Ten years ago, on September 13, 1993, the sun rose on a day the world would hail as heralding an era of peace for the Middle East.
As dignitaries gathered on the White House lawn, and television cameras sent their signals to the farthest corners of the earth, Israel and the PLO signed the agreement that became known simply as "Oslo."
Lost amidst the celebrations and drowned out by the applause, the scattered voices of disbelief, the pleas for reason, the sounded warnings - all were derided, steamrollered, waved away.
This writer, who two years earlier covered the International Middle East Peace Conference in Madrid - there to learn first hand the extent of the world media's unbridled disdain, contempt and even hatred for the Jewish state - was in the ranks of the relative few who urged Israel not to go down the Oslo road.
For me, that road could have no other ending than the one it inevitably arrived at.
Apart from the global prejudice weighing heavily in favor of the Arabs, I based my warning on the geo-political realities of the day, and on my understanding of the true agenda of Islam. I based it too on my knowledge of the bigger picture, the 2000-year history of a people who had never been allowed to live in peace and safety, and who I knew were not going to receive that gift under Oslo.
Primarily, though, I based it on two passages in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The first came to me a few weeks earlier, when the news originally broke that an agreement had been reached following a series of illegal (under Israeli law) secret meetings in Norway between Israel's left wing politicians and the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Going to the Bible, and wondering in my heart how to view what I was hearing, I felt led to the 13th chapter of the book of Ezekiel.
In those verses, the prophet describes a peace arrived at between Israel and its foes, a peace based on "futility" and "lies." He likens this peace to a wall built with "untempered mortar." And he describes God's anger towards Israel's leaders who have given their people false hope in "visions of peace when there is no peace."
I read of His rage at the way these leaders had "profaned" His holy name by "killing people who should not die and keeping alive people who should not live."
And I read about the fate God had decreed over these false peace predictors, vowing to cause a stormy wind to break forth in His fury, and to send a flooding rain and great hailstones to bring down their false peace agreement - their wall built with mortar made from lies and deceit.
Those who had built it, God said, would be swept away with its ruins.
On the same evening that I read through this passage, a Christian friend of mine 3000 miles away felt led to the same chapter and received the same insight into it.
The second scripture passage that came, not only to me but also to many other Bible-believing Christians, is contained in chapter 28 of the book of the prophet Isaiah.
This prophet is also speaking here of God's judgment on Israel's leaders, the "scornful men, who rule this people who are in Jerusalem."
These leaders, the prophet said, had entered into "a covenant with death," and into "an agreement with the grave," even as they assured themselves that when terror came in like a flood, it would not touch them, because they were shielded behind lies and beneath deception.
God warned these men that when the "overflowing scourge" passed through, it would also take them away.
Two prophets, living hundreds of years apart, had warned what the results would be of embracing a false and corrupt peace.
I wrestle with deep sadness and pain today, looking back over these last 10 years and realizing that every aspect of these two prophecies has come to pass for Israel during this decade of suffering, bereavement and death.
What were the Oslo Accords supposed to lead to?
One the one hand, in exchange for their laying down the gun and the bomb - their commitment to never again use violence as a means to achieve political gains - the Palestinian Arabs were promised autonomy and self-government in lands they had never before possessed as a nation: No small gift to be scoffed at, indeed.
On the other hand, in exchange for Israel's relinquishing of central segments of its historic homeland, and for permitting formerly avowed foes to establish themselves so near to its own population centers, what would be left of the Jewish state was guaranteed peace and security - a prize longed for but cruelly withheld since Israel's rebirth as a nation state 45 years before.
The Palestinians received legitimacy, land, security forces, arms, autonomy, control over the daily lives of almost all their people, and hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and gifts. And they got more:They got offers of up to 97 percent of all the land they were demanding;They got Oslo +.
They got offers of an independent state of their own;
They got offers of half of Jerusalem as a capital for their state;
They got offers of the top of the Temple Mount on which stand their mosques.Israel, in return, got 1,110 deaths through lynching, burnings, bombings, stabbings, hit-and-run attacks, stoning, sniping, ambushing and drive-by shooting.Looking back a decade later, we know without a doubt that the Oslo Accords were an agreement with death and with the grave - for certainly those have been the rotten fruits of this perversely mislabeled peace process: 1,110 deaths, 1,110 graves.
Israel got more than 10,000 of its people wounded, maimed, paralyzed.
Israel got thousands of its families decimated, tens of thousands of its citizens left with inconsolable anguish in their hearts and souls.
Israel got diminished security, increased danger.
Israel got no safety, no peace.
Israel got nothing, nothing but blood, dismemberment, tears and fear.
But it was also an agreement with the face of death, with Yasser Arafat, the biggest mass murderer of Jews since Hitler.
And it was an agreement with a grave, the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, to which world leaders made pilgrimage, and to whose legacy, the legacy of the Oslo Process, they pledged themselves as they came to nudge, push and shove Israel closer to the brink of the Oslo Abyss - the Palestinian state that would spell the end of the Jewish one.
We see too how the guilty were given back their lives, let out of jail free, while the innocent had their lives taken from them, sometimes, as in this past week's dual 'suicide' attacks, by the very men who had been set free as part of Oslo II - the Road Map to a Palestinian state.
And we see how those politicians who, in deceit and with lies, spawned the Oslo Process have been swept into political obscurity with its bloody collapse.
For awhile, before the launching of Oslo II four months ago, a growing number of Israelis were calling for these leaders to be put on trial for what their "peace " process had unleashed: for dividing up the land of Israel and near fatally eroding its ability to protect and defend itself; for releasing terrorists and putting guns in their hands - guns which have been used to murder Jews; for paving the way to the Oslo War launched by Arafat three years ago.
While talk of trials has been muted by the sheer extent of the bloodshed, some of those leaders themselves acknowledge the price the Oslo Accords has exacted from its fans. Thus, the left-wing Ha'aretz this week quoted far left Meretz Party leader and ardent Oslo proponent Yossi Sarid as labeling the process "the guillotine of Israeli politics."
Said the paper, "anyone associated with Oslo was guillotined. Anyone who traveled this road didn't return. Sarid is one of the last political victims of Oslo. The collapse of Meretz in the last elections, and the personal conclusions he drew, were his price.
"In this company of political victims one can include Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, who were swiftly thrown out of office, Yossi Beilin, who was first pushed out of Labor and then out of Meretz and is still looking for a way back to politics. Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Shlomo Ben Ami are now outside politics altogether."
On September 11, two days before the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords, the nations of the world paused to commemorate the second year since the Muslim Arab-directed attack on the 290 million strong United States of America that claimed 3,412 lives.
September 13 will see no such pause, no such cause for reflection with this nation of just six million, which has lost one third of that number of its people to the Muslim Arab-directed attack that used a peace process as cover.
A peace process that has brought Israel the exact opposite of peace.
A peace process called Oslo.
© 2002-2003 Jerusalem Newswire