Transcript: Yossi Klein Halevi on "The View From Israel" | Jan 14, 2006

Yossi Klein Halevi stands on a podium facing an audience, inside a large Jewish temple with tall vaulted ceilings and indirect lighting.

Yossi is in his fifties, with short blond hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a beige suit, blue shirt, orange tie, and a purple kippah.

He says THIS
WEEK, AS ISRAELIS AND JEWS
AROUND THE WORLD COMMEMORATE THE
10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE MURDER
OF YITZHAK RABIN BY A FELLOW
JEW...
WHEN WE TURN OUR MINDS TO THE
QUESTION OF DEMOCRACY IN THE
FUTURE, OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN
THE MIDDLE EAST, WE BEGIN BY
ASKING OURSELVES THE VERY
PAINFUL QUESTION OF HOW DURABLE
IS DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL ITSELF?
WE TEND TO TAKE FOR GRANTED THE
MIRACLE OF ISRAELI DEMOCRACY.
AND YET, I KNOW OF NO OTHER
EXAMPLE ANYWHERE IN HISTORY, IN
WHICH A COUNTRY BORN IN SIEGE,
EXPERIENCING ONE CONSECUTIVE WAR
AFTER ANOTHER AND IN PERIODS
BETWEEN WARS, KNOWING VARYING
DEGREES OF INTENSIFICATION OF
TERROR GOING BACK TO THE 1950s,
AND WHO'S POPULATION AT THE SAME
TIME IS OVERWHELMINGLY COMPOSED
OF JEWISH IMMIGRANTS AND
REFUGEES FROM NON-DEMOCRATIC
SOCIETIES, WHETHER EASTERN
EUROPE, THE FORMER SOVIET UNION,
MUSLIM, ARAB COUNTRIES.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Yossi Klein Halevi. Senior Fellow, Shalem Center in Jerusalem. 'The view from Israel.' Holy Blossom Temple. November 8, 2005."

Yossi continues AND THAT
SUCH A SOCIETY, LIVING UNDER
UNBEARABLE STRAIN FROM WITHOUT,
AND I WOULD ARGUE UNBEARABLE
STRAIN FROM WITHIN AS WELL, HAS
MANAGED, FROM ITS INCEPTION, TO
MAINTAIN A VIBRANT DEMOCRACY.
THAT MIRACLE SEEMED SUDDENLY TO BE
CALLED INTO QUESTION 10 YEARS
AGO THIS WEEK, WHEN WE REACHED
THE LOWEST POINT OF
JEWISH-ISRAELI DISCOURSE,
PERHAPS IN SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS.
EVEN NOW, 10 YEARS LATER...
AND THESE 10 YEARS HAVE BEEN
AMONG OUR MOST TRAUMATIC.
WE'VE HAD THOUSANDS OF VICTIMS
SINCE RABIN.
THOUSANDS OF DEAD AND WOUNDED.
NEVERTHELESS, THERE'S SOMETHING
UNIQUELY TRAUMATIC ABOUT THAT
MOMENT, ABOUT RETURNING TO THAT
MOMENT 10 YEARS AGO, WHEN WE
DISCOVERED JUST HOW FRAGILE THE
NATURE OF OUR DEMOCRATIC
DISCOURSE AND OUR MOST BASIC
SENSE OF UNITY, REALLY IS.
I BELIEVE THAT IT WILL TAKE US
DECADES, PERHAPS GENERATIONS, TO
ABSORB AND OVERCOME THE
CONSEQUENCES OF THAT SINGLE ACT,
WHICH WAS PRECEDED BY MONTHS OF
INTENSE DE-LEGITIMIZATION,
INCITEMENT, AGAINST RABIN.
AND JUST HOW BITTER THE
DISCOURSE REMAINS, IF NOT, IF
NOT EXPLICITLY THAN AT LEAST
IMPLICITLY IN HOW WE VIEW EACH
OTHER TODAY.
WHEN, TO GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE,
DURING THE RECENT DEBATE OVER
WITHDRAWAL FROM GAZA, THE
SETTLERS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS
CAME OUT WITH A SLOGAN I'M
SURE MANY OF YOU SAW:
"A JEW DOES NOT EXPEL A JEW."
AND THAT SLOGAN, OF COURSE, IS
RESONANT WITH A SENSE OF JEWISH
FAMILY, OF SOLIDARITY.
SOME CYNICS ON THE LEFT
RESPONDED WITH A COUNTER SLOGAN:
"YES, A JEW DOESN'T EXPEL A JEW,
A JEW ONLY MURDERS A JEW."
AND IT'S EXACTLY THAT KIND OF
BITTERNESS WHICH WILL CONTINUE
TO SURFACE IN OUR DISCOURSE AND
HAS CREATED A PROFOUND SENSE OF
MISTRUST, OF RUPTURE, IN OUR
MOST MINIMAL SENSE OF
SOLIDARITY.
AND REALLY A DECADE FOR A
PEOPLE WITH AN ANCIENT MEMORY
IS A VERY SHORT TIME SPAN.
ESPECIALLY FOR A PEOPLE THAT
HAS MAINTAINED A TRADITION OF
FASTING ONE DAY A YEAR FOR THE
ANCIENT JEWISH GOVERNOR OF
JUDEA, GEDALIAH, WHO WAS
APPOINTED BY THE BABYLONIAN
CONQUERORS AND WAS MURDERED BY A
JEWISH ZEALOT.
AND PERHAPS IT'S ONLY IN OUR
TIME WHEN WE CAN FULLY
APPRECIATE WHY THERE WAS THIS
SENSE OF URGENCY IN THE JEWISH
COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS TO
PRESERVE THAT TRAUMATIC MEMORY
OF A JEW MURDERING A FELLOW JEW,
A PUBLIC OFFICIAL, A JEWISH
LEADER, AS WARNING, AS NOW IN
OUR CASE, AS A DIRECT LINK
BETWEEN OUR EXPERIENCE IN THIS
GENERATION AND OUR ANCIENT
TRAUMA.
YITZHAK RABIN WAS THE VERY BEST
OF HIS GENERATION.
HE WAS OUR FIRST ISRAELI-BORN
PRIME MINISTER.
HE WAS PRESENT AT EVERY HEROIC
MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF ISRAEL,
BEGINNING IN 1948 WHEN HE
COMMANDED THE FORCES LEADING TO
THE BREAK-THROUGH, UH, INTO
JERUSALEM ON THE ROAD TO
TEL AVIV.
1967 OF COURSE, THE CHIEF OF
STAFF, WHO PRESIDED OVER OUR
GREATEST VICTORY.
THE PRIME MINISTER UNDER WHOSE
WATCH THE ENTEBBE RESCUE
OCCURRED.
SO THAT WHEN WE MOURN RABIN,
WE'RE NOT ONLY MOURNING THE
MAN, WE'RE MOURNING THE LOSS OF
OUR INNOCENCE, THE LOSS OF
OUR...
OF OUR OWN CONTEMPORARY HEROIC
HISTORY.
IN TURNING TO THE TOPIC TONIGHT,
THE TOPIC OF DEMOCRATIZATION, I
WOULD ARGUE THAT RABIN'S LEGACY
IS COMPLEX AND EVEN AMBIVALENT.
HIS IMPACT ON ISRAELI DEMOCRACY,
IN WAYS THAT I'LL EXPLAIN IN A
MOMENT, WERE, I BELIEVE,
DECISIVE AND HISTORIC.
AT THE SAME TIME, HIS IMPACT ON
THE POSSIBILITY FOR SEEING THE
EMERGENCE OF A DEMOCRACY, OR
SOME FORM OF DEMOCRACY, IN A
PALESTINIAN STATE WAS FAR LESS
SUCCESSFUL AND WE'LL BE LIVING
WITH THOSE NEGATIVE
REPERCUSSIONS FOR MANY YEARS TO
COME.
