Text size

Rehavam Ze'evi is the only politician left in Israel whose lips and heart are in the same place. In every newspaper interview, after he proposes that Israel hit harder at the Palestinians, he reiterates that the army does not have the perfect response to the violent conflict. Any solution, says Tourism Minister Ze'evi, has to be based on the fundamental realization that "there is no room in the Land of Israel for two peoples." It goes without saying that by this, Ze'evi means the Greater Land of Israel. Perhaps the attempt to recycle the foolish "Zionism is Racism" formula in Durban will exorcise the idea of transfer from the minds of sane Jews.

Fortunately, there are (thus far?) only a few cars traveling Israeli roads with bumper and window stickers bearing the racist slogan, "No Arabs - No terror;" not that all that many people would go into mourning if the Palestinians (on both sides of the Green Line) agreed to pack their bags and register for "voluntary transfer" at Ze'evi's Ministry of Tourism. But by now most Israelis realize that the neighbors have no plans to move.

Like the Israeli media, the Palestinian communications channels have also been reporting a resurgent interest in attaining immigration visas for the West. "So many of the more educated Palestinians are leaving the country," says B.K., a Christian Palestinian woman who lives in East Jerusalem. She recently returned home after spending seven years pursuing academic studies in Europe. "What is left is a teeming Muslim population that is becoming more extreme and more poor by the day. From your point of view, you should act, as the degradation of Palestinians and their rights is going to make Israel's worst nightmare come true. But it doesn't have to be like this," B.K. says.

She adds that although her father was a refugee twice - in 1948 and in 1967 - all she wants is to live her life in a state based on the 1967 borders. She concludes her statement with the following chilling warning: "We want to be free of Israel once and for all; and we are not afraid to die, as this life in prison camps is not a life anyway."

It is bizarre that a leadership that was raised on the ethos, "It's good to die for our country," is now pushing its neighbors to adopt the same. Ze'ev Jabotinsky named his movement Beitar, an acronym of the Hebrew words Brit (the alliance of) Yosef Trumpeldor, after the man was said to have uttered these words with his dying breath. To this day, Israelis continue to visit his gravesite and learn about his tale of heroism in school. Amos Carmel's new lexicon, "It's All Political," states that Trumpeldor was a "revered figure of both the Labor movement and the Revisionists."

It is also bizarre that a society that only 53 years ago was prepared to sacrifice one percent of its sons in a war of liberation is now pushing its neighbors into the same corner. Based on the same ratio, Israel will have to wipe out 30,000 Palestinians before they achieve their independence. It goes without saying that Israel will also bury numerous dead in such a war.

The next entry in the lexicon happens to be tarud (a state of harassment), which is defined as the "systematic and unrestricted use of intimidation, violence and killing to attain political objectives. It is meant to undermine the self-confidence of the side under attack, to harm its emotional strength and weaken its endurance."

Anyone who believes that the political objective the Palestinians wish to attain through terrorism is to throw us into the sea,¼ has no choice but to declare them the "enemy" and subdue them by force, violent though it may be. So long as the Sharon-Peres-Ze'evi government has not voided the Oslo accords, the Palestine Liberation Organization continues to be Israel's negotiation partner in a diplomatic settlement.

The only Zionist-diplomatic arrangement that can save the Palestinians from a war of no choice, and Israel from its bitter outcome, is a partitioning of the land between the two peoples. Logically, it seems that we will have to contend with acts of terrorism perpetrated by those who reject compromise - on either side - even after the partition agreement.

Experience and opinion polls indicate that the mainstream of both societies is fed up with biting its fingernails while awaiting its respective children's arrival home from school. Nevertheless, until the Israeli leadership finds a way to assure our neighbors that their children will grow up as free persons, our neighbors will keep on telling their children that it is good to die - and to kill - for their country.