February 21, 2006

The uneasiness syndrome

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:53 pm by yisraelmedad

August 15, 2003

The diplomatic maneuvering termed the “peace process” has entered another labyrinthine corridor, this despite a “roadmap” provided us by President George Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, the UN and the European Union. Marked less by knowing how we entered this “new” route than recalling to us why we wanted to search for a final exit from the “old” pathways, this now over-familiar rite doesn’t seem to resolve any of the basic problems of the bloodbath.

In the July 25 Newsweek interview with Lally Weymouth, the Palestinian Authority’s titular head, Mahmoud Abbas, demanded that “all the items stipulated in the Roadmap – freeing the prisoners and ending the occupation” be delivered. When Ms. Weymouth reacted, saying, “But the issue of prisoners is not in the Roadmap,” Abbas unabashedly declared, “It is in the Roadmap. It is in the Tenet [work plan].” Here is a prime example of the Palestinian’s utilizing the traditional Jewish ploy of chutzpah.

At the root of Israel’s inability to offset such proposals as this “roadmap”, and anti-Israel interpretations, similar to our lack of success with previous plans named after Messrs. Jarring, Rodgers, Kissinger, Mitchell and Tenet, is, it would seem, our predilection for refusing to face the irregularities in our relationships with our so-called allies as well as our enemy, the Arabs of Palestine. We refuse to acknowledge, or at the least, we ignore that which makes us uneasy, knowing well that such uneasiness is a warning bell. Our diplomats of the professional kind, those of our Foreign Affairs Ministry, as well as the politicians who crowd the media interviews and compare tie designer labels, as did Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz with Muhammed Dahlan, swallow their national pride, ignore slights and prejudices and seemingly are incapable of adequately countering outright lies.

It is time that Israel’s official information service bureaus face these issues. Among the chief causes for concern, the following appear to me to be those that must be dealt with in an urgent fashion:

1. Palestinianism is a quasi-nationalism.

The leadership of the Palestinian Authority purports to make the ludicrous claim that within an area that is perhaps 50 miles wide there are three separate and distinct Arab groupings, while disguising their belief that there is really only one, as their covenant makes clear.

This approach asserts that there are Israeli Arabs from the Mediterranean Sea to the Green Line border, Palestinian Arabs from the Green Line to the Jordan River, and Jordanians from the Jordan to the Iraqi desert. All are to be awarded a status as a “people” with their own claims for either statehood or, as with Israeli Arabs, ethnic minority autonomy; whereas, in actuality, the Palestinian Covenant continues explicitly to define these three groups as one and unified.

But more dangerous, and therefor avoided by Israeli spokespersons, is the fact that this Palestinianism is nothing but the negative of Zionism, rather than the positive aspects of any so-called separate and distinct people. We cringe at criticizing the artificiality of a nationalism that only exists to harm Israel and counter Zionism.

2. Palestinian Authority corruptness.

Except for the attempt to use documents discovered during the Defensive Shield operation in the spring of 2002, Israel has not followed up in a constant manner any criticism of the corruptness of the PA. No documentaries have been made, no reports, no requests for certain persons to be removed from office.

Of course, there are those who point to uncomfortable connections between leading Israelis and those in the PA who are bleeding dry the guy-in-the-street Arab. There was Yossi Ginosar, nicknamed “Mr. Five Per Cent”, and there is Dov Weisglas, confidante of the Austrian investors in the Jericho casino. But the corruptness and embezzlement is not only financial. There are human rights abuses and the lack of judicial independence; lack of press freedom and a transparent bureaucracy. The treatment of religious sites such as Joseph’s Tomb and the Jericho synagogue, as well as the crimes committed on the Temple Mount and its historic and archeological past are downplayed by instruments of state. Individuals have to run around trying to draw attention to these violations of normative human behavior as well as of the Oslo Accords.

3. The attitude of the EU.

While excuses can be made for the PA, what are we to make about the attitude of the European Union? It would be safe to surmise that if any other country acted even half the way the PA does, the EU would turn its back on it. However, one can only presume that since Israel, the Jewish state, is involved, the Europeans turn a blind eye. The patterns of behavior displayed by the PA would, in any normal situation, negate any further assistance or cooperation from the EU or the United States. Nevertheless, Israel shies away from confronting this double-standard.

