The following is inspired by the wave of anti-Annapolis meeting articles and activities being generated by so called "Zionist activists" who are acting as our own worst enemies. In particular, I was offended by a poisonous article by Steve Plaut (Jewish Press, November 7), which, among other things, recommends turning large parts of southern Lebanon into parking lots.
Anti-Zionists provide sufficient demonization of Zionists. They don't need help from Steve Plaut. In real life, as opposed to Archie Bunker fantasies, Israel is not going to turn southern Lebanon into a parking lot, so why make believe Israel
is an evil and war mongering state?
The Zionist refusal front is reminiscent of the resolutions of the Arab summit conference of Khartoum
, in 1967: "No peace with Israel, no recognition, no negotiations." What policy could be more self-destructive than that? What policy could lead more surely to universal condemnation and demonization of Israel
and Zionism? Question: Will the Annapolis meeting produce peace in the Middle East?
Answer: Probably not.Question: Should Israel attend the Annapolis meeting?
Answer: Yes, absolutely.
Question: Why must Israel attend the Annapolis meeting?
Answer: For several reasons:
1- The Annapolis meeting is organized by Israel's only real ally and most powerful friend, the United States. Total failure of this meeting would embarrass the United States and weaken it in the Middle East
. A weak America is very bad for Israel
2- The Annapolis meeting represents an opportunity to advance the views of moderate Arabs who want to make peace, or at least come to an understanding with Israel. There are an increasing number of Arab voices who insist that they want peace. Peace on their terms perhaps, but peace. Some of these views are detailed here
. Some details are below.
3- Israel's strategic policy goal has always been peace with its neighbors. No peace = No Israel. We always insist that Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. We must give them the opportunity at least. Question: What position should Israel present at the Annapolis meeding?
should present an Israeli peace plan, a plan that Israel
, the EU, the Arab countries and the Palestinians can live with. It must include an assertion of Israeli rights in Jerusalem, the right of everyone to security, and the rights of both peoples to self-determination in their own lands. Palestinian Arabs must give up the right of return; Israeli Jews must give up the "right" to confiscate Arab lands. The Israeli program must also recognize and highlight the legitimate rights and just claims of Jews from Arab countries. Ehud Olmert was wrong to state that the time is not right to bring up the subject of Jewish refugees
. The Palestinian Arabs have been bringing up their refugee problem for 60 years. The result is that the world has forgotten that there were Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as well as Jewish refugees who were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem and other areas in 1948. Israel must insist on an end to terrorist groups, terror and incitement. In return, Israel must offer the Palestinians a fair settlement - a state in which they can live, if they want to live in peace. That must always be Israel's position, regardless of whether or not the Palestinians are ready for peace. One day, it has to happen. Question: What can do the most harm to Israel right now?
Answer: Self hating Jews who portray Zionists as evil and violent warmongers who refuse the hand of peace. Leave that for Electronic Intifada, Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky. Question: Why are some Zionists agitating against the Annapolis conference?
Answer: For the same reason that the Hamas, Syria and Iran are agitating against the Annapolis conference. Extremists have made their careers and built their self-identity on the conflict. If there is peace, there will be no need for Professor Plaut's opinions and no need for Khaled Meshaal's opinion. Nobody would listen to them any more. They would be out of business and lose their identity.
In his weekly program on Israel Radio, Tomi Lapid, formerly head of the defunct Shinui party, gave his opinion of the Annapolis meeting. It was pretty much the same as mine up to a point. Israel must go to Annapolis because the United States wants that meeting to succeed and we must support it. There cannot be peace, according to Lapid, because Mahmoud Abbas cannot give up right of return, and Ehud Olmert cannot give up the settlements. I think there are deeper reasons. According to Lapid, what will happen in the next sixty years will be the same as what happened in the past sixty years. The Arabs will try to destroy Israel, but they won't be able to do so because they know that we can destroy them. And then the sixty years after that will be the same and so on.
I disagree. In history, all conflicts are resolved, either by compromise, or because one side disintegrates. Tiny Israel is perched at the rim of the Mediterranean and pushed toward the sea by half a billion petroleum rich Arabs, backed essentially by only one strong ally whose time may be rapidly passing. Israel needs peace.
