Website of Rabbi Shai Gluskin


Haaretz Op-Ed Piece, Monday, April 1, 2002.

The abyss at the end of victory

By Akiva Eldar

When you find yourself wondering whether the woman with the big coat sitting to your right at the movies is a terrorist in disguise, it becomes difficult to convince yourself that the attack in Netanya was intended solely to get us out of Elon Moreh. If one links the vagueness surrounding the Palestinian demand for the right of return and the mantra "but Barak gave them everything," to the attacks in the heart of Israel, it becomes easy to reach the conclusion that the settlers and the far right are correct in saying that `Judea and Samaria is here, the war is being conducted on our homes, and is better to kill them than to let them kill us.'

People who find themselves these days choosing a restaurant according to the quality of security it offers, rather than the quality of the food, are no longer ready to "nit pick" about causes.

In view of this situation, it is hardly surprising that for many in the peace camp, gut feeling is ruling over mind. Who cares these days whether Barak really offered the Palestinians a plan which we, in their place, would not have refused. And what are Palestinians to presume are the "painful concessions" that Ariel Sharon speaks of when they see the continued, dense presence of settlers in Gush Katif? But, for the sake of the argument, let's assume that Operation Defensive Wall is necessary and logical. Let's even say that it ends with a resounding Israeli victory: The IDF traps all wanted terrorists; would-be suicide attackers decide they actually would rather live; and Yasser Arafat is returned to Tunis accompanied by all of the PLO's leadership.

In other words, the Oslo accord, with its principle of two states for two people, is banished to the trash bin of history. Then what? Under the prime minister's plan, once there is total quiet in Israel and the territories, his government will offer the Palestinians "a long term interim solution." If they are lucky and the next prime minister isn't Benjamin Netanyahu, it will be possible to speak about "an independent state" spread out in some enclaves on less than half the area. In exchange, they will sign an agreement to forego forever any claim to Jerusalem or to the right of return, and to leave control over border crossing and air space to the IDF. And, of course, Jews will be entitled to expropriate land and receive special consideration on any site in Judea and Samaria.

Even the right knows that the Palestinians, after seeing the Promised Land, will not lay down their weapons to give legitimacy to a plan that will exploit their weakened situation. Those on the right, who have no morals or maintain a Messianic outlook, keep trotting out that malicious idea of expulsion. People with integrity on the right, such as Rabbi Yoel Ben Nun, are left without any suggestions. The only thing left for the rabbi to suggest is "to eat matzo and marror, remember the miracle, complain, despair and believe."

Rabbi Ben Nun's suggestions, it turns out, don't work with the Palestinians. The fact that two of the "architects of Oslo," Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Ministry Director-General Avi Gil, are asking for international support for a policy that will destroy Oslo, deepens the despair over the prospects of a just political solution among many in the Palestinian elite who advocate peace. Some suggest forgoing the battle for a state, raising a white flag and demanding that Israel grants the right of return to every resident of the territories. Demographics will do the rest.

Those who are not ready to allow the attacks and the extremists to seal the coffin of peace can find a ray of hope in an article that was published last week by the Palestinian Center in Washington. Lawyer Jonathan Kutab of East Jerusalem and Dr. Mubarak Awad, who was expelled from East Jerusalem because he advocated a non-violent civil revolt, write that, unlike the occupation in southern Lebanon, "the Palestinian armed struggle is often interpreted as a threat against Israel itself, and not only its occupation and settlements. When the issue is the existence of the State of Israel itself, Israelis and their supporters abroad will present a united front and fight with no regard to cost and the number of casualties."

The two activists for human rights call for abandoning violence and instead recruiting the forces of peace in Israel and in the world for non-violent political activism and an information campaign focused exclusively on the occupation. They also understand that as long as Palestinians murder Israelis at cafes, the extremists on both sides will surely lead us to the abyss at the end of victory.