RABIN WAS THE FIRST ISRAELI
PRIME MINISTER WHO UNDERSTOOD
THAT ISRAELI DEMOCRACY CANNOT BE
TAKEN FOR GRANTED.
THAT A
PEOPLE LIVING UNDER SIEGE CANNOT
ADD TO IT'S BURDEN OF BEING A
PERMANENT OCCUPIER OF ANOTHER
PEOPLE.
AND IT WAS RABIN WHO SET IN
MOTION THE PROCESS THAT NOT ONLY
FREED THE PALESTINIANS OR BEGAN
TO FREE THE PALESTINIANS OF
OCCUPATION.
BUT FROM
THE ISRAELI POINT OF VIEW, EVEN
MORE SIGNIFICANTLY, SET IN
MOTION THE PROCESS OF FREEING
ISRAELI SOCIETY FROM BEING
OCCUPIED BY THE OCCUPATION.
RABIN, WHEN HE RAN FOR ELECTION
IN 1992, COINED THE PHRASE
"LET'S TAKE GAZA OUT OF TEL AVIV
AND TEL AVIV OUT OF GAZA."
AND THAT WAS A BRILLIANT
SUMMATION OF WHAT THE ISRAELI
PUBLIC HAD LEARNED FROM THE
BITTER EXPERIENCE OF THE FIRST
INTIFADA OF THE LATE 1980s,
EARLY 1990s, WHEN A MAJORITY OF
ISRAELIS BEGAN TO EMOTIONALLY
WITHDRAW FROM GAZA.
SO THAT THE WITHDRAWAL THAT WAS
IMPLEMENTED JUST RECENTLY WAS
ONLY THE PRACTICAL CONSEQUENCE
OF A SHIFT IN THE ISRAELI
POLITICAL DEBATE, IN ISRAELI
POLITICAL CONSCIOUSNESS, THAT
OCCURRED ALREADY THEN IN THE
LATE 80s, AND WHICH RABIN WAS
THE FIRST ISRAELI POLITICIAN,
SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL LEADER, TO
ARTICULATE INTO A POLICY.
THERE WAS SOMETHING, TO MY MIND,
ALMOST MYSTICAL IN RABIN'S
APPEARANCE IN 1992, AT THE AGE
OF 70, THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF
THE SIX DAY WAR, COMING IN HIS
OLD AGE BACK TO POLITICAL
LEADERSHIP TO TRY TO HELP US, TO
TRY TO EXTRICATE US, FROM THE
UNSEEN CONSEQUENCES OF THE
VICTORY THAT HE HAD GIVEN US AS
A YOUNG GENERAL IN THE '67 WAR.
HERE HE WAS NOW, IN 1992, TRYING
TO SAVE US FROM THE OCCUPATION
WHICH HE HAD INADVERTENTLY
BROUGHT, IMPOSED, ON ISRAEL.
IF THE ASSASSINATION WAS THE
LOWEST MOMENT OF ISRAELI
POLITICAL DISCOURSE, THE
WITHDRAWAL FROM GAZA TWO MONTHS
AGO WAS, I BELIEVE, OUR FINEST
DEMOCRATIC MOMENT.
AND IT WAS, IN IT'S WAY, A
VINDICATION OF RABIN, THOUGH
ONE NEEDS TO SAY ONLY A PARTIAL
VINDICATION, BECAUSE RABIN
ENVISIONED AN ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL
IN THE CONTEXT OF A NEGOTIATED
PEACE.
AND WHAT WE LEARNED THROUGH THE
'90s AND ESPECIALLY AFTER THE
RABIN ASSASSINATION AND IN
THESE LAST BITTER FIVE YEARS,
WAS THAT RABIN WAS ONLY
PARTIALLY RIGHT.
