BY TZVI Y. KESSE, Management Consultant
These days the word "Peace" is doubtful even in the Labor Party. The Peace coalition can overcome this by this fact: many on the political Right disapprove of a bi-national state.
(translated from the Hebrew article published on Dec 18, 2012)
Ben Gurion on the Left and Jabotinsky on the Right came to an agreement. The Left opposed it and the agreement was cancelled. As the two men were shaking hands, Jabotinsky told Ben Gurion that if this agreement would be approved, they would have to do something "big" – publish a strong Zionist statement. Ben Gurion replied: "What is the value of statements"? This anecdote illustrates two different approaches: Political Zionism – essentially discourse and negotiations, versus practical Zionism – essentially building of positions of power . Jabotinsky told Weizman: "Everybody applauds me, but nobody votes for me". Weizman replied: "That's because Ben Gurion offers practical suggestions as to what to do." Nowadays it is the opposite: the Right offers concrete action plans. The Left offers a policy….
What does the Right do? It creates a new reality. It does not talk – it acts! It establishes a bi-national State. That is the name of the game. Not peace, which the Center-Left coalition raises as a banner. The Zionist Movement dreamed of a Jewish State. Today there are people who preach Zionism, but in practice deviate from the Zionist dream – walk away from a Jewish State toward a different one – a Jewish-Palestinian State. This deviation borders on treason.
Haled Mash'al and Abu Mazen do the job more skillfully than Finkelstein. One declaration such as the one Mash'al made recently is worth a hundred discourses on Peace. Maybe the historical interest of the Palestinians is not to have their state, but to realize a vision of one single State from the Jordan to the Sea – matching the vision of the nationalist-religious Right – the destruction of the Jewish State.
The Center-Left is weak in the face of Mashal's declarations, Hamas's actions and incidents of stone throwing on the West Bank.
Today the word 'Peace' is doubtful even in the Labor Party. The Peace coalition can overcome these obstacles by focusing on one issue: there are many on the Right who also disapprove of a bi-national State. Benet's suiciders are still not the majority in the right. The battle is to clarify, for the public, the act of betrayal of the Feiglin-Benet-Gush Emunim right wing, which is active in destroying the Jewish state.
It has become impossible to "sell" Peace to the public. The leadership of the Labor Party bears the responsibility of this situation. "The Land of Israel" (as opposed to the "State of Israel") is in the DNA of the Likkud, not of the Labor Party. For the Labor Party the fear of peace programs was – and still is – one of party politics. Three months before the elections of October 1973, Sadat presented Kissinger with a Peace proposal that would allow Israeli military presence in Sinai for 15 years. Kissinger – and Rabin – tried to convince Golda Meir and Dayan to "go for it". They rejected the proposal, arguing that if they agreed to such an agreement, they would lose the elections. In other words – they did not see Peace as a lever to win the elections: "See, Egypt is willing to sign a Peace accord". They saw it as a threat to electoral gains. They brought us the Yom Kippur War. They also lost the government for a generation. When Ehud Barak was given a second chance, he missed it – claiming: "There is no one to talk to".
On the other side, the Achilles's heel of the nationalistic-religious Right is its deviation from the Zionism of the Jewish State to Isra-Palestine. Yes, it is possible to explain to the public the meaning of a bi-national State. It is possible to impress upon people's consciousness that in the strip of land between the Jordan River and the sea Palestinians and Jewish are equal in numbers.
It is possible to impress upon public consciousness the meaning of the international, political isolation in which we are stuck. It is possible to impress upon people's consciousness that if the relations between the President of the USA and the government of Israel are shaky, he will not consider Israel as a partner when dealing with the Iranian issue. It is possible to explain that Lieberman's positions fit completely Russian politics. Russia has a leading role among countries opposed to an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and the Arab States. So does Lieberman. Only somebody trained by "Pravda" is capable of accusing European ministers of being indifferent to the destruction of our State.
It is possible, and necessary, to impress upon the public that there are alternative ways to prevent the emergence of a bi-national state, if Peace is out of reach. It is possible to reach temporary agreements, and it is possible to hold on to the Arab comprehensive Peace Initiative within the 1967 borders.
To agree in principle with the Clinton formula, or even, Nathanyahu's speach in Bar-Ilan, paves the way for an Israeli initiative for an international coalition in support of an agreement that would in effect prevent a bi-national state. Such an initiative would be no less an achievement than Natanyahu's successful campaign for international sanctions against Iran. A sound campaign to prevent the emergence of a bi-national state will enable Natanyahu to be the third leader of the Right to realize his true historical mission when he comes to power – implement the policy of the Left.