Religious, Cultural and Rhetorical Aspects in Palestinian Strategy
The Palestinian struggle against Israel is a political-cum-military campaign rooted in the culture-code of a particular community and civilization. Thus, the public and visible Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process provides only an external exposure of a concealed and complex array of Islamic notions and precedents, cultural characteristics of the Muslim East, and rhetorical devices suited to a revolutionary Palestinian idiom. The Palestinians seek victory, not peace, in this long and brutal fight against the Jews and the State of Israel.
There is no foundation for mutual and satisfactory Israel-PLO accommodation inasmuch as Palestinism is diametrically opposed to Zionism, just like Western democracy is juxtaposed to Muslim tyranny. Such generalized cultural and political factors derive from the specific history and mentality of the Palestinians as Oriental Muslims and Arabs. With absolute Islamic faith, endurance and extremism as indelible features of character and politics, the Palestinians are unable and unwilling to accept the legitimacy and viability of a Jewish state in "Palestine".
This is a zero-sum game but one that is driven not only by modern nationalist ideology and contemporary political grievances, but by a durable ancient memory, identity, and lexicon. As such, the PLO demand for a state is no more than a rhetorical mantra for the more fundamental demand for the annihilation of Israel and its Jews. This is the way to understand the incompatibility between Israel and the PLO, the gravity of the Palestinian menace to Israel, and the need for a radical re-evaluation of the necessary Israeli policy response.
This article was published in English as the ACPR's Policy Paper No. 81 in the book
ISRAEL AND A PALESTINIAN STATE: ZERO SUM GAME?, 2001
The Israeli Arabs and a
The question of Israeli Arab loyalty to the State of Israel began with the establishment of the Jewish state. It is not merely a theoretical question, as this issue has far-reaching practical ramifications, especially as it relates to the political arena. The "Jewish majority" question was raised more vigorously during the reign of the left-wing government from 1992-1996 as a result of extensive political processes initiated by the Israeli government
- establishment of an independent Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria, withdrawal from sections of the Land of Israel, and laying the foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state
- while relying on the votes of Arab Members of Knesset.
Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, the ties between the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and the "Green Line Arabs" have grown gradually closer. The State of Israel is witnessing an accelerated process of "Palestinization" among Israeli Arabs, who are referred to in the Arab media as "the Palestinians within the Green Line", and is impotent to act against it. We are facing a dangerous trend, which Israel's Jewish population, for some reason, relates to with equanimity. In the last year, more and more facts have come to light, which prove the extent of terrorist cooperation between the two sides of the Green Line.
The defense establishment is troubled by the fact that in case of a violent confrontation between IDF and Palestinian forces, Israeli Arabs, who have already experienced an internal intifada, are liable to mobilize in support of the Palestinians and perpetrate murderous terrorist attacks. Furthermore there are increasing numbers of visits by Israeli Arabs into the area of the Palestinian Authority, and especially of the steady exchange of delegations between the two populations. The Palestinian media are filled with detailed and supportive reports about these visits and meetings. Part of the Israeli Arab identification with the Palestinian Authority came to bear in demonstrations of identity with problems troubling the Palestinians
- assemblies which became progressively more common on the streets of Arab cities and villages in Israel, such as those after the signing of the Wye agreements, when the streets of Judea and Samaria were shaken with riots referred to as the "prisoners' intifada" (with the demand to free terrorist murderers from Israeli jails in the context of the agreement). The standard bearers of the Palestinization trend among Israeli Arabs are first and foremost, the Israeli Arab Knesset members, who pledged allegiance to the State of Israel, and display allegiance to its enemies instead.
The ties binding the two sides of the Green Line begin at childhood. For example, the field trips organized by schools in the Galilee and the Triangle to the Palestinian Authority, for joint activities with children of similar ages. The reciprocal youth program is called "Children Without Borders"
- befitting a trend whose purpose is to erase the Green Line. But also the phenomenon of ever-tightening relations is the result of marital ties. Matchmaking ads often appear in the Palestinian press saying: "Palestinian from a good home is looking for a bride for the purposes of a blue marriage." A blue marriage means a bride with a blue, Israeli identity card. This creates a new problem
- that of Israeli citizens residing in the autonomous areas. Interestingly, the Palestinian security forces are very involved in this matter. Over the last two years, the frequency of Palestinian officers marrying Israeli Arabs
- usually relatives - has increased. This phenomenon has aroused much concern in the Israeli defense establishment, though it can do nothing to change the situation.