HE WAS RIGHT ABOUT THE NEED TO
WITHDRAW FROM GAZA.
HE WAS WRONG THAT THERE WAS A
PARTNER ON THE PALESTINIAN SIDE
WITH WHOM WE COULD NEGOTIATE IN
GOOD FAITH A WITHDRAWAL.
SO THAT IN THE END, WHEN WE
IMPLEMENTED WITHDRAWAL, IT
TURNED OUT TO BE IN A VERY
DIFFERENT WAY THAN ENVISIONED BY
RABIN.
IT TURNED OUT TO BE, IN EFFECT,
A REPUDIATION OF RABIN'S VISION
OF A NEGOTIATED PEACE.
NEVERTHELESS, THE FACT THAT WE
NOT ONLY WITHDREW FROM GAZA,
UNILATERALLY, BUT ALSO MANAGED
TO AVOID THE APOCALYPTIC
PREDICTIONS THAT WERE RIFE IN
ISRAELI SOCIETY, IN THE MEDIA
FOR MONTHS BEFORE THE ACTUAL
WITHDRAWAL TOOK PLACE, WAS THE
CLEAREST INDICATION THAT ISRAELI
SOCIETY AS A WHOLE HAS LEARNED
THE LESSONS, OR BEGUN TO LEARN
SOME OF THE LESSONS OF THE
ASSASSINATION.
THE FACT THAT NOT A SINGLE
ISRAELI SPENT ONE NIGHT IN THE
HOSPITAL AS A RESULT OF THIS
WITHDRAWAL, WHICH WAS PROBABLY
THE SINGLE MOST TRAUMATIC EVENT
THAT WE IMPOSED ON OURSELVES AS
A SOCIETY SINCE 1948 OR PERHAPS
SINCE THE GERMAN REPARATIONS
AGREEMENT OF THE EARLY 1950s, IS
A TESTIMONY TO THE MATURATION OF
ISRAELI DEMOCRACY.
THERE ARE HOWEVER, SEVERAL DARK
SIDES THAT WE NEED TO FACE, SOME
UNRESOLVED PROCESSES AS A RESULT
OF THE ASSASSINATION WHICH
EMERGED AGAIN IN THE COURSE OF
THE WITHDRAWAL.
THE FIRST IS THAT WHENEVER YOU
LOOK AT A PICTURE OF ARIEL
SHARON AND MOST OF US IN ISRAEL
CAN ONLY SEE HIM THROUGH
PICTURES NOW BECAUSE HIS BODY
GUARDS WILL NOT ALLOW HIM TO
CIRCULATE.
WHAT YOU SEE IS A VERY SMALL
SHARON, AND SHARON IS NOT A
SMALL MAN, ENGULFED BY LITERALLY
DOZENS OF BODY GUARDS.
I DON'T KNOW IF THERE IS ANOTHER
POLITICAL LEADER IN THE WEST
TODAY THAT IS QUITE AS GUARDED,
AS PROTECTED, AS SHARON NEEDS TO
BE.
NOW, MOST OF THE SETTLERS AND
THEIR SUPPORTERS OPPOSE VIOLENCE
AND THEY PROVED IT DURING THE
WITHDRAWAL.
THEY
WOULD CERTAINLY BE HORRIFIED AT
THE PROSPECT OF ANOTHER
ASSASSINATION.
NEVERTHELESS, THERE REMAINS
TODAY IN ISRAEL, SEVERAL
HUNDRED POTENTIAL ASSASSINS,
MANY OF THEM WITH SOPHISTICATED
MILITARY TRAINING, WITHIN THE
SETTLEMENT MOVEMENT AND AMONG
THEIR SUPPORTERS.
AND IT'S
NOT ONLY SHARON THAT NEEDS TO BE
PROTECTED FROM A POTENTIAL
ASSASSIN.
GENERAL ELAZAR STERN, WHO IS
THE HIGHEST RANKING RELIGIOUS
FIGURE, ORTHODOX JEW, TO REACH
THE POSITION OF GENERAL IN THE,
IN THE UPPER ECHELONS OF THE
ARMY AND WHO TOOK A LEADING ROLE
IN PREPARING THE ARMY AND
ESPECIALLY THE ORTHODOX
SOLDIERS, FOR THE NEED TO LISTEN
TO THEIR COMMANDERS RATHER THAN
TO THE SETTLER RABBI'S, WHO WERE
URGING ORTHODOX SOLDIERS TO
RESIST ORDERS.
GENERAL STERN NOW HAS TO WALK
AROUND WITH BODY GUARDS AGAINST
FELLOW ORTHODOX JEWS.
SO THAT A MAN WHO WAS ONCE
HERALDED IN THE ORTHODOX
COMMUNITY AS THE SYMBOL OF THE
ORTHODOX ACCEPTANCE, ABSORPTION
INTO THE ISRAELI MAINSTREAM, HAS
NOW BECOME ONE OF THE MOST HATED
MEN WITHIN THE ORTHODOX
COMMUNITY TO THE EXTENT WHERE
HIS LIFE MAY BE, GOD FORBID, IN
DANGER.
IN ASSESSING THE ROLE OF
RELIGIOUS ZIONISM, IN CREATING
THIS CULTURE, IN WHICH
ASSASSINATIONS HAVE BECOME A
PERMANENT PART OF ISRAELI
POLITICAL THINKING AND PLANNING,
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE
RELIGIOUS ZIONIST COMMUNITY
PASSED ONE TEST AND FAILED
ANOTHER IN THESE RECENT MONTHS,
IN THE EVENTS SURROUNDING THE
WITHDRAWAL.
THEY PASSED THE TEST IN A WAY
THAT REALLY NO ONE EXPECTED, IN
THAT THEIR SONS WENT INTO THE
SETTLEMENTS IN GAZA AND PULLED
OUT FRIENDS, IN MANY CASES
RELATIVES, AND PARTICIPATED IN
AN ACT THAT MOST OF THEM
CONSIDERED POLITICAL MADNESS.
NEVERTHELESS, THEY DID SO
BECAUSE OF THEIR PROFOUND
COMMITMENT BOTH TO JEWISH UNITY
AND TO PRESERVING THE INTEGRITY
OF THE ISRAELI ARMY.
AND THEY REVEALED A LEVEL OF
MATURITY AND OF LOYALTY TO
DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES, WHICH
NEEDS TO BE EMPHASIZED
ESPECIALLY NOW IN THIS WEEK OF
THE 10th ANNIVERSARY WHEN SO
MUCH MEDIA ATTENTION IN ISRAEL
IS FOCUSED NEGATIVELY ONCE
AGAIN ON THE RELIGIOUS ZIONIST
COMMUNITY.
THE TEST THAT RELIGIOUS ZIONISM
HAS SO FAR FAILED AND IT IS A
SIGNIFICANT FAILURE, IS THAT THE
LEADERSHIP OF THE COMMUNITY, AS
OPPOSED AS THEY ARE TO POLITICAL
VIOLENCE, DID NOT MAKE CLEAR TO
THEIR YOUNG PEOPLE THAT HOWEVER
APPALLING IT IS TO DISMANTLE
SETTLEMENTS AND TO DESTROY
ORGANIC COMMUNITIES THAT WERE
SENT BY SUCCESSIVE ISRAELI
GOVERNMENTS TO GAZA, HOWEVER
TRAGIC FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW
AND FROM MINE AS WELL, EVEN AS
SOMEONE WHO SUPPORTED,
PASSIONATELY SUPPORTED THE
WITHDRAWAL, NEVERTHELESS THIS
WAS A ZIONIST TRAGEDY, THIS WAS
AN ISRAELI TRAGEDY, NOT JUST A
RELIGIOUS ZIONIST TRAGEDY.
STILL THE LEADERSHIP OF THE
COMMUNITY DID NOT CONVEY TO
THEIR CHILDREN THE FACT THAT
THERE IS ONE GREATER THREAT TO
ISRAELI SECURITY.
EVEN ASSUMING THAT ALL OF THEIR
WARNINGS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF
WITHDRAWAL TURN OUT TO BE TRUE,
NEVERTHELESS, THERE IS ONE
SCENARIO THAT IS FAR MORE
DEVASTATING TO ISRAEL'S ABILITY
TO SURVIVE AND THAT IS, GOD
FORBID, ANOTHER POLITICAL
ASSASSINATION.
I DON'T KNOW IF ISRAELI SOCIETY
COULD SURVIVE ANOTHER SIMILAR
TRAUMA AND STILL REMAIN INTACT.
THAT MESSAGE, IN THAT FORCEFUL
WAY THAT I'M TRYING TO PRESENT
TO YOU, HAS NOT YET BEEN
CONVEYED TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN
THE RELIGIOUS ZIONIST COMMUNITY.
AND WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE
FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL,
MY FEAR IS THE STATE OF MIND OF
A GENERATION OF RELIGIOUS
ZIONISTS, WHO ARE AS A
COMMUNITY, AMONG OUR BEST AND
MOST DEDICATED YOUNG PEOPLE.
THEY'RE THE ONES WHO ARE FILLING
THE COMMANDO UNITS, THE OFFICERS
CORE.
THEY'RE THE ONES WHO TRAVEL THE,
THE DIASPORA LOOKING FOR JEWISH
COMMUNITIES TO REACH OUT TO.
THEY ARE TRULY AS A GROUP, OUR
BEST YOUNG PEOPLE.
AND YET, THEIR COMMITMENT TO
DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES IS, I
WOULD ARGUE, THIN.
AND HERE I NEED TO SAY AS WELL,
THAT SHARON PLAYED A VERY
NEGATIVE ROLE IN THE WAY IN
WHICH HE PUSHED WITHDRAWAL
THROUGH THE ISRAELI POLITICAL
SYSTEM.
SOME OF YOU MAY RECALL THAT
SHARON INITIALLY AGREED TO HOLD
A REFERENDUM WITHIN THE LIKUD
OVER THE QUESTION OF WITHDRAWAL,
HE ASSUMED HE WOULD WIN.
THE RELIGIOUS ZIONIST COMMUNITY
AND ESPECIALLY IT'S YOUNG
PEOPLE MOBILIZED IN A PASSIONATE
DISPLAY OF DEMOCRATIC
ENTHUSIASM, THEY WENT HOUSE TO
HOUSE EXPLAINING TO THE ISRAELI
PUBLIC, LOOKING FOR MEMBERS OF
THE LIKUD TO PERSUADE TO VOTE
AGAINST SHARON IN THE
REFERENDUM.
THEY PLAYED ENTIRELY BY THE
DEMOCRATIC RULES.
SHARON LOST THE REFERENDUM,
TURNED AROUND AND SAID "THE
REFERENDUM ISN'T BINDING."
WHICH TECHNICALLY, IT WASN'T.
IT WAS A GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT
THAT HE HAD MADE WITH THE
LIKUD.
HE VIOLATED THE AGREEMENT,
PRECEDED TO PASS IT THROUGH THE
KNESSET AND THE CABINET, BUT IN
VIOLATING THE VERY DEMOCRATIC
PROCESS THAT HE HAD INITIATED
AND WHICH SO MANY YOUNG
RELIGIOUS ZIONISTS COMMITTED
THEMSELVES TO AND WAS THEIR
FIRST TASTE OF THE DEMOCRATIC
PROCESS, THAT ALONG WITH THE
TRAUMA OF WITHDRAWAL, HAS
EMBITTERED A GENERATION OF
RELIGIOUS ZIONISTS.
