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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 24, 2004 / 24 Sivan 5764

Lonely crowd

By Martin Peretz


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The Israeli Left is still marching for peace, whatever that means


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Tel Aviv's Rabin Square is an iconic site. It is where, after an exuberant peace rally in 1995, the prime minister was murdered and where, on perhaps a dozen occasions since, Israelis have gathered to rekindle the dewy sentiments about relations with the Palestinians that he so awkwardly— and so late in life— appeared to embody. But, by now, almost everyone understands that his faith in a viable Palestinian negotiating partner was, to say the least, naïve. And no one at last Saturday night's rally so much as mentioned Yitzhak Rabin's name. Instead, there was plenty of schwarmerei folk music, beginning with "We Shall Overcome." Another era, another language, another issue, another country. Rather pathetic at a time when, among the young, in hot clubs and cafés everywhere, there is a revival of old romantic and confident Zionist songs. They are not, to be sure, doing wild circle dances. But they are reinventing the kumsitz with a nostalgic repertoire— indicating, I believe, that post-Zionism has come and gone, pace Tony Judt. Good riddance. 

It was a large crowd, perhaps 150,000 people, but a generally listless one. Perhaps it was the lingering pall of the 13 dead soldiers in Gaza over the previous week, some of whose body parts, including an intact brain, were displayed on television by Palestine's holy warriors. But mostly, I think, the pall reflected the crowd's recognition that they were not the majority some of their tribunes told them they were. "Get out of Gaza, Start Talking" was their slogan. The slogan, however, papered over important differences among the varied constituencies, and so it is not a political program at all. It's rather like "Peace Now," the slogan that has named a loose touchy-feely movement in Israel for years, or the Vietnam War-era incantation "Give Peace a Chance." Just words, and meaningless ones, at that. 

To be sure, the evidence suggests that a vast preponderance of Israelis want to remove the settlements from Gaza (as I have long believed should be done) and even believe they were a tragic mistake (not only Ariel Sharon's mistake and Menachem Begin's, but also Rabin's and Shimon Peres's). Two military heroes— my friend Ami Ayalon, former head of both the navy and the Shin Bet internal security apparatus, who is leading his own peace initiative with the Palestinian moderate Sari Nusseibeh, and Yom Tov Samia, a tough ex-commander in Gaza— told the rally that it was, in effect, gathering to support Sharon's disengagement plan, and, had he not proposed it, they would not have gathered at all. 

Were that all the marchers wanted, they might indeed represent the Israeli center. But I suspect a vast preponderance of the demonstrators would remove not only the settlers, but also the army from Gaza's land borders, seacoast, and skies, leaving the territory open to the importation of truly heavy weaponry. (It was in the course of destroying the funneltunnels through which such weapons are smuggled that the 13 Israeli soldiers were killed.) And there is no majority at all for this kind of suicidal retreat. It is true that the settlers have been holding several generations of young Israeli men hostage to their fanatical caprice. But the Gaza conflict is not at all defined by the 21 sparsely populated Jewish settlements, amounting to 7,500 souls, mostly children. Rather, it is defined, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the other thug militias never tire of insisting, by the very existence of Israel. 

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Egypt's peace treaty with Israel has been very lucrative for the Mubarak regime, thanks to America's multibillion annual subvention, but it has not disposed Cairo to police its sovereign territory against the fatal, now-routine contraband. This vast armaments pipeline into Gaza is Hosni Mubarak's payoff to his restless street. Without Israel's military presence, he'd be without an excuse to intervene against this contraband at all. There's a precedent for this. In 1970, in violation of an agreement with Israel brokered by Henry Kissinger, Egypt moved SAM-3 missiles up to the Suez Canal, where they provided Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, with the cover to launch the Yom Kippur War three years later. No responsible government in Jerusalem can permit the entry into Gaza of artillery and missiles (and tanks, for that matter) that could target Tel Aviv. 

 

A few days before the demonstration, I spoke with Ehud Barak, who wagered a lot in 2000— with Bill Clinton's cajoling reassurances— on Yasir Arafat's reasonableness. Daring, logical (perhaps to a fault), and Labor's only plausible winning standard-bearer, Barak has supported Sharon's actions in Gaza. Where he is critical of Sharon, in fact, it is mostly from the right— because construction of Israel's security fence in the West Bank is proceeding too slowly. On Gaza, Barak worries that Sharon's disengagement plan does not grapple sufficiently with what comes next. Israel will still have to provide Gaza with electricity and gas, something it has done, uninterrupted, almost forever. And Gaza, after all, is among the most densely populated places on earth. After more than half a century of international benevolence, for which the Gazans effectively gave up the option of resettlement, the area provides few economic and social opportunities to its inhabitants. During Egyptian rule, from 1949 to 1967, Gaza was sealed: No one in, no one out. Today, none of the rich Arab countries will let Gazans in. Sharon is considering a proposal to ask Egypt to allow Gaza to expand westward into the Sinai desert. In return, it would get land in Israel's Negev. There are preliminary explorations between Jerusalem and Cairo on this suggestion. Let's see how far that goes. 

But who will govern Gaza? Ahmed Yassin's heirs? One thing you can be certain of: Neither the United Nations nor the European Union, both of which have declaimed so much about the occupation, will risk a soldier or administrator in the Falluja of Palestine. There's vague talk about a mandatory arrangement. But Great Britain did that duty here for 25 years in the first half of the last century, and it left in disarray, pulling down the Union Jack to the strains of "G-d Save the King," with the high commissioner saluting smartly as his ship pulled out of Haifa harbor. No one, I assume, is proposing that the United States step into the vacuum. 

Which brings us to the question of whether Israel really has, among the Palestinians, a true partner for peace. "Yes," proclaimed some of the posters. "Yes, yes," assured Peres, who spoke, yet again, of "the new Middle East" of his imagination. But who is this partner, whose first task must be to confront the terrorists and, as Rabin once put it, "break [their] arms"? Certainly not the nameless man who succeeded Abdel Aziz Rantisi as head of Hamas. Where is the groundswell of Palestinian public sentiment for accommodation with the Jews? Yes, there are Professor Sari Nusseibeh and his friends— people who are both brave and afraid— who have signed Ayalon's open letter. But where are the 150,000— or even 1,500— ordinary Palestinians who want "Peace Now"? Have you ever seen them interviewed on television? Why do the Palestinians rush to the streets only to demand blood? 

If pushed, Peres would probably admit that the leadership he imagines for Gaza is that old default: Arafat. After all, Arafat holds, with the martyred Rabin and with Peres himself, the Nobel Peace Prize, by now a badge of shame. Will Arafat finally lead his people toward peace? Speaking on Palestinian radio on the very day the Israelis rallied, Arafat said, "If they want peace, then let's have peace." He also added, quoting from the Koran, "Find what strength you have to terrorize your enemy and the enemy of G-d." Sacred words, sacred work. And so the protesters in Rabin Square, yet again, received their answer.

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JWR contributor Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief and chairman of The New Republic. Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Martin Peretz