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Posts Tagged ‘Road Map’

Living Amid Absurdity: Israel As Tragic Hero (Conclusion)

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

For Jews, free will must always be oriented toward life, to the blessing, not to the curse. Our binding charge is to strive in this obligatory direction of individual and collective self-preservation by using our intelligence and by exercising our essentially disciplined acts of will. In circumstances where such striving is consciously rejected, the outcome – however catastrophic – can never rise to the dignified level of tragedy.

The ancient vision of authentically “High Tragedy” has its origins in Fifth Century BCE Athens. Here, there is always clarity on one overriding point: The victim is one whom “the gods kill for their sport, as wanton boys do flies.” This wantonness, this caprice, is precisely what makes tragedy unendurable. With “disengagement” and “realignment,” with Oslo and the “Road Map,” Israel’s corollary misfortunes are too-largely self-inflicted. The continuing drama of a “Middle East Peace Process” is, at best, a surreal page torn from Ionesco or even Kafka. Here there is nary a hint of tragedy, not even a cathartic element that might have been drawn from Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides. At worst – and this is the more plausible characterization – Israel’s unhappy fate has been ripped directly from the demeaning pages of irony and farce. Under Olmert, Israel now acts and lives a peculiarly blood-soaked form of comedy, an unabashedly high-budget, low drama that relies on concocted contrivances of plot and on humiliatingly low levels of credibility.

In farce, matters would generally end badly but for a last-minute rescue called deus ex machina. But no such “god in the machine” will rescue Israel. In more specifically Jewish terms, we may recall the words of Rabbi Yania: “A man should never put himself in a place of danger and say that a miracle will save him, lest there be no miracle.” (Talmud, Sota 32a and Codes, Yoreh De’ah 116). Of course, it may be that Ehud Olmert does not actually expect a miracle, but then, we must inquire, upon exactly what manner of reasoning does he base his religiously, morally and intellectually vacant policy of land for nothing?

In Judaism, as we have already noted, there can never be any justification for deliberate self-endangerment. In classical Greek tragedy, there can never be any deus ex machina. In true tragedy, the human spirit remains noble in the face of an inescapable death, but if there is anything at all tragic about Israel’s Olmert-Bush propelled descent, it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the word: “goat song.” For Jews, this theatrical resemblance to paganism is especially hideous, as it comes from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus.

Aristotle understood in his Poetics that true tragedy must always elicit pity and fear, but not pathos, which is an utterly unheroic suffering. The Greek philosopher identified tragedy with “good” characters that suffer because they commit some grave error (hamartia) unknowingly. Prime Minister Olmert, on the other hand, has continued Israel’s march of folly not because of any such error – or even because of some wantonness or caprice – but (in the most charitable explanation) because his concessionary policies are detached from any decent sense of Judaism.

Whether a policy is named Oslo or Road Map or some altogether new name contrived in Washington makes no substantive difference. The diplomatic promise of peace with a persistently genocidal adversary is unassailably a sordid delusion. To be sure, protracted war and terror hardly seem a tolerable or enviable policy outcome, but even this difficult fate remains far better for Israel than the undiminished Arab/Islamist plan for a relentlessly Final Solution. Protracted war and terror are assuredly very bad options, but they are certainly better than death.

The futile search for ordinary solutions by the people of Israel must never be dismissed by others with anger, disdain or self-righteousness. After all, one can hardly blame them for denying such terrible and unjust portents. But Israel exists in a wider world where the terms “justice” and “Jew” can never be uttered in the same breath, and where navigating according to shamelessly asymmetrical rules of logic and reasonableness will ultimately be fatal. Let us be candid. It is a world where Dostoyevsky rings much truer than Plato, a world wherein unreason “normally” trumps rationality, and where survival is sometimes dependent upon accepting and enduring what is manifestly absurd.

Sisyphus understood that his rock would never stay put at the summit of the mountain. He labored nonetheless. He did not surrender.

Like Sisyphus, Israel must soon learn to understand that its own “rock” – the agonizingly heavy stone of national security and international normalcy – may never stay put at the summit. Yet, it must still continue to push, upwards. It must continue to struggle against the ponderous weight – if for no other reason than simply to continue, to persist. For Israel, true heroism – and perhaps even the genuine fulfillment of its unique mission among the nations – now lies in recognizing something beyond normal understanding: Endless pain and insecurity are not necessarily unbearable and must sometimes be borne with complete faith and equanimity. Failing such a tragic awareness, the government of Israel will continue to grasp at illusory peace prospects, and to welcome repeatedly false dawns.

Of course, Israel is not Sisyphus, and there is no reason to believe that Israel must necessarily endure altogether without experiencing personal and collective satisfactions. Even fully aware that its titanic struggle toward the recurring summits may lack a definable moment of “success” – that these summits may never be truly “scaled” – the Jewish State can still learn that the struggle itself carries manifold benefits. The seemingly absurd struggle does have its accomplishments, its unheralded blessings, and its more or less palpable rewards. Newly tolerant of ambiguity, and consciously surviving without any “normal” hopes of completion and clarity, the people of Israel could achieve both spiritual and survival benefits in their personal and collective lives. Most importantly, their now enlarged lucidity could immunize them from the lethal lures of ordinary nations.

Israel’s feverish search for a solution has led it down a continuing path of despair, toward a “sickness unto death.” Today, as its leaders contemplate yet another round of unilateral territorial surrenders in Judea/Samaria, the government prepares to relinquish the country’s last shreds of national dignity and national security. For Israel in particular, basic truth must emerge from paradox. To survive into the future, Israel’s only real choice is to keep rolling the rock upwards. Unlike Sisyphus, Israel and its people can still enjoy many satisfactions along the way, but – like Sisyphus – all Israel must also recognize that its individual and collective life may require an authentically tragic and unending struggle.

Nonetheless, true tragedy does not denigrate; it exalts.

Exeunt omnes.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, February 1, 2008. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and the author of 10 major books on international relations and international law. One of his earlier books is titled Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy(1983), which concerned a different adaptation from the still-fruitful Greek myth. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

A Cartography Of Lunacy: Bush, Olmert And The Winding ‘Road Map’ To Nuclear War (Part I)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Back in August 2007, the Palestinian Authority (PA), Prime Minister Olmert’s “partner in peace,” named a soccer tournament after Ziyad Da’as, a Fatah-Tanzim terrorist who had been eliminated by Israel exactly five years earlier. The Palestinian Da’as was responsible for the heroic January 2002 attack in which gunmen opened fire with an M-16 at a Bat Mitzvah in Hadera, murdering six and seriously wounding thirty. With equal courage, he had also planned the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli civilians in Tulkarem in 2001.

Such grotesque stories of official PA honors bestowed upon Palestinian terrorists are quite common. In the matter of Ziyad Da’as, the PA shamelessly identified a repeat murderer of women and children “as one of the brave people of the Palestinian resistance.” The daily newspaper proudly carrying the story, Al Hayat Al Jadida, is an organ owned by the Palestinian Authority.

