After eight long years of internal upheavals, including a assassination that tore the heart out of the country; after thousands and thousands of terrorist attacks that left hundreds of Israeli citizens dead, and thousands more injured, the Israeli government has issued a statement saying: “Yasir Arafat is no longer relevant.”
If the week that statement was made had not been so blood-soaked, it might almost have been laughable.
The assumption in which the entire Oslo Process began and operated, and continues to confuse the minds of a small, but significant minority, of Israelis, has been declared to be false.
The truth is: Arafat was never relevant, was never a partner to any process whose goal was peace and coexistence. Not now. Not then. Not ever.
And thus, the question that begs to be asked is this: What shall be done with those leaders who led the nation into this nightmarish swamp of murderous quicksand that swallowed so many of our young people, pulled down our tourist industry and our once-booming economy; that covered our national face with the filthy mud of propaganda lies, sapping our national confidence, our strength, our sense of national self-worth?
“Oslo Criminals to Judgment,” has long been a slogan of the far right, a bumper sticker phrase found in Nadia Matar country. But now that the failure of the Oslo Process has been acknowledged among all but the terminally delusional and those evangelical mystics of the hard-core left, (many of whom work for the Haaretz newspaper and continue to feed the foreign press) as well as Israel’s Foreign Ministry., I think the average citizen has the right to ask: What, in heaven’s name, was this whole thing all about?
I remember that memorable broadcast from the White House lawn. The forced handshake between Rabin and Yasir Arafat, embraced in the insistent arms of the movie-star handsome American president, who we were convinced loved us. And perhaps he did. After all, he loved his wife too. That didn’t stop him from betraying her again, and again and again.
I remember that nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach, the feeling that this was terribly wrong. That it was something I didn’t want to watch, a sickening betrayal. My children, especially my army-bound son, was angry at my lack of enthusiasm. “You’d rather send me into unnecessary battles?” he accused.
This shut me up. In general, the evangelical fervor of the “peace now” activists with their iron clad and ready answers to all criticism, branding all those opposed to them war-mongers, delegitamized valid concerns over the swiftness in which the “new concept” of terrorists as peace partners had been made. You were either for Oslo, or for war. “Don’t you want peace?” people who questioned giving out guns to the newly formed “Palestinian Police Force” made up of former members of terrorist cells, were asked accusingly. “Yes, there are risks,” the “peace” people would admit in their rare rational moments, “but Israel is strong. If it doesn’t work out, we can always move back into the West Bank and Gaza.”
Yes, they said. It was all reversible. Like those coats which were all the same, even if you wore them inside out.
The appeal was irresistible, and the Oslo proponents knew it. They dangled “Oslo peace” in front of a war-weary nation like a bottle of snake oil that could miraculously cure all problems, especially the insoluble ones, like the simple fact that the PLO refused to remove the destruction of Israel from their written charter.
But that didn’t bother Mr. Peres. Or Mr. Beilin. Or Yossi Sarid. It didn’t bother the members of Meretz, or members of the Labor Party like Chaim Ramon.
Some will say: No harm done. They tried. It didn’t work. You can’t punish a man for trying.
In her book, My Three Lives, survivor Gizel Berman writes of the train pulling into Auschwitz:: “Just beyond the platform was a charming white cottage with potted geraniums on the windowsill. Above it, a large sign proclaimed: Welcome to Auschwitz. Work Makes Free.”
What was the purpose of that cottage, that sign? Simply to confuse those about to disembark. To drain their will to protest, their natural instincts of self-preservation, by creating a comforting lie in which they desperately wanted to believe. In doing so, it drained their strength, making them weak and unready for the life and death struggle ahead. Making them easy prey.
Those that led us into the quagmire of Oslo, Mr. Peres, Mr. Beilin, and many, many others, did the same to the Jewish people in the land of Israel. It is a crime for which no court can punish them, and one for which they will never be forgiven. It is now time for all of them to leave the stage of public life to a richly-earned obscurity. They will no doubt spend the rest of their lives re-writing history to make themselves more attractive. But we, who have seen Arafat’s true face , won’t be reading what they have to say any time soon.