Israel needs to challenge the
December 10, 2001
"We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied
by Israel in the 1967 War as occupied Palestinian territory."
(Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the UN, March 1994)
The aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Haifa on
the 1st and 2nd of December made it absolutely clear that Israel has still
not made a strategic decision to achieve peace. This became obvious during
an interview with Dr. Dore Gold conducted by a CNN correspondent a few minutes
before Ariel Sharon emerged from his meeting with President George W. Bush.
Dr. Gold, one of Sharon's advisors, was asked something about the "occupation
of the West Bank" and the "expansion of settlements." Actually it does not
matter much what the question was. What matters is the response, in which
Dr. Gold sidestepped the issue of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) and Jewish
settlement in it altogether, and limited his answer to a general declaration
about Arafat not fighting terror. And it is that response that made it obvious
that Israel is not ready for peace. It is important to note that Dore Gold
is extremely well-versed in the topic he was asked about. He has written
abundantly on the subject of the legitimacy of Jewish settlement in Yesha.
He obviously knows that from a legal standpoint the term "occupied territories"
pertaining to these areas of Israel is inapplicable when used to describe
those primordial Jewish lands. Therefore one could have expected a lesson
in history and jurisprudence from him in response to the "loaded" question.
However, he preferred to be politically correct and did not even try to challenge
the ignorance of the CNN correspondent.
It is time to stop pretending that we do not know what the quarrel is between
the Jews and the Arabs. It is about The Land. Certainly it is about Israel's
existence and security too. But if Israel does not have the Land, there is
no reason to talk about her existence at all. Without the Land the Jewish
state vanishes, disappears. This is why the Arab world is putting so much
pressure on the issue of another Palestinian state. If it succeeds in creating
it, it takes away more land from the Jewish state. The smaller the Jewish
state is, the more easily it can be destroyed.
The Arab world does not care about the so called "Palestinian people." To
the leaders of the Arab world, Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Hizbullah, the "Palestinian
people," etc. are nothing more than a weapon that they use in their war against
the Jewish state. They do not need and do not want the presence of the Jewish
state in the Middle East. Perhaps they are ready to tolerate the presence
of some Jews as dhimmi (the term for a second-class "nonbeliever"), but not
the state itself. They see the Jewish state as a "dagger in the heart of
the Arab nation." In their minds Israel has stolen a piece of Arab property.
Therefore not even a thousand "peace processes" will change their perception.
This is precisely the reason why all Arab leaders or spokesmen during the
course of any interview, meeting, or conversation use the words "occupation,"
"occupied lands" and their derivatives in conjunction with Israel as much
as possible. They are not afraid to abuse these words. On the contrary, they
know very well that the more frequently such terms are repeated, the more
permanently they become engraved in people's minds. The leaders of the
Palestinian Arabs had a ready answer to any questions asked by interviewers
in the wake of the Jerusalem/Haifa massacres. It was all Israel's fault because
of the Israeli "occupation," because of construction in the "occupied
territories," and because the Palestinian Arabs are "people living under
occupation." True, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the course of the 50 (!) interviews
that he gave in those two days, did state several times that it is a lie
to say that the Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are living "under
occupation" since 99% of them live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority.
However, even he did not cringe and did not demand from the interviewer that
the word "occupation" not be used.
The efforts of the Jewish state to win the hearts of the world community
are completely in vain as long as it allows itself to be tagged with the
word "occupier." Arafat's spokesmen will always have the sympathetic ear
of civilized mankind, as long as Israel does not challenge the word "occupation."
Thus far Israel's shyness on the matter makes her an accomplice in her own
demise. Just look at the absolutely disastrous performance (from this standpoint)
of Alon Pinkas, Israeli consul general in New York, talking with Larry King
on November 10, when his opponent was Hanan Ashrawi, one of the most virulently
Jew-hating Arab spokespeople.
In the course of the short debate, she mentioned the "O" word and its derivatives
not less than 9 times, repeating non-stop that "occupation is the problem."
She talked about Jewish settlements on the "Palestinian territories" and
the "Palestinian land." And Pinkas was not only unable to challenge her,
but what is far worse, added legitimacy to her words when he said, "One hundred
percent justice is unattainable. Not for us, not for the Palestinians. This
has nothing do with occupation, Larry. We think that occupation is wrong.
