many people in the "Peace Camp" personally support refusal, Meretz
and Peace Now keep
evading the subject and avoid taking a stand in favour of it.
This has always been the function of the Zionist "Peace Camp": playing
the ineffective, tormented national conscience that makes Israel feel
morally superior while pursuing its immoral policy. Even Israelis
who would love to strangle any member of Peace Now often trump
with "There is no Arab Peace Now" (hence: we're superior).
The sterile protest reaffirms what it wishes to stop.
"Peace Camp" presently promotes two dangerous attitudes.
The first can be named Stalinist, after the dialectic slogan "the
worse it is, the better it will be." This kind of peacenik seems
honestly convinced that Israel should hit the Palestinians now as
hard as it can – in order to make peace later, for sure. Columnist
Rino Zror, writing for the Tel-Aviv weekly Ha'ir (8.3.02),
describes the murderous incursions into Palestinian refugee camps
as "an inevitable war" and harshly admonishes the Labour Party
not to leave the coalition: "the public will never forgive defection
in battle". You think it's just another war-lover crying "hit the
Palestinians, save Israel"? Not at all: Zror considers himself part
of the "Peace Camp", and all this is just a prologue to his great
vision of peace: "The end of this road is the end of our rule over
the Palestinian people. And that's where the light is."
This position – strike as hard as you can and make peace
later on – is winning ground within the established "Peace Camp",
to the great satisfaction of Israel's prime minister. Sharon has
always been striking as hard as he can, and he is planning to strike even
harder very soon. All he needs is support for striking now,
and parts of the "Peace Camp" are giving him just that, selling
the illusion that bloodshed leads to peace, not to ever more bloodshed.
A real Nazi version of this rhetoric was recently offered
by Prof. Martin van Creveld, a renowned military historian from
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The learned scholar suggested
to bombard Palestinian cities and carry out a genocide: "Perhaps
5.000 or 10.000 killed won't be enough, and then we will have to
kill more" (Jerusalem regional weekly, 1.3.2002). Though this eccentric,
almost insane person can hardly be classified politically, his suggestion
shows the very same pattern: he concludes by saying that "it is
better that there be one massive crime, after which we will exit
and lock the gate behind us". So this is his real objective: "exit",
leave the occupied territories – like any good peacenik.
The other slogan gaining
popularity on the Israeli left is "resume negotiations". The "Peace Camp" now demonstrates
with signs saying "get out of the territories, return to negotiations."
As for getting out of the territories, I could not agree more. But
"return to negotiations"? What's that?
"peace talks", "Peace Process" and the like are nothing but Newspeak which
literally means "occupation goes on; meanwhile, let's have a chat."
For seven long years (1993-2000), Israel was holding "peace talks"
with the Palestinians. At the outset, both Palestinians and Israeli
citizens thought the "talks" were about ending the occupation. In
fact, during all those years, not a single settlement was dismantled,
but dozens of new ones were established. Not a single settler was
evacuated: actually, their number was doubled. That's what "negotiations"
mean. The Palestinians cannot be expected to stop the Intifada for
this trap they know so well.
The whole concept of
"political negotiations" between Israel and the Palestinians
is absurd. What "negotiations" can there be between occupier and
occupied, between jailer and prisoner? Either the jailer wants to
set the prisoner free, or he does not. In both cases, there is no
room for "negotiations".
at these times, shame on those who call for "negotiations". "Negotiations"
imply free exchange between equal partners. You want to sell your
car, I want to buy it, let's negotiate a deal. What kind of "negotiations"
is it when Israel is holding Arafat in house-arrest, surrounded
by tanks with cannons aimed at his office? I have taken your car,
I am holding you handcuffed with a gun at your head, now let's have
negotiations: that's what Israel wants. Forget about your car, and
if you now spit in my face – after all, what else can Palestinians
do? then you're a terrorist.
If Israel wants to end the occupation, it can do so
unilaterally: technical co-operation on the lowest level will do.
If, on the other hand, Israel's true desire is to maintain the occupation,
I can understand very well why it (but not why the Peace Camp) wants
to "resume negotiations".
So this is what should
be done: my Peace Plan, if you like. Forget about "negotiations".
Israel has been claiming all along that it is ready to end the occupation.
Barak claimed he was willing to return "almost 100%" of the territories,
Sharon says he is ready to make "painful concessions". One almost
feels sorry for Israel's governments, so terribly eager to dismantle
their settlements but in some mysterious manner always forced to
expand them ever more.
So go ahead: put pressure on Israel to unilaterally
start dismantling settlements. Sharon finds Arafat
"irrelevant"? He doesn't want to shake his hand? No problem.
Forget Arafat. If Israel wants out – out of the territories, out
of the bloodshed, out of a battle-field in which its soldiers are
killing and being killed – let it get out. Dismantle the first
settlement, then the second, then the third. Offer generous compensations
to any settler willing to leave (many settlers are hostages in their
own homes, which they cannot sell because no one would buy). Announce
that the compensations will be reduced with every passing week:
stay last – get least.
A whole new atmosphere will emerge. The Palestinians
will have to decide who gets the houses left: refugees first, I
should hope. They will finally regain faith in Israel's peaceful
intentions, after all the killing and destruction. The Israelis – up to 80% of whom support dismantling at least some settlements,
as I showed earlier – will also regain
faith in their own government. Unemployment (more than 10%, highest
in Israeli history) will sink: the building sector will flourish
providing houses for well-off returning settlers. The stock market
will rise, recession will end.
And what about
"terrorism", that is: resistance
to the occupation? Once the Palestinians see the occupation coming
to an end, it will stop. The Palestinians themselves will have the
best of all reasons to stop it. We have tried everything: destroying,
bombing, killing, negotiations, negotiations, negotiations. Obviously,
it doesn't work. Why not try another direction.
or: Not Just My Peace Plan
that, I received the new issue of the popular main-stream Tel-Aviv
weekly Ha'Ir (26.3). The front page reads: "GAZA FIRST. The Arabs
are the same, the Sea is the same, the Settlers are the same, the
Occupation is the same. Isn't it high time to get out of the Gaza
Strip? A special project." It reminds some basic data on the Strip:
printable version of this article
was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel. He has
a B.A. in Computer Science, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and
is currently working on his PhD thesis. He teaches in the Tel-Aviv
University's Department of Comparative Literature. He also works
as a literary translator (from German, English and Dutch), and as
a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth.
Mr. HaCohen's work has been published widely in Israel. "Letter
from Israel" appears occasionally at Antiwar.com.
Now?! Well, Maybe Later
Horowitz Rewrites the Past
Say No to
a Palestinian 'State'
Cares About the Palestinians?
in the Streets
Ideology of Occupation
War – Really Imminent?
State of the Army, Part Two
Settlements, Killing Peace
State of the Army, Part 1
Left Sells Out Peace