This is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace
and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.
– Abba Eban on the
Six Day War
The preceding citation, from arguably Israel’s most consummate diplomat,
encapsulates the glaring irrationality and the inverted logic that has become
the accepted hallmark of the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict, both at the
level of theoretical analysis and of practical policy-making.
abandonment of any coherent, reasonable criteria has not been confined to the
attitude of the Arabs towards Israel, but sadly has become a characteristic of
Israeli policy towards the Arabs – and of a host of domestic issues that impinge
directly and indirectly on that policy.The absurd becomes routine
Consider the situation, which defies rational explanation, that is emerging
today before our eyes, without evoking any significant expression of public
incredulity — much less outrage — that such an astonishing development should
The ruling party of the day, the Likud, is, in effect, imploring
the Palestinians to enter into negotiations over a resolution of the conflict on
the basis of a principle — the Oslo two-state concept — that it itself rejected
vehemently only a few years ago.
Mind you, this bizarre situation has not
come about because this previously rejected principle has proved to be a
stunning success. Quite the contrary, it has been shown to be an abject
failure. After all, the endeavor to implement it has precipitated all the
dangers its opponents warned of, and none of the benefits its proponents
promised. Indeed, it has wrought death and destruction on Jew and Arab alike on
a horrific scale.
Failures don’t come more abject or clear than
Yet almost inconceivably, just when it became undeniable that the
opponents of territorial concessions and political appeasement were completely
vindicated, they began to embrace the very policy they had previously
These circumstances mirror almost exactly the inexplicable
absurdity expressed in the Abba Eban citation above. Instead of the anti- Oslo
victors in the ideological-political clash with their pro-Oslo advocates routing
their vanquished adversaries, they set about surrendering to
them.Unwarranted intellectual surrender
This faint-hearted and
feeble-minded conduct on the part of what is inappropriately dubbed — usually
pejoratively — Israel’s political “Right,” constitutes unacceptable, unwarranted
and irresponsible intellectual capitulation.
After all, the political
doctrine of what is inappropriately dubbed — usually approvingly — Israel’s
political “Left,” should have been consigned to utter and enduring
disrepute. Every notion to which the Left has attempted to tether its
political credo has come adrift. Every policy-relevant concept, every
politically relevant personality on which it pinned its hopes has produced
nothing but disaster and disappointment.
Indeed, the manifest folly of
the Israeli Left and its preposterous brain-child, the Oslowian “peace process,”
should have made it an object of enduring public ridicule. The manifest
mendacity of its endeavor to promote it should have made it the object of
ubiquitous public distrust.
Sadly however, the Israeli Right has done
little to produce such an outcome. In fact it has done much to prevent it. For
despite the fact the Left has little to justify its perennial claim to either
the moral or the intellectual high ground, the Right has shown little stomach to
challenge it.A catalogue of blindness and blunder
reticence is difficult to comprehend. After all, the list of the Left’s
blunders is depressingly lengthy. It has been hopelessly wrong about... well,
• It was wrong in embracing the homicidal Nobel peace
laureate Yasser Arafat as a credible peace partner who could “deliver the
• It was wrong in pinning its hopes on Mahmoud Abbas, whose
tailored suits and coiffured hair served as deceptively comforting contrasts to
Arafat's belligerent keffiyeh and military fatigues.
• It was wrong in
believing it could reach a lasting accord with the Palestinians by decoupling
Fatah from Hamas and dealing only with the former while ignoring the latter — as
both the expulsion of Fatah from Gaza and the recent unification moves
• It was were wrong in portraying Salam Fayyad as a pivotal
centerpiece for a durable peace accord — since recent developments demonstrated
how precarious his position is.
• It was wrong in ignoring how imprudent
it is to attempt to pursue an agreement based on a person-specific configuration
of the Palestinian leadership which could be swiftly removed from power — by
ballot or bullet — by a more inimical and radical successor – as in
• It was wrong in heralding Bashar Assad as young Western-oriented,
Internet-adept doctor whose accession to power would usher in an era of peace
and progress that would allow Israel to relinquish the Golan.