That is why we seek to end it." Later in the debate he said that "until 1967
there was no occupation," thus obviously implying that since 1967, "there
When the Israeli consul general announces to everyone watching CNN that the
"occupation is wrong" and this is why Israel "seeks to end it" why should
anybody be surprised that the whole world blames Israel? After Pinkas's
acceptance of Israel's "occupation guilt" nobody will question Ashrawi's
statement: "The real issue is that if you want peace, you have to give back
that which does not belong to you. The land that Israel has to give back
to the Palestinians is 22 percent of historical Palestine, and on that basis,
this is a major historical compromise." Let us pause for a moment. Ashrawi
said "compromise" a favorite word of the western world. She asks "only" for
"22% of historical Palestine."
Especially impressive is the way she chooses the words. She is not saying
that another Palestinian state must be built on 22% of "historical Palestine."
She says that Israel must "give back" this land to the Arabs, well aware
that virtually no one will notice that her declaration calls for Israel's
destruction. Because what she really means is that after Israel succumbs
to the establishment of another Palestinian Arab state in the complete
territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which constitute approximately 5%
of historical Palestine, the Jews will still "owe" to the Palestinian Arabs
the remainder of "22% of historical Palestine" - i.e. all of the territory
of the state of Israel.
The Jewish state made a terrible blunder by allowing politicians and journalists
all over the world, including the representatives of the Jewish state itself,
to use the term "occupied territories" in conjunction with Yesha. Putting
aside dozens of valid arguments proving that this term is inappropriate,
it is enough only to mention that Stephen Schwebel, former head of the
International Court of Justice at the Hague, wrote in the American Journal
of International Law in May 1970,
"...as between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand
and her Arab neighbors acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967 on the other,
Israel has better title to the territory of what was Palestine, including
the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt."
If even Jordan and Egypt have less right than Israel to ownership of Judea,
Samaria and Gaza, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in this dispute with Israel
has no chances at all. The PA existed neither in 1948 nor in 1967. It cannot
be considered "a legitimate sovereign that was ousted" from Judea, Samaria
and Gaza. Under international law, it is exactly this condition of "legitimate
sovereignty" that defines the applicability of the term "occupied" to a certain
The Israeli architects of Oslo framed their agreements with the PA based
on the Camp David autonomy provisions. It appears that they completely
misconstrued not only the spirit but the letter of Israeli policy at that
time. It was more than unambiguously presented in the Israeli Government
Fundamental Guidelines, unveiled on August 5 1981 and, which stated,
"The autonomy agreed upon at Camp David means neither sovereignty nor
self-determination [for the Palestinian Arabs]. The autonomy agreements set
down at Camp David are GUARANTEES that under no conditions will a Palestinian
state emerge in the territory of western "Eretz Yisrael. At the end of transition
period, set down in the Camp David agreements, Israel will raise it claim,
and act to realize its right of sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Gaza
The time is long overdue for the Jewish state to realize its inalienable
right of sovereignty over Yesha. It must make the strategic decision to achieve
peace, and the first step in this direction is to vehemently oppose anybody's
attempts to label the lands of Yesha as "occupied" territories. The Israeli
government must unequivocally declare that it will see as provocative any
usage by any official representative of any country of the adjective "occupied"
or its derivatives in relation to Yesha. Israel must make it absolutely clear
that she will view such incidents as contributing toward the deterioration
of relations between that country and the Jewish state.
The second step in Israel's strategy for peace will follow naturally. It
must annex the lands of Yesha. And after the declaration of annexation, a
third step must be carried out. The Israeli forces should return to Yesha
and mercilessly destroy Arafat's regime. As Michael Ledeen put it in the
"National Review" on December 7, "If you win, they will always judge your
means to have been appropriate. Once we've won, they will sing our praises.
But if we start to show kindness, generosity and compassion too soon, they
will interpret it as weakness, and strike again."
Let us replace the word "Americans" with the word "Israelis" and declare
loudly together with Ledeen:
"We need to sustain our game face, we must keep our fangs bared, we must
remind them daily that we Israelis are in a rage, and we will not rest until
we have avenged our dead, we will not be sated until we have had the blood
of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of
every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away."
Only then it will become clear that Israel made a strategic decision to achieve
peace, since there can be no peace without total victory over the enemy.