It's Time to Junk Oslo
Abba Eban, hardly a right-wing hardliner, once famously referred to the 1967 borders between Israel and its Arab neighbors as "Auschwitz borders." With Israel confined to those borders (at one point less than 10 miles wide), the Arabs controlled the mountain ranges that dominate all of Israel's population centers as well as the region's water supplies. Thankfully, Israel has not agreed to return to the Auschwitz borders.
But twenty years ago, Israel did agree to what I shall call the "Oslo Final Solution." In an act of monumental stupidity, Israel invited the PLO and its genocidal wannabe leader, Yasser Arafat, to set up shop in the so-called West Bank as a prelude to ceding the area to him. In effect, Israel was agreeing to eventually return to the Auschwitz borders.
Events since the infamous handshake on the White House Lawn (between Arafat and Rabin) have demonstrated conclusively that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria (the biblical names for the West Bank area) would indeed represent an enormous, and likely irreversible, step toward the Arab-envisioned final solution to the Arab-Israel conflict -- namely, the destruction of the Jewish State. The Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza have resulted in enhanced Arab aggression and intransigence and provide an unmistakable model for the horror that would rain down on Israel should Fatah/Hamas take control of Judea and Samaria.
Despite the self-evidence of this assessment, Israeli leaders continue to pursue the chimera of a "two-state solution." Several (but especially Barak and Olmert) have offered the Palestinian Arabs virtually all that they might have expected under the Oslo accords. But in their blind hatred for the Jewish State, in their revealing lack of interest in setting up a new state of their own, and in their undying expectation that the Jewish state cannot hold out indefinitely, they have spurned the offers and continued to pine for the great Götterdämmerung that they expect must inevitably occur.
It is time for Israeli leaders -- indeed, for the whole nation -- to recognize the futility of Oslo, declare it a dead letter, and pursue a completely different path. It is time for Israelis to recognize reality, stop acting like they lost all the wars that they have won, and initiate a new strategy.
Toward what goal? Well, the goal depends on the aspirant:
- The Arab/Muslim world seeks the destruction of Israel and the diminution (by death, expulsion, and dhimmitude) of the Jewish population in "Palestine."
- People in non-Middle Eastern nations friendly to Israel -- e.g., the United States -- would like to see a bona fide peace agreement between Israel and the Arabs, followed by mutual trust, normal relations, and prosperity for both.
- Most of the rest of the non-Muslim world feels a distinct distaste for Israel -- ranging from blatant anti-Semitism to misguided appropriation of blame -- and would be content to see Israel vanish from the scene if it would bring calm to the region.
- Israel and most of world Jewry want the nation to experience freedom, prosperity, a robust civil society, and a vibrant Jewish life. It would be preferable if all of that were to occur in the context of peace with Israel's neighbors. But if not, these goals far outweigh the desire for tranquil relations with neighbors. Israel has proven that it can create and sustain a successful society, even while it remains at war. If the Arabs refuse to make peace, so be it. Israel's primary goals remain.
Nothing I can say will dissuade the Arab/Muslim world from its genocidal intentions toward Israel. And sad to say, history has shown that no non-suicidal Jewish/Israeli policy will appease its non-Muslim opponents. History also reveals that while much of Israeli policy is motivated by its desire to please its friends around the world, the results have often endangered the State.
So what are Israel's options? It can continue to perform the same ridiculous Oslo dance that it has choreographed for the last twenty years. It should be evident that such a course of action is pointless, fruitless, and dangerous. Israel could also "surrender" -- i.e., unilaterally withdraw from Judea and Samaria. Anyone who believes that this would not be a suicidal act is hopelessly naïve. What Israel should do is abrogate Oslo, cite its right to do so because the Palestinians have repeatedly and flagrantly violated their obligations under the accords, and declare itself sovereign in Judea and Samaria.
Now, Israel can do this in two ways: (i) offer all the Arab residents Israeli citizenship or (ii) not. Either way, Israel will be condemned and vilified, and its incorporation of the disputed territories will not be recognized internationally. But consider the Golan Heights. Israel annexed it thirty years ago and met with the exact same kind of reaction. But today -- especially in light of events in Syria in the last two years -- who doesn't doubt the wisdom of the move? The Golan is part of Israel, and soon the world will recognize it as a fait accompli -- if it doesn't already. It may take fifty years, but the world will eventually accept the new borders of Israel when Israel finally recognizes its only sensible course of action.
The choice on Arab citizenship is tricky. The temptation is to allow the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria to keep their Jordanian passports and not offer them Israeli citizenship. To do that will lend credence to the current but bogus charge that Israel is an "apartheid state." To have more than 20% of a population as permanent resident aliens is not a tidy state of affairs. But, critics argue, the alternative course is far worse. Granting citizenship would render Israel two thirds Jewish and one third Arab. Moreover, the balance would shift to 50-50 or worse within a generation. It would then be impossible to retain the Jewish character of the state, or else Israel would truly become a state in which a near or actual majority is deemed second-class citizens.
But here's the place where conventional wisdom is wrong. The demographics have shifted dramatically in the last generation. The Arab fertility rate has plummeted (from approximately 9 children to roughly 3.5), and the Jewish rate has grown steadily (to slightly over 3) -- to the point that the rates are virtually equal. Moreover, the trend continues, and so even with annexation and citizenship, the breakdown might be more like 75/25 in a generation.
Well one could argue that even a 25% Arab minority -- with or without full rights -- poses a threat to the Jewish character of the nation. Perhaps. But that is the issue that should be debated -- not which minuscule pieces of land should be swapped in a fictitious peace agreement between Israel and Fatah that is never going to happen.
Israel needs to break out of the grip of the Oslo Final Solution. If the Jewish nation would openly and seriously contemplate and debate the application of Israeli law to Judea and Samaria, then the grip would be broken. Only then might the Arab world consider accepting the existence of a Jewish state in its midst and abandon its homicidal dream of absorbing or obliterating it.