Into the Fray: The honorable thing to do
The only proper thing for two-staters to do is to admit error, apologize for the vast damage they have wrought, and bow out of public life.
President Shimon Peres Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO
The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of
thinking that created them. – Albert Einstein
This insight encapsulates the
predicament that two-staters have inflicted on us. The problems that have arisen
from the pursuit of the policy of two-states-for-two-peoples cannot be solved by
the level of thinking that created those problems – i.e. by the continued
pursuit of that policy.
Over the past several
months, two-staters have been in a flap, displaying growing frustration and
bewilderment over the refusal of reality to conform to their political
prescription. Increasingly, their public statements show signs of despair and
desperation, at times tinged with tones of panic. It is becoming evermore common
to encounter expressions of what once would have been considered heretical
musings, reflecting mounting doubts whether their formula for resolving the
conflict is at all feasible.
One of the more outlandish responses to this
spreading desperation was that articulated recently by Shimon Peres – who might
well be dubbed “the-two-stater-in-chief” – at last month’s Presidential
Conference in Jerusalem.
Addressing a plenary session titled “Learning
from Mistakes on the Way to Tomorrow,” Peres seemed to advocate that we
Learn from mistakes, that is.
His recipe for attaining
peace – which of course has worked so splendidly up to now – was to forget the
past because “we can’t change it.”
Challenging his audience with the
rhetorical question, “Can you correct the past?” he urged: “Focus on the
Ah, “the future” – that seductively fabricated illusion,
fraudulently framed as the promise of serene tranquility, tantalizingly close at
hand, and conveniently decoupled from the trauma and tragedy of the
For two-staters, it is the last remaining straw they have to cling
to; the last card they have to play in the losing hand they have dealt
themselves – and the nation.
Doomed to repeat?
Now while it is
undoubtedly true that we cannot change the past, we definitely can learn from
it. Indeed, we fail to do so at our peril. As George Santayana warns: “Those who
cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
reluctant to recall the repercussions of his own actions – and even more
reticent to admit them.
Apparently impervious to the massive trail of
death and devastation precipitated by the “peace process,” of which he was the
principal architect, he recounted to the conference how he sagaciously allayed
Yitzhak Rabin’s misgivings and convinced him to go along with handing over Gaza
and Jericho to the homicidal regime of Yasser Arafat and his sanguinary
From Peres’s demeanor, one might easily have concluded that the
measures he initiated, and which resulted in the loss of life and limb for
thousands of his countrymen, was an admirable deed to be emulated, rather than
an appalling blunder to be avoided.
Given their abysmal record, it is
understandable that perpetrators of two-state compliant policies should be loath
to discuss the past, and keen to formulate a rationale to avoid such a
But even making allowance for the inevitable cognitive discomfort
two-staters must experience when confronted with the stark contrast between
their deeply held beliefs and the cold facts of reality, Peres’s formula for
devising actionable policy takes the concept of public irresponsibility to a
whole new level.
Reckless abandon as strategy
According to our esteemed
president and Nobel peace laureate, the key to successful peacemaking is to
ignore the risks, disregard the dangers, discount the threats, and dismiss the
hazards that one may encounter in the pursuit of peace...
prescribed “Peresian” precondition for peace is to “close your eyes a
After all, he asserts, “You cannot make peace with your eyes
So that’s it! The secret is reckless abandon.
All we need
to do to attain the durable peace that has eluded us for so long is to throw
caution to the wind. Forget who our adversaries are, overlook their intrinsic
nature and past behavior, “close our eyes” and conjure up some virtual reality
populated by cuddly, congenial Palestinians.
So it seems that flat
learning curves are “in.” Or rather learning curves in general are
But for the gravity of the issues and the calamitous consequences
they may entail, Peres’s proposal would be comical – bordering on the
Yet despite its manifest absurdity, it seems to have a
definite allure for some.
Indeed, total erasure of memory appears to be
the only explanation for Gershon Baskin’s latest column, in Tuesday’s Jerusalem
Post, “Is my Zionist dream dead?”
