Israeli babies born this month 18 years ago are now old enough for the draft. Some are already in uniform while others soon will be. They were born under the Oslo sign. It seemed a great time to come into the world.
They took their first breaths as the Oslo accords were inaugurated with whoops of rapture. Niggling doubt was politically incorrect and accordingly drowned out with heaps of scorn and wrath in the name of goodwill and broad-minded tolerance. Optimism was compulsory.
But, looking back, was optimism vindicated? Had the Oslo dreams panned out and even partially justified the hype, there would be no more need to train any more 18-year-olds in the arts of war – especially this very symbolic batch of 1993-vintage recruits.
But alas, OC Home Front Command has just imparted to us the glad tidings that “the possibility for a multi-front war has increased including the potential use of weapons of mass destruction.” As to Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg assesses our situation, our perils are acute, if not unprecedented.
Among the dangers, he noted that during recent confrontations on the Gaza front, “we discovered a new weapon. We therefore instructed the public to take extra precautions and seek cover under two roofs and not just one.”
Whoa, hold on! What’s that?
We won’t get into the defense-tactic technicalities of recommending a double- roof protection. Suffice it to point out that Oslo was supposed to make us secure, luxuriant in blissful peace. No one was supposed to fire on us from anywhere in proto-Palestine. Oslo was to usher in a rosy new dawn in the image of The New Middle East, as scripted by its visionary starry-eyed author Shimon Peres.
The glowing sales pitch on the White House lawn by Oslo’s first sucker, Yitzhak Rabin, comes to mind: “In the alleys of Khan Yunis and the streets of Ramat Gan, in Gaza, Hadera, Rafah and Afula, a new reality is born. The hundred-year-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ending.”
How Peres’s dupes roared with derision when warned that their concessions would result in Katyushas raining down on Ashkelon. We were pronounced unadulterated anathema and denigrated as Hamas collaborators.
“Where are those Katyushas?” Rabin sardonically teased. As more and more political fortunes were sunk into the Osloite pit and as more and more intoxicating fumes were inhaled by more and more gullible and/or opportunistic junkies, so it became harder to kick the addiction. How unremitting were their efforts to hook others. No ploy was too objectionable.
To be fair, we need to stress that pro forma, Rabin is still – strictly speaking – right. Not a single Katyusha had shattered Ashkelon’s calm. Adept at Newspeak linguistic manipulation to a degree that would floor George Orwell, our media resorts to the improved Katyusha’s alternative nickname – Grad. Same thing. Nevertheless, a different moniker facilitates deception and denial.
For the sake of restraint we won’t even dwell on the fact that dire predictions that Ashkelon would come under fire were painted as unbelievably insane and outrightly malicious scaremongering in 1993. Yet reality has proven yesteryear’s worst worrywarts as not pessimistic enough. Even they didn’t dare conjure up scenarios of Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Beersheba being in Gaza’s rocket range.
It shouldn’t take a mastermind to work out that something in the grand Oslo design didn’t quite go to plan – not that this would be remotely admitted by Peres, his agenda-pushing sidekicks and the whole weird gamut of farsighted creative omniscients who gravitate to the left wing of our political arena.
Even less than a confession of egregious error would do in lieu of an apology. Mild soul-searching and an acknowledgment that Oslo is dead would suffice. But it’s unrealistic – even now – to expect moral stocktaking and intellectual honesty from the bumbling bamboozlers who inflicted Oslo upon us.
The Oslo high-rollers imported Arafat from Tunis, along with his lieutenants and 40,000 henchmen, whom they armed. They imparted to the citizenry a sense of a nothing-to-lose emergency. Peres waived no opportunity to remind Israelis that time works against them. “What’s the alternative?” he ceaselessly inquired whenever challenged, insisting repeatedly that at worst Oslo is the least of the evils menacing us.
That was patent misrepresentation, not only in the light of hindsight wisdom. Israel wasn’t beset by mortal existential perils in 1993. Nothing mandated surrender. The PLO leadership resided sumptuously abroad and world opinion grew accustomed to the fact. Tampering with all this was incomprehensibly rash.
We’re still paying for Peres’s devil-may-care adventurism.
His “peace” harmed Israel incalculably more than the so-called occupation he bemoans with European sanctimoniousness, as if he had become a visiting stranger himself, a bit distant from our reality.
Oslo kick-started Israel’s historic delegitimization and grotesque demonization. It was a steep downward slide ever since. Numerous Israeli lives were sacrificed to the Oslo Moloch (“victims of peace” or “offerings of peace” in unconscionable Osloite parlance). The international community’s pariah, we were never as vulnerable since 1948. Peres opened the gates of hell.
In the 1950s prominent social psychologist Leon Festinger, progenitor of the Cognitive Dissonance theory, focused on the obsessive rejection of tangible reality by fanatic followers of fantasy. He studied a small cult that awaited the imminent arrival of aliens from another galaxy. They calculated dates and prepared meticulously for the great event – which never materialized. Yet members of the flying saucer cult didn’t relinquish their faith in “Guardians” from outer space and their promises for a new universe.
This led Festinger to observe in his ground-breaking 1956 book When Prophecy Fails that the collapse of prophecies disseminated by cults “often has the opposite effect from what the average person might expect.
The cult following gets stronger and the members even more convinced of the truth of their actions and beliefs.”
Israel’s home-grown peace cult is proof positive. Not only don’t Oslo’s progenitors beat their own breasts in contrition for what they wrought, but they beat the breasts of their political opponents. Rather than regret all the giveaways by Israel, they aver that everything would have been hunky-dory had we only given more and divested ourselves of additional strategic assets with greater cheer rather than sourpuss grudging.
The operative premise here is that even if today’s government won’t accept this wisdom, tomorrow’s might. Osloites keep formulating the starting point for future bargaining and setting the stage for the next disaster. Harbingers of The New Middle East refuse to be dissuaded.
As Festinger noted, “a man with conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts and figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point… Presented with evidence – unequivocal and undeniable evidence – that his belief is wrong, he will emerge not only unshaken but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed he may even evince new fervor about convincing and converting others to his view.”