Taking Freud to Washington

Freud: Palestine has never given rise to anything except religions, holy lunacies and ambitious attempts to overcome the external world of the visible by means of the inner world of wishes.

On the long flight to Washington for his meeting with United States President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should take along Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi's book "Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable," in the Hebrew translation by Dan Daor. There he will discover that Sigmund Freud, whose 150th birthday is now being celebrated, wrote to Arnold Zweig, who lived in Palestine, that this place has never given rise to anything except religions, holy lunacies and ambitious attempts to overcome the external world of the visible by means of the inner world of wishes. This psycho-political diagnosis was written in May, 1932. It is also applicable in May, 2006.

Like his predecessor, the prime minister wants to overcome a visible conflict at home by means of wishes - aspirations of obtaining support from the outside world for a pretentious attempt that would postpone the solution to this violent conflict. Olmert is pinning his faith on an American leader whose voters are doubting the wisdom of his statesmanship, above all with respect to the Middle East. This is the same Bush who forced the Palestinians into elections that toppled the government into the hands of the Hamas, and is now condemning them to shortages in the foolish expectation that they will topple Hamas.

Even the submissive European representatives in the Quartet have declared a revolt against the president's people. They have opposed the continuation of the cruel siege on the territories and repulsed a first American attempt to release Israel from negotiations in favor of establishing facts on the ground. However, with congressional elections at the gate, the Jewish Christian lobby is storming the breach. Israeli guests who have been in Washington lately have been surprised by the strength of the administration's revulsion at any initiative to promote negotiations on a final-status agreement between Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

Justice Minister Haim Ramon, the main mover and shaker in matters of "convergence," already knows that "after they realize that at the moment, there is no partner for diplomatic negotiations on the Palestinian side," the religious parties in the coalition will support the prime minister's plan. Before that, he promised that by the end of 2008, "we will be standing on the border that marks Israel's permanent border." Moreover, Olmert has established a "convergence team," but has not bothered to establish a negotiating team. Whoever heard of a patient who invites his friends to his funeral even before he enters the operating room? Olmert, who in his "victory speech" urged Abu Mazen to reach an agreement, is contenting himself with "defensible borders." And who will decide whether those "defensible borders" include, for example, the city of Ariel, which is 25 kilometers distant from the Green Line (pre-Six Day War armistice line)? Israel and the United States, of course.

Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Amir Peretz dared to say something about the need to negotiate with Abu Mazen, and the Prime Minister's Bureau told the media that the defense minister is daydreaming. Peretz was insulted, Olmert issued a correction and the Volvo cavalcade went back to routine. At almost the same moment, Hamas and Fatah were about to agree on policy guidelines. The leaders of the prisoners - a group whose importance can hardly be exaggerated, headed by Marwan Barghouti of Fatah and Abed al-Haleq al-Natsche of Hamas - have signed a document that lays the foundations for a strategic understanding between the leading organizations. The document grants power of attorney to Abu Mazen to conduct negotiations with Israel until an agreement is reached, and then to present it to the Palestine Liberation Organization's National Council or put it up for a referendum.

Here you have it: That same "plucked fowl" who is clinging with all his might to the diplomatic option is receiving a blessing for the road from prisoner for life Marwan Barghouti, whose power no one denies. That same "broken reed" who obtained an agreement to stop the terror attacks from Hamas is getting a document from Hamas prisoners that affords a chance, perhaps a last chance, for a two-state solution. If Israel looks away, as it did following the important declaration by the Arab League, we will yet be fondly missing Ismail Haniyeh. If we insist on adding to our collection of holy lunacies the wish "to take our fate into our own hands" and continue the occupation, we should not be surprised when the occupied take our fate into their hands.