I am having difficulty
finding societally acceptable terms to describe Baskin’s diatribe against his
country and his people.
The article is not only a deplorable mixture of
misplaced alarm, partisan delusion and whining self-commiseration; it is
incendiary, borderline seditious and distinctly Judeophobic – allegations I will
not leave unsubstantiated.
It is an archetypical illustration of
prejudicial political amnesia that would do the “Peresian” philosophy of “closed
No blame is ascribed to the Palestinians for the failure to
attain a two-state peace.
It’s all the fault of the Jews – the blind,
callous, egotistical Jews.
Actually, I tend to agree with Baskin’s
opening paragraph. He writes: “I am really quite concerned. I see a great
disaster about to unfold. I simply cannot understand why people are not
shouting, ‘Don’t let this happen!’” For I too fear that we may well be on the
cusp of “great disaster” and am a little puzzled at what appears to be
inexplicable public complacency.
But from thereon we diverge into
antithetical positions – with regard both to the nature of the impending
disaster and the measures needed to avert it. For the potential for catastrophe
is the direct result of the endeavor to implement Baskin’s twostate idea and the
land-for-peace doctrine on which it is based.
Recipe for calamity
wherever the policy of political appeasement and territorial withdrawal has been
implemented, it has resulted in unequivocal fiasco – sometimes almost
immediately as in Gaza, sometimes after a few years as with the second intifada,
and sometimes after a few decades as in Sinai.
This record of failure
leaves Baskin unmoved. He still apparently cannot fathom why this has diminished
the Israeli public’s appetite for, and belief in, the twostate principle, with
regard to both its feasibility and its desirability.
column there is not a hint – never mind explicit mention – referring to:
indiscriminate Palestinian shelling of Israeli civilian population centers from
Gaza after the evacuation of the entire area;
• The frenzied desecration and
destruction of the synagogues left standing after that evacuation;
Judeophobic incitement in the official Palestinian media and school curricula,
almost indistinguishable in its venom from the Nazi Der Stürmer;
Judeocidal declarations of intent calling for the destruction of Israel as the
nation state of the Jews, in the founding documents of all the major Palestinian
organizations – whether in the Hamas Charter, the Fatah Constitution or the
PLO’s Palestinian National Charter still posted on the website of the Permanent
Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations;
• The bloody wave of
Palestinian violence unleashed in response to Ehud Barak’s unprecedented offers
of territorial concessions in 2000;
• The Palestinian rejection of Ehud Olmert’s
even more radical offers in 2008.
Ignoring far-reaching concessions
it is not only Palestinian rejectionism and propensity for violence that appears
to have slipped Baskin’s mind. So it seems has Israel’s far-reaching willingness
to make concrete concessions in the hope of reaching a peace agreement with the
Arabs, including the Palestinians, ever since the 1979 Camp David
After all, Israel has:
• Evacuated the entire Sinai
• Foregone its oil resources and strategic depth;
unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, erasing every vestige of Jewish presence;
Unearthed its dead from graveyards;
• Demolished settlements in northern
• Allowed armed militias to deploy adjacent to its capital and within
mortar range of its parliament; and
• Imposed a 10-month construction freeze
across the “settlements.”
None of these elicited discernible motivation
among the Palestinians for reciprocal peaceable measures. They merely pocketed
the concessions and moved on to their next demand.
Yet despite the weight
of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, Baskin declares, “There obviously
is no partner for this solution on the Israeli side,” adding ominously, “soon
there will be no partner for it on the Palestinian side.”
But, of course,
there never really has been any of the latter, except in the fevered minds of
the obsessive two-staters such as Baskin for whom not capitulating to every
Palestinian demand is apparently proof-positive of Israeli
Yet there are far graver aspects to
Baskin’s article than his bias against Israel. Consider the following passage:
“One million Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot be equal when they are always
subject to be questioned about their loyalty. Of course they will be loyal to
their own people when their own state is fighting against them.”
quite apart from the fact that the questions raised regarding the loyalty of the
Arab citizens of Israel derive from their deeds and their declarations –
particularly of their elected representatives – and not from any arbitrary
discriminatory impulse of the Israeli authorities, the implications of the
latter part of the excerpt are particularly serious.
