore Jewish public opinion with impunity. Israeli politicians would be committing political suicide were they to change the method of constituting the Knesset by making its members individually accountable to the voters in multi-district elections. It was the lack of such elections that produced (and now sustains) Oslo. For given Israel's single countrywide electoral district, the Labor Party and Meretz, in the June 1992 elections, received enough Arab votes to gain control of the Government. Oslo was the result, if not the Arab price, of Labor's Arab-assisted ascendancy. Hence, to kill Oslo, power would have to be shifted from the parties to the people, which can only be accomplished by eliminating fixed party lists and making MKs individually accountable to the people in regional elections. The people identify with Zionism and Judaism far more than their governing institutions.
Finally, judging from the foreign sources that finance Israel's Labor Party-recall the millions of dollars donated to Ehud Barak election campaign (as well as to Ezer Weizman )-one may reasonably suspect that Oslo is also being sustained by a political-economic clique of Israelis that profits from the policy of "territory for peace," a clique that is linked to American military industries and that profits from this policy.
II. EXTERNAL OBSTACLES
Oslo has the most powerful life-support system in the world, the United States of America, to which one may add Europe. Suppose an Israeli government were to launch a worldwide information campaign exposing Arafat's ceaseless violations of the Oslo agreement and Oslo's evil consequences for Israel. The attempt would be futile. The democratic capitals of the world are well enough aware of those violations and consequences-and they have studiously ignored them. The reason is obvious. Much to Israel's disadvantage, the U.S. and Europe have economic and strategic interests in the Middle East, especially in the Persian Gulf, that transcend any concern they may have for the Jewish state.
Less obvious is the Western mentality that produced and sustains Oslo, which mentality cannot be changed by truth or by rhetoric. This mentality also permeates Israel's political and intellectual elites. Let me explain.
Oslo is the product of policy-makers and opinion-makers who believe that economic prosperity in the Middle East can dissolve the conflict between Jews and Moslems despite their political and religious antagonisms. This describes the attitude of Shimon Peres, who applied for Israeli membership in the Arab League when he was Yitzhak Rabin's very foreign minister! (The Arab League secretary, having yet to define man as homo economicus, informed Peres that the Jews of Israel should first become Moslems!)
Peres' non-ideological attitude manifests a deeply ingrained Western mode of thought. The Oslo policy of "land for peace" is not based simply on the assumption that "returning" the territory Israel gained in the Six-Day War would alone pacify her Arab neighbors. More fundamental is a western assumption concerning human nature, namely, the primacy of economics in human affairs.
Notice that socialism and capitalism cooperated in crafting Oslo: socialism via Israel's Labor Party, and capitalism via the prompting of the United States. Socialists and capitalists both believe in the primacy of economics versus ideology in the Moslem-Jewish conflict. The idea of the primacy of economics is related to the idea of "conflict resolution" prevalent among political scientists throughout the democratic world. I shall examine these related ideas via Karl Marx and Thomas Hobbes, the unknown godfathers of Oslo. I do so to show that Oslo can only be killed by force.
The notion of "conflict resolution" may be derived from the basic presupposition of Hobbes' political philosophy, that violent death is the greatest evil. The fear of violent death, together with the desire for comfortable self-preservation, impels men to seek peace. Hobbes (unlike Moslems) not only denied perdition, providence, and paradise. He was the first systematic political philosopher to substitute bourgeois or utilitarian morality for aristocratic pride or honor. Which is why the aim of the state, for Hobbes, is peace at any price. (Hobbes underlies the mentality of Peace Now and its eminent grise, Shimon Peres!)
Contrary to Hobbes, Marx held that the ultimate cause of human conflict is not inherent in human nature-in egoism-but in the penury of external nature, more precisely, in economic scarcity. Nature simply does not provide enough for human needs. Economic scarcity can be overcome, however, by the conquest of nature through scientific technology. Hence there is an economic or technological solution to the Arab-Israel conflict. Oslo follows.
Explicit in Marxism is the assumption that the products of human consciousness-such as religious and metaphysical ideas-have no independent status. Marx referred to such ideas as "phantoms" or "ideological reflexes." "The phantoms formed in the brain, are bound to material premises. Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence." Evident in Marx is the doctrine of historical relativism, which has influenced Israel's intellectual elites.
