(Continued from p.6)
Internal and external constraints are not as
distinct as they may appear. U.S. (and European)
attitudes account for much of the group-think of
Israel's opinion-shapers, for journalists and culturally
attuned elites in Israel have as their reference group their
counterparts abroad whose approval they seek. When
the general public is polled, there is a curious--and
large--gap between the (high) proportion that says it
favors the peace process and the (much lower) proportion
that believes peace lies at the end of it. A substantial
proportion of Israelis are seemingly in favor of
something they do not believe has any hope of working. This
suggests a strong possibility that a factor not tapped by
the pollster accounts for the discrepancy--the public's sense that there is no use fighting international pressures and Israel had best get on with the inevitable.
The interaction of pressures works the other way as well: seeing how divided Israelis are, the Clinton administration is encouraged to step up the pressure. Netanyahu cannot even count on his own coalition. The "intellectually challenged" Third Way Party, created to ensure the Golan Heights remains part of Israel, presumably calculates that giving up Judea and Samaria will cement Israel's control over the Golan and keeps threatening to resign if Netanyahu does not follow American dictates.
But pressure is only part of the story. The other word explaining Netanyahu is "character." No Churchill he. Can one imagine Churchill concluding the majority of the British people wanted peace so he would have to tell them to keep appeasing Hitler until such time as Nazi forces actually crossed the channel? Netanyahu has intelligence, drive, ambition, energy, a thorough grasp of the realities in the region--but he lacks the character that alone can give value to his abilities. Afraid to lose public support if he speaks the truth, Netanyahu backs and fills, equivocates and prevaricates. His policies used to be called "Oslo-lite" but Netanyahu might better be called "Oslo-with-a-frown," in contrast to "Oslo-with-a-happy face" typified by the ineffable Shimon.
Yet what can be said of a leader who follows policies he knows will lead to the destruction of the state he heads? Netanyahu would doubtless say that with Labor at the helm, retreats would come more quickly and that may well be so. But the price of retreats a few months later than Labor is far higher than the small time lag is worth: it is the loss of a large principled opposition, the loss of morale, the loss of all hope.
Rael Jean Isaac is editor of Outpost.
"The Western Wall is Not Jewish"
(Excerpts from an interview with Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, the official Palestinian Authority Mufti [senior Muslim cleric] who was appointed to his position by Yasser Arafat, in an interview with the Israeli weekly Makor Rishon, May 22, 1998.)
Q: In your opinion, is there room for coexistence between Arabs and Jews on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem?
Sabri: Moslems have no knowledge or awareness
that the Temple Mount has any sanctity for Jews
why should we allow the Jews to share in places
which are holy to us and to Islam? for 600 years, the
Moslems ruled the land, since the Caliph Omar, and only
Since 1967, the Israelis have dug and searched for proof that the site is holy to them, but they have not found any sign of the existence of a Temple or a Jewish community at the site. For us, the Moslems, the place is holy and was always such. I heard that your Temple was in Nablus or perhaps Bethlehem.
(Courtesy of the Israel Government Press Office.)
July-August 1998 - 7 - Outpost