Palestinian passports for Israelis and other silliness

Respected names in Israeli society, including Oz and Bauer, joined the throngs outside Tel Aviv's Independence Hall to sign a new declaration of independence that includes a Palestinian state. What next? Will they receive Palestinian passports directly from President Abbas, as has happened to one Israeli activist in Paris?

Protest at Tel Aviv's Indpendence Hall 311  (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Protest at Tel Aviv's Indpendence Hall 311
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Last week, I received an email from Ofer Bronchtein, an Israeli “peace activist” living in Paris. Bronchtein, who sent the email to several hundred Israelis, wrote the following declaration in (albeit splintered) English:
“I am proud to announce you that I got yesterday from Abu Mazen a Palestinian passport. I’ll be happy to see it published in Israel. Please help me on it… Shabat Shalom.”
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Attached to the email was a photograph of Bronchtein receiving the passport from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Paris.
Indeed, I have decided to heed Bronchtein’s call for help - by publishing this column and publicizing his act. I’d like everyone to know how proud our Ofer is over becoming a Palestinian.
I’d also like everyone to know the extent of the lunacy that some activists on the far Left succumb to in their efforts to prostrate themselves before the Palestinians.
Bronchtein’s abberation brings to fore the recent “Proclamation of Independence,” solemnly read by fanatical peace activists outside Tel Aviv’s Independence Hall. Taking the existing Declaration of Independence, in which David Ben Gurion marked the birth of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, they rewrote it to suit the Palestinian cause. The press was then invited to witness the grand event whereby Israelis would sign a declaration supporting the founding of a Palestinian state based on the pre-Six Day War lines.
Israelis from the extreme Right also attended, raining curses and threats on the peaceniks. But their presence there was a mistake. The anti-protesters should have been moderate Israelis from the Left and Center. They should have arrived in droves to express their disgust at the activists’ latest gimmick - one that could not conceivably have had any effect on the peace process, except perhaps to harm it. 
Incidentally, another prophet of peace, Mordechai Vanunu - the traitor who leaked Israel’s nuclear secrets to the British press in the 1980s - also showed up. Vanunu, a convert to Christianity who has denounced any personal ties with Israel and even refuses to speak Hebrew, was observing the ceremony at Independence Hall from a nearby café.
Every nation in the world has values and symbols which are sacred. To abuse the symbol of Independence Hall, a sacred monument to Zionism and to our sovereignty as a free nation, as a means to promote a cynical and sordid publicity stunt, is despicable as it is stupid.
The public in general did not condone the “ceremony.” But there was an impressive array of noteworthy Israelis in attendance. Actress Hannah Maron read the actual “declaration,” while the author Amos Oz and Professors Ze’ev Sternhell and Yehuda Bauer organized the event, along with several other celebrities. Allegedly, a number of the organizers were past recipients of the Israel Prize – the Jewish state’s highest distinction.
But let’s not get confused. Prizes, awards, and honors are bestowed upon people on account of their talent or achievements in a particular field of expertise, and not because they are great policy makers. Indeed, Hannah Maron is a wonderful actress, Ze’ev Sternhell is a renowned expert on fascism, Amos Oz is a wonderful writer (who deserves much more than the Israel Prize), and Yehuda Bauer is a foremost Holocaust historian. But excellence and notoriety make statesmen not. Their political views carry about as much weight as those of any Buzaglo or Rabinovitch.
One can only wonder how Theodore Herzl and Ben Gurion fulfilled their dream of returning the Jewish people to Zion without resorting to cheap ruses.
Amid a diatribe of bombastic statements, this is what the April activists’ declaration ultimately called for in a peace agreement: a Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, security for Israel, no right of return for Palestinian refugees to Israel, Palestinian recognition of Israel as being the home of the Jewish people - hang on a second, this is sounding rather familiar. How does this differ from the general consensus in Israel?
Do the respectable ladies and gentlemen of the Independence Hall gathering know something we don’t? Do they know of a Palestinian leader that is ready to accept these conditions? I doubt it.
The reason the Palestinians have refused to come to the negotiating table is simply because they won’t give up the right of return or recognize Israel as a Jewish State.
So why the circus? If these overzealous activists really wanted to improve the understanding between our two nations, why didn’t they march over to the Mukata’a in Ramallah and try and convince Abu Mazen et al to come and talk peace?
The answer, of course, is simple. Like everyone else, they know that President Abbas wouldn’t even have accepted the minimum of the declaration’s terms. It is much easier, therefore, to organize independence ceremonies in the open society of Tel Aviv, where they can receive press coverage and go home happy that they have made a huge step toward peace.
Or, as Ofer Bronchtein did, go and beg Abu Mazen for a Palestinian passport.
The writer is a former Labor Party MK and the official biographer of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres.