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Another election: expect no peace breakthrough
By: Shmuel Amir
Hagada Hasmalit
Original Hebrew:

7 January 2015 (English translation 24 January)

“Anyone but Bibi” is the winning slogan, the great hope, the yearned-for
turning-point: a real chance to unseat Bibi. Buji (Yitzhak Herzog) has already
yelled five times: “revolution!” But can the Buji-lovers tell us who will
replace Bibi? Remember the last time we deposed Bibi? It was in 1999. And who
replaced him then? Not the political hybridization of today, Buji the social-
democrat and Livni the defender of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. It was none
other than “the Left” that replaced him, that is, Ehud Barak, without any help
from others. We went down to Rabin Square after the elections and together we
yelled “anyone but Shas”. Then Ehud Barak went into action: negotiations with
Syria instead of with the Palestinians, and the settlements flourished more
than they had under Netanyahu before him. In short, nothing changed,
especially not the Camp David negotiations in which the Palestinians did not
agree to submit to Israel’s demands, which then served as proof for Israeli
governments that there is no one to talk to.

I can envision the gathering after a future victory for Buji-Livni. Again we
will go down to Rabin Square, excited and impassioned. Tears of joy will flow
“this time …” But what will really happen this time? Yes, the government will
call for negotiations with the Palestinians and will talk to Abu Mazen and
even the American president. And then what will happen? Every side will
present its demands. Buji and Livni will of course demand to keep the
settlement “blocs”. Livni has already promised that we will not leave the
Western Wall, we will not leave Jerusalem, the IDF will be stationed in the
Jordan Valley and the Palestinian state will be demilitarized. And a Buji-
Herzog government will also probably accept Netanyahu’s rejection of any
unilateral Palestinian moves (they have suddenly discovered that withdrawal
from occupied territory is unilateral). And Livni has already called upon
Secretary Of State Kerry to reject the Palestinian resolution in the Security
Council for recognition of a Palestinian state. She will change Netanyahu’s

Are any other parties that are standing for election proposing other measures?
Among all the contending parties is there one party – just one – that truly
aspires the peace which is possible, that overtly demands withdrawal to the
borders of 1967? In Israel that is typical of all the parties that are “pro-
peace”: they are in favour of negotiations (if possible to the end of time).
They are in favour of withdrawal but not from the blocs (the “legal
settlements”). The most extreme position Amir Peretz expresses is borders on
basis of 1967. The operative term here is “basis”. That again renders possible
endless negotiations, and very soon it will become clear that the basis always
includes various occupied territories. Similarly regarding the proposal for
“agreed-upon exchange of territories”. If they’re going to be agreed on, then
why the need for an agreement in advance? After all, two independent states
can always exchange territories between them at any time. But this Israeli
“agreed-upon” can build disagreement that will destroy any true peace
agreement. Do not all the Zionist parties know full well that this will not
lead anywhere except perpetuation of the Occupation? The lauded “ambivalence”
on nuclear weapons has also been preserved that way. (Recently an article in
praise of ambivalence of by the “leftist” Labour Party member and former
minister Yuli Tamir was published.)

And who among those who fervently chant “anyone but Bibi” is in favour of
returning all the Occupied Territories? In favour of a true agreement between
equals? Did all the aggressive and oppressive policies towards the
Palestinians begin with Netanyahu, and will his disappearance change anything?
The truth is that behind the storm of electoral war there is a firm national
consensus not to give up the Occupation, to hold onto it for as long as
possible. That is the clear historical organic unity of the Zionist parties.
It is not for nothing that the parties call themselves Zionist and not just
Israeli. The Herzog-Livni duo chose for itself the name “The Zionist Camp”.
Netanyahu could adopt a name like that. Can anyone name a Zionist party that
ever opposed a war that has broken out here? We saw splendid national unity
during the “Solid Cliff” war (called “Defensive Edge” in English). And that of
course also includes Meretz. That time like all the other times, it opposed
the war before it broke out and more forcefully after it ended,
but in real time, that is, upon the outbreak of the war, it supported
it. Recall how towards the end of the MK Gilon spoke out forcefully against
the government and called for end of the war, but only after, of course, we
eliminate Hamas.

Those who imagine salvation as the unseating of Bibi and the return of the
sane centre-left must be reminded of a little bit of the past that we love to
forget here.

