Egypt’s Anwar Sadat was outspoken enough to state the obvious after the Camp David Accord was sealed: “I got the whole Sinai, but all poor Menachem [Begin] got was a piece of paper.”
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.
The word hypocrisy comes to mind. In his Devil’s Dictionary (initially published as The Cynic’s Wordbook), now-forgotten American author and satirist Ambrose Bierce (1842- 1913) defined hypocrisy as “prejudice with a halo.”
He further defined prejudice as “a vagrant opinion without visible means of support.”
Only recently various EU leaders hosted Muammar Gaddafi and feted him. He was lauded for having become the free world’s faithful chum, for having backtracked from terror and nuclear weapons ambitions. Now the very same statesmen/women paint him as a madman detached from reality. But surely no psychosis manifests overnight. If Gaddafi is today deemed monstrous, he should have been persona non grata everywhere before Beduin tribes slugged it out for supremacy in the vast oil-soaked Libyan spaces (63 times Israel’s size for a smaller population.) But the same Mideast Quartet members who now egg Israel on to put its head in the noose, allowed Gaddafi to hold sway in the UN Human Rights Council, dictate criteria for equity and pillory Israel’s self-defense. The injustice robbed no Quartet power of its composure.
Far from it, condemning Israel became de rigueur, with the likes of Gaddafi leading the sanctimonious chorus. He accused Israel of everything from assassinating JFK to carnage in Sudan.
It would be semi-comforting if any Quartet meddler were to express even belated mild contrition and ponder what Arab marauders would do (if they could) to the Israelis they abhor, seeing how viciously brutal they are to their own brethren. If the Quartet were really focused on decency, this would be uppermost in its discourse.
Instead, however, the Quartet claims to discern “a new state of urgency,” mandating that the moribund negotiations with the Palestinians be kicked into high gear. The Quartet’s envoy, Britain’s erstwhile premier Tony Blair, was dispatched here, doubtlessly eager to garner another scrap of glory at our expense.
In several days US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are due to chinwag in Brussels about our “core issues.”
Not beating around the bush, the Russians have spelled out what’s in the offing. After meeting with Ashton in Geneva, Lavrov announced that the Quartet will attempt to “draw border lines between Israel and a sovereign Palestinian state.”
No less. There won’t even be a semblance of direct negotiations but a solution imposed from on high by players who are anything but morally upright.
All this, we’re told, is done with our best interests in mind – to bless us with peace, even if not of the sort we hanker for, not of the sort that would allow us to sleep calmly at night.
The US, Quartet member and still ostensibly leader of the free world, exudes even greater alacrity to put anyway vulnerable Israelis even more in harm’s way. While reluctantly denouncing those Mideastern despots who couldn’t hold on to power, the Obama administration appears inexplicably intent on appeasing the baddest bad-boy of all – Syria’s Bashar Assad.
His Iranian-lackey dictatorship looks sturdier than other Arab tyrannies. Tehran’s ayatollahs have too much invested in Assad, in his hegemony over next-door Lebanon and his collaboration in the rearming of Hezbollah.
Assad’s army, controlled by his Alawite minority loyalists, fears bloody vendettas against all Alawites should Assad be deposed.
Hence he’s assured of forceful backing. Moreover, ordinary Syrians likely recall that Bashar’s dad, Hafez, suppressed a rebellion in 1982 by slaughtering 30,000-40,000 residents in the city of Hama. The world stayed incredibly silent. Different strokes for different butchers.
Does the international community care about recent reports that the Iranian-backed Syrian nuclear program has been revived at several locations (including near the reactor Israel is said to have bombed in 2007)? Not really. Assad rejects International Atomic Energy Agency inspections except for a non-suspect civilian chemical facility at Homs.
Nonetheless, no murmurs of protest are heard in the capitals that count. No skin off their noses. Only ours.
And so Obama, while posing as the anti-autocracy bulwark, fondly embraces Assad in the name of pluralist tolerance for non-democracies.
Not only has Obama announced the return of an American ambassador to Damascus (after a five-year absence), he’s now impatient to restore heretofore barely existent negotiations between Israel and Syria too.
Israel needn’t even be consulted. It needs only obey and assume risks.
This is the project entrusted to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, a frequent guest in Damascus (five visits in two years). A worthy undertaking indeed, especially as it’s no skin off his nose. Only ours.
Do we want to be left with a piece of paper signed by Assad and leave Syria holding the Golan? This is no time to allow ourselves to be bullied, bamboozled or beguiled by international busybodies, to say nothing of regional strongmen.
This is time to doubt them – profoundly.
Our lives literally depend on it. To quote the razor-sharp Bierce: “Where doubt is, there truth is. Doubt is truth’s shadow.”
Thank you. Always to the point. ( But who is listening?)
“Beware the man with nothing to lose”… What will Blair, Obama, and the host of European “Middle East experts” – especially the Irish, with their false Hamas/Fatah v Israel-IRA/UVF analogies – lose if Israel goes under? Well, apart from medicines, IT, etc, nothing in any sense that cannot be replaced. Would you go into business with someone who had nothing to lose? Like some rich idiot son who inherited all his wealth, who suddenly decides he is an “expert” in your line of work. If he got his money elsewhere, and utter failure would never effect him? His motivations would be suspect; his reasoning would not be sharp; his concern would not be deep – and why would they? It’s not simply that the aforementioned are morally incapable of understanding Israel’s situation; run the surface and they have little knowledge of history, culture and religion on which to base those weak assumptions anyway. Copy Begin: tell them to go to hell and that you can survive on bread and margarine…
You hit it on the head. Why can’t Jews all over the
world, especially American Jews, and especially Israel,
get mad enough and do something pre-emptive!
Thank you Sarah Honig for this witty and penetrating analysis. If reasoning people stand by and let this be done to Israel, what will they do to the rest of us?
I don’t understand how or why Israel became such an easy mark and so slow to grasp their destruction by way of the ‘process’ I will no longer call peace ?
Israel’s mistake in the eyes of the amoral world was that they always defeated their Arab antagonists no matter how many armies came at them at once.
This problem has to be rectified by the ‘fair’ world.
And so according to Psalm 83 they all gotten together and devised what I will call the surrender process.
It’s not about peace but Israel’s surrender
The reason the Quartet are panicked and now pushing Israel over the cliff is they are afraid Israel may finally wake up, but their fear is misguided as Israel shows no sign of doing any such thing.
Their Prime Minister is all quisling all the time and weak leaders who bend in the slightest wind have been in vogue for a long time among the war weary lambs headed for slaughter .
It’s so plain and simple as the nose now missing on Israel’s face.
Israel has yet to awaken to the new approaching holocaust, still looking to evil men for peace that they can never deliver.
Israel ,you were so good at war and so destroyed by the peace.
You just couldn’t say no and all your leaders were easy suckers for the trap laid out with doves and olive branches.
Is it that you have been bamboozled into believing in the inherent goodness of mankind or are you just naive and stupid in a bad way dear Israel ?
Sorry, Sarah, but “after the fight, it’s useless to wave the hands”, says a Russian proverb. Too late, too little, too self-indulgent. But at least something.
Now one has to learn the hard way the art of the national responsibility for the future, something other nations were also learning the hard way, or disappeared from Fackenheim’s scene of history.