Israel not only shies away, but there is also the matter of rampant anti-Semitism in Europe. What has Israel actually done to berate the countries involved and their lack of adequate protection of their Jewish citizens? Shimon Peres during a visit to Paris last year went so far, perhaps too far, in making an announcement on the steps of the President’s mansion that there is no anti-Semitism in that country. Again, Israel, feeling uneasy, prefers a low-keyed policy rather than outright confrontation.

4. American State Department antagonism.

Ever since President Woodrow Wilson told Louis Brandeis in 1917 that he was supportive of Palestine being developed as the Jewish national home, the United States Department of State has been seeking ways to subvert the executive branch. Breckinridge Long in 1948 managed to stymie Harry Truman with the trusteeship maneuver. That may be history, as is the well-known Arabist slant among American foreign service professionals, but is it any wonder that the American Consulate in Jerusalem is regarded with more than a bit of suspicion, when former employees and even a Consul-General end up working for organizations inimical to Israel’s official policies?

Edward Abington, former Consul-General, has worked for the Benerman and Associates lobbying firm, registered under law as representing the Palestinian Authority, hired in 2000, and was PA Chairman Yasser Arafat’s chief lobbyist in Washington. Another former political officer, Lara Friedman, was hired by American Friends of Peace Now to act as legislative director, their congressional go-between, in their Washington office. Does not the State Department feel uncomfortable about this? Does not Israel feel it should comment?

5. The rank defeatism of Israel’s post-Zionist Left.

During the state-building enterprise period under the British Mandate, Zionism was attacked from within constantly. The PKP, Palestine’s communists, had a hand in the 1929 riots by harping on the theme of Zionism as colonial imperialism. The Brit Shalom intellectuals and the Hebrew University’s Judah Magnes were willing to go to almost any extent, including restricting Jewish immigration, to reach a compromise with the most evil of men, such as the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini. The activities of the Van Leer circle, of Peace Now and B’tselem, therefore, are not new. But what is different is that unlike David Ben-Gurion, Berl Katznelson and Natan Alterman in their time, our current leadership cannot launch an effective counterattack.

Today, the media, the theater, the entertainment cliques all provide support and encouragement for these forces. Without Shelli Yechimovicz and Carmela Menasheh of Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel), the “Four Mothers” movement would have been as effective as the “Women in Green” group for the simple reason of lack of positive public exposure. I cannot recall any significant film or play promoting ideas sympathetic to the national camp; whereas, the state ministries help out the Akko (Acre) alternative festival and such anti-state films as “Islands”.

The institutions of state continue to provide funding for playwrights, authors and other cultural icons. It is one thing to be critical of government policy, yet it is another to use the public’s money to subvert the Zionist underpinnings of Israel. However, no response has been forthcoming to offset this phenomenon, even if only to encourage a different trend of culture.

In addition, despite studies and dozens of justified complaints against media bias, no effective system of disciplinary supervision is in place.

6. The growing support of Christians over American Jewish support.

Over the past decade, and with George W. Bush’s election acting as a stimulator, the support for Israel and, more interestingly, for the retainment by Israel of the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, has been a most prominent development in the relationship between Israel and America. The amazing news is that the Sharon government has downplayed this and has attempted to marginalize it.

Embarrassed by charges that the Christian Right are advancing their own theological agenda, Israeli officialdom, those who cut their diplomatic teeth on the liberalism and progressivism preferred by wealthy and influential Jews, are aghast and nearly incapable of dealing with this support.

All of the foregoing, and more examples that exist, all point to a weakness, psychological and mentally, that is hindering the ability of Israel to assert its true security, military and political needs. Information bodies, state-sponsored and independent, must begin forcing back the discrimination and double-standards that Israel faces. We cannot afford to be embarrassed to press home the truth, our truth. The more we bend over backwards to avoid causing our “friends” uneasiness, we are the ones to suffer.

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