AND I FEAR FOR THEIR LONG TERM
COMMITMENT TO DEMOCRACY.
I FEAR FOR THEIR CYNICISM TOWARD
THE POLITICAL SYSTEM.
AND WHEN I SPEAK TO YOUNG PEOPLE
IN THAT COMMUNITY, IT'S ROUTINE
FOR ME TO HEAR REMARKS LIKE
"THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS
ISRAELI DEMOCRACY."
"WE LIVE IN A PRETEND
DEMOCRACY."
"SHARON AND THE SHARON MAFIA
FAMILY CONTROL THIS COUNTRY."
"THE ONLY REASON HE WITHDREW IS
BECAUSE HE WAS TRYING TO
DEFLECT PUBLIC ATTENTION FROM
HIS OWN SCANDALS AND HIS SON'S
SCANDALS."
AND THAT
KIND OF SIMPLISTIC THINKING
COULD HAVE LONG TERM
IMPLICATIONS, THOUGH I DO
BELIEVE THAT THE ISRAELI
MAJORITY REMAINS FIRMLY
DEMOCRATIC.
AND I DO
BELIEVE IN OUR CAPACITY TO
CONTINUE TO OVERCOME THREATS TO
THE DEMOCRATIC CULTURE, BUT I
WORRY ABOUT THIS COMMUNITY.
IN TRYING TO ASSESS RABIN'S
LEGACY AND THAT'S THE TERM
THAT WE USE IN ISRAEL, THE
PREGNANT TERM THE, THE LEFT HAS
REALLY COINED TO PROMOTE THE
IDEA OF AN UNAMBIGUOUS POSITIVE
LEGACY THAT RABIN HAS LEFT THE
COUNTRY.
I WOULD ARGUE THAT THE RABIN
LEGACY IN TERMS OF THE
DEMOCRATIZATION OF THE MIDDLE
EAST AND ESPECIALLY THE
DEMOCRATIZATION OF PALESTINIAN
SOCIETY IS FAR MORE AMBIGUOUS
THAN HIS ROLE IN DEMOCRATIZING
ISRAELI CULTURE, IN PARTICULAR
IN FREEING US FROM THE BURDEN,
THE UNDEMOCRATIC BURDEN, OF
OCCUPATION.
THE TRAGEDY OF THE OSLO PROCESS,
WHICH WE ARE LIVING OUT TO THIS
DAY, IT IS CONTINUING TO
REVERBERATE IN PALESTINIAN
SOCIETY, IS THAT RATHER THAN
SEEKING TO NEGOTIATE WITH THE
LOCAL LEADERSHIP, IN PARTICULAR
OF THE WEST BANK, WHICH GREW UP
UNDER ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND
WHILE THERE WAS NO LOVE LOST
BETWEEN THE PALESTINIANS OF THE
WEST BANK AND ISRAEL,
NEVERTHELESS THERE WAS A CERTAIN
FAMILIARITY EVEN AT TIMES IN
INTIMACY.
WHAT OSLO DID WAS IMPOSE AN
ANTI-DEMOCRATIC DICTATORSHIP
FROM WITHOUT, FROM TUNIS, ON THE
LOCAL POPULATION AND DESTROYED
ANY POSSIBILITY, I BELIEVE, FOR
THE NEXT GENERATION OF
CULTIVATING AN INDIGENOUS
LEADERSHIP THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN
ABLE TO MOVE PALESTINIAN
SOCIETY, ESPECIALLY THE WEST
BANK WHERE THERE IS A STRONG, OR
WAS A STRONG MIDDLE CLASS,
CLOSER TOWARD A DEMOCRATIC
MODEL.
AND WHEN I THINK OF THE
ENCOUNTERS OVER THE YEARS THAT
I'VE HAD WITH PALESTINIANS AND
WHICH ENCOUNTERS THAT ARE NO3
LONGER POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE
CONSEQUENCES OF OSLO, I THINK OF
TWO STORIES IN PARTICULAR.
