The Israeli Peace Camp's Yom Kippur

To hardcore leftist ideologues, the brave prime ministers are Sharon and Olmert, who promised their constituents one thing, but betrayed them and carried out a completely opposite policy

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President Clinton presiding over the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
President Clinton presiding over the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.Credit: AP
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

The more the “peace camp” pursues peace, the more peace escapes it. Although reality continuously proves it wrong, it continues to deny the futility of the pursuit. Anyone with eyes in his head can see the Palestinians don’t want to and cannot make peace. And the peace camp? Continues to strut, like in the Oslo days, brazenly, obstinately, stern-faced and light-headed; just like in the days when it was in power and made the moves steeped in denial and deceit that ended in rivers of blood and bereavement.

A clear example of this denial is the camp’s almost completely ignoring Professor Shlomo Ben Ami’s statements in Ma’ariv’s New Year edition. “People who throw out the slogan ‘end the occupation’ don’t know what they’re talking about,” he says. After a delay of many years he smashes paradigms he championed in the past and that still feed, due to their ideological emptiness, the leftist parties.

“I don’t accept the illusion that if the left were in power we’d reach a peace agreement. Our body is covered with wounds from that negotiation. The Palestinians failed and led (themselves as well) to the black hole we’re in.” These are the words of a man from the deep left, who looks directly, albeit partially, at reality. Let this be a point of information for most columnists in this newspaper, as well as in other leading media outlets, who place most – or all – of the blame for the absence of peace on Israel. (Bill Clinton, according to Ben Ami, said about Ehud Barak’s consent to hand over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians: “I’ve never met such a courageous man.”)

For Ben Ami, like for other hardcore leftist ideologues, the end justifies the means. To him the brave, revolutionary, important prime ministers are Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert and, to a certain extent, Menachem Begin (regarding the Sinai settlements) and Yitzhak Rabin (regarding the Golan Heights). They promised their constituents one thing, but betrayed them and carried out a completely opposite policy. As foreign minister, Ben Ami spearheaded the move to divide Jerusalem, hand over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians, return almost completely to the ‘67 lines and formulate a vague formula for the right of return, as long as it satisfied the Palestinians. In vain, of course. This is why, he says, Leah Rabin told him: If Yitzhak had known how far you’d gone, he would turn over in his grave.

Yasser Arafat, the darling of Israel’s leading journalists who fell captive to his charms and came to visit him – and of course of the statesmen who continued to support him even when buses and cafés exploded – “pushed everyone to the abyss. We came to negotiate on the final status arrangement assuming we were going to solve the ‘67 problems with compromise, and they came to solve ‘48 as well.”

I don’t applaud Ben Ami’s “audacity.” He says today, when the blood price is still being exacted, things that sober Israelis, and there were many of them, said and wrote in real time – while he and his colleagues continued on the wrong way, even when they were already confronted by the monumental deceit (“Oslo was the last thing that interested Arafat. I’d be surprised if he even read it”) of their partner to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ben Ami’s words are not, then – as they well should have been – a mea culpa; they are barely a quasi-confession. To his credit, those who ran with him – like Barak, Yossi Beilin, Olmert, Tzipi Livni and many others – don’t have the courage to let even this much cross their lips.