In honor of the 25th anniversary of the first Oslo accord, my Haaretz colleague Israel Harel sarcastically asks: “Is it not important to reconstruct the outbursts of joy on that day?”
“I sense no special excitement,” he adds, having trouble concealing his schadenfreude. “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?” Harel suggests with the same famous “good faith” regarding West Bank outposts that received legal backing last week.
“Was it not his murderousness,” he concludes, “that fanned the great protest movement against the Oslo Accords and their architects, up to the tragic end?” A bit of sanctimonious hypocrisy.
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What an eye-roller! As if Israel didn’t have at the time – and still didn’t have – a rejectionist movement to dividing the land that has no connection to Palestinian terror, but rather is backed by a messianic theology and which operates with no legal or moral restraints.
As if it weren’t actually a Jewish terrorist, Baruch Goldstein, who slaughtered dozens of Palestinians at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, who ignited the chain of revenge attacks. As if it were Yasser Arafat who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, rather than a Jewish terrorist who was a product of the messianists of the whole Land of Israel.
Harel challenges the media to republish the moving texts and pictures that accompanied the signing ceremony. How wise he is after the fact – the fact of Rabin’s murder, of course. Would this expert of yesterday recommend reprinting the issues of November 5, 1995, and all the pictures of the criminal incitement that preceded the murder – incitement that was proudly presided over by then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu? Opposition that murdered and then inherited the government?
Harel protests unfairness. “Then, in the days of ecstasy, you allowed no criticism to be voiced,” he writes. Nonsense. We lived through the shrieking opposition to Oslo, the demonstrations, the incitement.
The ones who aren’t being fair about Oslo are Harel and the right. First, because they ignore the decisive role played by the Jewish rejectionist opposition in thwarting Oslo through its settlement arm, its propaganda arm (challenging the Rabin government’s authority to divide the land, the Jewish legal principle of din rodef that permits killing someone who intends to kill you) and its military arm (Goldstein and Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir).
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Second, because of the decisiveness with which rightists, of all people, call Oslo a failure. As if we weren’t living to this day in a reality shaped by Oslo. As if the right had actually done anything since Oslo (the work of the Labor Party) and the Gaza pullout (the work of the Kadima party).
The right doesn’t have so much as a single line in the diplomatic record. What has it built other than real estate and bypass roads on stolen land? Let them show me one bridge of peace, one bit of infrastructure for coexistence.
The political camp that inherited Oslo, including Netanyahu, has been nourished by its fruits: The army is out of Gaza and largely out of West Bank cities, the Palestinians are running their own affairs, and there’s security coordination. That’s also how they’ll exit – without leaving behind even a single diplomatic asset as a legacy.
Netanyahu complains about the Palestinians’ incitement, their refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and their insistence on a right of return for refugees. Look who’s talking; it takes one to know one. He is the inciter, he denies Palestinian nationhood, and the right is plotting to keep the entire land.
Diverting the discussion to the right of return serves peace rejectionists like him who want to divert the discussion from 1967 to 1948 in order to reduce the conflict ad absurdum. As if there were a real demand for Jews to vacate the land. Netanyahu is an expert in false constructions, propagandistic manipulations and political marketing, all aimed at postponing the end, out of a pathological stinginess.
Harel’s hubris – like the fact that the term “Oslo criminals” referring to Rabin and Shimon Peres has taken root among Israel’s leaders – reflects the fact that in their view, Rabin’s murder was a step in the right direction for history.