By Alan Perlman August 27, 2001
Snake oil peddlers do a brisk business because they unfailingly follow two rules. First, they target a primal desire of the customer. Second, they promise the customer that their product will satisfy that desire.
Peace is a primal desire for Israelis. No wonder that the Oslo product line, with its upbeat promises of peace, was eagerly snapped up by half of the Israeli population.
Oslo is actually marketed as a suite of curative products based on snake oil derivatives. The architects of Oslo, snake oil salesmen par excellence, have recently added several products to the line. However, before considering the newer products, you may want to check the efficacy of the earlier wares. Perhaps you even bought one:
Product A. "Canceled PLO Charter" (Arafat accepted Israel's right to exist.)
This product never worked. In fact, despite appearances to the contrary, it never really existed. Arafat' s verbal machinations concealed the fact that the Charter calling for Israel's destruction was never formally annulled or replaced. Arafat made no secret of the continued relevance of his plan to destroy Israel in stages. From the start he openly equated Oslo with Muhammad's peace with the Quraish - a temporary truce until he can destroy the enemy. The ink had barely dried on the Oslo accords when Arafat, in a South African mosque, called for Jihad. And he readily spelled out the next stages: flooding Israel with refugees, forcing Israel back to the 1967 borders, then Israel back to the 1947 partition borders, and ultimately establishing his state from the river to the sea, from whose waters, he frequently said, the Israelis could drink when they didn't like what he was offering.
Product B. "Enrichment supplements" (Give them something to lose and they will act responsibly.)
This product never worked. Over 98% of the Palestinian population now lives under PA autonomy. At Camp David, Barak offered almost the entire West Bank, including the Temple Mount, and parts of pre-'67 Israel to fully compensate for areas lost in border adjustments. The Palestinian response was an unparalleled unleashing of terror and brutality that now threatens the gains they have already achieved.
Product C. "Anti-terror agent" (Israel is giving the PA guns to use against terrorists. They wouldn't dare turn those guns against Israel.)
This product never worked. Though the PA has, on occasion, temporarily arrested terrorists for show, their guns are continuously aimed and fired at Israelis.
Product D. "Confidence-booster" (Peace will grow a step at a time as confidence develops on both sides).
This product never worked. Whenever Arafat did not get what he wanted, he unleashed terror attacks. Israel's response, understandable only to the Oslo architects, was a mad rush to cede even more land at a galloping pace. Step-at-a-time and confidence-building? This product delivered the opposite.
Product E. "Reversibility" (If Oslo doesn't work, Israel can take back what it gave away.)
This product never worked. The governments of Israel (including Sharon's), and the rest of the world, seem to view the autonomous areas as irreversibly Palestinian sovereign territory. These areas now provide preparation sites for suicide bombers and safe havens to which snipers run following attacks. Reversal was never a viable option, and the Oslo architects knew it and lied about it. This product is labeled as non-returnable. (Whether Israeli consumers, or the Israeli Defense Forces, can force a massive recall remains to be seen.)
Consumer report: The original Oslo line of products has been a total failure, and the claims made by its manufacturers and peddlers have proven to be without foundation and hazardous to our national health. This should make even the most naive consumer wary. Yet, prompted by the same old salesmen, many people are still thinking of buying the following additions to the new and improved Oslo snake oil line:
Let's check out what they're selling now:
New Improved Product X: "No military solution" (There is no alternative to peace.)
Recommendation: Do not buy this product. Israel's survival has always depended on its having military options. Not only is this product dangerous, it leads to a dependence on the other new products in the Oslo line. Even the Palestinians, who are far weaker than Israel, would never buy this product.
New improved Product Y: "Unilateral separation" (A fence between Israel and the Palestinians.)
Recommendation: Do not buy this product. It is merely a repackaging of the autonomous areas already given to the Palestinians, only it gives them a much larger area from which to attack Israel, and leaves Israel that much smaller, more vulnerable, and with fewer military options.
A fence is not magical. It cannot halt mortar or missile attacks, nor determined terrorists bent on going over, under, or through the fence.
The Palestinians currently attack Israel relentlessly from the autonomous areas. It is foolhardy to think that they will not intensify those attacks after being emboldened by a unilateral Israeli retreat.
Ironically, this product appeals most to those who believe that there is no military solution to the current conflict. Yet, an Israel that hesitates to seriously retaliate against the Palestinians in the autonomous areas is even less likely to do so against intensified attacks originating from a Palestinian state recognized by the entire world. New Improved Product Z. "Negotiations under fire" (Negotiations and concessions must continue to avoid deterioration into a wider conflict.) Recommendation: Do not buy this product. This product has never worked anywhere, anytime. An unfortunate fact of history is that when one side in a conflict is particularly evil, uncompromising, or certain of eventual victory, peace negotiations cannot bypass war. They can only follow it, after the enemy has been soundly defeated.
If you don't believe this, ask yourself the following:
- Why didn't the Allies make peace with Germany before fighting two world wars?Peace may be wonderful, but it is a luxury. Israel has always lived without peace; it cannot, however, live without security. If peace can be negotiated, all well and good. But not when the enemy is only negotiating to improve its offensive and defensive positions while weakening yours. And if peace is not in the offing, Israel must never question its right or ability to go to war when necessary to provide for its security.
- Why doesn't the U.S. now make peace with Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden?
- Why didn't Israel make peace with the Arabs before the wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973?
Oslo was never the "calculated risk" for peace that its peddlers promised. It proved a reckless, ill-considered gamble that leaves Israel more vulnerable than at any other time since it won its war of independence. Yet, Israel can become even more vulnerable. Just a little more snake oil should do the trick.
In the declining Oslo market, the Oslo peddlers are desperately pushing even more dangerous products. It is time for Israel and its supporters to just say no.Alan Perlman, a resident of the community of Carmel in the Hebron Hills region, is a technical writer. Perlman has a master's degree in social work. He can be reached at email@example.com.
©2001 - israelinsider