In Arab schools the tendency towards learning Arab history at the expense of Israeli history is becoming more prevalent. This is a steadily strengthening trend. What they do not learn in school, they are taught in supplementary education courses in the mosques. A most negative form of collaboration on both sides of the Green Line is transpiring in the criminal realm
- especially car thefts.
It apparently will not be long until the Israeli government - regardless of which ideology is in power
- will be forced to confront Israeli Arabs with the stark choice - complete loyalty to their country, with all of its ramifications pertaining to the severing of ties with their Palestinian brethren, or drawing the necessary conclusions based on their loyalty to the Palestinian government.
This article was published in English as the ACPR's Policy Paper No. 65 in the book
ISRAEL AND A PALESTINIAN STATE: ZERO SUM GAME?, 2001
A Palestinian State
and Israeli Public Opinion
If one wishes to describe the current attitudes of the Jewish public in Israel towards the PLO and a Palestinian state, it seems that the combination of severe terror acts during the years 1994-1996 and a certain change in the message made by the government since 1996 (although not in the messages implied by its political steps), has reversed the tendency of accepting negotiations with the PLO and the creation of a Palestinian state, but has not been sufficient to neutralize the effect of the heavy peace-loving messages brainwashing the public during the last two decades, and turn the clock back full-stop.
The continuous gnawing away of public objection to the Palestinian case as reflected in polls of public opinion, has gained, since the 1980s, such remarkable nourishment by the radical left (mainly by using the media) that when the Labor party came to power in 1992, it had only to finish these dynamics to raise dramatically the percentage of consent to a Palestinian state (mainly by the political step of signing the Oslo accord) from 29% (1992) to 50% (1997).
Examining the gap between answers to some related questions in the polls reveals that although there is still a will to maintain existence and an awareness of the national interest among the Jewish public in Israel, these are dimmed by adapting to steps enforced by the government, conceiving the "peace talks" as an isolated element having no operative consequences, and denying the link between the Arabs' intentions concerning Israel and actual terror acts.
The fact that public polls in Israel are deviated leftward is only half a comfort: the percentage of Jewish citizens expressing consent to a Palestinian state alongside Israel is probably lower than the public data, but the consent of the professional pollsters to the exploitation of this tool in order to promote a certain political view does not seem to lessen.
This article was published in English as the ACPR's Policy Paper No. 82 in the book
ISRAEL AND A PALESTINIAN STATE: ZERO SUM GAME?, 2001
Policy in Lebanon (II)
Following the collapse of Israel's policy in southern Lebanon since 1985, there has been an escalation of Islamist and Syrian pressure as well as international pressure, particularly Euro-American, on the IDF, to evacuate the so-called security zone. Since several Israeli governments have exhausted the possible initiatives derived from the implementation of UN resolution 425, (unilateral withdrawal accompanied by Lebanese government security guarantees), and the threats of massive retaliation in case of deterioration, the search for an alternative Israeli policy in southern Lebanon is a crucial, and essential option.
This policy paper explains the background of the security zone, its evolution in conjunction with the evolving geo-political context and the objectives of the various parties involved in the conflict. It outlines the strategic goals of Hizbullah, Syria, Israel and the Lebanese Christians. The paper explains the three options available and their consequences. Israel can remain in the security zone and choose not to find alternatives to its traditional policy. In this case, human losses and international pressures would increase, compelling Israel to adopt an alternative in the future, but in a less favorable context.
The second option would be to withdraw unilaterally to the international borders. Such a choice would lead to a strategic imbalance at the expense of Israel and its allies. First to be affected would be the Christian community in the security zone which would be irreversibly lost. Second, anti-Israel radical groups would move forward to occupy the security zone. And thirdly, Syrian domination of the borders would give Damascus an unparalleled advantage.