Now, if "forms of consciousness" are simply the reflexes of "material premises," they must be relative to time and place. In other words, if ideas merely reflect economic modes of production, which change from epoch to epoch, or which differ from country to country, it follows that the political and religious ideas of nations have no independence or inherent validity. Change their economic conditions and you will change their ideas. Hence the economic model for Middle East peace.
The primacy of economics versus ideology in Marx corresponds to the primacy of the passions versus thought in Hobbes. Hobbes writes: "Thoughts are to the desires as scouts and spies to range abroad and find the way to the things desired." Moreover: "Whatever is the object of any man's appetite or desire, that is it which he for his part calleth good; and the object of his hate or aversion, evil ... For these words of good [and] evil ... are ever used with relation to the person that useth them: there being nothing simply and absolutely so; nor any common rule of good and evil, to be taken from the nature of the objects themselves; but from the person of the man, where there is no commonwealth."
The doctrine of moral relativism could hardly be stated more lucidly. Relativism dominates education in the democratic world. One should therefore expect relativism (or moral equivalence) to influence, however subtly, the mentality and policies of democratic politicians. Examples abound: equating the barbarisms deliberately perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists against Jewish children, versus Israel's military response to those terrorists, which happens to kill an Arab child. (The Mitchell-Tenet ceasefire plan (of which, more later) is the consequence of that moral equivalence.) But relativism also infects Israel's political elites. Thus, Ehud Barak once avowed that had he been born an Arab, he too would have been a terrorist! Less inane but perhaps more pernicious for being more subtle, Ariel Sharon said in an April 13, 2001 interview with Ha'aretz that his son Omri taught him "not to see things in black and white." Relativism made it easier for Barak to offer Arafat 95% of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, shared sovereignty over the Temple Mount, plus 5% of land within the "Green Lines." Relativism (along with the arbitrary and undemocratic nature of Israel's political system) made it easier for Sharon to accept (without cabinet approval) the Mitchell-Tenet ceasefire plan, which outdoes Oslo! It not only requires a freeze on Jewish settlements, but it prohibits Israel from pre-emptive attacks against terrorists or even "hot-pursuit"!
By denying the truth of any system of moral and religious values, relativism fosters the primacy of materialistic-cum-economic values. The same doctrine lends itself to the policy of "conflict resolution," which insinuates that no cause or ideological conflict is worth dying for. While this cannot but discourage Israel from killing Oslo, it makes it easier for Moslems, unaffected by relativism, to be suicide bombers and kill Jews!
From the above analysis I draw the following conclusions:
- Oslo's Israeli architects, as well as its American sponsor, were intellectually programmed in such a way as to trivialize Arafat's and Islam's implacable hostility toward Israel;
- revealing this hostility and its threat to Israel's existence will be futile if only because Washington's economic interests in the Middle East take precedence;
- Israel, under its present political system, is incapable of killing Oslo (especially if a linkage exists between politically powerful economic interests in Israel and American military industries);
- Oslo can only be killed by means of war, hence by a government led my men untainted by Marxist or Hobbesian relativism, and wholeheartedly determined to defeat and disarm Arafat's army in a swift and decisive blow.
I am aware of the possible consequences: US-led UN intervention, international sanctions, if not a regional war. But what is the alternative? Only the gradual but certain death of Israel. The Mitchell-Tenet ceasefire plan does not disarm Arafat; it disarms Israel! So long as Arafat remains armed, he will renew his war of attrition, distract the IDF, and thereby render Israel vulnerable to a devastating attack by a coalition of hostile Arab states. Arafat, Egypt's client, is programmed to continue his struggle, not for a Palestinian state so much as for Israel's annihilation. This is why he insists on the Arab "right of return," which even leftists realize would terminate Israel's existence.
