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The Likud and the Hamas: A match made in Heaven?


Too often people vote for a government or support a movement without understanding what it stands for, or at least, so they claim. We are told that Germans who voted for Hitler and the Nazis may have believed that they were simply protesting an impossible situation. Chinese -- and Americans -- who supported Mao Tse Tung often had the impression that he was a mild agrarian reformer. Many Iranians who supported the Ayatollah Khomeini thought that he would bring democracy. Americans who voted for Richard Nixon convinced themselves that they were voting for the "new Nixon." He turned out to be a rebuilt version of the old Nixon. Many Palestinians who voted for Hamas may have allowed themselves to be convinced that they were voting for reformist candidates who would put an end to corruption. The range of evils, greater and lesser, that have been inflicted on the world in this way is enormous.

Of course, there is always abundant evidence of what the party or the candidate really is for those who care to look. But a wave of seeming popularity is created for the cause, whatever it is, and people are convinced by social pressure and emulation to ignore the plain evidence of their senses.

The polls show that candidate X will sweep the elections. The average person begins to believe that if this is what so many people think, it can't be as bad as others say. If everyone supports the Devil, perhaps he just got a bad press. This fellow Nixon or Benjamin Netanyahu or whoever must've really changed, and what we heard about him can't all be true. At the same time, the extremists among the supporters are put in an attic under lock and key. Every effort is made by the party and the candidate to "look legit." It is the same everywhere and always. Lenin did not win hearts and minds by promising Communism, but rather, "Bread, Land, Peace." Smart Republicans put their neocons into hibernation during an election, and smart Democrats hide their extreme leftist supporters. In the Likud, Netanyahu is making huge efforts to ensure that supporters of Moshe Feiglin, the believers in a Greater Israel theocracy, don't become too prominent in the party and are not heard from until after the elections.

A few weeks ago I got a call from a person who was taking a poll, or so they said. I found out how to generate poll results that show a Likud sweep. At least three or four times, I was asked under what circumstances I would vote for Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud, and I only got rid of this person by explaining that I would vote for Benjamin Netanyahu or the Likud sometime after Hell freezes over. More patient and pliable respondents probably succumbed regardless of whom they might choose as a candidate. Anything to get rid of the pollster politely.

One of the questions was suspicious. "Which would you prefer, A) a peace process that tries to reach a negotiated settlement in the briefest possible time or B) A peace process that builds up the Palestinian economy gradually over time and inculcates principles of democracy and coexistence before reaching a settlement?"

To Israeli ears and the middle of the road Israeli mindset, accustomed to the disappointments of the peace process and the mindless terror of the so-called Second Intifada, the second alternative may seem quite reasonable. I was not at all surprised when I heard Benjamin Netanyahu himself present this gradualist "Marshall Plan" program for the Palestinians as his platform a few days later.

What lies behind this program can be understood from an interview published by the IMRA news service with Likud party primary candidate Yechiel Leiter. Leiter was misquoted as saying (Heaven forfend!) that he might be willing to give up 10% of the area of the West Bank. He clarified his views.

Leiter is all for peace:

Peace has to come bottom up and not top down. The whole concept of Oslo was to force peace upon us from the top for establishing a ruler who was supposed to establish a civil society. What he established was a terrorist society. A tyrannical society.

What we've got to do is develop it from the bottom up.

They can start with individual limited local autonomy and in twenty five years we will see where it goes. We have to bring up a generation of people who have not been educated on textbooks that erase Israel from the world maps and incite for terror.

Whatever you may think, that sounds logical to many Israelis, and it is not totally unfair. But where may this process of gradual enlightenment really go? Leiter explains:

What I want to do is begin incremental annexation. I don't want to save the annexation for the end of the process. I want to determine now what are the areas which we are going to annex and they are defined by three areas: the settlement blocs in the largest sense of the expression, security areas and
water resources which comprises about 50% of the area.

According to this plan, at the end of the period in which they are being educated to peace and tolerance and good will, Palestinians would be able to negotiate an autonomy or maybe even a "state" within part of an area of about 1,000 square miles, without water resources. Somehow, it seems possible that Palestinians will not find option very attractive or in keeping with the tenets of coexistence and brotherhood that Mr. Leiter wants to inculcate into them. We should be aware, however, that this 50% solution is not the end of the Likud plan by any means. Leiter explains that there are ten or eleven settlements that cannot be fit into the 50% annexation "in the first stage." They will have to wait for the next stage of annexation.

Leiter is not lawless. He doesn't want to annex anything unilaterally:

I am the first one to say that I am in favor of annexing. Of taking the initiative, taking the momentum of unilateralism and turning it around. Using the Bush letter to turn it around and start with annexation.

Obviously because annexation is a juridical term, we have to start a development process around the three areas and indicate that this is what we are going to annex. We cannot do that [AL: annex] unilaterally. But that is what we should be moving towards.

. He is all for annexing, but not unilaterally. As Nikita Krushchev wrote, "I am all for purges, but there is a time and a place for everything." The catch 22 of Leiter's program, which is the real program of the Likud, is that Israel found out that it can't annex anything and nobody will recognize any annexations. In the neverneverland of Greater Israel advocates, there is no problem to annex all the land between the Mediterranean and the Ganges river. It is only because of some wrong headed leftist governments that Israel does not do so. This is an old revisionist Zionist fable. According to this fable, Transjordan was detached from the Palestine mandate only because Chaim Weizmann would not fight for it. If they Zionist movement had had any inititative, they had only to ask the British government and they would have returned Transjordan (and the Golan Heights) to the Palestine Mandate. Too bad that Chaim Weizmann was lazy and shiftless and didn't take the initiative.

