In Judaism, there can be no justification for deliberate self-endangerment, and in classic Greek tragedy, there can be no deus ex machina. In tragedy, the human spirit remains noble in the face of inescapable death, but if there should remain anything genuinely tragic in Israel’s incremental capitulations to “Palestine,” it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the term – “goat song” – from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus. In every other sense, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan exhibits behavior that would, however unwittingly, desecrate Israel’s Jewish heritage and its survival obligations.
Oddly, Mr. Netanyahu now proceeds with the acceptance of a “Two State Solution,” but makes this acceptance contingent upon a demilitarized Palestinian state – a contingency that is inherently contrary to legal sovereignty. Moreover, his “moderate” Palestinian “partners in peace” are still openly dedicated only to a single Arab state. Israel does not even exist on the “moderate” maps of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah. As for the still unrevised Fatah constitution, Abbas’ (Abu Mazen) intentions for Israel are plainly identifiable as Crimes Against Humanity. As a professor of international law, I can confirm this in an entirely literal sense. Like Hamas, Fatah has plans for Israel that constitute genocide according to authoritative and unassailable standards of pertinent international norms. Shouldn’t this plain fact have entered into the preferences of both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu?
Mahmoud Abbas’ only solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict is therefore the all-too-familiar “final” one. And this from the man insistently described in both Jerusalem and Washington as the “moderate” Palestinian voice.
Aristotle understood, in his Poetics, that a tragedy must elicit pity and fear, but assuredly not pathos, a kind of suffering substantially less heroic than what is to be expected of a truly tragic figure. Aristotle identified the tragic with “good” characters who suffer, in part, because they commit some error (hamartia) unknowingly. Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other hand, has continued his country’s march to disaster not because of any such error, or even because of wantonness or caprice, but because he steadfastly clings to myth and self-delusion.
Israelis currently in a tragic dilemma, a situation initially created by Rabin/Peres, sustained by Netanyahu in his prior tenure as prime minister, heightened by Barak and Sharon, and potentially to be “finalized” by Netanyahu in his current term as prime minister.
Today, a Prime Minister of Israel is still complicit in plans to codify jihad-centered rule over essential and core sectors of the Jewish State. Yet, Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas was mentored by Yassir Arafat, and Arafat, in the words of Gustav Hendrikssen, professor emeritus of Bible Studies at Sweden’s Uppsala University, “is the heir of Hitler, and the Palestinian Covenant is a more disgusting document than the Nuremberg laws.” Significantly, when this self-described “aged and bitter Gentile” recalled his reactions to awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to “one of the most despicable figures in our century,” he saw in that event the drama not of tragedy, but of pathetic farce: “When I saw the Prime Minister of Israel and its Foreign Minister standing next to this murderous clown,” says Prof. Hendrikssen, speaking of Rabin and Peres, “I had to think again about the meaning of the term “friend of Israel.'”
A Christian for whom Israel had always been a “divine message,” Hendrikssen confirmed our sober understanding that Israel’s ongoing surrenders lack even the stuff of tragedy. If, after all, “…the Jewish people digs its grave with its own hand,” it is a coming death without dignity. “Even the devil that dances on its grave is of its own making.”
Soon, if “Palestine” is allowed to go forward, with or without “demilitarization,” each and every soldier of Israel will be asked to fight future battles that are already lost. Fawning upon their own doom, Israel’s leaders might still refuse to recognize that the spheres of reason in this world are terribly limited, or that Barack Obama and the American Jewish Establishment will not save them. For the latter, which is certainly well-intentioned, Israel will still remain a quaint diversion, a proper place to send donations and a fine place to visit with the grandchildren. For the former, the underlying and essential drama of Israel’s redemption, the very raison d’etre of the reborn State of Israel, is entirely beside the point.
Under Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel is now entering the final phase of an unwitting self-parody. Fortunately, the last act has not yet been played. Israel can still put an end to the “tragic farce,” but only if its people and government can finally understand why they have been ingathered in the first place.
Citizens of Israel should have no illusions. There is nothing about “Palestine” that will save them from the fury of enemy terrorism or catastrophic war. On the contrary, as should have been learned long ago, the smell of carrion only inflames the vulture.
There is still time for Israel to reject its pathetic descent into tragedy, but only if its Jewish citizens can finally understand that “Palestine” would only lead them to the peace of the grave.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security issues and international law. Born in Switzerland, he is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for THE JEWISH PRESS.