by Boris Shusteff
The dissipation and dissolution of the modern
Zionist ideology, which at one point contained a Judaic kernel,
is now virtually complete. It did not happen all of a sudden, but
proceeded slowly, over the past few decades. Conclusive evidence
of this is contained within the latest announcement of Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on December 4, 2002. Speaking at a
conference in Herzlia he said,
"The second phase of President Bush's sequence proposes the establishment of a Palestinian state... As I have promised in the past... [this] will be discussed and approved by the National Unity Government... In the final phase... negotiations will be opened to determine the final status of the Palestinian state and fix its permanent borders... Israel must... accept the political plan which I described."
It is impossible to derive from this statement anything but the pure fact that the Israeli Prime Minister accepts "the emergence of an independent democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side... with Israel..."(1). Nevertheless, even the most ardent believers in the concept of the indivisibility of the Land of Israel are still trying to find an explanation to Sharon's pronouncements. Ruth and Nadia Matar, the leaders of the Women in Green, wrote on December 3, in an article titled "A Misreading of Reality," that,
"...there were those who voted for Sharon who did not believe what Sharon seemed to be saying about supporting a Palestinian State... It would appear to be a tactical maneuver on Sharon´s part to appear to go along with the creation of an Arab Palestinian State... In reality, the conditions which Sharon requires would never be acceptable to the Arabs. Sharon´s favoring a Palestinian State, they argue, is therefore tantamount to a non-endorsement."
On November 22, prior to Likud's primaries, Max Singer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, published a major article in The Jerusalem Post, demonstrating miracles of talmudic thinking in attempts to prove that Sharon's approach to the endorsement of the Arab state is the only one possible. He argues that,
"The question now is not whether there should or will be a Palestinian state, because that will be determined in the future. The question now is what Israel should say about the possibility of such a state. The question of what to say is different from that of what to do" (2).
It is apparent that Singer simply twists the
issue, pushing back Sharon's acquiescence to a new Arab state,
and stresses that NOW it is not a problem, since it will be
"determined in the future." Therefore according to him
NOW Sharon only has to decide what to say. He reiterates,
"The question we have to ask in deciding what to say about a
Palestinian state is what is the most useful thing to say"
(2). And explains that "The advantage we get by saying that
Israel is ready to agree to a Palestinian state under certain
circumstances is that we fulfill our vital need for a vision of
an ultimate solution that is believable to the great majority of
the public and to fair-minded people in other countries"
It is hard not to notice major flaws in Singer's logic. If the "Palestinian state" is the vision of "the great majority of the public," but in reality Sharon speaks about it only because it is "the most useful thing to say," then he is simply lying to this public. Moreover, Singer writes that this solution is "believable to fair-minded people." Does it mean that this solution is a "fair" one? If that is so, then why must Sharon pretend that he is unwillingly supporting a fair solution instead of whole-heartedly embracing it?
Singer goes to great lengths trying to whitewash Sharon, stating that "When he agrees that eventually there will or must be a Palestinian state, he is dealing with the government's responsibility to decide what to say now" (2). Again, he plays with the words "say" and "now" implying that we do not necessarily have to listen to Sharon NOW, thus hinting that Sharon is just saying empty words to make everybody happy.
Singer's working assumption is that since the majority is in favor of establishing the Arab state, Sharon's "task" NOW is to pacify them, bringing them hope. "He is speaking to the majority of Israelis and others concerned about the future of the region who have to have some hope for what can come after the necessary completion of the military struggle the Palestinians started in September 2000" (2). And, "If in the present circumstances we say Israel will never agree to a Palestinian state, we may lose necessary support from Israelis who are unwilling to keep fighting without a goal that seems realistic, and lose critical international support" (2).
The apotheosis of Singer's explanation of Sharon's behavior comes in the following sentences: "We have to talk about a Palestinian state as the eventual solution now because that is the only label for Palestinian self-rule that we can sell either to most Israelis or to others. This doesn't mean that a more complicated understanding may not become feasible and salable in the future" (2).
Since the whole purpose of Singer's article is to convince nationalist-minded Likud members to vote for Sharon, he transparently hints at this "more complicated understanding". Enumerating_ "arguments against Israel saying that ultimately there will be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan" he writes,
"The second argument is that we can't be sure that at some point a better solution than a Palestinian state won't become possible, and we shouldn't preclude such a better solution even though today we can't convince enough people about what it might be, or what circumstances might make it possible. But talking as Sharon is doing does not forever bar the door to a better alternative" (2).
