David Grossman 248.88 courtesy.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
David Grossman, one of our finest writers, is angry. In a recent article he said he feels Israelis accept with indifference "our stuck-up lives, devoid of all hope..." He believes we "coddle ourselves... in anxieties, lassitude and self-righteousness," give in to "self abnegation" and seek escape in "the sweet stupor of nationalism, militarism and victimhood." We deny, he avers, "the legitimate needs and just claims of the Palestinians." We refuse to understand that reality "requires flexibility, daring and vision." We, Grossman charges, refuse to take "any real step that will lead to a true change of consciousness," and bring about peace.
One could expect that Grossman, a sensitive writer and bereaved father, would not take out his frustration over the absence of peace by a blanket condemnation of most of the Israeli public. One would expect insights on why we have lost "the ability to achieve peace," as he claims, and what we must do to achieve his "true change of consciousness."
What change does he expect? Is giving in to "the legitimate needs and just claims of the Palestinians," no matter what danger this poses to our survival, what he has in mind? Please spell it out, dear distinguished writer. Please teach us how to deal with the dangers that may result from your "vision" - or do you think the possibility of a Hamas takeover in the West Bank is plain fantasy?
ONE COULD also expect that Grossman would not make do with complaining that Israelis and Palestinians "do not really understand, deeply, what peace means," but would try to describe to the stiff-necked inhabitants of this land the "option of true peace" he envisions. Is there any chance his vision would be accepted by most Palestinians? Would it make them abandon the militant "vision' of Hamas which most of them voted for?
This could be tested if Grossman and his fellow peace seekers - such as Shulamit Aloni, Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid, Yuli Tamir, most of the Haaretz publicists and many other prominent literary figures - would formulate an up-to-date, improved version of the Geneva peace initiative. We could then find out what we would be forced to give up and what kind of peace we would get in return.
Would it be a cold peace like the one with Egypt, which never misses an opportunity to undermine the State of Israel? As importantly, we would find out how many Palestinian and Arab leaders are willing to endorse an offer of peace that would meet most, but not all of their "legitimate needs and just claims" (like the right of return and a Judenrein West Bank?) as Grossman recommends. Would it be more than the very few who were willing to endorse the Geneva Initiative? If not, will Grossman and his ilk stop charging that we are peace resisters because we refuse to share their well-intentioned illusions?
GROSSMAN COMPLAINS that we cannot transcend the conflict in the new peace spirit of US President Barack Obama. He might want to consider the possibility that this is because he and his fellow visionaries on the Left simply keep reiterating the mantra of "peace now," while dismissing the harsh realities. They keep ignoring the failure of all the instant peace initiatives they have advocated, from the Oslo agreements through the Ami Ayalon-Sari Nusseibeh "understandings," from the far-reaching concessions offered by Ehud Barak at Camp David and Taba to the Beilin Geneva Initiative. All these overtures were never accepted by the Palestinians, and therefore resulted only in greater bloodshed.
Grossman and his friends must also explain why, as zealous guardians of human rights, they seem so obsessed with Palestinian self-determination while remaining indifferent to the Palestinians' basic human rights? Why are they working for the establishment of what will surely become an Iran-style state led by Hamas that will cause its citizens only increasing misery, both social and economic?
How can they call for the establishment of a regime that will oppress women and children, devoting all its energies to jingoism? How can they support the creation of a state whose leaders are committed to the destruction of Israel? Is the right of political self-determination so supreme that it trumps all else?
Only time will tell, of course, whether our "anxieties" are realistic or imaginary, whether Grossman grasps reality or whether he indulges in fantasies. The record seems to advise caution. If a Palestinian state is irredentist and warlike, it will be a great tragedy for both the Palestinians and for us.
The writer is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress (ICSEP).