By accepting the Mitchell-Tenet ceasefire plan, the Peres-motivated Sharon Government has renounced war, hence self-preservation as an option. UN or US peace-keeping forces will enter Israel to "monitor" the ceasefire, but they will not only further erode Israel's sovereignty, but provide a cover for Arab violations. UN peace-keeping forces in Lebanon has not prevented Hizbullah from attacking Israel. While Sharon exercises self-restraint to please Washington, the cunning Arafat will accumulate more and deadlier weapons.
Sharon's capitulation to Washington will lead not only to a freeze of Jewish settlements, but to their eventual abandonment and the shrinkage of Israel. Demoralized by a spineless Government, and with no end of terrorist attacks in sight, more Jews will leave Israel. In less than two decades Israel will be Arabized. Thus, if Israel does not bury Oslo, that is, if Israel lacks the will and stamina to resist and withstand international intervention and sanctions, then Oslo will bury Israel.
III. HOW TO BURY OSLO
It follows from the preceding analysis that Israel urgently needs a radically new form of government, one composed of Jews uncorrupted by relativism and therefore confident in the justice of their cause. These Jews must be ideologically uncompromising, for Israel faces an uncompromising foe. Accordingly, it will be necessary for extra-parliamentary nationalist groups with a strong traditional orientation to form a United Front and a powerful grassroots movement. Their objective must be to establish a party committed to overhauling Israel's political, judicial, and economic institutions. To this end they should design a constitution that will attract a broad spectrum of religious and non-religious Jews.
Consider: It is well-documented that 88% of the people of Israel's are disgusted with the existing parties, which they see as corrupt, self-serving oligarchies. This very fact would enable a radically new party to win a huge "floating vote" of disillusioned citizens. The party I have in mind would expose the sham of Israeli democracy, and offer, in its place, a truly democratic form of government in which the power of parties would be significantly limited by an electoral system that enables the people to choose their representatives by means of "preferential voting," the system used in Australia and Ireland. Such a party, properly financed and led, could win a commanding number of seats in the next Knesset and thus determine the composition of the Government.
Once established, the Government's first objective must be to destroy Arafat's military infrastructure and reoccupy any territory hitherto surrendered to the Palestinian Authority. It must warn the entire world that it will employ every force at its command to prevent aggression against the Jewish state. Israel will not be another Kosovo!
Second, once Judea, Samaria, and Gaza are pacified, the Government should take steps to move some of its ministries into eastern Jerusalem, Ramallah, Shechem, the Galillee, and other Arab populated areas. Such moves will convince Arabs that Jews intend to remain in these areas permanently.
Third, the Government should pass a Homestead Act such as that enacted by the Congress of the United State in 1862. Small plots of land in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza should be sold at low prices to Jews both in Israel and abroad with the proviso that they settle on the land, say for a period of six years. This would diminish the dangerous population density of Israel's large cities and, at the same time, encourage Jewish immigration to Israel. Model cities should be built, facilitated by foreign investment on terms favorable to investors.
(Had the previous two policies been implemented shortly after the Six-Day War, the idea of a Palestinian state would have died before it was born. Many Arabs, without any prompting by the Government, would have emigrated to Jordan and the Persian Gulf states. Having formed no distinct culture or solid infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, their attachment to the land is superficial-avowals to the contrary notwithstanding. Indeed, while Jordan ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, about 400,000 Arabs moved from Judea and Samaria to the eastern side of the Jordan River. During and immediately after the 1967 war, 200,000 more Arabs-roughly one of every five inhabitants-moved to the East Bank!)
Fourth, the Government must democratize the economy and the media, both of which are now dominated by a political-economic clique linked to foreign sources.
Fifth, the Government must enforce the laws against seditious Arab citizens and MKs.
Sixth, the Government should enfranchise Israelis living abroad and institute an economic program that would encourage tens of thousands of these Israelis to return to their homeland.
One last word. Some may think that the present Government, out of desperation, may launch a disarming attack against the Palestinian army. Though possible, such action is not to be expected for reasons indicated above. Therefore, the extra-parliamentary nationalist groups mentioned earlier must not postpone the formation of a United Front. Action is necessary NOW.
Prof. Paul Eidelberg is the President
of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy. Visit his web site at www.jewishstatesmanship.com
from the September 2001 Edition of the Jewish Magazine