Israel in Wonderland
“The demise of Shimon Peres unleashed a tidal wave of mendacity and hypocrisy that underscores the dominance the delusional dictates of political correctness have over political discourse in (and on) Israel…On Friday, the world proved that what it really wants is to embrace Israel. Oslo, the disengagement and Peres were enough for the world to carry Israel aloft…But Israel repeatedly bites the outstretched hand, pushes the world to detest it…”
— Gideon Levy, “Shimon Peres’ funeral proved that anti-Semitism is dead,” Haaretz, October 2, 2016.
“…No Israeli government has made any efforts in the past decade to move the peace process forward…”
— Lior Ackerman, former division head of the Shin Bet, “Wanted: Two courageous leaders,” Jerusalem Post, October 3, 2016.
Alice in “Alice in Wonderland”
It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change.
In the past two and half decades — almost a quarter-century — truth has always been, at best, incidental to much of the manner in which the political discourse in, and on, Israel has been conducted. More often than not, political truth was surrendered as sacrificial offerings on the altar of the omnipotent deity of political correctness — regardless of how far the precepts of the latter diverged from those of factual correctness.
Appeasement as a yardstick for statesmanship
However, in the past 10 days, since the sad demise of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, it seems the floodgates of falsehood and fabrication have been opened even wider than usual, resulting in a veritable deluge of drivel that distorts the nation’s past, disregards present perils it faces and dismisses its future prospects with prophesies of impending doom.
Every endeavor at appeasing Palestinian-Arab demands, no matter how gruesome the results it precipitated, was applauded as far-sighted statesmanship. Any show of resistance to such demands was disparaged as short-sighted political partisanship; any skepticism as to the consequences of complying with them was denigrated as narrow-minded nationalism; any warning that caution should be exercised before accepting them was disparaged as radical right-wing rejectionism; any suggestion that the risks entailed in acceding to them should be thoroughly assessed was dismissed as extremist scare-mongering.
On the one hand, the discourse has been dominated by an approach that insists on making future Israeli concessions — no matter how fruitless (indeed, counter-productive) past concessions have proven. Moreover, it persists in trivializing all past concessions — no matter how far-reaching these have been, and no matter how calamitous the consequences in which they have culminated. On the other hand, the intransigence of the Palestinian Arabs, and their naked Judeocidal bloodlust, whose lethal consequences have hitherto been constrained only by the physical limitation on their practical capacity to murder and maim Jews, have been met with expansive understanding — even empathy — and are seldom, if ever, mentioned as the cause of conflict.
Indeed, in the dominant political discourse in/on Israel, it would appear that abject appeasement has become the sole yardstick for statesmanship — at least, where Israel is concerned.
Eulogizing the imaginary
Much of this mindset — the need for Israeli consideration for its enemies’ positions, coupled with total disregard for their incandescent anti-Israel hated — was reflected in the eulogies at Peres’ funeral last Friday.
Thus, Barack Obama claimed, “I don’t believe he [Peres] was naïve,” when it is clear that “naïve” is the most charitable characterization of the policies Peres forged in the last quarter-century of his life that proved so disastrously detached from reality.
Obama continued to say that Peres “understood from hard-earned experience that true security comes through making peace with your neighbors” — seemingly oblivious to the reality that nearly all previous land-for-peace endeavors have left Israel in a more precarious position than before, and its civilian population commensurately more exposed to attack, despite the fact that the prospect of a conventional military threat has receded significantly.
The president went on to cite a prime example of latter-day “Peresian” pathos, recalling Peres’ remark regarding Israel’s wars: “We won them all…But we did not win the greatest victory that we aspired to: release from the need to win victories.”
Indeed, this is such an illusionary, rather than visionary, pipe dream that even Peres’ protégé and devoted acolyte, former MK Einat Wilf (a dedicated two-state adherent herself) recognized that Israeli victory, or at least Palestinian defeat, is a precondition for peace.