• It was
wrong in urging Israel to avail itself of the “good services” of the Islamist
government of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan as an “honest broker” to promote a
deal with Damascus.
• It was wrong in insisting that an Israeli
withdrawal to the internationally recognized borders would mollify Hezbollah and
bring about peace with Lebanon.
• It was wrong in claiming that Israel
could not attain economic prosperity without political peace with the
Palestinians... as its current prosperity, even in an increasingly unprosperous
world, clearly shows.
Yet in spite of this record of massive misjudgment,
the leadership of the political Right persists in curiously misplaced deference
to its ideological adversaries on the Left.Perverting democracy
deference was painfully evident in the Knesset this week, where issues that
impinge on the nation’s ability to act assertively with regard to the
Palestinians were raised.
The negative reaction of senior Likud ministers
and MKs to the legislative initiatives aimed at addressing the problems of
ideological bias in the nation’s judiciary and of foreign funding of inherently
anti-Israel NGOs operating under the guise of “human rights,” are a disturbing
reflection of the Right’s manifest sense of inferiority generated by the
aggressive moralistic posturing of the Left.
While it might be possible
to argue that the existing legislative proposals lack a measure of polish and
refinement, it cannot be disputed that they raise issues of significance and
urgency which must be confronted in the spirit — if not perhaps in the precise
detail — set out in these bills.
Protection of the rights of minorities
is one thing. Promotion of the ability of minorities to subvert the democratic
process is quite another. There is nothing vaguely democratic about
facilitating the imposition of minority views on the majority via
extra-parliamentary action funded by foreign governments.
nothing vaguely undemocratic in a sovereign state instituting measures to limit
— or at least monitor — attempts by alien sovereignties to empower fringe
elements in the country, with negligible domestic support for their ideas, to
subvert the policy of the government elected by universal
Indeed, to abstain from doing so would be a dereliction of
democratic duty. To advocate such abstention is to pervert, not preserve,
democracy.Judicial legitimacy and independence
The same is true with
regard to the initiatives regarding the judiciary. While the independence of
judiciary is indeed a matter of vital importance, it will be worth little if the
public has no faith in the justice it dispenses. Indeed, the confidence
the public has in the courts is no less — perhaps even more – important than
their independence. For in the absence of such trust, justice will be sought
elsewhere and by other means.
The plummeting degree of confidence the
public has in the legal system is a clear warning that the status quo is
unsustainable. According to one long-term study by the University of
Haifa, barely one-third of the general public has faith in the
system. According to Prof. Arye Rattner, who conducted the study, this
ongoing 10-year decline in public faith in the courts “constitutes a grave blow
to one of the most important foundations of the legal system in a democratic
society – legitimacy.”
These words of warning echo precisely those of
Prof. Ran Hirschl in his book Towards Juristocracy
, which I cited in a recent
column, “A real reason for revolution.”
In it Hirschl cautions: “Over the
past decade, the public image of the SCI [Supreme Court of Israel] as an...
impartial arbiter has been increasingly eroded... the court and its judges are
increasingly viewed by a considerable portion of the Israeli public as pushing
forward their own political agenda.”
It is thus a shame — or perhaps more
precisely, shameful — that senior members of the coalition chose to abandon
their parliamentary colleagues and endorsed the unfounded censure of them and
their initiatives. A far better and more constructive course would be to
join them in addressing any defects in their commendable
Israel has put its trust in leaders who have led it into great
peril — and into those who so far have failed to lead it out of it. It has been
placed in great danger by the injudicious action of the Left and the impotent
inaction of the Right. The Left has imposed a fatally flawed paradigm on the
nation; the Right has failed to formulate a persuasive alternative.
situation cannot be allowed to continue. There is a potential for great
tragedy brewing. Unless this pressing challenge is addressed rapidly and
resolutely, all that might remain for future generations to do will be to assign
blame for the fulfillment of that tragedy.Caroline B. Glick is on