What’s wrong with this picture? For some reason, President Bush – indifferent to the PA’s true colors – continues to prod Prime Minister Olmert to follow the “Road Map.” Making matters even worse, Messrs. Bush and Olmert, unimpressed by history and indifferent to facts on the ground, now proceed smugly with their stillborn plan to aid one Palestinian terrorist group against another. Moreover, in a corollary policy of self-deception, they also supply even larger packages of military assistance to those very same Arab governments who mentor and sustain a broad spectrum of Islamist (anti-Israel/anti-U.S.) terrorists.

Are our governments in Washington and Jerusalem consciouslyself-destructive? In the sordid matter of arming Fatah against Hamas (some time ago, both Israel and the US were actually aiding assorted Islamist forces for presumed geopolitical benefit), it is manifestly a policy built upon sand. Yet, both governments accept the glaringly false presumption of a real difference between two murderous terror organizations.

On the somewhat related issue of arming Sunni Arab states against a Shiite Iran, the Bush policies are merely the latest example of a time-dishonored expression of American Realpolitik; that is, seeking some sort of tangible balance in regions of exceptional competition and conflict. Admittedly, the metaphor of equilibrium is neat and satisfying, but it bears no relation to the real world.

Searching for dynamic equilibrium in Middle Eastern politics will inevitably spawn catastrophic failure. This is now especially evident when we consider the profoundly destabilizing prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons development. Taken together with the U.S.-supported birthing of “Palestine,” this increasingly probable impact will produce various force multipliers with distinctly negative synergies for both Israel and the United States.

What is really going on here? Bowing to the president of the United States, the Olmert government now fully intends to conform to the prescribed Road Map. These partisans of a starkly delusionary diplomacy still believe, contrary to all ascertainable evidence and to all recent history, that a process of unilateral dismemberment (former Prime Minister Sharon called it “disengagement;” current Prime Minister Olmert calls it “realignment”) can somehow bring mutually gainful resolution to the longstanding dispute between Israel and its enemies.

Why such blinders? What these national leaders steadfastly refuse to recognize is that the now-unavoidable civilizational struggle against Arab/Islamic “genociders” has almost nothing to do with territory. Rather, it has to do with an irreconcilable configuration of foes that seeks not land, but religious hegemony. From the standpoint of the PA or any of its kindred states and movements, there can simply be no Jewish state in the midst of the dar al-Islam, the world of Islam. Never. Period.

Ultimately, all Jihadists seek something far more personal and far more elusive than land. They seek the ultimate form of power. They seek immortality.

On its face, all world politics is a struggle for power. But in this interminable struggle, there can be no greater power than the power over death. The core dispute with the Palestinians, therefore, will never be about any sort of political compromise. It will always be about G-d

From 1948 to the present, the Arab/Islamist world’s existential opposition to Israel has stemmed from a deeply doctrinal hatred of a Jewish state in the region of Islam – indeed, of any Jewish state that dares to take hold in the “dar al-Islam.”

Even now, this manifestly obvious observation seemingly needs to be re-stated. After all, if Arab/Islamist opposition to Israel were only about West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza, why were there so many Arab terrorist attacks against Jews between 1948 and 1967? At that time, these disputed territories were still in Arab hands. What exactly were these terrorists seeking to “liberate” before there were any “Israel-occupied territories?”

The Palestine Liberation Organization was first formed in 1964, three years before the Six-Day War. What precisely was the PLO seeking to “liberate”?

For that substantial portion of the Arab/Islamic world that remains fully dedicated to Israel’s annihilation, an inventive cartography is merely part of a much wider strategy of genocide – a term that is used here in the literal, jurisprudential sense; that is, the explicit meaning codified at the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Unambiguously, the Road Map is merely the latest diplomatic routing to Jewish extinction in the Middle East. First fashioned by the so-called “Quartet” (the U.S., Russia, EU and UN), it is accepted by many others only on an understanding of Israel as the individual Jew in macrocosm.

To be sure, in the generally acknowledged Arab/Islamist view, Israel is always the singular Jew writ large. The Jewish State must thereforealways be loathed. Significantly, this insidious view is a far cry from the wishful vision of the supporters of the Oslo/Road Map/Disengagement/Realignment. For these more “optimistic” archeologists of Jewish and American ruins-in-the-making, Israel should be pleased that it is despised only because it is an “occupier.”

What can possibly sustain such “optimism?” We don’t hear any such territorial explanations of Arab/Islamist hatred from within elements of the Arab/Islamist world. On the contrary, each and every Israeli, every young Jewish infant and child as well as every uniformed soldier, is hated in the Arab/Islamic world because he is a Jew. That is the whole story – the whole indisputable story.

An authoritative expression of this mainstream Islamist view was clarified in an important article in Al-Ahram. Here, the religiously prominent Dr. Lufti Abd al-Azim wrote straightforwardly and unhesitatingly: “The first thing we have to make clear is that, no distinction must be made between the Jew and the Israeli…. The Jew is a Jew, through the millennia…. in spurning all moral values, devouring the living and drinking his blood for the sake of a few coins. The Jew, the merchant of Venice, does not differ from the killer of Deir Yasin or the killer of the camps. They are equal examples of human degradation. Let us therefore put aside such distinctions and talk about Jews.”

The regionally and Islamically revered Dr. Abd al-Azim is hardly alone in this position. A current Egyptian textbook on ARAB ISLAMIC HISTORY – widely used in teacher training colleges – expresses the following revealing sentiments:”The Jews are always the same, every time and everywhere. They will not live save in darkness. They contrive their evils clandestinely. They fight only when they are hidden, because they are cowards…. The Prophet enlightened us about the right way to treat them, and succeeded finally in crushing the plots that they had planned. We today must follow this way and purify Palestine from their filth.”

Some April 2006 postings from the Muslim Brotherhood Children’s Website (based in Egypt, a country “at peace” with Israel) are also worth mentioning:

“Did you know that the Jews murdered 25 of the Prophets of Allah, and that their black history is full of crimes of murder and corruption?”

“Did you know that the criminal Jews frequently revile and curse our Lord?”

“Did you know that the Jews made several attempts to murder our beloved Prophet, but that Allah the Omnipotent saved him from their plot?”

“Did you know that the corruption and deviance widespread in the world today are the result of activity and planning by the Jews, who are interested in leading people astray, away from the path of Allah?”

“Did you know that the Jews who occupy our land and our holy places in beloved Palestine are planning to occupy the rest of the Muslim countries and to establish a Greater Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile, and that they are interested in excavating in the tomb of our beloved Prophet?”

“Did you know that today the Jews are inciting the entire world against Islam and the Muslims, on the pretext of the war against terror?”

How, then, shall we understand current advocates of peace in the Middle East through further diplomatic negotiations? Some supporters of the Road Map and its attendant disengagements and realignments base their position on the Palestinian claim to territories (Judea/Samaria/Gaza). Leaving aside the very questionable nature of the underlying demographic argument (e.g., the commonly stated and unsupported assertion that current Palestinians are descended directly from the ancient Canaanites), these supporters conveniently ignore the continuous Jewish presence in these lands.

