Israel Report

December 2002         

Non-negotiable Points

By Michael Anbar - December 4, 2002
In spite of its current technological and military superiority, the State of Israel is under siege, fighting for its very existence. The recent vicious anti-Semitic attacks in Europe, Canada and especially in the Muslim world, as well as the terror attacks in Kenya, show that onslaught to be part of a global assault on Jewish people everywhere.

Even in the United States we have politicians and media figures, such as Pat Buchanan, badmouthing Israel's self-defense on MSNBC because "It annoys some of our Arab friends," as he said the other day. Like many Jew-haters, who strangely enough, include also some Jews, Buchanan sees moral equivalence between terrorist indiscriminate murders of Jews and targeted killing of Arab terrorists in self-defense. Buchanan now "advises" Israel to adopt the policy proposed by Amram Mitzna, the newly elected chairman of the Israeli Labor Party. Bill Press, Buchanan's partner concurred with this view. Mitzna's platform calls for the evacuation of all Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip as a unilateral gesture of "good will," to be followed by political negotiations with the Arabs with no preconditions, even as murder of Jews by Arab terrorists continues.

Any negotiation under fire amounts to surrender to violence. A recent example of such negotiations was between the U.S. and the Viet Kong. Those negotiations ended with an embarrassing surrender and the complete withdrawal of the U.S. from South East Asia. The Jewish people, however, have no place to withdraw to. I hope that the Israelis will not listen to Buchanan and his likes, and will not reward ongoing Arab terror by political concessions. It is noteworthy that Buchanan, a Catholic of Irish descent, never came up with similar "advice" concerning the Irish conflict, where a cease fire was a precondition for political negotiations.

Bill Press, the liberal former chairman of the Californian Democrats, and Pat Buchanan, the former conservative candidate for the U.S. presidency, who together hosted for years the renowned "Crossfire" show on CNN, representing two opposing points of view, have lately moved to MSNBC. However both seem to be in full agreement when it comes to bashing Israel's Prime Minister and those who elected him in a landslide. Anti-Jewish sentiments seem to have a unique unifying power.

Let us assume, however, that by a miracle worldwide anti-Semitism vanishes, Arab terror against all Israelis comes to an end and peace negotiations restart. What comes next? What should the Jewish position be in such negotiations? In any negotiation there are points that cannot be relinquished while on others a give-and-take compromise is expected.

Any negotiation, be it political, business or labor disputes, has implicit and explicit preconditions. For one, any negotiation implies that neither side is ready for an unconditional surrender and that both sides wish to achieve a settlement or deal through some reciprocity. In the Arab-Israeli conflict it is clear that the "Palestinian" Arabs expect to be granted internationally recognized political independence. This is a precondition. If Israel is not ready to meet this condition, there is no room for further negotiations.

Likewise, the Jewish state has several expectations, i.e., preconditions that must be met in any political settlement between the Jewish state and the Arab nation. Therefore, Mitzna's platform, so enthusiastically endorsed by Buchanan and Press, which calls for negotiations with no preconditions, is absolute nonsense, amounting to the readiness of the Chairman of the Labor Party to concede to any demand of the Arabs.

Thus while the creation of an Arab state seems to be a given, the very existence of the Jewish state is still in question, open to negotiation (according to the PA maps and textbooks the State of Israel does not exist and Jewish history is "a Zionist myth"). Although the liquidation of the Jewish state would make Mr. Buchanan and his Arab friends extremely happy, it is hard to believe that this has been the intent of Mr. Mitzna. I assume that the new chairman of the Israeli Labor Party takes certain preconditions as self-evident. But these are nevertheless preconditions, i.e., non-negotiable points that must be clarified and accepted by both parties before any negotiations begin. These points must include:

A. Recognition that the Land of Israel is the historical homeland of the Jewish people. This is a historical fact. It must be accepted by the Arabs and by all other Islamic nations, irrespective of the political status of the Land of Israel or parts thereof. Even when the Land of Israel was part of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, this was still the homeland of the Jewish people. This irrefutable fact implies the recognition of Jerusalem as the historic capital of the Jewish nation.

If the Muslims refuse to accept history, there is no point for any negotiation. The acknowledgment of history is far more important than endorsement of "the right of the State of Israel to exist," a "right" that can be revoked at the drop of a hat. A corollary of this point is the recognition of Zionism, the urge of Jews to live in their ancient homeland, as an intrinsic attribute of Judaism. As long as "Zionism" is a dirty word in the Muslim world, no Jew respecting himself, should negotiate with Muslims. No Muslim would negotiate with Jews if the latter openly scorned Islam.

B. Acceptance that the city of Jerusalem will remain exclusively the capital of the Jewish state. Notwithstanding recent Arab claims, there is no example in history of any city, irrespective of its demographics, that was the capital of more than one nation for any length of time. A capital of a nation is its symbolic heart; a heart cannot be divided between two bodies and remain functional. Since nobody in his right mind disputes the fact that Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish nation and since this city never was the capital of any Arab nation, it must remain the Jewish capital. The Arab demand of a split, dual capital with the same name is based on the intent of an eventual takeover of the whole city.

Deviation from this precondition implies that the Jewish nation willfully relinquishes its most cherished historical rights, letting Jerusalem become eventually the exclusive capital of another nation. Such a dramatic change in the precepts of Judaism requires a binding referendum of all Jews worldwide.

C. Recognition that Jews have the right to live as citizens with full civil rights in territories under Arab rule just like Arab citizens live in the State of Israel. Any political negotiation must start with reciprocity.

The criteria of who is resident of and who is entitled to immigrate into the Jewish and Arab sovereign territories, respectively, will be determined by the corresponding political entities.

D. Both the Israeli and Arab states must recognize and respect the boundaries of each other. The territorial boundary lines will be negotiated, but once agreed upon they must be final, guaranteed by the international community. Failure to accept this precondition by the Arabs was a prime cause for the collapse of President Clinton's peace initiative at Camp David.

E. Agreement that the Israeli and Arab political entities will extradite any person, including their own citizens, for crimes committed in the territory of the other state. This precondition, as trivial as it might appear, should prevent renewal of any political terror. Violation of this precondition should automatically be causus belli.

F. Both states must respect and protect all sites of religious and/or historical significance under their jurisdiction. This precondition is obligatory in the Land of Israel with its uniquely rich cultural and religious history.

The acceptance of these six preconditions must precede any negotiation on political and other issues, including non-belligerence, specific boundaries, specific Jewish communities in the incipient Arab state, strategic security of both states - size of armed forces and potential military treaties, water rights, economic ties, etc. Any sensible Israeli political leader, whether liberal or conservative, who sincerely wishes to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict by negotiations, should make these critical points the foundation of any political settlement.

Because they are based on historical facts and on reason, each of these six points should be acceptable to and receive the support of any civilized society, irrespective of its ideology or political structure. Only anti-Jewish bias will "justify" objection to any of these points. The acceptance of these preconditions by the Arabs will imply acceptance of a Jewish state in its historical homeland. Fruitful political negotiations can then start, leading to a lasting peaceful coexistence of Arabs and Jews.

However, it is quite likely that the Arabs will reject these preconditions at this time. One must then conclude that the Arab-Israeli conflict is part of the brewing Islam versus the West global confrontation. The local violence in the Land of Israel will not end, therefore, before that worldwide antagonism is resolved. In spite of America's persevering desire to see a peaceful end to the lengthy Arab-Israeli conflict, the Bush Administration seems to realize that the Jewish state is an outpost of Western culture in the hostile Muslim world. Israel's struggle for survival must then be an integral part of America's global strategy.

Michael Anbar , PhD, is a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Buffalo. He was formerly a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. -

©2002 -

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