It's hunky-dory to kick off another year with comforting reassurances of stability. There are no unsettling changes in the wings. What was is what will be, albeit with slight superficial variations. For instance, Yossi Beilin will keep on tinkering with our existential interests as he did so assiduously hitherto. Although he announced his retirement, indefatigable Beilin is still out there avidly looking for E.T., still trying to broker that intergalactic encounter between alien life-forms, the one that will bless us with universal bliss.
Seeking peace in our time and in our land has often been likened to seeking friendly little green men in the outermost cosmos. The probability of finding what you're looking for is infinitesimally negligible in both cases. Yet Yossi won't let disheartening odds dampen his enthusiasm. Same goes for stunning past failures.
So what if the Oslo he concocted behind the backs of Israel's elected government unequivocally manifested itself as a gargantuan flop, as have his Geneva Initiative and his political aspirations (the Meretz he led until recently was trounced in the last elections). Beilin won't let staggering setbacks get in the way of grand designs.
IN THE 1950s prominent social psychologist Leon Festinger, progenitor of the Cognitive Dissonance theory, focused on the obsessive rejection of tangible reality by fanatic followers of fantasy. He studied a small cult that awaited the imminent arrival of aliens from another galaxy. They calculated dates and prepared meticulously for the great event - which never materialized. Yet members of the flying saucer cult didn't relinquish their faith in "Guardians" from outer space and their promises for a new universe.
This led Festinger to observe in his ground-breaking 1956 book When Prophecy Fails that the collapse of prophecies disseminated by cults "often has the opposite effect from what the average person might expect. The cult following gets stronger and the members even more convinced of the truth of their actions and beliefs."
Israel's homegrown peace cult is proof positive.
Buoyed by his blunders, fearless Beilin hasn't given up on the Geneva washout. Valiantly insisting it's still a viable option, he last week ceremoniously announced the publication of a 400-page, most-detailed-yet version of the "grassroots" recipe for peace he first inflicted upon us in 2003. Shimon Peres, Yossi's patron of old, received an advance copy of the updated Geneva Initiative. So has Hillary Clinton (in the hope she'd get Washington to impose it on the vast majority of Israelis who clearly rejected the original) and all EU's movers and shakers (in the hope they'd egg Hillary to do their bidding).
The fact that nobody authorized him to represent Israel, haggle on its behalf and determine its future is of no hindrance to Beilin. He's done it previously. In August 1993 the then-deputy foreign minister pulled off a similar stunt in the Norwegian capital. He later pitched the Osloite concoction to his boss, Peres, who proceeded to convince then-PM Yitzhak Rabin that the Palestinians had undergone a strategic metamorphosis.
With much fanfare and self-congratulation the clandestine deal was unveiled to the citizenry as a glorious fait accompli. The intelligence community didn't raise a ruckus, the intellectual elites celebrated and the obstinate opponents were lumped with Hamas as "enemies of peace."
Eventually, however, Nobel prizes notwithstanding, the strategic metamorphosis was revealed as nothing but a marketable version of the old Arab phased plan for Israel's destruction, rendered feasible via the invaluable complicity of duped Israelis.
This is what comes of lack of accountability and failure to demand reckoning. We're now in the midst of our annual neurotic Yom Kippur self-flagellation orgy, wherein we commemorate the 1973 war. This faultfinding frenzy, however, only accentuates the dearth of probes into Beilin's Oslo fiasco.
There are no academic studies, investigative reports or exposÃ©s about how our national leadership was bamboozled into crowning Arafat the prince of peace, importing him and 50,000 henchmen from Tunis and arming them. This gratuitous debacle is of unprecedented proportions. It's still ongoing, unresolved and with no happy end in sight. It's far from being behind us.
NONETHELESS, ACADEMICIANS and media hotshots refrain from pointing fingers at the enlightened bunglers who brought us Oslo, because they're all chums in the same progressive fraternity of radical postmodernist flying-saucer devotees.
A decade after Oslo literally bombed, an undeterred Beilin promoted its Geneva spin-off to demonstrate that, contrary to overwhelming empirical evidence, we do have interlocutors with whom to chew the fat. Substantiating Festinger's conclusions, Beilin went on the offensive to redeem his incontrovertible flop, to show Israel's benighted masses how right he is - even if it kills them.
He is still at it. In the coming year, the resurrected Geneva's boosters plan seminars on each of the 13 intractable irritations which keep peace away, among them Jerusalem, security, water, the PA economy and refugees. A cult convocation is already scheduled this October in Prague to palaver there about our H2O-shortage here. A much-ballyhooed junket to pleasing faraway climes never hurt any space cadet.
The Beilinites claim to have formulated quick fixes for all outstanding pesky problems. Geneva's logic is facile: Israel gives, the Arabs take and linguistic artifice obfuscates the rest. There will, for example, be no Palestinian army, but there will be a "strong Palestinian security force." Additionally, "an international force" will protect Palestine - presumably from Jewish predations. It'll also be in charge of our Holiest of Holies. Nothing to worry about.
The only fly in the ointment is Beilin's admission that there's still no solution to the refugee problem. That's a tad disconcerting because in 2003 he contended that the Palestinians had effectively relinquished the "right of return" - i.e., the scheme to eradicate Israel via a hostile takeover. Could the flying saucer have been a no-show? Did it fail to swoop down and tie loose ends?
But preposterousness hardly renders the Geneva sequel harmless. Beilin's alternative to credible Israeli self-defense is nothing to scoff at. His operative premise is that even if today's government won't take the bait (for now), tomorrow's might. Beilin tenaciously marks the starting point for future bargaining. He sets the stage for the next disaster. Enter the flying saucers ferrying yet another contingent of extraterrestrial harbingers of the New Middle East.
As Festinger noted: "A man with conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts and figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point â€¦ presented with evidence - unequivocal and undeniable evidence - that his belief is wrong, he will emerge not only unshaken but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed he may even evince new fervor about convincing and converting others to his view." â€¢