They also ignore that more than one million Palestinians are now full citizens of Israel, enjoying substantially more legal rights (especially women) than do their counterparts in the Arab/Islamic world. Also generally forgotten, is that 900,000 Jews were slaughtered or expelled from Muslim area states after 1948 – states that even today deny Jews any parallel rights of dignity or nationality. Yet, it is the Palestinians – not the Israelis – who cling relentlessly to the grotesque idea of Jihad.

The “sacred” struggle to evict “The Jews” from “all of Palestine” (that is, from Israel as well as from Judea/Samaria/Gaza) is driven by high expectations of Holy War. According to certain Islamic orthodoxy, the Prophet is said to have predicted a final war to annihilate the Jews. Mohammed, it is reported, had stated: “The hour (i.e., salvation) will not come until you fight against the Jews; and the stone would say, `O Muslim! There is a Jew behind me: come and kill him.’”

Israel’s Peace Process supporters, in advancing Palestinian “legal” claims, forget that the PLO once urged Saddam Hussein to launch annihilatory attacks upon Israeli noncombatants during the 1991 Gulf War. Then, Yassir Arafat had enthusiastically embraced Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, openly sending units of the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) to join in the inter-Arab killing, rape and torture of Kuwaitis. Following the Iraqi aggression, Arafat and the PLO supported Saddam’s Baghdad in many different ways. At the Cairo Summit of August 10, 1990, Arafat tried to deflect attention from the barbarous invasion toward the crises in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Abdul Abbas sent his own paramilitary forces into the occupied state to help “police” the sheikhdom. So, too, did the PFLP’s George Habash and the DFLP’s Nayef Hawatmeh. At the time, Mohammed Milhem, senior aide to Arafat, publicly threatened Fatah-led terrorism “everywhere” in support of Iraq. This is the very same Fatah that Israel and the United States now arm and support – the same “moderate” Fatah.

Copyright© The Jewish Press, November 30, 2007. All rights reserved

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli and US counter-terrorism and nuclear security policies. Chair of Project Daniel, he is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, and the author of ten major books dealing with international relations and international law.

On IDF Refusals To Follow Orders: The Interlocking Perspectives Of National Law, International Law And Jewish Law (Part Two of Three)

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Can the current government of Israel protect its citizens? Clearly, Israelis have already experienced the Oslo and Road Map “peace process,” as a Terror Process. If Judea/Samaria are soon transformed into “Palestine,” the peace process will once again become a war and terror process. Here, finally deprived of its essential strategic depth, Israel will become an increasingly tempting object for aggression by certain enemy states and their surrogates. In view of what is already known about enemy state nuclearization, and about ballistic missile developments in these states, the war and terror process could even be ignited against Israel by unconventional assaults of various kinds.

It is precisely with these sobering points in mind that Israeli opponents of a self-annihilatory peace process must now prepare to engage in civil disobedience. Although the government still instructs them that a “Two-State Solution” is possible, Palestinian maps certainly suggest otherwise. There, the Arab “Phased Plan” of 1974, spawned in Cairo and unambiguously genocidal, is codified into an open cartography of disappearance for the Jewish State. Surely Israel still faces a distinct machinery of destruction, and it is up to each and every Israeli to “stop the machine” while there is still time.

To “stop the machine.” This aptly phrased metaphor is taken directly from Henry David Thoreau’s classical explorations of civil disobedience. In his famous essay on the subject, the American transcendentalist spoke persuasively of such essential opposition as an act of “counter friction.” Confronted with dreadful harms of the sort now suffered and anticipated by so many Israelis, harms generated by the incessant and illusory Peace Process, he would urge, as he once did about policy deformations in this country: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

This is what Israel’s thousands of protestors shall seek- not to lend themselves to the manifest wrongs of the planned Olmert surrenders. Among these wrongs are the government’s corollary legitimization of a terrorist organization and its shameful unwillingness to punish terrorist crimes. Indeed, not only are Israel and the so-called Palestinian Authority still abandoning all pertinent jurisprudential obligations to seek out and prosecute terrorists, they are both still releasing hundreds of known terrorists from their respective jails.

Israel’s pertinent agreements with the PA/Fatah contravene the binding obligation to punish acts that are crimes under international law. Known formally as Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment,” this requirement points unambiguously to the multiple acts of killing and torture ordered directly by PA officials over many years. To not only ignore this requirement, but also to actually legitimize the criminality by making Abbas a “partner” (Israel’s first honored Palestinian “partner” was Yassir Arafat), is an especially egregious violation of Principle I of the Nuremberg Principles. (According to Principle I: “Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and is liable to punishment.”) This means that Israel’s citizens who now continue to support and sustain the Road Map are in violation of international law (and therefore of Israel’s national law as well, which necessarily incorporates international law), while those who oppose this path to self-destruction within the proper bounds of civil disobedience are in support of both forms of law.

These informed views of law and civil disobedience in Israel, however counterintuitive or disturbing they may seem, warrant a much broader public understanding. Now embarked upon policies that threaten Israel’s very existence while they simultaneously undermine authoritative expectations of justice, the Olmert government should fully expect to be confronted with mounting protests. Were it not so confronted, citizens of Israel would have already consented to their own codified disintegration.

International law, which is based upon a variety of higher law foundations, including Jewish Law, forms part of the law of all nations. This is the case whether or not the incorporation of international law into national law is explicit, as it is in the Supremacy Clause (Article VI) of the United States Constitution. The government of Israel is bound by settled norms of international law concerning punishment of terrorist crimes and physical survival of the state. Where this government fails to abide by these rules, as is very much the case today, civil disobedience is not only permissible; it is required.

We began with a look at the Jewish Law bases of higher law and civil disobedience. Jewish law rests always upon two principles: the overriding sovereignty of G-d and the derivative sacredness of the individual person. Both principles, intertwined and interdependent, underlie the reasoned argument for civil disobedience in Israel. (On the importance of the dignity of the person to the Talmudic conception of law, see: S. Belkin, In His Image: The Jewish Philosophy Of Man As Expressed In Rabbinic Tradition, (New York: 1960). From the sacredness of the person, which stems from each individual’s resemblance to divinity, flows the freedom to choose. The failure to exercise this freedom, which is evident wherever a response to political authority is merely automatic, represents a betrayal of individual legal responsibility. (On the human freedom to choose good over evil, see: J.B. Soloveitchik, Thoughts And Visions: The Man Of Law (Hebrew New York: 1944 – 45) p. 725.)

What are the likely costs of such a betrayal? Above all, as we have already noted, they include increased loss of life and expanded human suffering. Failing to exercise their obligations as free citizens, Israelis who stand by passively as the Olmert government proceeds with a terror process/war process are undeniably complicit in the deadly consequences of their betrayal.

