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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The War of Independence goes on

Israel's Independence Day celebrates the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed. As was the case with the United States, the signing of the Declaration of Independence was just the beginning of a war. The following day, Israel was attacked by five Arab armies with the stated goal of driving Israel into the sea.

That war nominally ended with an armistice in 1949. But, notes Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon, the war never really ended, because the Arabs have never accepted the reality of Israel's existence and continue to try to destroy it.
Does the US not see in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to accept Ehud Olmert’s generous offer in 2008 as a lack of willingness on the Palestinian side to come to an agreement?

Apparently not. From the dawn of Zionism there has not been a Palestinian leadership willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. This is the source of the problem, and not what is called the occupied territories since ’67. The opposition to Zionism began before we liberated Judea, Samaria and Gaza; before we established a state.

In order for there to a proper prognosis, you need a proper diagnosis. We are arguing, and not only with them, but with the Israeli Left, about what is the root of the problem. Part of the issue, which influences the US and European positions, is our internal confusion.

I also used to think the solution was land for peace, until I became the head of military intelligence, saw things from up close and my thinking underwent an evolution.

But how do we remain Jewish and democratic? There is a majority who believe we have to separate here.

First of all, we disengaged politically in Judea and Samaria, and physically from Gaza. The policy of the Netanyahu government is that we don’t want to rule over them. But not ruling over them does not mean we have to withdraw to the 1967 borders, which are indefensible borders; or that we have to divide Jerusalem in order to bring Hamas snipers into Jerusalem.

The prime minister has said he is ready for two states. Are you?

What he said is that we don’t want to rule over them … And as he said at Bar-Ilan University, if at the end of the day they will be willing to recognize the right of a national home for the Jews; that refugees will not return into Israel; that their political entity will be demilitarized and we will get international guarantees for that; and that an agreement would mean an end to the conflict, then you can call it what you want – a state, even an empire.

We are willing to move forward in Judea and Samaria with the government of Abu Mazen [Abbas] and Salam Fayyad. But for this we don’t have to return to the ’67 borders or divide Jerusalem; we don’t have to place ourselves in danger again.

There is a general denial – including by Fayyad – of the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. He gave a lecture at an interfaith conference in New York two years ago about the sanctity of Jerusalem, and he talked about how it was holy for Christianity and Islam. How is it possible to deny the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem? How?

Have you seen any improvement in this attitude recently?

No, there is no change. There is a change in tactics. They understood that terror doesn’t work, especially after 9/11. It is better to characterize this as opposition to occupation, that is more convincing in the postcolonial world, because those who don’t know the details here think we are colonialists, deny that this was our home dating back 3,000 years.

Those who want to continue the Oslo process, who want us to continue to give and give and give, without a Palestinian willingness to recognize our right to a national home, are cooperating with the phased plan for Israel’s destruction.

Before Annapolis, which was not that long ago, Abu Mazen – the head of a government considered moderate – was asked by Olmert to agree at the end of the conference to a declaration saying ‘two states for two peoples.’ He was not willing.

Saeb Erekat was asked why not on Al Jazeera, and said because there is no Jewish people; that Judaism is a religion, and why should a religion get a state.


Most people in the country don’t feel Oslo failed because of us. But there are many who believe that not stopping the settlements is complicating our situation.

That is the role of leadership, and the job of education. We need to explain the challenges we are facing, what we are up against, and what we are willing to fight and struggle for.

This is an existential struggle – the War of Independence has not ended. From a historical perspective, all the wars we fought, from 1948 and even before the establishment of the state, up until now, are part of a War of Independence for the existence of a national home for the Jewish people after 2,000 years of exile.

We cannot fold on Jerusalem. What is Jerusalem? It is Zion. Why did my mother come here after the Holocaust, why did my grandparents come here in 1925? They came to Zion. From my wife’s side, her grandparents left Morocco and came in 1897 after walking here for two years. Another predecessor came here in the 1600s. Why here?

But there are those who say Zion is not necessarily Isawiya or Abu Dis.

You don’t have to talk to me about territorial compromise, because I was willing until Oslo.

I grew up amid the camp prepared for territorial concession.... I was ready for territorial compromise along the lines of Oslo. But then it became clear to me that there was no partner, including among those considered moderates.
Read the whole thing. He also makes clear that if no one else takes action to stop Iran, Israel will. Containment is not an option.


At 11:44 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon's point is reinforced by an article just written by Evelyn Gordon. She points out that the demographic threat can't destroy Israel but the folly of its leaders, panicked by the desire to put the protracted Palestinian imbroglio behind them, can through suicidal territorial concessions. That in her view would lead to three disastrous results: 1) continued Palestinian intransigence, 2) increased world pressure on Israel and 3) the demoralization of Israel's citizens. What Israel needs is long range perspective. The Palestinian problem is a manageable irritant, not an existential threat.

More here: The Real Demographic Threat

Above all, the purpose of Israel as a state is to have the Jewish people take charge of their destiny than tying it into what other people do - who must not be allowed to exercise a veto over their fate.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Jennifer Rubin takes note of the Ya'alon interview and adds this:

"It’s incumbent on the American Jewish community now to do likewise. It is a time to make clear whether it intends to shuffle along, meekly accepting the administration’s inertness on Iran and its ferocity toward our democratic ally."

The Jews Of Silence have yet to pipe up about the Obami policy.

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Jerusalem Thing said...

The issue is complete ignorance about the war. I think what works best to explain the war, its consequences and meaning to people is by videos or by presentation - like this one: http://www.wepapers.com/Papers/77880/Arab-Israeli__conflict.ppt

Videos work well too, of course.


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