Arthur Vandenberg 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In his (pre-presidential) heyday, witty and irrepressible Ezer Weizman once
famously quipped that whereas “the eternity of Israel shall not deceive” (I
Samuel 15:29), “the Arabs won’t let us down.”
Reckless as it may be to
excessively rely on rescue by enemy imprudence, Kadima MK Nachman Shai should
certainly be grateful to PA President Mahmoud Abbas for facilitating his own
face-saving climb down.Earlier this month, Shai was about to head a
delegation of opposition politicos on a pilgrimage to Abbas in Ramallah. That PR
stunt might have misfired undesirably considering that Abbas has only just
reiterated his absolute unwavering insistence on the “right” to inundate Israel
with untold millions of hostile Arabs and his equally uncompromising refusal to
recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
Abbas has done nothing to
justify an image boost from an ostensibly mainstream Israeli party while it
persists in tarnishing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as unaccountably the
villain of the doomed peace-talks scenario.
Had Abbas not pulled Kadima’s
chestnuts out of the fire, Shai’s bunch would have appeared as siding with an
intransigent antagonist, all for the sake of whacking the
Abbas’s pretext was the inclusion in Shai’s entourage of
Alfei Menashe Local Council head Hisdai Eliezer. Abbas blackballed the
“settler,” affording Shai an opportunity to play the resolute hero who “objects
to any sort of boycott.”
Yet it shouldn’t have taken Abbas’s folly to
change Shai’s plans. These plans should have never been made in the first place.
It’s one thing for the opposition to carp and take potshots domestically but
quite another for it to venture on its own foreign policy initiatives.
1947, in what was dubbed “the speech heard around the world,” Republican Sen.
Arthur Vandenberg urged that Democratic president Harry Truman be allowed to
pursue his foreign policy unhindered because “politics should stop at the
In other words, honorable politicians present a united
front to other countries, despite home-turf disagreements.
separate foreign policy, especially vis-avis inimical forces, is illegitimate in
any democracy. The sabotage of an elected government’s policy overturns the
people’s verdict by means other than the ballot box.
whenever foreign policy does not remain free of tinkering inspired by partisan
rivalries and ambitions, the consequences may prove calamitous.
the entire Oslo fiasco began as private diplomatic enterprise behind the back of
the elected government.
The prelude occurred in 1987, when Shimon Peres,
then serving as prime minister Yitzhak Shamir’s foreign minister, concocted the
London Agreement with Jordan.
Peres kept Shamir in the dark, while
leading King Hussein to believe he had Shamir’s blessing. Only the Americans
eventually let Shamir in on the scheme. Peres even refused to show Shamir a copy
of the agreement, something the Americans eventually provided.
sacked Peres. Yitzhak Rabin didn’t, though Peres pulled the same stunt on him.
Instead, Rabin fell for the fait accompli, which came to be known as the Oslo
In an October 31, 2008 Yediot Aharonot interview, Yossi Beilin
unabashedly admitted that during the Oslo process, he “had to do things behind
people’s backs. I was deputy foreign minister. The foreign minister and prime
minister [Peres and Rabin] didn’t know that I was conducting talks with the PLO
until I decided to inform them.”
Beilin’s confession should have
generated a furious political maelstrom. Our opinion-molders should have been
scandalized. Our entire public discourse should have reverberated with outrage.
But nobody was appalled. Perhaps it was because Beilin’s conspiracy was right up
Peres’s alley and he enticed Rabin into it.
dilettante negotiations without government sanction or knowledge do more than
undermine the country’s strength. They cause disregard and derision for us
internationally. Jewish sovereignty ends up treated with insolence nobody would
ever dare demonstrate even toward any minor Third World potentate.
foreign governments and their local envoys allow themselves here, they wouldn’t
begin to countenance in relation to any other government anywhere, even of the
The erosion is continuous and the
damage is wrought in such small increments, over so many years, that collective
memory of most individual episodes of subterfuge quickly fades.
one seemingly negligible yet very telling instance from January 2004, when
astonished members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee were
informed that Norway’s embassy hosted a clandestine meeting between opposition
leader Shimon Peres of Labor and PA premier Ahmed Qurei. At the time Qurei
assiduously resisted all pressure to confer with the elected premier (alas, of
But that was hardly all. Qurei was chauffeured to Tel Aviv,
without prior coordination with IDF authorities, by Norwegian UN envoy Terje
Roed-Larsen – one of Oslo’s progenitors, with political and personal links
aplenty to Peres. Larsen had transported Qurei illicitly across the lines in
blatant contravention of the legitimate authorities’ regulations. He thereby
thumbed his nose at official Israel and this was no isolated instance of such
contempt on his part.
The fact that the Norwegian embassy thought it
desirable to go behind its host government’s back attested to a flagrantly
disrespectful attitude and inappropriate conduct, hardly conceivable
In this forgotten but seminal case, senior diplomats sought to
further agendas in cahoots with the opposition against the expressed policies of
the legal government. In blunter terms, this should have been called
Even in 2004, moreover, it wasn’t an isolated
It came hot on the heels of the bizarre financial largesse and
tireless efforts of the Swiss to sponsor the Geneva Initiative, in impudent
defiance of the government which represented the overwhelming majority of the
Additionally, this wasn’t solely the oddball undemocratic
indecency of misguided Europeans. American ambassador Dan Kurtzer, representing
what was hyped as Washington’s friendliest-ever administration, engaged in
similar hanky-panky. He hosted a gettogether between senior Palestinians –
though they boycotted Israel’s elected leadership – and leading activists in the
left-wing opposition from both Labor and Meretz.
disconcerting was the fact that at least some of this session was devoted to
trashing the duly elected government. If anything, that signaled to potential
Palestinian “peace partners” that they needn’t respect their Israeli
interlocutors and that they can take it for granted that Israel didn’t enjoy
American backing. In itself, that’s a dangerous message.
chutzpah was that the furtive nature of assignation diplomacy wasn’t what
bothered Labor or Meretz. They were up-in-arms about the fact that officialdom
was aware of who they saw and what was said.
This to them smacked of
Magically, they shifted the focus from their underhandedness
to the supposed violation of their rights, just as they do in the current
imbroglio about who funds the Left’s front organizations, those which spare no
effort or tactic to demonize Israel worldwide.
The more things change the
more they stay the same.
Our politics stop neither at the water’s edge
nor at the Green Line. They never have.www.sarahhonig.com
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