Where it is necessary, civil disobedience in Israel can save lives. This path does display the highest imperatives of free citizens in a free society. To the extent that it can stop and even reverse the Road Map, it can reduce the number of Israelis who would die or be maimed at the hands of Arab terrorists and also those who would perish as a result of newly probable aggressions by certain Arab/Islamic states. There is, then, a potentially concrete benefit to civil disobedience in Israel. This is by no means a merely abstract matter of theory and jurisprudence. It is, rather, a distinctly flesh and blood matter of national self-defense and survival.

In utilitarian terms, we are speaking of calculations that would compare the two essential options – civil disobedience vs. no civil disobedience – according to expected costs and benefits. Here it should be apparent to all that the Road Map, which represents a proper-sounding exchange of critical Israeli lands for unsupportable diplomatic promises (Land For Nothing), offers absolutely no benefits and altogether unsustainable costs. The calculation should be easy enough to compute.

It is true, of course, that certain acts of civil disobedience could represent technical infractions under Israeli statutes or Basic Law, but such infractions are necessary in order to support vastly more important principles of Israeli law and Jewish justice. In the United States, a traditional common law defense known as “necessity” (which has also been incorporated into certain criminal codes) permits conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense if the accused believed such conduct was necessary to avoid a public or private injury greater than the injury which might reasonably result from his own conduct. Transported to the Israeli context, where the greater public and private injury occasioned by the Road Map might include terrorism, war crimes, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and genocide, a necessity-type defense could be appropriate and compelling. This is the case even if Israeli law recognizes no clear form of “necessity” because this law must recognize the higher-law principle from which the necessity defense derives. Indeed, insofar as the origins of the higher-law principle lie in ancient Jewish law, the argument for civil disobedience in Israel based upon some notion of “necessity” is especially persuasive.

Jewish Law is democratic in the sense that it belongs to all of the people, a principle reflected in the Talmudic position that each individual can approach G-d in prayer without priestly intercessions. Hence, a fundamental goal of Jewish law must always be to encourage initiative, to act purposefully on behalf of rescuing and improving both state and society. When this criterion is applied to expected instances of civil disobedience in Israel, it is apparent that the protesting opponents of the Road Map, more than any other citizens of Israel, shall be acting according to law.

Copyright © the Jewish Press, September 21, 2007. All Rights reserved.

(To be continued)

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D. Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with international law and Israeli security matters. Strategic and Military Affairs analyst for THE JEWISH PRESS, he lectures and publishes widely on terrorism, counter terrorism, nuclear strategy and nuclear war.

Facing Enemies Who Prefer War To Peace: The Endless Futility Of Israeli Diplomacy

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Already from its imperiled beginnings in May 1948 – indeed, even before statehood – Israel has sought desperately to negotiate with its enemies. Always, always – it has preferred peace to war. Nonetheless, challenged by interminable Arab aggression and subversion, diplomacy has almost always failed Israel. This sad point is altogether incontestable. What real chance is there that, somehow, things can now be different?

Now, of course, Prime Minister Olmert continues to seek Israel’s basic security in diplomacy. Although there is assuredly nothing wrong with such a conciliatory posture on its face, especially as Israel remains under constant pressure from Washington to negotiate, there is very good reason for skepticism. From Oslo to the so-called “Road Map,” diplomacy over Israel’s rights and obligations has always been a determinably asymmetrical process. “Land for nothing!” This manifestly pathetic phrase pretty much says it all.

Ironically, Israel’s principal enemies remain candid. On some things they do not lie. On their intention to annihilate the Jewish state, they are sworn to truth.

The disputing Palestinian elements (Fatah or Hamas, it makes little effective difference) and Iran – will never accept anything less than Israel’s destruction. They say this every day, either openly or obliquely. Moreover, in a corroborating bit of cartography, every PA or Iranian map of “Palestine” already includes all of Israel.

Recently, Prime Minister Olmert released several hundred Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture.” Together with the US, he is now aiding Fatah against Hamas with outright transfers of weapons and information. Ultimately, as my readers in The Jewish Press well know, the American and Israeli guns and bombs will be turned against Israelis. As for Mr. Olmert’s graciously extended “goodwill,” it shall only elicit the next intifadah. Matters are certainly not helped at all by Washington’s corollary support for a Palestinian state, support that can only endanger both Israel and the United States.

Regarding formal diplomacy, the more things change, the more they remain the same. There is an obvious and persisting inequality of objectives between Israel and its principal enemies rooted deeply in Jihadist interpretations of Islam. For both Palestinian insurgents and Iran’s president, conflict with Israel is always an all or nothing proposition. In this starkly polarizing view of incessant strife between “the world of war” and “the world of Islam,” there can be absolutely no place for authentic treaties or settlements with the Jewish State, save as a temporary tactical expedient. For Israel, on the other hand, a negotiated peace with its Arab “neighbors” and Iran persists as an elusive but serious hope. This is true even when the prospect of Islamic reciprocity is thoroughly preposterous and unimaginable.

A fundamental inequality is evident in all expressions of the Middle East Peace Process. On the Palestinian and Iranian side, Oslo and “Road Map” expectations have never been seen as anything more than a cost-effective method of dismantling Israel. On the Israeli side, these expectations are taken, quite differently, as an indispensable way of averting further war and terror.

The core problem of Israel’s life or death vulnerability lies in the Jewish State’s ongoing assumptions on war and peace. While certain of Israel’s regional enemies, state and non-state, believe that any power gains for Israel represent a power loss for them – that is, that they coexist with Israel in a condition of pure conflict – Israel assumes something else. For Mr. Olmert, like his several immediate predecessors, relations with certain Arab states, the Palestinian Authority/Hamas and Iran are not pure “zero-sum,” but rather a mutual-dependence connection. In this view, conflict is mixed with cooperation.

For no identifiable reason, Israel still believes that certain of its Arab enemies and Iran reject zero-sum assumptions about the strategy of conflict. Israel’s enemies, however, do not make such erroneous judgments about conformance with Israeli calculations. These enemies know that Israel is wrong in its belief that certain Arab states, Iran and the Palestinians also reject the zero-sum assumption, but they pretend otherwise. There is, therefore, a dramatic and consequential strategic disparity between Israel and certain of its frontline Islamic enemies.

Israel’s strategy of conflict is founded upon multiple miscalculations and upon an incomprehensible indifference to flagrant enemy manipulations. The barbarous policies of Israel’s enemies, on the other hand, are founded upon correct calculations and assumptions, and upon an astute awareness of Israel’s strategic naiveté. This means that Israel should now make far-reaching changes in the way that it conceptualizes the continuum of cooperation and conflict. Israel, ridding itself of injurious wishful thinking, must finally acknowledge the zero-sum calculations of its enemies and begin to accept that the struggle must still be fought largely at the conflict end of the spectrum. Right now, this means, especially, attention to assorted preemption imperatives.

Left unchallenged, Israel’s mistaken assumptions, and the combining of these assumptions with correct premises of its enemies, will undermine Israel’s very survival. These still-remediable Israeli errors have the additional effect of creating an odd “alliance” between Israel and its enemies. This is surely not the sort of coalition that can help the Jewish State, but is rather a one-sided and unreciprocated pact in which Israel serves only its enemies.

