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THE ISRAEL REPORT

November/December '99
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1. Dark Days for Democracy in Israel

In earlier commentaries I expressed my concern that the Barak government's Golan withdrawal campaign would set aside democratic values in its efforts to silence opposition to withdrawal.

It is with great sorrow - and embarrassment as an Israeli citizen - to report to you this evening that these efforts to silence opposition are already well underway.

Already the day Prime Minister Barak left for Washington the police were in action - detaining anti-withdrawal protestors while allowing withdrawal proponents to stand near the airport with placards.

Score: Barak 1 Democracy 0.
While GSS agent provocateur Avishai Raviv's trial was postponed again, there are reports of what appears to be new agent provocateurs turning up at various meetings of activists calling for illegal activities and violence.
Score: Barak 2 Democracy 0
The police are interrogating people who were involved organizing anti-Oslo protest activity during the Rabin-Peres era, asking for the names of anyone involved in organizing protests today.
Score: Barak 3 Democracy 0
And this is only the beginning.

2. Key Concepts For The Debate

Here are some of the key concepts I would like you to keep in mind in the coming weeks and months:

#1 Ceteris Paribus

Ceteris Paribus- 'all other things being equal' - is the Achilles' heel of the reserve officers supporting withdrawal from the Golan. When someone weighs in with his military background to explain that Israel can withdraw from the Golan one should immediately ask what his underlying assumptions are.

Incredibly, many of the brass supporting withdrawal do so because they assume that there will be peace! Others assume that Assad will live forever, Israel with enjoy a permanent technological edge and that no other players will ever disturb whatever balance they assume a treaty with Syria would establish.

All of these assumptions have one thing in common: the brass has no particular advantage over anyone else in determining what is a reasonable and what is an unreasonable assertion.

I sincerely believe that the key to neutralizing 'brass for withdrawal' is by exposing what can at best be termed their naive but more likely ideologically blinded assumptions.

#2 Comprehensive Peace

To Syrian Foreign Minister Shara's credit, he has made it perfectly clear Syria believes Israel will not truly enjoy peace until we withdraw from Ramat Eshkol in Jerusalem as well as Ramat Hagolan.

The comprehensive peace he envisions is well beyond anything anyone in the Israeli mainstream would accept.

Unfortunately, it is the intentional nature of this so-called 'peace process' to break down, line-by-line, what were national consensus 'red lines'.

When I listen to the arguments being made for withdrawing from the Golan I can readily imagine the very same lines being used for 'just one more concession' - be it Jerusalem or the return of the 1948 refugees.

#3 Power Vacuum

America's overarching concern in the Middle East is the avoidance of power vacuums. So much so that even as the US planned a military response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, many in Washington asserted that Saddam should not be defeated because of the power vacuum his absence would create in the area.

The Syrians know that they enjoy the same status with America.

They know that no matter what they should do in the future against the Jewish State that America will do what it can to prevent a response that threatens the Syrian regime's survival.

Today, with Damascus within spitting distance of the Israeli Golan Heights, America can only counsel Israel to moderate its response to Syrian aggression. Off of the Golan the situation will be considerably different.

More to come.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director
IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)


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