Illusion not vision
In a recent Haaretz op-ed, “When Palestinians acknowledge defeat to Zionism, peace will follow,” published just days prior to Peres’ passing, Wilf wrote, somewhat remarkably:
The Zionist left wants to see the defeat of the Palestinian national movement just as badly as the right wing does. Only when it admits that, will the Left be able to lead the state of Israel to a peace deal, if and when that becomes feasable. That is because a peace agreement based on dividing the land will be possible only when the Palestinian nationalist movement acknowledges its defeat to the Jewish nationalist movement – Zionism.
Sadly, however, it seems the iron grip of political correctness can obfuscate the perspective even of the most sober pundits. Thus, in a piece written on the day of Peres’ demise, Wilf, after crediting Peres for helping ensure “that the Jews fighting a war of annihilation…had the weapons they needed to ultimately prevail,” went on to claim, “When decades later he recognized that the region might be turning somewhat less hostile, he grabbed the opportunity and brokered careful understandings between former sworn enemies.”
The region was “turning somewhat less hostile”? With the Sunni Islamic State, on the one hand, and the Shia Islamic Republic, on the other? True, the conventional threat from several Sunni state actors had diminished, for the time being, only to be replaced by the arguably even more menacing specter of fanatical non-state actors, with quasi-state capabilities and global reach, as well as the Obama-facilitated threat of a nuclear Iran.
Peres “brokered careful understandings between former sworn enemies”? Hmm, one wonders what “careful understandings” those would be. The Oslo Accords? And which “former sworn enemies”? Hamas? Hezbollah? Arafat?
Eulogies (cont.): prattle on peace
Of course, in the labyrinth of contorted rhetoric and distorted polemics that comprise the political discourse in/on Israel, “peace” is no more than a code-word for Israeli capitulation to Arab demands, and the “peace process” an encrypted synonym for “Israeli withdrawal.”
Accordingly, when Obama lauded Peres in his eulogy, declaring, “He understood the practical necessity of peace. Shimon believed that Israel’s exceptionalism was rooted not only in fidelity to the Jewish people, but to…the precepts of his Jewish faith: ‘The Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people,'” the allusion is clear — to achieve peace, Israel must withdraw from the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. As if Arab or Muslim enmity began only in 1967, and the desire to annihilate the Jewish state was fueled only by the “occupation” of Judea-Samaria and not by an implacable Arab refusal to countenance any expression of Jewish sovereignty in any territorial configuration whatsoever.
Then, of course, there was famed author Amos Oz, the ever-eloquent “oracle” of the obsessive dovish Left, who in a 2000 Haaretz interview promised: “The minute we leave south Lebanon we will have to erase the word Hezbollah from our vocabulary, because the whole idea of the state of Israel versus Hezbollah was sheer folly from the outset. It most certainly will no longer be relevant when Israel returns to her internationally recognized northern border.”
Of course, the realities today, long after “Israel return[ed] to her internationally recognized northern border” and the bloody 2006 Second Lebanon War, demonstrate just how wildly inaccurate Oz’s prognosis was, proving he is far more adept in the world of fanciful fiction than that of cold political realities.
Amos Oz: “Peres, a banal hawk”
Past errors, of course, have never swayed Oz’s absolute belief in the infallibility of his political credo, no matter how often and how incontrovertibly it has been disproven in the past. This should be kept in mind when assessing Oz’s remembrance of Peres. Just prior to the funeral, Oz disparagingly dismissed earlier periods of Peres’ political life, saying, “In the early ’70s, he was, in my eyes, a banal hawk. Supporting settlers, a settler lover, a security man, the more land the better, the more power the better.” Having reduced Peres’ more impressive security successes as a hawk to the “banal,” Oz then enthusiastically gushed over Peres’ later failed fiascoes as a dove, saying, “He changed before my eyes…into an enthusiastic and stubborn believer in Israeli-Palestinian peace.”