Mr. Olmert should not become the best ally that Israel’s Arab enemies and Iran could ever hope to have. Instead, he should now seek to serve Israel, supplanting the false assumptions that stem from misguided hopes with correct premises based upon sound reasoning. In the language of formal logic, invalid forms of argument are fallacies. The basic problem with Israel’s continuous search for “peace” through negotiated surrenders (“land for nothing”) is its persistent commission of fallacies. Unlike simple instances of falsity, these particular arguments are especially insidious because they could involve a devastating policy outcome. Distinguishable from singular mistakes, these deviations from correct thinking ensure that all subsequent calculations will also result in error. This means that it is in the very process of strategic thinking, and not in the assessment of particular facts and issues, that Israeli policy changes are now most sorely needed.

Copyright The Jewish Press ©, August 31, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES, Professor of International Law at Purdue, was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971). Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, he has lectured and published widely in Israel, Europe and the United States on war, terrorism and strategies of conflict.

Israel’s Security After The Oslo Agreement (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

The following is the original text of an important lecture delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres to the Dayan Forum, Israel, on March 11, 1994 (Ambassador Zalman Shoval, presiding). It remains entirely relevant today, especially with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s: (1) recent release of Palestinian terrorists as a “goodwill gesture;” (2) the Prime Minister’s equally incomprehensible support of one murderous terrorist faction (Fatah) against another (Hamas); and his corollary commitment to the altogether twisted cartography of a markedly one-sided “Road Map.”

Sharing the Dayan Forum podium with Professor Beres on that March day in 1994 was Major General Avihu Ben-Nun, then Israel Air Force Commander.

March 11, 1994

Formal Remarks Delivered by Professor Louis Rene Beres/Tel-Aviv

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Oslo agreement has made a bad situation for Israel even worse. Should it prove “successful,” resultant Palestinian autonomy will slowly transform itself into a Palestinian state, a condition that would be intolerable for all the already well-known reasons. Should it “fail,” Arab bitterness – paralleled to some extent by unhappiness and frustration on the Israeli Left -will accelerate the intifadah and enlarge cyclical acts of violence. This, too, will undermine Israeli security, with steadily expanding and barbarous acts of terror against Israeli women and children, again for all the well-known reasons.

Clearly, it would have been better (in Voltaire’s satirical “best of all possible worlds”) for the Oslo agreement never to have happened. It is a terrible agreement, one that will occasion terrible casualties for Israelis. But what is done is done, and (although I plan to argue differently in the coming months) cannot be undone.

Where, therefore, should Israel go from here? This is all that we can ask today.

To answer this overriding question, Israel must first decide, by itself, how seriously it wishes to endure, as a state. This may seem an almost silly bit of advice, gratuitous and perfectly obvious. After all, every Israeli seeks preservation of the Third Commonwealth. But it is time for Israelis to be reminded that states are not necessarily forever and that the Jewish State is always especially fragile.

Building Israel’s peace prospects upon erroneous assumptions of enemy reasonableness and rationality would be a misfortune. From the Arab and Iranian perspective generally, Israel is an enemy state because it is a Jewish state- period! The only step Israel could now take to reduce enemy belligerence in the face of growing Islamicization (“Palestine” and Iran in particular) would be to disappear. Right now, after Oslo, the government of Israel is, in fact, cooperating in such a suicidal step.

Significantly, the Arab and Iranian worlds have been strikingly honest in identifying their goals. They have made it clear again and again that their overall war with Israel is a war with “The Jews,” and that it is a war that will continue until all of “Palestine” is “returned.”

A good portion of the Jewish world, however, in Israel and in the Diaspora, refuses to act upon these strikingly honest expressions of belligerent intent. Instead, learning nothing from 2,000 years of a murderous history, they create their own reality – a nicely balanced, finely-tuned reality of diplomatic bargaining, negotiation and incremental settlements – and assume that Syria, Iran, the Palestinians, etc., will be grateful.

The result, of course, is predictable. Israel’s enemies call for more and more. Israel, the individual Jew in macrocosm, asks for less and less. Taken together, these calls portend a shrinking and enfeebled Israel in an expanding Islamic sea. It is not a pretty picture.

Right now, Israel reminds me very much of Gottlieb Biedermann, the cautious Swiss businessman in the brilliant play by Max Frisch, “The Firebugs.” Biedermann contends with a neighborhood epidemic of arson by implementing a series of self-deceptions. Ultimately, Biedermann invites the arsonists into his home, lodges them, feeds them a sumptuous dinner and even provides them with matches. Not surprisingly, the play ends for the protagonist (read Israel, in this parable) on an incendiary note. It also ends, predictably, with a pathetic and revolting disclaimer from an academic observer who has counseled capitulation all along. Removing a paper from his pocket, as the sky reddens from fire, the all-too-familiar “professor” disassociates himself from the calamity. He is, he exclaims, “not responsible.”

In his letters, the Roman statesman Cicero set the foundations for realist thinking in world affairs. Inquired Cicero: “For what can be done against force without force?” It is time for Israel to ask itself this same question. At one time, it already knew the answer. Today I am not so sure.

International law is not a suicide pact. Israel, in the fashion of every state in world politics, has a right to endure. With respect to Judea/Samaria/Gaza, Israel has eroded this right by itself. The ongoing territorial surrender of the “peace process” was preceded by linguistic surrender. By accepting, incrementally, the use of the term “occupied,” a term that is challenged almost nowhere in the world – it was inevitable that events would come to where they are today – in March 1994.

In this country (Israel), an academic journal – a distinguished law review – recently refused to publish an article of mine dealing with Israel’s rights under international law because I did not accept that the disputed territories were “occupied.” The irony gets worse. The article was subsequently accepted by a distinguished American law review sponsored by the Jesuits. A “no” from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to a manuscript supporting Israel; a “yes” from the Catholic University of Notre Dame.

(To be continued)

Copyright The Jewish Press©, August 10, 2007. All rights reserved

Louis Rene Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli and Middle Eastern security issues. His work is well known to Israel’s senior military and intelligence communities. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Facing The Next War: Israel’s Still Emerging Nuclear Strategy

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Jews and justice can never be uttered in the same breath. So it is too for the Jewish State, always the individual Jew in macrocosm. Whether it wishes to acknowledge the existential danger or not, Israel’s only hope for survival now lies in a well-reasoned and coherent nuclear strategy for dealing with nuclearizing enemies.

Growing nuclear advancement in Iran carries serious risks especially for Israel. Well aware of this, Jerusalem’s political and military leadership is currently examining and updating all elements of its still undeclared and un-codified nuclear strategy. Any of Israel’s prospective nuclear adversaries will be more or less animated by a JIHAD-based version of Islam.

Israel’s own emerging nuclear strategy of survival (deterrence; defense; preemption) must therefore, be founded upon realistic assumptions of probable enemy aggression, including even outright enemy irrationality. An irrational nuclear adversary could well decide to operate against Israel as if the retaliatory consequences were of no importance. In this case, this enemy state would resemble an individual suicide bomber writ large.