The conflict between us and the Palestinians preceded Bibi’s being the prime
minister. The grim history of the policy of force has been with the State
since its inception. In 1948 we expelled the majority of the Palestinians from
their homeland. On those who remained we imposed a military government that
lasted for 18 years. We expropriated most of the Palestinians’ land, built
settlements in the heart of the Arab population in the West Bank and conducted
many wars and operations in which thousands of Palestinians were killed. All
that occurred while our “Left”, to which we are now ecstatic about returning,
was in power. The Israeli Establishment is counting on the public’s short
memory and is trying to suppress this history. They have always tried to
silence those who tell the truth about this history, who are described as
deluded or even as traitors. They wanted to revoke the Israel Prize from
Yeshayahu Liebowitz, who likened the Israeli Occupation to an iron fist padded
with dollars. They tried to assassinate Meir Vilner, who immediately after the
1967 war demanded in the Knesset full withdrawal from the Occupied
Territories. All the tendentious historians, from Anita Shapira on down, are
living the good life. At this juncture let us at least consider the words of
one historian on the source of the Zionist policy of force. I am referring to
Prof. Talmon who is world-famous and who cannot be suspected of being anti-
Zionist. In a lecture in City College of New York in 1968, entitled “Israel
among the Nations”, entirely dedicated to defending Israel and its actions, he
said on the conflict with the Palestinians: “let us have the courage to admit
it and to face the brutal truth: no solution in the spirit of liberal
liberalism has been possible.”

If Talmon had some pangs of conscience, Herzl had none. The words he wrote on
the subject of “the Jewish State” in Asia in the book by the same name are
well-known, despite efforts to suppress their memory: “We should there form a
portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as
opposed to barbarism.” [1]

Can anyone can seriously deny that Binyamin Netanyahu has acted in the classic
Zionist tradition? And today too he is acting basically as other prime
ministers have done. When he came to power for the first time he promised to
implement the Oslo Accords, and he did not fulfil that promise; but did any
other prime minister implement the Oslo Accords? Yitzhak Rabin? Yes – way down
the road when the Americans for their own reasons pressured him to talk about
two states, so they could show the Arab world and the world in general that
Israel, which it arms, aspires for peace. He did it, but with qualifier of
“Jewish state”. Presumably no new prime minister will easily give up on that
simple addition to the idea of two states.

Not only the actions, but also the anti-Arab culture was created under the
Left’s rule. Even the offensive and humiliating anti-Arab language is no
innovation by Bibi or the likud.

The Palestinians were always described as terrorists, or as they put it in
those days, “bands of murderers”. They were always described as murderers of
Jews. Racist statements were always accepted: the Arab as primitive person –
that was an acceptable position.

Golda Meir did not even recognize the existence of the Palestinian people at
all, and in the height of hypocrisy she refused to forgive forgave the Arabs
for forcing us to kill them.

Abba Eban, the Cambridge-educated foreign minister of Israel, eloquent in the
English and Hebrew languages, who was always considered the most moderate of
moderates, hated by the hawks, said that the 1967 borders were “Auschwitz
borders”. He also invented the saying that we love to repeat to this very day:
the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss peace. Would Netanyahu

In the Left (the Palmach) they sang “From the Sea to the Jordan”, the
Revisionists sang “The Jordan River has two banks: one is ours, and so is the
other”, they both sang “Land of Zion and Jerusalem”. [2]
These few examples of treatment of the Arabs will suffice. But they were part
of the culture and still more of the education of Jewish-Israeli youth.
Netanyahu and no less Herzog too are heirs and propagators of this history.
Still – there have always been people in the Jewish Yishuv and certainly in
the State of Israel who opposed this “culture”. But they were the minority, in
the past as they are today.

In the forthcoming elections there is no need to strengthen Herzog to as
Zehava Gal-On has already promised to do, nor is there any need to strengthen
Gal-On herself. Herzog is no suitable replacement for Netanyahu. He will
continue his policies in the only thing that is really important in the State
of Israel: the end of the conflict with the Palestinians. He offers no hope
for a future of peace.

The only party that deserves support is one that will not dissemble on the
subject of peace but will declare clearly that only withdrawal to the borders
of 1967 can bring peace to our region.

Translator’s notes


2. The last words of the Israeli national anthem, Hatikvah.

Translated from Hebrew by George Malent

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