In Oz’s graveside eulogy, he proclaimed that, despite naysayers who believe peace is impossible, “Peace is not only possible, it is imperative and inevitable.” But then he elaborated with a simplistic — the less charitable might say puerile — analogy, which revealed that what Oz envisaged was not really a harmonious peace, but (unsurprisingly) Israeli withdrawal and separation from the Palestinian Arabs. Relating to the Jewish homeland as innate real estate, he declared: “Since Israelis and Palestinians cannot suddenly become one happy family, there is no alternative to dividing this house [Israel] into two, and converting it into a duplex building.”
Of course, nowhere in this silly, shallow analogy is there any reference to the fact that the “their” apartment will abut a hostile Islamist neighborhood, whose belligerent inhabitants are very likely to turn it into a base from which to launch deadly attacks against “our” apartment and its vulnerable tenants.
But hey, why let pesky details impede a noble vision?
Where are Peres’ successors?
Convinced with cult-like conviction, despite all the evidence to the contrary, of the absolute truth of his ideological creed, Oz pontificated dogmatically: “In their heart of hearts, all sides know this simple truth. Where are the brave leaders who will stand up and make these things a reality? Where are Shimon Peres’ successors?” Indeed, one can only marvel with stunned amazement at this callous (or is that masochistic?) nostalgia for “successors,” who will lead us back into the horrors of charred buses, mutilated bodies and bombed cafes that were the hallmark of the Oslo-ian “peace process” that Oz perversely yearns for.
This call for “brave leaders” was echoed in a particularly inane and incoherent article by Lior Ackermam, titled “Wanted: Two courageous leaders” in the Jerusalem Post (see introductory excerpt), a publication that, since the departure of editor-in-chief Steve Linde, seems to have adopted a dramatically more leftist (and anti-Netanyahu) line.
In it, Ackerman bewails the continued dire conditions under which the Palestinian Arabs live under the regime of the Abbas-headed Palestinian Authority, suggesting that this has understandably precipitated the latest wave of so-called “lone-wolf” terror. He warns that the only thing preventing “total anarchy or a Hamas takeover” is the hard work of the Israeli security forces. But he raises the outrageous claim that “no Israeli government has made any efforts in the past decade to move the peace process forward.”
From the inane to the insane
I guess he must be unaware of Ehud Olmert’s wildly concessionary offer to Abbas in 2008, which the latter flatly rejected. Or the unreciprocated steps Netanyahu took, cutting sharply across the grain of his political base, to coax the Palestinians back to negotiations: the building freeze in Judea-Samaria; the implicit agreement to have the pre-1967 borders serve as a point of departure for negotiations; the release of convicted terrorists with “blood on their hands.”
I could go on and elaborate on the array of patently useless, self-contradictory, already-tried-and-failed “remedies’” that Ackerman proposes to ameliorate the situation until such adequately “courageous leaders” emerge, but that would take more than the remaining space in this essay…
Instead, allow me to conclude with the buffoonish comments of Haaretz’s Gideon Levy. In a delusional piece entitled “Shimon Peres’ funeral proved that anti-Semitism is dead” (see introductory excerpts), he wrote, “On Friday, the world proved that what it really wants is to embrace Israel. Oslo, the disengagement and Peres were enough for the world to carry Israel aloft…But Israel repeatedly bites the outstretched hand, pushes the world to detest it…” He added, “Every Israeli could be proud of being Israeli and not have to hide it out of fear and shame. How much Israel’s fate is in its own hands depends on its behavior. If it wants, it can be admired.”
The world according to Gideon Levy
So, dear Israelis, there you have it — the world according to Gideon Levy. All you have to do to be admired is to endorse fatally flawed and failed formulae that leave your streets strewn with dead bodies and the world will love you.
Simple, isn’t it?
As Alice in Wonderland sighed: “It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change.”
Dr. Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic-israel.org).