For it seems Baskin
is endorsing – or at least condoning – support for the enemy in war. How else
are we to interpret his acceptance of Israeli Arabs bestowing their loyalty on
“their own people” rather than on “their state” when the two are effectively at
war. It is hard to imagine how those who wish to cast doubt on the loyalty of
Israeli Arabs could ask for any greater validation of their position than that
provided by Baskin.
While I would, of course, prefer to reach some
alternative conclusion rather than that Baskin is sanctioning, or at least
tolerating, sedition among Israel’s Arab citizen, I am having difficulty finding
Baskin waxes hysterical, bleating: “What do we do
when partition is no longer possible?” Of course it never really was. There
certainly is not – nor has there been – any format compatible with Israel’s
minimum security requirements that is acceptable to the Palestinians – except of
course in the feverish imagination of career two-staters such as
There are certainly Zionist-compliant alternatives to the
two-state paradigm, as I have discussed in several previous columns, but which
due to constrains of space cannot be elaborated on here.
contemptuously dismisses any thought of other options, asking: What if they
don’t work/the Palestinians don’t accept them? Surely Baskin has a commensurate
obligation to inform us what happens if a Palestinian state were indeed
established and – as would be quite likely – is taken over by radical Islamist
elements, or even if the moderate non-Islamic regime cannot rein in its renegade
elements. What is Baskin’s “Plan B” once Israel has relinquished control of the
highlands commanding its major population centers and vital infrastructure
installations? What if the Palestinians do not suddenly behave radically
differently to the way they have for the last hundred years? What if they rain
down rockets, not on Sderot and remote southern agricultural settlements, but on
greater Tel Aviv, Ben- Gurion Airport, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Savyon, Caesarea and
Jerusalem? What then? What if what swept through Gaza, and more recently through
Tahrir, Tunis and Tripoli, sweeps through Ramallah? Does Baskin care about the
consequences for his country and his countrymen? If so, there is no hint of how
he proposes to address them.
What is the tenor of
Baskin’s Zionism? He certainly seems to place scant weight on the issue of
Jewish sovereignty. For him Palestinian sovereignty seems far more
He writes: “The State of Palestine will never exist if it is
up to Israel to decide.... I want to understand if there’s a place left for me
in this country. I want to know if my Zionist dream has any validity any
It would appear Baskin’s “Zionist dream” is entirely dependent on
the establishment, not of a Jewish state, but a Palestinian one – which he
implies must be imposed on the sovereign elected government of the Jewish state,
presumably by foreign powers. Or am I missing something here? Moreover, it seems
that Baskin’s “Zionist dream” cannot have “any validity” nor can there to be any
place for him in the country unless millions of more Israelis are brought into
the range of weapons being used today from territory handed over to Palestinian
That apparently is essential for his moral code. Without this,
Baskin’s vision of Zionism will crumble and Israel will, in all likelihood, no
longer be a place for him.
The honorable thing
that we be truthful, and indeed we should. But so should he.
Binyamin Netanyahu of insincerity and deliberately sabotaging any chance of a
two-state solution. So it would be extremely intriguing to know how Baskin would
relate to Nobel peace laureate Yitzhak Rabin, who, in his final address to the
Knesset delineated his vision of a permanent solution with the Palestinians far
less generous than any of his successors – including Netanyahu.
Rabin’s post-Oslo policies also invalidate Baskin’s Zionist dream and undermine
his sense of belonging in the country? The truth, for those who genuinely seek
it, is that any two-state configuration is incompatible with any sustainable
It is high time that the two-staters acknowledge this.
Indeed, today the only honorable thing left for two-staters to do is to admit
error, apologize for the vast damage they have wrought, and bow out of public