Justice is on our side. Now what?

By Vic Rosenthal

Finally the Israeli government shows some backbone:

Israel, which in recent months said it wanted to hold “political horizon” talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, reversed gears on Sunday and declared that it would only talk to him about security or humanitarian issues.

The upshot of the cabinet resolution that defined Israeli policy toward the new PA government, a senior government source confirmed Sunday night, was that the “political horizon” idea that was meant to strengthen moderate Palestinians by showing what they had to gain by rejecting Hamas’s extreme positions, was now no longer relevant…

The resolution also stated Israel was now limited in what it could discuss with Abbas, as a result of the new PA government guidelines that see terrorism as a legitimate right, accept previous agreements with Israel only “in accordance with Palestinian interests” and call for any future agreement to be approved by the Palestinian National Council and the Palestinian Diaspora. — Jerusalem Post

This PA unity government has finally made clear that there is no desire for peace on the Arab side except on their terms — in other words, surrender (as exemplified by the Saudi initiative). The long Oslo detour through which we were led by the lies of Yasser Arafat is now finally, irrevocably over.

It seems to me that the mainstream Arab leadership has barely deviated from its original position, exemplified by the “three no’s” of the Khartoum conference in 1967: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it. The Hebrew expression for ‘negotiations’ is “masa umatan”, giving and taking. Now the Hamas-led PA has made it clear that they will negotiate, but only to take.

The rest of the world is beginning to respond. Norway has recognized the PA. The US has said that it will not talk to the PA until it meets the four conditions of the roadmap: recognition of Israel, ending terrorism, and accepting prior agreements (e.g. the Oslo declaration). The closest it has come to any of these is a pledge to ‘respect’ prior agreements. However, it’s likely that the US will talk to non-Hamas members of the government, such as Abbas, and the EU and others will probably go further. It’s pretty certain that international funds will resume flowing, in some way or other.

But now what? Israel’s long-term options are not clear at this point. For now, she will have to continue to try to find a way to suppress terrorism (today, while the government was deciding how to treat the PA, five Kassam rockets fell near Ashkelon), and she will need to maintain deterrence against Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.

One of Israel’s greatest problems is that world opinion as a whole seems more and more to be accepting the Arab historical narrative. It seems to me that Israel has always assumed that historical truth puts justice on her side, and that anyone who doesn’t accept it is either an Arab enemy or a cynical consumer of Arab oil. But this is not true, and hasn’t been true since 1967. The Arab nations have waged a very sophisticated and effective campaign to change the generally accepted view of history to one in which the Arabs, not the Jews, are the victims whose grievance needs to be redressed. This campaign has been so effective that it has even converted some Israeli and Diaspora Jews to its point of view.

So I would add to Israel’s list of tasks in addition to military preparedness — necessary for survival in the short term — a massive academic, journalistic, and cultural endeavor to reverse this.

Is there time? Will the resources be available for such a long-term project (measured in decades, not years) when so many other things are more pressing? Can the intellectuals be found who will be able to accept the certain opprobrium that will initially fall on them? What kind of leadership could make this happen?

It has to be possible, because historical justice is on our side.

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