Sadat’s uncommonly candid quip encapsulates the inbuilt imbalance of the Mideastern equation. In every set of negotiations, it’s Israel which is required to sacrifice real assets – strategic as well as the core of its historical heartland. Moreover these assets – small, apart from the ceded Sinai, and hardly the immense empire that prevalent propaganda portrays – were all acquired as the result of a defensive war forced upon it by genocidal enemies in 1967.
These enemies’ heirs, seeking explicitly to weaken Israel as it persists in its self-preservation struggle, are at the very most expected to supply a piece of paper – and even that doesn’t come easily. They are blunt enough not to as much as promise to accept our legitimacy in their vicinity. That, despite the fact that no real risks are demanded of them, nothing tangible, nothing which cannot be undone by a capricious and erratic regime.
If recent upheavals in the Arab world show us anything, it’s that all the regimes which surround our lone democracy are volatile and essentially untrustworthy. Why should we literally risk our lives and the future survival here of our children for pieces of paper issued by despots who might not be around tomorrow and whose veracity cannot be taken for granted? No population anywhere would inflict such perils upon itself, were it encircled by neighbors like ours with their proven records of mass murder and mendacity. Yet this is precisely what other democracies, facing nothing like what we face, exhort us to do – regardless of the mayhem in Arab streets and the demonstrated unreliability of Arab potentates.
No bother. No skin off their safe noses. Only ours.