There is also the related issue of a Palestinian state. If (following strong American support) a twenty-third Arab sovereignty is declared and established in the not-too-distant future, “Palestine” will become an optimal platform for future war and terrorism.

But the truly existential threat posed by this platform would require some antecedent forms of Israeli nuclear disarmament. Once a new enemy state and its allies believed that Israel had bent sufficiently to “nonproliferation” demands, the pertinent military strategy against Israel would likely progress from terror to mega-terror, from war to mega-war, from attrition to annihilation.

In this respect, any well-intentioned expression of Israeli de-nuclearization would represent the last nail in Israel’s coffin. Lest anyone think that Israeli unilateral nuclear disarmament is inconceivable, consider that certain of the country’s “leading” academic strategists continue to make this most odd recommendation.

For decent people everywhere, of course, it is very difficult to imagine nuclear weapons as anything other than evil by nature. Yet, there are certainly circumstances wherein a state’s possession of such weapons would be all that protects it from catastrophic war or genocide. And because such weapons may deter international aggression, their possession could also protect neighboring states (friends and foes) from war-related or even nuclear-inflicted harms. It follows that not all members of the Nuclear Club need be a menace.

Indeed, some may offer a distinct and indispensable benefit to world peace and security. This point should already be perfectly obvious to anyone who remembers the Cold War.

Should it ever be deprived of nuclear forces because of misunderstood hopes for peace, Israel would become vulnerable to overwhelming attacks from certain enemy states – most worrisome of all, Iran. Although such existential vulnerability might be prevented in principle by instituting parallel forms of chemical/biological weapons disarmament among these enemy states, such parallel steps would never actually take place.

Verification of compliance in these matters is exceedingly difficult. Such verification would be especially problematic where several Islamic states would be involved.

Nuclear weapons are not the problem. In the Middle East, the real problem is a far-reaching and essentially unreconstructed religious commitment to “excise the Jewish cancer.” Faced with this profoundly genocidal threat, Jerusalem must finally understand fully that the “Road Map” − like its stillborn Oslo predecessor − is little more than another enemy expedient. It is, in short, a nicely phrased stratagem designed to sound reasonable and lawful to the “international community” as it simultaneously weakens Israel for a modern Final Solution.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, at least one Arab state that is now formally “at peace” with Israel remains effectively at war with the Jewish State. There can be little doubt that Egypt, should opportunities arise, would quickly revert to its traditional stance, joining enthusiastically in joint Arab/Islamic attacks against both Israeli population centers and military targets.

Syria, should it sometime sign a comparable peace agreement with Israel, would not hesitate to abrogate that agreement if Damascus felt the time were right for a gainful and doubtlessly collaborative final assault.

With nuclear weapons and a purposeful nuclear strategy, Israel could deter enemy unconventional attacks and most large conventional aggressions. With such weapons, Israel could also launch non-nuclear preemptive strikes against enemy state hard targets that threaten Israel’s annihilation.

Without these weapons, such acts of anticipatory self-defense would likely represent the onset of a much wider war because there could be no compelling threat of Israeli counter-retaliation. It follows that Israel’s nuclear weapons represent an indispensable impediment to the actual use of nuclear weapons and to the commencement of regional nuclear war.

As prime minister, Shimon Peres once expressed a peculiar willingness to “give up the atom” in exchange for “peace.” This misplaced strategic largesse was a good example of what international law professors call “naive legalism.”

Left to depend upon the hollow security guarantees of Israel’s mortal enemies, the Jewish State, de-nuclearized and incrementally dismembered by the contrived cartography of a Road Map, could not long survive.

Copyright, The Jewish Press, February 2, 2007. All rights reserved

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war, and is Chair of Project Daniel. Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, he lectures widely in this country, Europe and the Middle East about Israel’s military survival options.

Jimmy Carter’s Disingenuous Diplomacy

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006


       Jimmy Carter’s new book – Palestine Peace Not Apartheid – should, by all rights, be headed for the remainder bin. Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, calls it a “tendentious, dishonest and stupid book.” Norman Finkelstein, one of Israel’s harshest critics, admits the book is “filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations.” There is not a single blurb on the book.

 

        But while it may be tendentious, dishonest, stupid, and filled with errors and untenable interpretations, it could still have an impact. Carter says he’s “going to promote [it] pretty widely,” so his tendentious and erroneous assertions may ripple into the public consciousness.

 

        Responsible people will ignore Carter’s attempt to tar and feather Israel with the word “apartheid.” Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs live together in peace – a country where Arabs not only vote but serve in the Knesset. But Carter has done something even worse in his book: He egregiously misstates both the relevant diplomatic history and the long-standing U.S. diplomatic position, and then he blames Israel for not complying with it – demonizing Israel even more insidiously.

 

Carter, Resolution 242 and the Road Map

 

        At the end of his book, Carter has a chapter in which he issues his plan for peace. The chapter includes a discussion of the alleged requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the Quartet’s Road Map. Carter states that (emphasis added, here and in all following quotes):


 


          The unwavering official policy of the United States since Israel became a state has been that its borders must coincide with those prevailing from 1949 until 1967 (unless modified by mutually agreeable land swaps), specified in the unanimously adopted U.N. Resolution 242, which mandates Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories. . . . [A]s a member of the International Quartet that includes Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, America supports the Roadmap for Peace, which espouses exactly the same requirements.

 

        A reader would receive the impression from that paragraph that the 1967 borders are specified in Resolution 242 as Israel’s final borders (perhaps with minor adjustments compensated by land swaps), that the Road Map says the same thing, and that this has been “unwavering U.S. policy.” All of that, as we will demonstrate, is false.

 

        Carter’s false impression is reinforced by the final paragraphs in his book, where he asserts that peace will come only upon Israel’s “Withdrawal to the 1967 border as specified in U.N. Resolution 242 and as promised in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement and prescribed in the Roadmap of the International Quartet.”

 

        Carter continually refers to the 1967 borders as Israel’s “legal borders.” He concludes that the “bottom line” is Israel must “comply” with the Road Map and with “official American policy” by “accepting its legal [1967] borders.” In exchange, he says, all “Arab neighbors” must “pledge” to honor Israel’s right to live in peace.

 

        Even Charlie Brown wouldn’t kick that football. Abba Eban famously called the 1967 lines “Auschwitz borders,” and he did so for a reason: they are indefensible, and it was precisely their indefensibility that provoked Arab aggression against Israel in the first place.

 

        Nor could a “pledge” of peace be enforced by U.S. or NATO troops (much less UN ones), once Israel moved to indefensible borders – and it would be unreasonable to expect the U.S. or NATO to commit troops to defend such borders (even assuming an Israeli willingness to place its defense into the hands of others).

 

        But there is an even more fundamental objection to Carter’s plan. Contrary to his repeated assertions about Resolution 242 and the Road Map:

 

        • The 1967 borders are not specified as Israel’s “legal borders” in Resolution 242.

