Tango of the Blind

Since the disappointment of Camp David 2000, we have been hit by an epidemic of blindness of political leaders on the right, which has not passed by some members of the 'peace camp' and the leaders of the security establishment (until they retire).

How typical it is that the name of Libya was missing from the hundreds of headlines produced by the oh-so prestigious conference on the "Balance of Israel's Security" and the dozens of politicians and experts that swooped down on Herzliya. The preoccupation with terror and weapons of mass destruction that threaten Israel masked any signs of positive change going on right under our noses.

Who even bothered to note that Muammar Gaddafi was one of the Arab leaders that last year supported the important decision made at the Beirut conference of the Arab League? Who mentioned the statement by the Jordanian foreign minister, Dr. Marwan Muasher, who recently said that he has learned that Libya belongs to the countries that continue to adhere to that decision?

Gaddafi's son, Sayf al-Islam, recently had no problem meeting Knesset members, officials and academics from Jerusalem. He told them that Israel had missed the opportunity for a two-state solution and would have to live in peace with the Palestinians in a bi-national state. Who bothers to remember that in April 2002, the Arab League recognized Israel's right to live in peace and security within the 1967 borders, as determined in UN Resolution 242? Who cares what the Arabs say about the Geneva Accord and the Nusseiba-Ayalon document?

Those who look at the world with only one eye - the one peering down a rifle sight - are unable to see what's happening all around them. What would we say of a director of the Iraq desk in Military Intelligence who in a survey of the situation in Iraq analyzed the positions of the Sunnis and Kurds while ignoring the existence of the Shiites? Why is it that when "our" conflict is involved, there is only one side whose views are wise and just, and another side whose views are irrelevant?

Since the disappointment of Camp David 2000, we have been hit by an epidemic of blindness of political leaders on the right, which has not passed by some members of the "peace camp" and the leaders of the security establishment (until they retire). Because this attitude is not unique to Israelis, for the sake of illustration we can make use of examples from our neighbors.

Imagine a situation in which the Palestinian Authority security advisor, Jibril Rajoub, were to be the guest of a conference on Palestinian national strength at Bir Zeit University. There he would talk about the dozens of settlements Israel has established since it signed the Oslo agreements in September 1993, the doubling of the number of settlers, the confiscation of land, the barriers and assassinations. He would mention the murder of the 29 Palestinians in the mosque in Hebron in February 1994, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's repeated violations of the agreement and Ehud Barak's repeated postponement of its implementation.

What would we say if the senior security official were to descend from the stage to the audience's resounding applause, without even hinting at the existence of the violent intifada, the suicide attacks and incitement? The status reports of those wearing uniforms pave the path of the politicians into the hearts of the public. If, as Avi Dichter says, the Palestinian Authority is a gang of terrorists that deceived the architects of the Oslo agreements, the words of the prime minister and his deputy, who are preparing the public for unilateral disengagement along the route they have chosen, should be taken seriously.

If Arafat and his cohorts will indeed not let go until they have drowned every last one of us in the sea - as Amos Gilad asserts - Sharon is to be praised for being "willing to give them" about half of the territory and even to provide the new "state" with free fences. Missing from the podium at the Herzliya conference were the experts in assessment from the security establishment and the universities that monitor the situation with two eyes. They would undoubtedly report that it is true that there is no Palestinian leader wiling to start a civil war in order to conduct negotiations (in the best-case scenario) over an isolated enclave that does not include Greater Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley or the Ariel bloc.

Those whose eyes are not on the politicians would be able to tell us that most of the members of the Arab League, from Libya to Saudi Arabia, are willing to recognize the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination, peace and security.