Escaping the world before their eyes

A modified F-15 squadron of the Israel Air Force. Israel once seemed to know how to deal with enemies. Still, one cannot pursue security at the expense of the virtues that can truly bring it. Sadly, fear of losing democratic respectability, stops Israel from relying on her greatest strength. Her strength will come from a Tzadik level of statecraft.
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Journalist Caroline Glick is rightly disturbed by what she calls “Our Estranged Generals” But we need to go beneath the journalistic surface and expose the pernicious mind-set of these generals, and the politicians who appoint and promote them. Both spend much of their time escaping reality.

Escaping reality

“Escaping the world before their eyes” is the title of an article I published in The Jerusalem Post sixteen years ago on December 11, 1990. The article sheds light on the mentality of leftwing liberals, a mentality that seems to have influenced Israeli Prime Ministers and military echelon. Consider, first, a book by Shimon Peres, The New Middle East.

A memorial to the last time Israel was ever on any real offensive. Too many Israelis in power spend time escaping reality.

Memorial to the Six-day War, on the Jerusalem road. Photo: CNAV

The book was published 1993, perhaps to memorialize the 1993 Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement, orchestrated by Mr. Peres when he was Israel’s Foreign Minister. Although that agreement has proved a disaster for Israel – some 1,600 Jews have been murdered by PLO terrorists – Mr. Peres still genuflects to Oslo. Not that he can’t see the bloody truth; he simply dares not utter the truth. If he told the truth about Oslo, this would impugn all the prime ministers who have cravenly adhered to Oslo: in addition to himself, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert.

On that week of 11 December 1990, (former) MK Prof. Israel Eldad reportedly called Netanyahu “spineless.” But how does Netanyahu differ from Sharon, who implemented Israel’s retreat from Gaza? The retreat prompted [intrepid] journalist Caroline Glick to write an article “A coward for a prime minister” (Jerusalem Post, June 21, 2005). What is at the root of this cowardice?

The story begins with the failure of Israeli Prime Ministers to tell the truth about the PLO, as the present writer urged Peres and his mentor Prof. Yehoshfat Harkabi to do in a meeting we had in September 1976, a meeting arranged by my friend the late General Haim Laskov, a former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The unvarnished truth about the PLO is this: (1) the PLO is a nothing more than a consortium of far flung Muslim terrorist organizations; (2) the idea of a “Palestinian” people is an Arab hoax; (3) the hoax is designed to facilitate the creation of an Arab-Islamic state that would terminate the one and only Jewish state.

Probing deeper, moral cowardice has plagued Israeli governments. It has silenced the truth about the nature of Israel’s implacable enemy: Islam. The same cowardice, mixed with greed, animates European nations which, for years, have appeased Islamic despotisms committed to Israel’s destruction. Indeed, I dare say that Christian Europe, steeped in decadence and still mired in Jew-hatred, is using Muslims to implement Hitler’s Final Solution…. This said, let’s turn to my 11 December 1990 Jerusalem Post article mentioned above.

“The New Middle East”

The secularists who have ever dominated modern Israel have never regarded with strategic seriousness the religious dimension of the Arab-Israeli conflict. As one Arab writer put it:

The propagandists of secularism, who leave out of account the religious factor in the Palestine problem, ignore the fact that this is the only bone of contention in the world which has persisted for thirty centuries …

Another Arab spokesman declares:

… apart from the political conflict, there is a basic philosophical and spiritual incompatibility between the two contending nationalisms. Even if all political disputes were to be resolved, the two movements, Zionism and Arab Nationalism, would remain, spiritually and ideologically, worlds apart—living in separate ‘universes of discourse’ which are incapable of communication or meaningful dialogue.

Neither of these authors regards territory or geographical boundaries as a decisive issue in the Arab-Israel conflict. In fact, both statements were made before the 1967 Six Day War. Both statements will be found in Prof. Y. Harkabi’s book, Arab Attitudes to Israel, published in 1967. The English edition appeared in 1972, that is, before the Yom Kippur War.

The book is replete with hundreds of quotes from diverse Arab sources vilifying Jews and Israel in the most lurid terms and promising the eventual annihilation of the Jewish state. In some 500 pages one finds not a single exception to this ventilation of Arab hatred–not even from Islamic scholars. Yet Harkabi was already convinced before the Six Day War, as well as before the Yom Kippur War, that a peaceful and political solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict was possible. What underlies his apparently irrational conviction?

In his more recent book, Israel’s Fateful Hour (1988), which is also dedicated to Jews and Arabs, Harkabi urges Israel’s government to negotiate with the PLO and permit its leaders to establish a Palestinian Arab state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza…. “Human history,” he writes, “repeatedly demonstrates the ability of peoples to transcend the negative characteristics that were once justifiably ascribed to them.”

Unfortunately, Professor Harkabi does not offer a single example of such peoples. Hence he does not let us know how they transcended their “negative characteristics.” It makes all the difference in the world to know whether the peoples he has in mind were conquered in war (like Nazi Germany and Japan), or whether their “negative characteristics” were overcome as a result of evolution or of revolution.

Nor does Harkabi enlighten us about these “negative characteristics.” We are left to wonder whether they were part of a people’s religious mentality or whether they were of a political and therefore more pliable nature. But inasmuch as Harkabi advocates the establishment of a PLO-Palestinian state, he is obviously alluding to Muslims on the one hand, and to certain “negative characteristics” they have on the other.

He reveals these negative characteristics in Arab Attitudes to Israel. There he speaks of Islam as a “combatant,” “expansionist,” and “authoritarian” creed. He admits that “the idea of the Jihad is fundamental in Islam,” in consequence of which “hatred,” “hostility,” and “conflict” are endemic to Arab culture. Moreover, he points out that “There are many examples in Arab national literature of comparisons between the Arabs and other peoples, of self-glorification by denigration of others.”

Nevertheless, Harkabi is convinced that the Arabs can transcend these “negative characteristics” if Israel would but withdraw from Judea, Samaria and Gaza and permit the PLO to establish therein a Palestinian state. The fact that Palestinian Arabs and even Arab citizens of Israel applauded Saddam Hussein’s annexation of Kuwait – with all its attendant horrors – did not make Harkabi recant.

But even if it be granted that Muslims can transcend their “negative characteristics” – a pretty insult – common sense would dictate that Israel should not withdraw to its vulnerable 1949 armistice lines until Muslim leaders not only preached peace instead of war and showed some tangible evidence that they are not engaging in prevarication. After all, deception is a basic principle of war, hence of warlike cultures. It would seem, therefore, Israel’s withdrawal could only encourage the bellicose and disdainful qualities Harkabi attributes to Islam.

Finally, it should be noted that for Harkabi to speak of the “negative characteristics” of any people is paradoxical inasmuch as he is a self-professed moral relativist.

Not the only one…

I single out Professor Harkabi because he was not only an internationally prominent academic and reputed expert on Islam and on the Arab-Israeli conflict; he was also a former chief of Israeli military intelligence. He speaks not only for himself. He exemplifies the mentality of no small number of Jewish intellectuals and politicians, including many who go so far as to advocate Israel’s withdrawal from Judea and Samaria …

People like PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon would have us believe that Muslims can transcend their 1,400-year-old hatred of Jews if only they were endowed with economic prosperity, had indoor toilets and household appliances, as well as a Toyota, and Internet. They ignore Harkabi’s own documentation Islam’s unmitigated vituperation and hatred of Jews and of Israel. They simply refuse to take Islam and its Qur’an seriously.

The power of the human mind to ignore reality, to disregard the truth, and to find or fabricate reasons to justify escaping reality, is truly extraordinary.□

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