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Israel's Selective Memory on the Oslo Accords

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 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO head Yasser Arafat in the days of the Oslo Accords
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO head Yasser Arafat in the days of the Oslo AccordsCredit: Saar Yaacov / GPO

August 20 marked 25 years since the signing of mutual recognition between the Jewish national movement – the Zionist movement, and the Palestinian national movement – the PLO. The event, as far as I can gather, is almost never mentioned. Why? After all, this mutual recognition, which was signed in Oslo by Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, is a historic act of great significance – whether positive or negative – in every sense of the word.

And I sense no special excitement even in anticipation of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accord on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993. Is it not important to reconstruct the outbursts of joy on that day? Should we not focus on the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, the man who would betray him and destroy in the blood and fire of terror attacks the agreement that he had just signed with him? Was it not his murderousness – the man who was responsible for attacks like the one at Beit Lid and the No. 5 bus in Tel Aviv – that fanned the great protest movement against the Oslo Accords and their architects, up to the tragic end?

Has the atmosphere changed and do the editors of today hesitate to reprint the texts and the pictures? Don’t hesitate! Save the dignity of the press. Let Yedioth Ahronoth reprint the Illustration of the olive tree, the tree of peace and the dove, the dove of peace protecting it. Let Maariv reprint the illustration in which Arafat and Rabin together hold a poster wishing “Happy New Year.” That would certainly be an original way for the newspaper to wish its readers a happy Rosh Hashanah this year.

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Another tip: To be current, to connect Gaza then to Gaza today, I propose quoting Rabin’s words about the role he had for his loyal partner Arafat. The latter will be responsible for the internal problems of Gaza. He will deal with them “without the High Court of Justice, without B’Tselem and without the problems of all kinds of bleeding hearts, mothers and fathers and such.” Those are the words he used to explain to his party colleagues who were wondering why 40,000 Fatah men should be brought to Gaza and Jericho, and why they should be given Israel Defense Forces weapons – a move that proved to be daring leadership and original, far-sighted statesmanship.

Oslo Accords - 25 years on

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And here’s another idea: Consider, at least today, after 25 years, being a little fairer. Then, in the days of ecstasy, you allowed no criticism to be voiced against the self-deception in which you were imprisoned and which you led. Now, and just for the sake of professionalism, consider airing statements like those of Haggai Segal (today the editor of Makor Rishon) on Arutz Sheva, the only media outlet that came out against Oslo:

“Dear listeners, keep your newspapers from this week. Keep the red and blue headlines that announce the coming of the messiah, ... the mesmerizing columns from Tunis, the blurry musings of A.B. Yehoshua, the thanksgiving poems of Haim Hefer, ... the tears of Yoram Kaniuk and the self-congratulations of Uri Avnery ... If you throw them in the garbage can, your grandchildren will not believe a word you say about everything that was written and said on the occasion of that insane event taking place tomorrow in Washington. They will not be able to believe that such intelligent people, so experienced, were willing to do business with a creature like Arafat, and even to describe that business in terms of a vision of the End of Days.” Chilling.

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