The third option is a strategic alternative to today's imbroglio. The alternative proposed by this policy paper is based on the:
- Establishment of legitimate, democratically elected, political institutions in south Lebanon.
A phased IDF withdrawal, parallel to the transformation of the SLA into a national free Lebanese army capable of handling the threats of terrorist activities.
Transformation of the southern Lebanese political entity into a launching pad for an international campaign to liberate Lebanon from foreign forces and the Syrian occupation army in particular.
Establishment of ties between the free southern Lebanon and the Lebanese Diaspora.
This policy paper, which proposes Israel's security through south Lebanese self-determination, suggests a mechanism to implement the alternative policy, and a strategy to insure its success.
This article was published in English as the ACPR's Policy Paper No. 78.
In Defense of a Despised
that does not inculcate solid and unifying values in its youth,
disintegrates and becomes violent, perhaps even suicidal. It is
therefore incumbent upon education in general, and on teachers in
particular, not only to impart knowledge and skills to students, but
also to teach and educate the younger generation in the values of the
past that have stood the test of time.
Regretfully, our society and school system invite obstructive tactics
that prevent the teacher from carrying out such objectives. Students
today become increasingly aware of the individualistic conceptions that
promote absolute freedom and equality, even relative to parents and
teachers. Many parents can no longer cope with this situation, so
either they raise their hands in despair, or they become violent, or
they transfer the problem to the teacher's doorstep, where they stand
united with their children. As a result, the school system has lost
control of disciplining the student to the extent that it has become
practically impossible to teach, let alone to educate. In general,
parents and principals alike have accepted the ideas of counterfeit
pluralism, freedom and equality, while the teacher stands alone "in the
forefront of the hottest battle" (Samuel II 11:15).
of discipline and the violence of the students have turned into a real
physical danger to students as well as teachers in both formal and
informal educational frameworks. Consequently, no teacher can ensure
the safety of the 40-80 students usually in his charge. Under such
circumstances, parents, students and principals become materialistic,
interested primarily in professions that promise a high income.
Computers and electronic equipment have made students spiritually
passive and distanced from humanistic and Jewish culture. The economic
perspective has turned parents, students and principals into a consumer
society that views education as a supplier of goods in exchange for
payment, and then justifies the recipient's interference in details of
educational activities and teaching to the degree of demanding the right
to determine their own grades. The development of research and the
blind trust in it have turned schools into experimental stations that
have lost any inclination toward a continuous, planned, graduated
educational process. Despair of formal education has brought about a
blind acceptance of informal education, till school is often an informal
educational framework, or an amusement park of education and teaching.
In such an
atmosphere, in which all forms of constraint or restraint of students
are forbidden, the teacher remains with his hands tied, unable to
enforce even minimum discipline. His situation is like that of our
ancestors in Egypt who cried out: "There is no straw given to thy
servants and they say to us 'make bricks'" (Exodus 5:16). A society
that demands output and achievements from its teachers, yet prevents
them from using the means to accomplish such goals, is a hypocritical,
corrupt society that has only itself to blame for the faults in the
school system. In short, it is neither the schools nor the teachers
that have to change, but the society that has to admit its guilt and act
to reform itself, even if this means a return to religion and its
values. It is preferable to do so today, than to wait until the
situation has become even more critical.
Israel, A Palestinian State and the Middle East: Plus Sum Potentials
Consideration of the future of a Palestinian state requires thinking of the next twenty years as a non-linear mix of necessity, contingency, chance and choice. The propensities of a new historic structure, such as a Palestinian state, cannot be extrapolated from past behavior, requiring instead estimation in terms of partly different, non-continuous and also mutating processes. Israel has often failed in such thinking. All the more so, care must be taken to consider Israeli policies on the Palestinian issue without being captivated by "concepts" and a variety of "motivated irrationalities".