For the same reason, according to the revisionist Zionists, the United Nations partitioned Palestine. Likewise, according to their mythology, East Jerusalem was lost in 1948 , because David Ben Gurion wanted to divide Jerusalem. UN decisions about internationalization and the efforts of the Jordan Legion had nothing to do with it. All Israelis had to do in 1948 was wish hard enough, "take the initiative," make some rousing Beginesque speeches and gestures, and Jerusalem would belong to Israel in its entirety. This sort of magical thinking is very attractive. Given the choice of having both land and peace, who would not prefer it to the choice of giving up the land for an uncertain peace? It is the same choice as Hamas offer the Palestinians. It exists only in the imagination of polemicists.

The limitations on what Israel can and cannot do are not the doing of any evil leftist governments. The Likud party, when it was in power, could not get any foreign government to recognize annexation either. Nobody will recognize the annexation of West Bank territory except Israel. No country recognizes the annexation of the Golan Heights and no country recognizes the annexation of Jerusalem. Nobody even recognizes West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Not even the United States. That may be unfair, but it is a fact. The kernel of the dispute, of any dispute, is that one side cannot do whatever they please in a vacuum. If they could, there would be no dispute. It is embarrassing to have to repeat these simple minded truths, but evidently it is necessary. Mr Leiter's idea has the same amount of reality as the Palestinian insistence on "right of return."

As a political device, this plan is ideal. It offers the mindless of all persuasions the possibility of believing it is anything they want it to be. The Greater Israel partisans see "Annexation." Those who want to assuage their consciences and believe that they are voting for peace, can see that there is a "gradual" peace plan and that the annexation is not "unilateral." Of course in reality, the government will have to do something, and Benjamin Netanyahu knows perfectly well that he cannot have both territories and peace and that nobody will recognize unilateral Israeli annexations.

What will the Netanyahu government do when it is in power? It obviously can't deliver on its promise of both peace and land. It can and is, however, counting on the Hamas and the more obdurate sections of the Fatah to do its work for it. As long as the Hamas insist they will never make peace with Israel, and as long as even moderate Palestinians insist on right of return and obstruct efforts to eliminate Hamas rule, there is little danger that Israel will have to give up any land for peace. Conversely, when the Israeli government declares its support of settlements and settlers and tries to adopt Benjamin Netanyahu's "go slow" "peace plan," the Palestinian hardliners will conveniently find that they don't have to budge one millimeter, since they too, can say, "Nobody to talk to on the other side."

A match made in heaven, or perhaps in the other place.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000733.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 4 comments

Why would we want Binyamin Netanyahu to change? We love him the way he is: a true visionary and the one Israeli leader who understands exactly what kind of threat Iran is to the whole world. Mr. Netanyahu is on the record saying that Iran is a suicidal theocracy which cannot be deterred by anything except strong military action. Please vote for Binyamin Netanyahu on February 10: Israel and the whole world needs him badly. Mark Montgomery boboberg@nyc.rr.com

Posted by Mark Montgomery @ 12/07/2008 08:18 PM CST

Well said Mr. Isserhoff,

Your piece has highlighted several informative points about the functioning of the Israeli polls taht I keep reading about as well as Bejamin Netanyahu's 'Economic Plan' for Israel-Palestine piece.

I wish I had a contribution to add here but you sir have more insight into the matter than I could hope for.

Unfortunately Mark seems to have ignored your points, switched to a new topic altogether and used the piece as a political platform.

Allow me to introduce myself - I am a research analyst for a think tank in Bombay, India and I specialize in Middle East issues. I would be very grateful if there was perhaps a way to stay in touch with you via e-mail.

Look forward to your response and further articles by you.

Posted by Gitanjali @ 12/09/2008 02:24 PM CST

Mr. Isseroff , even if you're right about the Likud's agenda, what is your proposal for a TRUE peaceful co-existence btw the Israelis and the Palestinians?
I, myself, believe that occupying those territories were a big mistake on Israel's part but the fact remains that now, years after we got "stuck" with this problem, there is no truly peaceful way out. I don’t believe that the Palestinian generations who were brought up by hate and violence would suddenly change into pacifists, even if they get 100% of what they claim as rightfully theirs. I just don’t see an end to it. Just more violence , more Qassams and more brain-wash. I believe that no matter who we choose to be our representative in the Israeli parliament, a realistic solution to this mess will not surface. There is a difference btw despair driven compromise and solution.

Posted by Na'ama @ 12/10/2008 02:17 AM CST

Na'ama you seem to have been either misinformed or not informed. Israel did not CHOOSE to occupy the "territories". It just happened to make the terrible mistake of beating the aggressor at his own game. To add insult to injury, after that war ended and ceasefire reigned Israeli offered its hand and all the territories for "peace", only guess what Na'ama, no one wanted them. At least not the hand. And the territories they wanted without peace. Nothing has changed since then and if you care to read the platforms of all of our potential partners for a peace agreement you might discover that there is one thing on which they all agree. And that doesn't look very good for you. But you did ask what is the solution. Well in the meantime until a definite solution is born the first thing that we must do is speak to our enemies in a language that they can understand and remember that the first duty of every government is to its own electors.

Posted by Rakefet @ 02/11/2009 11:09 PM CST

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