One must not be a senior fellow of a university
to understand that the only "better solution" about
which "not enough people are convinced today" is the
transfer of the Arabs out of western Eretz Yisrael. By hinting
that certain "circumstances might make it possible"
Singer caresses the nationalistic ego of those who, while deep in
their souls believing that transfer is the only option,
nevertheless take the cowardly way out, and convince themselves
that it must happen either only after a mega-terror act, in which
hundreds of Jews are killed, or in the course of a full-scale war
with thousands of casualties on all sides.
When Sharon's defenders bet that his conditions are unacceptable to the Arabs, they miss an extremely important point. They completely disregard the fact that Sharon's statements will embed in the memory of Israel's enemies exactly the words that they want to hear. Contrary to Singer, they will push aside, as empty slogans, all the conditions under which Sharon is ready to accept such a state. Meanwhile, his acquiescence to the creation of another Arab state will become their main weapon in the war against Israel.
Singer's formula, which claims that "the question of what to say is different from that of what to do" is an affront to Moslem mentality.
"Albert Hourani, one of the greatest Arab scholars living in the West, has said that his people [Arabs] are more conscious of their language than any people in the world... Language itself is an act. Even more, by saying that something is so, it is so. For instance, to say that the enemy is a murderer brings instant conviction that the man is a murderer; no proof is required" (3).
By saying that he agrees to a Palestinian state,
Sharon creates this state in the minds of the Arabs. Alas, the
Arabs will not be satisfied only with words. The state that
henceforth exists in their minds will only exacerbate their
hatred. They will hate the Jews even more for their
procrastination in giving them this state. Now it is theirs, and
they will fight for it with even greater fury and stamina than
In essence, Sharon's declaration, instead of soothing the Arabs' displeasure will only infuriate them. If we take the position that "the conditions which Sharon requires would never be acceptable to the Arabs, and thus Sharon's favoring a Palestinian State is tantamount to a non-endorsement," one may ask why deceive both ourselves, and the Arabs? Are we not simply baiting the bull of Arab nationalism with this red cloth? Through this, do we not invite additional pressure from the world community?
The whole collection of Sharon's conditions is absolutely ridiculous from the Arab point of view. The paternalistic approach that Sharon's "decoy" takes dealing with Arabs is like spitting in their face. This inferior dhimmi people, the Jews, will decide for them what kind of a country they are allowed to have, with whom they will be permitted to sign agreements, and what they will be able to do inside their borders? Does anyone really believe that this is the road to peace?
If Sharon uses his "Arab state" declarations as a means of dragging his feet and he is positive that his "conditions" will be unacceptable to the Arabs, then the only correct way is to do things in exactly the opposite order. He should state that an Arab state will NEVER be established in western Eretz Yisrael since the Arabs cannot meet the conditions on which such a state depends. Sharon's current approach also does another disservice - demoralizes the Israelis themselves.
This can be easily proven. When asked at the beginning of the summer "If it were possible to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, would you support or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state?" only 34% said they will support it (4). Now, when Sharon has vocally made his position clear, the mood of Israelis has changed.
Asked on December 6 in a Ma'ariv poll "Do you support or oppose the establishment of a Palestinian sate?" 50% said that they support it.
Whether he realizes this or not, but just by speaking about the possibility of an Arab state in a part of western Eretz Yisrael, Sharon plants new seeds of war. Even if today he manages to miraculously exterminate all those who murder Jews, tomorrow many more will arise who were awakened by his acceptance of such a state. And they will demand their share. As PA Legislative Council member Sa'adi Al-Karnaz said on December 2, 1997, in an interview on Palestinian television, "Our war with Israel and the Jews has not ended and will not end until the establishment of a Palestinian state on the ENTIRE land of Palestine."
1. Text of the amended draft of the "Roadmap" as published in Al Ayyam Newspaper, 20 November 2002. http://mail.jmcc.org/new/02/nov/roadmap.htm
2. Max Singer. Why Sharon is right not to rule out a Palestinian state. The Jerusalem Post 11/21/02.
3. John Laffin. The Arab Mind Considered. Taplinger Publishing Company, New York, 1975.
4. Public opinion survey conducted by Smith Research among a representative telephone sample of 501 voting-age Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) from May 31- June 3, 2002. http://www.imra.org.il
Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies