July/August 2000

On The Danger of False Promises

Louis Rene Beres - Professor of International Law
Date: July 22, 2000

Recently I met privately, at the Israeli Embassy, with Ambassador David Ivry. Reflecting further upon that July 3rd meeting, I am now struck by one particular rationale offered to me by the Ambassador for Israeli adherence to Oslo: Israel, he stated, MUST give its young people the hope for peace; anything less would lead them to abandon their country and "move to the United States."

Let us think for a moment about this rationale. First, is it decent or productive to offer hope for peace when the offer cannot possibly be kept? If the Ambassador and his Government were anticipating an authentic peace, his argument could have been quite compelling. But he and the Prime Minister know full well that this "peace" is entirely contrived, and that the long-documented Arab plan for phased destruction of Israel remains fully in place.

Perhaps the Ambassador and the Prime Minister hope - hope beyond any reasonable factual support - that somehow, somehow, endless concessions will quiet their sworn enemies; that these enemies will be "reasonable" and turn away from their oft-declared plan for "liberation of occupied Palestine." Is such a hope defensible? Shall Israel keep its young people from moving to Los Angeles because of hopes that are anchored in delusion? For what purpose? Shall they remain in Israel only to discover later, in complete surprise, that Oslo's "peace" was rooted in a peculiar form of madness? Shall they then die in a war brought about by a so-called "peace process?" Better, it would seem, to let them move off to Los Angeles now; far, far better.

There is something else that is wrong with the Ambassador's rationale, something very, very wrong. Even if he and the Prime Minister sincerely believe that Oslo's risks for peace are tolerable, that incremental Israeli surrenders are justifiable if there is even a remote chance for peace, the message is clear: ANY peace is preferable to ANY war. What this would suggest is that Israel is no longer worth fighting for, and that all considerations of Jewish Law and Obligation are now subordinate to the absolute avoidance of military force.

With such a message, the following question must be put to the Ambassador and to his Prime Minister: Why, in essence, should Israel continue to endure? Is it merely to avoid injury, even at the cost of shameless concessions and capitulations to those who will fight to make it disappear? Or does Israel exist to serve certain broader principles of the Jewish Nation, principles so timeless and so sacred that, in comparison, even any hint of peace must be considered less valuable?

Of course, such a comparison need not even be evoked in the current condition of world politics. The Oslo "peace" is leading directly to war, and this coming war will be especially hard on Israel BECAUSE of the Oslo agreements. Current Israeli Government policy maximizes neither safety nor principle. If this policy stands for anything, it stands, at best, for a profound lack of wisdom and understanding. At worst, it stands for an official form of national self-loathing that cuts out the very heart of Jewish meaning and survival.

Israel's leadership will never be sufficiently generous to acknowledge the darkness it brings upon the entire Jewish world. Instead, it will continue to premise the disappearing Jewish State upon an elaborate infrastructure of false hopes and insupportable promises. Intellectually frivolous, religiously vacant, this leadership - disconnected from both Faith and Reason - will remain amateurish at everything important. Intoxicated with its own fabrications, it will never understand that banana republics should not be self-imposed.

A leadership that is seriously interested in the procession of ideas and of irreducible beliefs will find it worthwhile to pause over the spectacle of human history. For the Government of Israel, such a pause could occasion substantial and unassailable doubts concerning prospects for peace, doubts that would underscore the intermittent inevitability of war. There is nothing pleasant about such doubts, to be sure, but they cannot be rejected in favor of more pleasant lies.

No, the truth must always be acknowledged, and all pertinent policies must then proceed from this truth. If Israel's leadership believes that it is better for its young people to remain at home in the false hope for peace than to move to Los Angeles in the correct expectation of war, it misses an absolutely overriding point: Israel's continuance in the world must have a meaning beyond physical survial of the State. It must stand for the Jewish Nation and the Jewish Faith. If it is unprepared to accept the truth, however disconcerting and painful it may be, it will simply place millions of Jewish lives in harms way for the sake of an increasingly humiliating American client state.

Israel's reason for being is not to avoid war at all costs, but to protect Jewish life. This objective cannot be served by an Israeli Government that now prefers a delusionary peace because it may keep its youth from departing to America. It CAN be served by reminding this youth of the sacrifices of earlier generations of Jews and Israelis, and of its particular good fortune not to be without power in the face of new generations of genociders.

Louis Rene Beres - Professor of International Law
Department of Political Science - Purdue University

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security matters.
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