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Jewish World Review
Dec. 4, 2003
/ 9 Kislev, 5764
A False Peace
The Geneva pact shows Israel's still treated as the 'Jew of the Nations'
It is always difficult to speak out against anything that is labeled as
pro-peace. After all, who in their right minds is against peace?
Not the people of Israel, who have been assailed by war and terror every
moment of their state's short life, and who have endured the last three years of a
Palestinian terrorist war.
And not American friends of Israel, who have watched every effort for peace
fail because of the unwillingness of the Palestinians to halt their violent
ways and accept Israel's legitimacy.
But that's what supporters of the "Geneva Initiative," now officially called
the Geneva accord, which was presented in an extravaganza this week say about
its detractors. Stamped with the approval of none other than former President
Jimmy Carter, former South African political prisoner Nelson Mandela and the
nations of the European Union, the new accord is being acclaimed as an
enlightened alternative to a "hard-line" Israeli government and a Bush
administration "biased towards Israel."
They say that the terms agreed to by the failed Israeli politicians and their
partners from the Palestinian Authority are the only formula for peace, and
that Israel must accept them as the starting point for new negotiations.
According to the editorial page of The New York Times, Geneva is "the right way to
go" and how the conflict "must end."
GETTING AROUND DEMOCRACY
The accord's authors and their cheerleaders in the international media are
also already labeling everyone who points out the shortcomings and the inherent
illegitimacy of this bizarre charade as "extremists" and foes of peace. But
the rhetoric of Geneva's advocates tells us a lot more about them than about
The main purpose here is an open attempt to circumvent Israeli democracy.
After all, those who claimed to represent the people of Israel at Geneva were
the same people who earlier this year asked Israelis to give them the power
to conduct the country's affairs.
In case you missed the results of those elections, here's an update: they
lost in a landslide, for the second time in two years. Indeed, the principle
Israeli architect of this affair, former Cabinet minister Yossi Beilin, couldn't
even get himself elected to the Knesset as a member of Israel's far-left Meretz
Party after being rejected by the members of mainstream left-wing Labor.
Beilin has as much right to represent Israel as Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan
have to represent the United States. But more important than the pretensions
of Beilin is the international community's desire for "regime change" in
This is the same group of world leaders and media outlets that have unfairly
denounced every instance of Israeli self-defense for decades, and that has
stood by silently as their vituperation helped fuel the fires of anti-Semitism in
The foreign governments who paid for the Geneva extravaganza Switzerland
and the European Union are impatient with Israel's refusal to break under the
pressure of Palestinian terror. They don't like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
who despite his acceptance of a Palestinian state, refuses to divide Jerusalem
or lessen Israel's vigilance against Palestinian terrorism.
It must be pointed out that no other country in the world not even the most
barbaric dictatorships, let alone a democratic country is treated in this
manner. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman,
put it succinctly when he told me that by singling out Israel in this manner,
the Geneva show winds up treating Israel as the "Jew of the nations." This
recourse to treating Israel as such a pariah that can be insulted at will can only
be understood in the context of a worldwide surge in anti-Semitism.
The tone and the content of the speeches at the Geneva ceremony told you all
you needed to know about it. From Carter and virtually every speaker, the
theme was the same: Israel's government, the presence of Jews in the territories
and the building of a security fence were spoken of as the only obstacles to
No one there criticized Yasser Arafat, who rejected peace terms that were
slightly less generous three years ago, and who launched a terrorist war instead.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak no friend of Sharon, who ousted in
him a landslide got to the heart of the matter when he termed Geneva "a
delusion" that was "rewarding terror."
He also had the bad manners to tell CNN that despite the declarations of
Beilin and Carter, the key issues of the right of the Palestinians to swamp Israel
with refugees and the Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which the
accord claimed to have solved, were, in fact, not resolved at Geneva.
But, having said all that, does the Geneva show really matter?
Unfortunately, the answer is "yes."
THE REAL OBSTACLE TO PEACE
The intentions of many of the Jewish supporters of this plan are undoubtedly
pure. They want peace for Israel, and they mistakenly imagine that Geneva will
But the intentions of some of the other Geneva backers, like Carter and the
Europeans who have helped popularize Israel-bashing, are not as defensible.
They hope American Jews will assist them in their effort to subvert Israel's
democracy. And whether you like Sharon or not, that is a cause Americans should
reject as inherently wrong.
Geneva's proponents claim it might push Sharon to make peace. But that
wrongly places the responsibility for the lack of peace on Israel. Such thinking
shows they have learned nothing in the last 10 years, which saw Israel sign
several peace agreements that were, in turn, trashed by a Palestinian leadership
that never had any intention of living up to their terms.
It also doesn't matter whether you think the Geneva accord is either
equitable or compatible with Israel's survival. Foisting this faux treaty on Israel
allows Arafat to play his usual game of bait and switch. The Geneva concessions
will be seen as the starting point for future talks, which will inevitably
lead to the next round of Palestinians demands. Israel's failure to accede to
those will be seen as a new obstacle to peace. The end result, as with the Oslo
process, will inevitably be more bloodshed.
And that's the key problem. The fuss over this plan will lessen the pressure
on the real obstacles to peace: Arafat and his terrorist followers. As a
result, it will more likely retard the admittedly slim chances for peace, not
That is why, despite the natural reluctance to oppose anything that calls
itself "peace," American supporters of Israel must resist this misguided
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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.
Let him know what you think by clicking here. In June, Mr. Tobin won first places honors in the American
Jewish Press Association's Louis Rapaport Award for Excellence in Commentary as
well as the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for top weekly
columnist. Both competitions were for articles written in the year 2002.
Jonathan Tobin Archives
© 2003, Jonathan Tobin