The establishment of a Palestinian state is nearly inevitable, because of demographic mass, nationalistic feelings with empowerment, international politics, and domestic constraints on Israeli use of force. Israel should base its policies on that assumption, trying to influence the evolutionary potential and pathway into the future of that state so as to move towards a "plus sum" dynamics. However, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be nonviable and irredentist, with near certainty of zero sum and also minus sum interaction with Israel. Only a full scale integrated Palestinian-Jordanian state can achieve sustainability, solution of the refugee problem, inner-directness, and modernization and democratization effects on the Middle East as a whole, in plus sum interaction with Israel. Helping movement, hopefully peaceful but this is not certain, towards such a state carries serious risks for Israel, in particular the danger of facing a large and hostile Palestinian state. But, in the longer run, this is the best realistic scenario, with a real possibility of achieving plus sum interaction. Adopting such a grand strategy is all the more recommended, as in any case a Palestinian state is very likely to destabilize Jordan. Israel should adopt a geo-strategic architecture policy accordingly, "riding on the 'waves of history'" while trying to guide them, instead of being dragged behind them.
This article was published in English as the ACPR's Policy Paper No. 70 in the book
ISRAEL AND A PALESTINIAN STATE: ZERO SUM GAME?, 2001
Bi-National Realities versus National Mythologies: The Death of the "Two
This article examines the options for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the post-Oslo reality. It assumes that the chances for such a state to survive and indeed come into a meaningful being should be examined on two different levels.
One is that of balance of power. There is little hope for genuine Palestinian sovereignty and control over a future state. The balance of power in which the Israelis are the stronger party, is a sacrosanct precondition both to the Labor and Likud parties; hence its maintenance is a precondition for any settlement agreed upon by either the Right or the Left in Israel. This article describes what constitutes for the Israeli Jewish "Center", the maximum boundaries and level of independence of a future Palestinian state. It concludes that these concessions do not amount to a political entity that can be defined as a state in any reasonable and acceptable meaning.
The second level on which the likelihood of a state is examined is that of collective cohesiveness as a precondition for the establishment of two viable political entities, such as states, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. The article claims that the obfuscation of collective identities both in the Israeli and Palestinian cases is going to be highly increased in the very near future.
Neither the Jews nor the Palestinians in Israel satisfy, in the post-Oslo reality, any reasonable definition of a collective. There is no territorial integrity of either society in the new reality and the enormity of the task of making it into two coherent territorial entities, could very well tear both societies apart.
A collective identity can be defined by citizenship as well. On the Palestinian side, even in a most generous Israeli consent, say under a Labor government, the Palestinian citizenry would include only a third of the Palestinians in the world, with an Israeli veto of the other two thirds from becoming Palestinian citizens (either because they would be regarded as Israeli citizens or refugees who are citizens of other countries).
One can argue that a collective identity based on citizenship in Israel is less vague. But in fact it is vague enough to challenge the integrity of the state. The potential Israeli citizenship granted to every Jew in the world on one hand, and the discriminations inflicted upon about one million Palestinian citizens in Israel, renders collective identity at best unclear and at worst non-existent.
In the Palestinian case, the present political structure is far from representing, in any thinkable respect, the collective national identity of Palestinians. The challenging peripheries groups of the Palestinians enjoy a disintegrative power since Oslo failed to attend to the problems of about half of the Palestinian community in the world.
In Israel, as Jewish nationalism is defined by an affiliation to the Jewish religion: secularism, sectarianism, confessionalism and the presence of non-Jewish communities, all render any agreed definition of "Israelism" impossible.
To sum up, if we choose to look at post-Oslo through sociological prisms, there seems at work strong disintegrative trends in both societies. Oslo, not the agreement, but as a reality, by preserving the occupation, accentuates the inadequacy of the political structure. The conventional means for holding a society together seem to be futile in the face of these trends. This is a model for the disintegration of two nation-states -- one already there and one in the making. It can be arrested either by loosing the political structure -- quite a utopian scenario given the present balance of power, or by tightening up the structure, i.e., by making it more dictatorial. A dictatorship on both sides is a feasible option for as long as dictatorships last in an area such as the Middle East. The democratic structure, even its particular Israeli variety (be it a herrenvolk democracy or an ethnic one) is unfit to carry the burden of the post-Oslo, new style occupation and the multifarious fabric of the society living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.
This article was published in English as the ACPR's Policy Paper No. 71 in the book
ISRAEL AND A PALESTINIAN STATE: ZERO SUM GAME?, 2001