And the voices coming from Arab countries are saying increasingly that Israel can get peace.
In Asharq al Awsat (London) Mamoun Fandy writes
that a Palestinian Israeli settlement is of little value to Israel if the Iranian threat is not resolved, and it it is of little value to anyone else. He opts for an Arab-Israel understanding:
... the strategic prize for the US, Israel, and even some of Arab states, is to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran and prevent the latter from becoming a nuclear state. In this regard, Israel and the US need the 22 Arab nations that agreed to the Arab Peace Initiative as allies in any upcoming eventuality against Tehran. This can only happen if we move away from the narrow focus of a Palestinian-Israeli truce to an Arab-Israeli settlement.
It is also important for the Palestinians to know that they have a choice between a state and the right of return; they cannot get both even from the most dovish Israelis. Also, it is important that the Israelis understand that having a legal settlement with the Palestinians does not mean an end to the Qassam rockets. However, it could contribute significantly after a settlement when Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States condemn Hamas for launching rockets at Israel. Arabs would do well to give up on the idea of a ‘just and comprehensive peace’. No settlement in the history of international conflicts was just.
It is a realistic and fair appraisal by a decent man, isn't it? Compare it please with the gospel according to Professor Plaut:
Question: Should Israel attend the upcoming Annapolis peace conference?
Q: So what should Israel offer the Palestinians?
A: Nothing at all.
Q: But how then can Israel achieve peace with the Palestinians?
A: It can’t...
Q: What is the best way to pursue a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict?
A: By abandoning all attempts to pursue a solution....
Q: What should Israel do about settlements on the West Bank?
A: Build more of them. It’s the best way to take Palestinian statehood off the table once and for all. In any future deal based on “limited autonomy” – which was of course the original concept Israel accepted at Camp David – “settlements” will represent no impediment at all to implementation.
Q: How should Israel deal with Hizbullah?
A: By helping to resolve the parking congestion problems in the towns and villages of southern Lebanon that are strongholds of Hizbullah and loyal to it. That is, by constructing large new parking lots there.
If you are an ordinary, non-anti-Semitic average American or European, what do you think of Zionists when you compare Mamoun Fandy's views with those of Professor Plaut? No peace with Palestinians, no recognition, no negotiation. Khartoum in reverse.
There are more things in the Middle East then are dreamt of in your philosophy, Professor Plaut. How is Israel, with its tiny population, going to achieve "victory" over half a billion or so Arabs and Muslims in our immediate vicinity? America, with all its resources, cannot achieve victory in Iraq, a country of 25 million.
Here is the opinion of one of those Lebanese whose country Plaut wants to turn into a parking lot. In al Moustaqbal, Lebanese columnist Khairallah Khairallah opines:
"Why is it in the interest of the Arabs to support the summit called by George Bush Jr., even though its results are uncertain?
"The answer to this question is, once again, that the Arabs need stability, and that a settlement between the Palestinians and Israel would promote stability, which would help to stop the exploitation of the Palestinians as fuel for the fire of regional conflicts – [exploitation] which has brought them nothing but calamities..."The summit must be supported because there is no other alternative, apart from leaving the situation as it is. Is there anything worse than what is happening today in Gaza, which has been transformed into a kind of Islamic emirate, ruled by Hamas in the Taliban style?...
And here is another of those Lebanese, whose country Plaut wants to turn into a parking lot:
The time has come to take Lebanon out of the Israeli-Arab conflict, Druse leader Walid Jumblatt said in an interview with the pan-Arab satellite television station Al Arabiya, Thursday overnight.
Will the Zionist Hamasniks continue to close their ears and say that all Arabs are evil and don't want peace?
Perhaps not tomorrow or the next day, but eventually, there must be peace and there can be peace. When I first came to this country, Arab countries would not even mention the word "Israel." We have come a long way from the days of the "Zionist entity." We did it by persevering both in war, and in peace. We must not listen to the Zionist Nassers and Assads who say again and again, "No peace, no negotiations and no recognition." We can't let the Annapolis conference turn into the Khartoum conference of the Zionists.
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