Without exception, appeasement, self-deprecation and preemptive concessions to terrorists have inevitably served to embolden them. Israel’s experience has demonstrated that our enemies are restrained when they perceive us as being resolute, and conversely they become more violent when they sense that we are losing our resolve.
Prior to Annapolis, presumably to please the Americans, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert initiated three preemptive concessions. He unilaterally suspended the Quartet-endorsed requirement that the Palestinians curtail terror before negotiating an end of conflict; he dispensed with the need for defensible borders by agreeing to return to the ’67 boundaries with minor modifications; and he permitted his deputy to float proposals relating to Jerusalem which included handing over jurisdiction of the Temple Mount to the Palestinians.
Olmert also delegated to the Americans a referee role, arbitrating breaches of undertakings between Israel and the PA, thereby inhibiting Israel’s future ability to respond to terrorist onslaughts.
It is fallacious to suggest that because the Palestinians have no intention of reaching any meaningful accommodation, the current concessions are of no consequence. Because, if and when we ultimately do negotiate an end of conflict agreement, what we have now unilaterally offered will represent the starting point of such negotiations. We will be asked: “How much beyond what was offered in Annapolis is Israel willing to offer to achieve genuine peace?”
Having already squandered most of our bargaining chips without getting anything in return, all that is left is the Palestinian Arab “right of return” which would amount to the end of a Jewish state.
This mind numbing appeasement by Israel continues unabated at all levels. Instead of at least remaining silent, Olmert repeatedly recites the politically correct mantra that Mahmoud Abbas is a man of peace, despite his failure to clamp down on his own gunmen or curtail vicious incitement against Israel which continues to dominate all areas under his jurisdiction.
Olmert released hundreds of terrorists despite the realization that Abbas still maintains control of his Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades which murdered more Israelis than Hamas. He also authorized the provision of weapons and armored cars to Palestinian security forces, ignoring the fact that on every previous occasion when arms were provided, they were subsequently employed against Israelis. Indeed, nobody seems too fussed that the killers of Ido Zoltan last month happened to be members of Abbas’s police force and employed weapons authorized by the Israeli government.
TO MAKE matters worse the corrupt PA, whose survival is dependent on Israeli protection, announced a willingness to dialogue with Hamas and warned that if Israel took definitive steps to curtail rocket attacks from Gaza, Fatah would join forces with Hamas. In response, our government continued its policy of restraint. Will it take a mass slaughter in Sderot before an offensive against Gaza is launched?
Our policy of appeasement has also led to an erosion of our global standing. That was reflected in Annapolis when President George W. Bush omitted to restate his previous position that demographic facts on the ground (settlement blocs) had to be taken into account. He also made no reference to Israel’s need for defensible borders. Indeed, following Annapolis, Condoleezza Rice even criticized Israel for building homes inside Jerusalem’s Har Homa neighborhood.
Israel’s diplomatic recklessness is also manifested by an ongoing stream of irresponsible off-the-cuff statements by our prime minister.
It started with Olmert’s outburst prior to the election, when he told a gathering of the Israel Policy Forum in New York that “we have become tired of fighting, tired of being arrogant, tired of winning, tired of defeating our enemies.” That statement will haunt him for the rest of his political career. But since becoming premier, Olmert continues to display a penchant for making faux pas as exemplified by the bombastic speeches he made during the Second Lebanon War and his remarks about Israel’s nuclear capabilities.
But at Annapolis, Olmert hit the jackpot when he adopted the Palestinian narrative, publicly stating that “for dozens of years, many Palestinians have been living in camps, disconnected from the environment in which they grew, wallowing in poverty, neglect, alienation, bitterness and a deep, unrelenting sense of deprivation… I know that this pain and this humiliation are the deepest foundations which fomented the hatred against us.”
Olmert alluded to an Israeli and Palestinian equivalence of suffering and totally ignored the historical context. He then allowed the joint statement at Annapolis to include the almost obscene remark about “terrorism and incitement whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis” implying that both parties were culpable.
Olmert’s desperation to spin how “liberal” he was brought Israel back to the pre-Bush era when rights and wrongs in the Arab-Israel dispute were subsumed by moral equivalency, and when killers and victims were mindlessly jumbled together as components of a cycle of violence.
When our premier makes such statements it paves the way for Rice to make outrageous comparisons between the self-inflicted suffering of Palestinian Arabs and the discrimination and humiliation she experienced from white supremacists under segregation.
In his Annapolis address, Abbas failed to even acknowledge Olmert’s groveling remarks. Instead he concentrated on the nakba of Israel’s creation, and reiterated that the solution to the suffering of his people would only be achieved by the implementation of the Arab right of return, a code word for the dissolution of the Jewish state. He subsequently stressed that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
But if that were not enough, our Olmert went one step further, giving the impression that he had truly taken leave of his senses. Taking a cue from Jimmy Carter who had been castigated for his offensive remarks condemning Israel for practicing apartheid, Olmert told the Israeli media that the nation risked being compared to apartheid-era South Africa and “if the two-state solution is shattered… the State of Israel is finished.”
What is this if not outright defeatism? Can one visualize a prime minister in any normal nation making such remarks? What is most exasperating is the deafening silence surrounding these concessions and irresponsible outbursts which increasingly undermine confidence in the justice of our cause. Neither the Knesset nor the cabinet have anything to say. Israel Beiteinu and Shas, whose constituents must be appalled, remain glued to their ministerial posts. Equally frustrating is that the leader of the opposition, Binyamin Netanyahu, seems to be sanguinely waiting for the political system to implode. This is not good enough. He should be rallying the nation to raise its voice in an unprecedented challenge against those who are leading us into a tunnel from which it will be very difficult to extricate ourselves.
It is said that a country gets the leaders it deserves. Woe unto us if this be true.
The writer is a former chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress and a veteran international Jewish leader. firstname.lastname@example.org
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