By Alan Hart:
One eminent Israeli who apparently thinks the answer could be yes is Ilan Baruch, a veteran diplomat who resigned ahead of his retirement because, he said, he could no longer represent his government’s “wrong” policy. He also ridiculed Zionism’s assertion that global anti-Israeli sentiments generated by occupation are a manifestation of anti-Semitism.
While serving as a tank platoon commander on the Suez Canal front, Baruch lost and eye and, Dayan-like, he wears a black eye-patch. His 30 years of service with Israel’s foreign ministry included postings to Singapore, Copenhagen and London and he served as ambassador to the Philippines and South Africa. In September 1993 he travelled with Prime Minister Rabin to Washington for the ceremony on the White House lawn which ended with the historic handshake after the signing of an interim agreement. (Prior to that trip, Baruch would have known that the Zionist lobby in America was totally opposed to Rabin going there to do business with Arafat. That was why Rabin didn’t want to go and had to be persuaded by President Clinton at his smooth talking best on the telephone. While in Washington on that occasion, Baruch would have learned what the lobby’s post handshake strategy was going to be — to rebrand Arafat as a “terrorist”).
In a personal letter he sent to all foreign ministry employees explaining his decision to quit, Baruch wrote: “Identifying the objection expressed by global public opinion to the occupation policy as anti-Semitic is simplistic, provincial and artificial. Experience shows that this global trend won’t change until we normalize our relations with the Palestinians.”
And he gave this warning: “Should this trend continue, Israel will turn into a pariah state and face growing de-legitimization.”
Baruch has to be saluted for his stand and the courage it required but he’s not yet up to speed with events. So far as most peoples of the world are concerned, or so it seems, Israel is already a pariah state. And the fact that all the members of the UN Security Council minus only the U.S. voted for the resolution condemning continued, illegal Israeli settlement activities on the occupied West Bank is surely an indication that governments might be catching up with their peoples.
As Aluf Benn noted in an article for Haaretz, the message Netanyahu ought to have got from what happened in the Security Council is that “Israel has no more friends in the international community.” Benn qualified that by adding: “It was only the flick of Obama’s finger that prevented a huge diplomatic defeat for the prime minister, and the White House went out of its way to make it clear that it does in fact support the condemnation and was voting against it only for domestic political considerations.”
In the countdown to Obama’s veto, I wrote that good sources were telling me that behind closed doors most if not all European governments were fed up with Israel and were ready, if only America would give the lead, to resort to sanctions in an effort to oblige Israel to comply with international law and end its 1967 occupation in accordance with Security Council Resolution 242. An indication that even Germany really is fed up with Israel’s intransigence has been provided by Uri Avnery. In his latest post, he tells of a telephone conversation between Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Netanyahu called “to rebuke her for Germany’s vote in favor of the Security Council resolution condemning the settlements.” Avnery went on:
“I don’t know if our prime minister mentioned the Holocaust, but he certainly expressed his annoyance about Germany daring to vote against the ‘Jewish State’. He was shocked by the response. Instead of a contrite Frau Merkel apologizing abjectly, his ear was filled by a schoolmistress scolding him in no uncertain terms. She told him that he had broken all his promises and that not one of the world’s leaders believes a single word of his any more. She demanded that he make peace with the Palestinians.”
In Aluf Benn’s analysis, Netanyahu now has “to choose between the ideology he was raised on and which is part of his internal belief system, and the duties of the leader of a small country entirely dependent on international support.”
A short and fairly accurate description of the ideology Netanyahu was raised on is something like this. “The world will always hate Jews. Zionism must therefore do whatever is necessary to build and secure Israel as a refuge of last resort for Jews everywhere. And if that means telling the world to go to hell, so be it.” (That’s actually why David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan and others insisted that Israel should possess nuclear weapons — to have the reinforced ability to tell the world, not just the Arabs, to go to hell if necessary).
At the time of writing Netanyahu is preparing a damage limitation strategy which he will launch shortly with an “historic speech” announcing a new peace initiative. According to the leaks it will propose negotiations to set up a Palestinian state with “provisional (meaning temporary) borders” on about half the West Bank. (Roughly the same as Sharon was prepared to offer). Presumably the other half, including East Jerusalem, will remain stuffed with illegal Jewish settlements which control the West Bank’s main water resources. (Sharon once said the 1967 war was really all about water).
Netanyahu knows that even a quisling Palestinian leadership would not be able to negotiate on that basis, but peace with an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians is not his game. With its verbal re-commitment to a Palestinian state, his new peace plan will be a marketing exercise to assist the Zionist lobby in America and supporters of Israel right or wrong everywhere to rebrand him — to have him perceived as a leader who is misunderstood and even wronged, and who really is committed to a negotiated peace with the Palestinians. It’s by no means impossible that he will make some token withdrawals from the West Bank, in order to provoke a containable clash with settlers, in order for him to be able to say to the world something like, “Look, I really am serious but you must appreciate my difficulties.”
As ever the bonus will be that Netanyahu can blame the Palestinians for the failure of another attempt to get negotiations going. This is, in fact, the oldest trick in Zionism’s book. It was Ben-Gurion who invented it. Offer the Arabs something you know they can’t accept and then blame them when they don’t. (Two days after announcing that he was formulating a new peace initiative, at a press conference after his meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in Jerusalem, Netanyahu rehearsed his blame the Palestinians intention. He that it was Israel which was willing to take “many steps to promote peace and make compromises.” He added: “The Palestinians are the ones refusing to take similar steps, instead preferring to take advantage of the international community’s Pavlovian reflex in their favor.”)
It’s possible that a marketing exercise by Netanyahu will buy him and the Zionist colonial enterprise time, but in the longer term it’s unlikely to halt and then reverse the rising tide of anti-Israelism. Beyond the short term it could even be counter-productive (as almost everything Zionism does is) and reinforce the notion of Israel as a pariah state.
Is it possible that a global perception of them as citizens of a pariah state and the possibility of real sanctions will alarm enough Israeli Jews to the point where they will take to the streets in significant numbers to demand that their leaders be serious about peace on terms virtually all Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept?
I don’t pretend to know the answer to this question but for the sake of discussion I think it is worth asking.
Alan Hart is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent. He is author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.