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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Pursuing peace brings out the sharks

Let's get you into the mood first. Let's go to the videotape.

Sixteen years ago, Israel signed the Oslo Accords and began what looks like a panicked pursuit of peace. Not only have we not gotten peace, argues Evelyn Gordon in the latest issue of Commentary, but the more we pursue peace, the worse our standing in the 'international community' becomes. Gordon argues that there are four reasons behind this:
First, Oslo led Israel to sideline its own claim to the West Bank and Gaza, which all Israeli governments (and international Jewish leaders) had stressed to some extent before 1993. Though there had long been a lively debate as to whether Israel ought to hold on to these territories in practice, until 1993 all sides were ready to assert that it had a valid claim to them in principle.


Granted, much of the world was disposed to accept the Palestinian claim even before Oslo. But as the sage Hillel famously said 2,000 years ago, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” Oslo marked the moment when Israel stopped defending its own claim to the West Bank and Gaza and instead increasingly endorsed the Palestinian claim. And with no competing narrative to challenge it any longer, the view of Israel as a thief, with all its attendant consequences, has gained unprecedented traction.


[T]he problem has been compounded by another unanticipated consequence of Oslo: the territorial withdrawals it entailed have resulted not only in more dead Israelis but also in more dead Palestinians. Nothing undermines a country’s image more quickly than pictures of bleeding victims recycled endlessly on television and computer screens. That is precisely why worldwide protests against both the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last January—operations aimed at halting terror launched from territory Israel had evacuated to the last inch—drew far larger crowds than protests against Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank. Death causes more outrage than occupation.


Israeli withdrawals have also had another unintended consequence: they have energized anti-Israel radicals who, despite their small numbers, have contributed greatly to the anti-Israel climate by propelling the boycott and divestment movement. Because groups such as labor unions and churches are generally viewed positively, when a wide variety of such groups throughout the West all start targeting one particular country for boycott and divestment, people without any prior knowledge of the facts might naturally assume that the accused country must indeed be guilty to merit such treatment. What those people fail to realize is that boycotts and divestments are usually approved not by an organization’s full membership but by a handful of activists, which enables a few radicals to hijack the debate.


Yet this desperate quest for peace also failed to win Israel points among the general public, because each new initiative raised new hopes of a peace that was in fact never achievable. And it is human nature to be angrier over disappointed hope than over having never hoped at all. What is worse is the very fact that whenever negotiations broke down, it was Israel, rather than the Palestinian side, that came back with a better offer, created the impression that both sides thought peace would be achievable if Israel just gave enough. Thus the lack of peace must be Israel’s fault.
Gordon believes that the damage is reversible. I'm not sure it is. We need to add a fifth factor: Many Israelis - maybe even majority - don't believe in our right to be here anymore. Many Israelis would gladly emigrate elsewhere and melt into the non-Jewish communities in the diaspora if they were able to do so. Those of us who are religious and believe that this country is where we belong do not realize how many secular Israelis would like to leave. For them, Oslo's failure was the last straw. They want to live 'normally' and don't believe they can do so here. The sharks smell blood and are ready to eat us alive.

Read the whole thing.


At 12:48 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The last factor also explains the Israeli establishment's frenetic and desperate attacks upon national religious Zionists. They pose the only real threat to dissolving Israel's Jewish character. If the latter prevail, Israel is going to be more Jewish in a world increasingly adverse to it and that ironically enough, will stimulate the growth of anti-Semitism to new heights.

What could go wrong indeed

At 1:02 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

On a different an unrelated note, yes there is a baseball league in Israel. The video follows.

They may not be the Boston Red Sox but folks in Israel don't have to go to Boston anymore to watch baseball:

Holy Land Hardball Trailer

Holy Land Hardball Official Trailer

Its almost time to play ball soon!

Heh. Hat Tip: Debbie Schlussel


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