The Israeli Labor Party misled its people when it approved the Oslo process. At the time, Israelis were told that the process was designed to test the motivation of the Palestinian Arabs to enter into a lasting peace arrangement and was reversible if it was found that assumptions about Arab intentions were wrong.
As it turned out, no such interest in peace has shown itself among the Palestinian Arabs. They have regularly evaded their obligation to fight Arab terror and to promote reconciliation between Arab and Jew. From day one of the process, continuous incitement of the Arab masses has been the rule as the Arab hordes turn out to cheer Hamas terrorists, bus bombers and deliberate killers of children. What is also evident, contrary to the Oslo agreements, Arafat has unilaterally assumed the role of head of state and his people to be a sovereign nation. At this very moment, under Arafat's new conscription order, he builds an illegal Arab army, already having brought under military arms more than twice the "police force" he was authorized under the agreement.
In short, the Arabs have failed their test of peace. Israel is now challenged by a hostile, irredentist, and rising power within her own borders. The promise of reversibility made by the former Labor government had been a sham and reveals at the least the total incompetence and dangerous other-worldliness of its leftist originators. They had breathed life into a virtually dead PLO in Tunisia, gave the arch terrorist Arafat legitimacy, gave his terrorists -- there is not a dime of difference between him and the Hamas -- sanctuaries adjacent to Israeli population centers, and even fitted these unreconstructed enemies with weapons that have already been used against Israel. It is not difficult to visualize what would happen in the event of war with outside Arab forces. An Arab "fifth column" behind Israeli lines could crucially add to the dangers. The impact of these realities must be faced.
Any shred of doubt about Arab intentions that could have lingered in the minds of non-leftist Israelis -- others already knew better -- was irrevocably exploded along with with the bombs in Machane Yehudah. The Arabs have proven repeatedly that they are unwilling to transcend their Muslim-Arab cultural imperatives to live in peace with an Israel that is safe and secure.
Labor Party leaders have not a shred of integrity to admit their grave errors or they would be the ones to urge a new mood of Israeli resolve and action in conjunction with the Likud government to counteract the threatening new situation. Instead, recognizing no responsibility, they are in the forefront of urging further appeasement and surrender and in blaming the present government for the upsurge in Arab aggression. But the Israeli people should bear in mind the facts and think twice before they return a Labor government to power despite the reservations they may feel about Mr. Netanyahu's administration.
Unfortunately, what Mr. Netanyahu has been doing in choosing to go along with the Oslo process -- in effect transforming it into the Netanyahu process -- is a source of confusion to his supporters. Does he really believe in the miracle that Arab jackals will become rabbits? In so doing he has identified himself with Labor policies and resurrected that failed party to a position of credibility which will forever haunt his own election prospects and hurt his nation.
The fact is that Mr. Netanyahu's continuing failure to get reciprocity from the Arabs in return for past and continuing real Israeli concessions has to be worrisome. We must indeed take seriously the words of his Director of Communications, David Bar-Illan, spoken a few months ago telling that Israel must pay for its failure to increase its population in a manner to hold her territories. This statement tells us that Israel has lost this battle and that Mr. Netanyahu is indeed the instrument of dividing the lands of Israel between Israel and her dangerous Arab enemy, an enemy which absolutely shows no intention of curtailing its demands and even increases demands as it grows more dangerously powerful. For openers, how will Israel curtail the demand of Arafat to Jerusalem -- all of it as Mr. Netanyahu will soon find out -- and to the invasion of the area by a million new Arabs, called "refugees"?
While Rabin-Peres breathed new life into the dangerous PLO, Mr. Netanyahu's support had breathed new life into the flawed Oslo process. Laborites who may have doubted what their party had concocted and who may have been of a mind to defect from Labor in a new election, have been falsely reassured, thanks to Mr. Netanyahu. They now think that Labor may not have done so badly -- an illusion to the detriment of Israel.
That Mr. Shamir is at odds with Mr. Netanyahu suggests the degree to which things have miscarried. Mr. Shamir, the former Likud Prime Minister under whom Israel had reached the apex of her security, having accomplished the destruction of the PLO and attaining Israel's continuing ability to meet the Arab challenge, is critical of Mr. Netanyahu's management of the nation's defense. When Mr. Shamir calls on Mr. Netanyahu to renounce the Oslo accords that are delivering Israel into the clutches of her enemies, Mr. Shamir speaks for the Israelis who put Mr. Netanyahu into office -- a majority of Israelis. To say the least, Mr. Netanyahu has not added to that majority which had supported his former policies which they assumed he would continue.
The Arabs of the territories are now a military power and Israel cannot expand her communities in the territories or even in Jerusalem without facing violent confrontations. Times require new tactics, including an awakening of the Israeli people to the new dangers, not a policy which lulls Israelis to believe that their weakness and further appeasement of the enemy will enable a true peace to emerge.
If Mr. Netanyahu is not up to the job of rallying and preparing Israel's people to face the grave challenges ahead, perhaps it is time for a new Israeli leader who can do a lot better than surrendering to the Arabs with no end to this in sight.
Successful punishment of terrorists, while a welcome morale booster and a desirable continuing effort, is not a substitute for a fundamental policy of protecting the future of the nation, endangered by an Arab enemy that will not vanish until decisively defeated, his military capacity to mount a challenge thoroughly routed. It will take a most wise leader to properly do this job in the way it must be done, one not immediately evident among the leaders of the security parties. If that leader is Mr. Netahyahu fine and well. But if not, it is not too early to seek one out. Just as the great American President Harry Truman was not immediately recognized by the public as a leader on the caliber of Roosevelt -- he turned out to be an "anav," a modest man, with insight and understanding better than could have been imagined -- perhaps it is time for the Israeli security parties to search out and bring forward a new name that will at least light a fire under Mr. Netanyahu.
Just as in the Middle Ages, it was only when the Kurd, Saladin, consolidated and confirmed his power in the Holyland that it was possible to open that area as a peaceful crossroads for access by all persons of the Abrahamic religions, only an Israel that has decisively consolidated and confirmed her power in her lands can produce the same result today. The attempt to give parity to Israeli and Arab forces in the land, the essence of Oslo, is a formula for Israel's destruction, for it insures an irredentist Arab force will continue to do what comes naturally, what it has been continuing under Oslo. It is time that Mr. Netanyahu openly recognizes this reality, educates his people about it, and firmly resists it.
Ironically, only a strong Israel that makes Arab attempts to vanquish her militarily altogether unprofitable, ruinous, and self-destructive can succeed in bringing peace to both Arab and Jew. The Arabs, products of their culture, do not have the temperamental capacity to willingly give Israel peace any more than the jackal can abandon his blood lust for the sheep. In each case, this can only be compelled. It is the only solution that can work and achieve the goals of peace desired by both sides, both for Arab and Jew.
If such a militant Israeli policy fails to gain the peace, Israel will have lost nothing since the coming battle will in any case arrive under more unfavorable terms for Israel, assuming that Israel in accordance with her national anthem, Hatikvah, persists in wanting to live as a free nation in her land.
David Basch is an architect and city planner in New York. He is also an expert on Shakespeare's Jewish origins and serves as the Freeman Center's political philosopher.