 

        • Such borders are neither “espoused” nor “required” nor “prescribed” in the Road Map.

 

        • It has never been “unwavering U.S. policy” that Israel’s final borders must coincide with the 1967 borders, nor that changes in them be “minor,” nor that any changes be compensated with “land swaps.”

 

        • U.S. policy – both in the past and today – contemplates that Israel’s borders will be where Israel’s security requires, not the place from which the prior war commenced – and the U.S. has officially stated that any Palestinian expectation to the contrary is “unrealistic.”

 

        The terms of Resolution 242 do not provide for “land for peace,” much less “land for [a pledge of] peace.” Instead, Resolution 242 envisions that land be exchanged for “secure” boundaries (since such boundaries are the only practical guarantee of peace). Moreover, the drafters of Resolution 242 recognized the 1967 borders were not secure.

 

        The Road Map took this one step further. It did not envision a simultaneous exchange of land for secure borders, but rather a phased-in peace, starting with the dismantlement of terrorist infrastructure (Phase I), followed by a provisional state (Phase II), followed by final status negotiations on borders (Phase III). It did not require that Israel return to the 1967 borders, either at the beginning or the end of that process.

 

History of U.S. Policy on Israel’s Borders

 

        Since Carter provides no footnotes in his book, he provides no support for the alleged “unwavering official policy of the United States” that he asserts requires an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.

 

        By reviewing published sources, however, it is possible to trace a straight line from (a) President Lyndon Johnson’s policy in 1967 underlying Resolution 242, to (b) President George W. Bush’s April 14, 2004 letter to Israel – and the picture that emerges directly contradicts Carter’s assertion.

 

        Resolution 242, adopted November 22, 1967, includes as one of its principles the “[w]ithdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” as part of a permanent settlement of the Middle East dispute. But it does not require withdrawal from “all the territories,” nor does it mention the 1967 boundaries. On the contrary, it calls for recognition of “secure” boundaries that will enable Israel to live “free from threats or acts of force.”

 

        The omission of the word “all” or “the” from Resolution 242 was neither accidental nor inadvertent, nor the result of imprecise wording. The words “all” and “the” were proposed and rejected in 1967, after being considered at the highest governmental levels.

 

        As Dore Gold, Israel’s former UN ambassador, has explained, “President Lyndon Baines Johnson himself decided that it was important to stick to this phraseology, despite the pressure from the Soviet premier, Alexei Kosygin, who had sought to incorporate stricter additional language requiring a full Israel withdrawal.”

 

        Gold notes that Kosygin had written to Johnson on November 21, 1967, requesting that the resolution include the word “the” before the word “territories,” to indicate that a complete Israeli withdrawal was required. But Johnson refused the Soviet request. The Soviet deputy foreign minister likewise tried to insert the word “all” before “territories,” but was rebuffed.

 

        The meaning of Resolution 242 – in view of the fact that heads of state were involved in its drafting and the words “all” and “the” were purposely omitted from the resolution – was, according to Gold, “absolutely clear” to those involved in the drafting process:


 


    Joseph P. Sisco, who would serve as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, commented on Resolution 242 during a Meet the Press interview some years later: “I was engaged in the negotiation for months of that resolution. That resolution did not say ‘total withdrawal.”


 


        George Brown, the British foreign secretary in 1967, summarized Resolution 242 as follows: “The proposal said, ‘Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied,’ not ‘from the territories,’ which means Israel will not withdraw from all the territories.” Gold notes that both President Johnson and Ambassador Arthur Goldberg made other contemporaneous statements supporting that reading of Resolution 242:


 


    President Johnson’s insistence on protecting the territorial flexibility of Resolution 242 could be traced to his statements made on June 19, 1967, in the immediate wake of the Six-Day War. In fact, Johnsondeclared that “an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4,” before the outbreak of hostilities, was “not a prescription for peace, but for renewed hostilities.” He stated that the old “truce lines” had been “fragile and violated.” . . .

 

    Ambassador Goldberg would additionally note sometime later another aspect of the Johnson administration’s policy that was reflected in the language of its UN proposals: “Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate.”


 


        This policy was also reflected in statements by President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz. Reagan himself stated in his September 1, 1982 address that became known as the “Reagan Plan”: “In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.” . . . .

 

        Shultz was even more explicit about what this meant during a September 1988 address: “Israel will never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders.”

 

        In the April 14, 2004 letter from President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the United States reiterated Israel’s right to secure and defensible borders, and expressly noted that a return to the 1967 borders was unrealistic. The letter stated that:


 


          “The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”


 


        On June 23-24, 2004, the U.S. Senate and House passed Concurrent Resolution 460 stating that each body “strongly endorses the principles articulated by President Bush in his letter dated April 14, 2004 to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon” – expressly referencing the portions of the letter dealing with Israel’s borders.

 

 U.S. Position vs. Jimmy Carter’s Plan

 

        The concept of “secure, defensible borders” differs significantly from the simplistic “land for [a pledge of] peace” doctrine underlying the Geneva Accord, which Jimmy Carter wanted to substitute for the Road Map back in 2003 (and in his book today). The Geneva Accord presumes that a return to the 1967 borders, in exchange for a “peace agreement,” would produce peace. In contrast, “secure, defensible borders” recognizes that an enforceable peace agreement depends on borders Israel can defend on its own.

 

        Defensible borders are also an important American interest, since the U.S. would not want to obligate itself to defend indefensible borders; such borders are themselves an invitation to the aggression supposedly foresworn in a “peace agreement.”

 

        Thus Israeli settlements that command the high ground around Jerusalem (such as Ma’ale Adumim) or provide strategic locations in the West Bank (such as Ariel) are a critical part of any ultimate peace agreement, because they are essential to defensible borders. Such settlements do not preclude a contiguous Palestinian state; but they preclude it from serving as a staging area for a new war.

 

        Given the history of Resolution 242 – the manner in which it was negotiated, the words that do and do not appear in it, and the U.S. statements about it since – it is impossible to assert, as Carterrepeatedly does, that the resolution contemplates (much less requires) a return by Israel to its indefensible 1967 borders, or that Israel is preventing peace by insisting on defensible borders as a part of any peace agreement.

 

        Carter’s book never mentions, much less discusses, the April 14, 2004 letter that assured Israel of the U.S. commitment to secure, defensible borders; promised the U.S. would not support any plan other than the three-phase Road Map; and placed particular emphasis on Palestinian compliance with Phase I as a condition of peace.

 

        In a June 27, 2005 appearance before the American Enterprise Institute, Dore Goldnoted that the emphasis in the April 14, 2004 letter on secure and defensible borders was “not a revolutionary break in the foreign policy of the United States or in U.S.-Israeli relations, but actually laid at the heart of a consensus that existed for many years among Israeli and American leaders. I just want to run you through this becausemany people have either forgotten it or never knew it.

 

        One would never have thought that among the people who have “either forgotten it or never knew it” would be a former president of the United States.

 

        Carter seeks to ignore both Phase I and Phase II of the Road Map, to move instead immediately to Phase III, and to substitute a withdrawal to the 1967 borders for the secure and defensible borders that Resolution 242 envisions and that the April 14, 2004 letter promises – and then Carter repeatedly castigates Israel for its alleged failure to comply with Resolution 242, the Road Map and a specious “unwavering U.S. policy” that Carter has created himself.

 

        It is hard to imagine a more disingenuous effort than the one Carter has embarked on with his book – but it is of a piece with his reprehensible characterization of Israel as an “apartheid” state.


 


                        Rick Richman edits “Jewish Current Issues” at http://jpundit.typepad.com. His front-page essay discussing the April 14, 2004 exchange of letters between the United States and Israel appeared in the September 9, 2005 issue of The Jewish Press.

Whither Israel: After Lebanon And Gaza? Finally, Time To Reject A Suicidal ‘Peace Process’ (Part One of Four)

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Defenseless under the night,

Our world in stupor lies.

W.H. Auden

Part One

The poet Auden understood many things. He understood truly important things as only the poets can. He understood that humankind can always be found in pretty much the same imperiled condition. He knew that our great collective strides forward in technical intelligence remain altogether detached from any parallel progress in reason and ethics. Immobilized by fear and transfixed by cowardice, our species – he was surely aware – is always prone to reenact every monumental mistake and every gigantic error.

This tragic predilection is irrefutable. It is also ubiquitous and generic. Today it is still evident in the always-explosive Middle East.

Consider Israel. With considerable irony, Prime Minister Olmert – just before launching Israel’s massive reprisals against Hizbullah in Lebanon and against Hamas in Gaza − sought safety for his people by arming Fatah against Hamas and by offering to surrender additional Jewish land. One way or another, the government of the Jewish State had clearly intended to stay close to some version of the “Road Map.” Will Olmert now continue with this intended policy, or will he have learned, finally, that Israeli capitulation in the Islamic Middle East can never be purposeful?

Jewish supporters of a “Middle East Peace Process” still base their principal argument on a manifestly unwarranted assumption. These very confused Jews still believe, contrary to all ascertainable evidence and to all recent history, that a process of unilateral dismemberment (former Prime Minister Sharon called it “disengagement;” current Prime Minister Olmert calls it “realignment” or “convergence”) can bring some tangible resolution to the longstanding dispute between Israel and the Arabs. What these Jews still refuse to recognize, however, is that the existential struggle against Islamic perpetrators of genocide has essentially nothing to do with territory. It follows that any continuously concessionary Israel would still be moving not toward any final resolution, but rather toward a distinctly “Final Solution”.

Could anything be more obvious? Following Oslo, the Road Map, disengagement and realignment continue to favor the terrorist organizations and their state mentors. Now the actual elected government of an impending “Palestine,” Hamas’ sole and unhidden aim of negotiation is to remove Israel from the map. Period.

The core dispute we are discussing is not about land, as most of the misguided Jewish supporters of “peace” still seem to believe, but about G-d. As any casual reading of the Arab and Iranian press will disclose, from 1948 to the present the Islamic world’s mortal opposition to Israel has stemmed preeminently from a deeply doctrinal hatred of a Jewish state in its midst – indeed, any Jewish state that dares to exist in the “Dar al Islam.” Let us be clear: If Islamic opposition to Israel were only about Judea/Samaria and Gaza, why were there so many Arab terrorist attacks against Jews between 1948 and 1967, when these disputed territories were in Arab hands? What were these terrorists seeking to “liberate” before there were any “Israel-occupied territories?”

For that very large portion of the Islamic world that remains dedicated to Israel’s annihilation, an inventive cartography is merely part of a wider strategy of genocide. In the generally accepted Islamic view, Israel is always the individual Jew writ large. Thus, the Jewish State always, must be loathed. This nefarious deduction is a very far cry from the wishful view of Oslo/Road Map/Disengagement/Realignment/ Convergence supporters that Israel is despised only because it is an “occupier.”

Let us be perfectly straightforward. The Israeli is hated in the Islamic world because he is a Jew. That is the whole loathsome and indisputable story.

An authoritative expression of this fundamental Islamic view is clarified in an article from Al-Ahram. Here, the religiously-prominent Dr. Lufti Abd al-Azim wrote straightforwardly:

“The first thing we have to make clear is that no distinction must be made between the Jew and the Israeli…The Jew is a Jew, through the millennia…in spurning all moral values, devouring the living and drinking his blood for the sake of a few coins. The Jew, the merchant of Venice, does not differ from the killer of Deir Yasin or the killer of the camps. They are equal examples of human degradation. Let us therefore put aside such distinctions and talk about Jews.”

The regionally and Islamically revered Dr. Abd al-Azim is hardly alone in this position. A current Egyptian textbook on Arab Islamic History − widely used in teacher training colleges – expresses the following, revealing sentiments:

“The Jews are always the same, every time and everywhere. They will not live save in darkness. They contrive their evils clandestinely. They fight only when they are hidden because they are cowards…The Prophet enlightened us about the right way to treat them, and succeeded finally in crushing the plots that they had planned. We today must follow this way and purify Palestine from their filth.”

And here are some recent postings (April 2006) from the Muslim Brotherhood Children’s Website (based in Egypt, a country “at peace” with Israel):

“Did you know that the Jews murdered 25 of the prophets of allah, and that their black history is full of crimes of murder and corruption?

“Did you know that the criminal Jews frequently revile and curse our lord?

“Did you know that the Jews made several attempts to murder our beloved prophet, but that allah the omnipotent saved him from their plot?

“Did you know that the corruption and deviance widespread in the world today are the result of activity and planning by the Jews, who are interested in leading people astray, away from the path of allah?

“Did you know that the Jews who occupy our land and our holy places in beloved Palestine are planning to occupy the rest of the Muslim countries and to establish a Greater Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile, and that they are interested in excavating in the tomb of our beloved prophet?

“Did you know that today the Jews are inciting the entire world against Islam and the Muslims, on the pretext of the war against terror?”

And so it goes, on and on

How, then, shall we understand current advocates of the “peace process?” Some Jewish supporters of the Road Map and its attendant disengagements and realignments, preferring to simply disregard the widely-prevailing Islamic image of Israel as a pathology seem to base their curious position on a very problematic acceptance of the Palestinian claim to Judea/Samaria/Gaza. Leaving aside the very questionable nature of the underlying demographic argument (e.g., the commonly stated and unsupported assertion that current Palestinians are descended directly from the ancient Canaanites), these supporters conveniently ignore the continuous Jewish presence in these lands. They also ignore that approximately one million Palestinians are now full citizens of Israel. This is a juridical condition that is hardly mirrored in the Arab world, where 900,000 Jews were slaughtered or expelled from area states after 1948 and which presently denies Jews any remotely parallel rights of nationality. Yet, it is the Palestinians – not the Israelis – who cling relentlessly to the idea of Jihad or holy war.

(To be continued)

Copyright The Jewish Press, September 8, 2006. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

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