TWO VERY SMALL, BUT TO MY MIND,
TELLING ANECDOTES ABOUT THE
POSSIBILITIES THAT EXISTED
WITHIN THE WEST BANK, A LONGING
FOR A KIND OF DEMOCRATIC
NORMALIZATION THAT THE OSLO
PROCESS SQUELCHED.
I MET A JOURNALIST, A
PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST ONCE WHO
TOLD ME THAT HE WAS IN AN ULPAN,
INTENSIVELY STUDYING HEBREW.
AND OF COURSE THE IMMEDIATE
CYNICAL ISRAELI REACTION, AS
WELL TO KNOW THE ENEMY AND HE
SAID "NO, THE REASON THAT I'M
LEARNING HEBREW IS BECAUSE I
WANT TO BE ABLE TO READ YOUR
PRESS.
THE ONLY TIME I FEEL LIKE A
FREE HUMAN BEING IN THIS
CONFLICT, IS WHEN I CAN READ THE
ISRAELI PRESS."
AND THAT TO ME INDICATED THAT
THERE WAS A MUCH LARGER
RESERVOIR OF DEMOCRATIC YEARNING
WITHIN PALESTINIAN SOCIETY THAN
PERHAPS IN OTHER SOCIETIES IN
THE ARAB WORLD AND THE IRONY OF
COURSE, IS THAT IT WAS PRECISELY
THE FACT THAT THEY WERE OCCUPIED
BY A DEMOCRACY THAT MADE IT
POSSIBLE FOR PALESTINIANS TO
OBSERVE DEMOCRACY UP CLOSE.
AND AT A POLL TAKEN SOMETIME IN
THE 90s, WHEN PALESTINIANS WERE
ASKED WHICH DEMOCRACY, OR WHICH
SOCIETY DO THEY MOST ADMIRE, AND
WOULD THEY MOST LIKE TO EMULATE,
THE ASTONISHING OR PERHAPS NOT
SO ASTONISHING ANSWER, WAS
ISRAEL.
AND I ENCOUNTERED THIS IN ONE
MORE BRIEF ANECDOTE.
I WAS HAVING SOME RENOVATIONS
DONE ON MY APARTMENT IN
JERUSALEM AND I GOT FRIENDLY
WITH ONE OF THE WORKERS AND ONE
DAY HE SAID TO ME "TELL ME
SOMETHING.
ARE YOU BETTER THAN ME?"
AND I SAID "I, I DON'T
UNDERSTAND THE QUESTION."
AND HE SAID "IF YOU WERE TO GO
DOWNTOWN, TO DOWNTOWN JERUSALEM
AND STAND ON A STREET CORNER
AND SHOUT THAT YOUR PRIME
MINISTER IS A MURDERER AND A
GANGSTER AND A THIEF, WOULD
ANYTHING HAPPEN TO YOU?"
I SAID "WELL, THERE'D PROBABLY
BE SOME HEATED CONVERSATIONS,
BUT THERE WOULD BE NO PHYSICAL
DANGER TO ME."
HE
SAID "WELL, IF I WERE TO STAND
UP IN MY VILLAGE AND SHOUT THAT
YASSER ARAFAT IS A MURDERER AND
A THIEF AND A CORRUPT DICTATOR,
I WOULD DISAPPEAR AND MY FAMILY
MIGHT NEVER SEE ME AGAIN."
"SO, WHY
ARE YOU BETTER THAN ME?
WHY SHOULD YOU HAVE THE RIGHTS
YOU HAVE AND WHY DON'T I HAVE
THE RIGHTS THAT YOU HAVE?"
THAT TOO, IS A LEGACY OF OSLO.
MANY TIMES, IN THE COURSE OF
THESE BITTER FIVE YEARS, WHEN
I'D SPEAK TO PALESTINIANS AND
THOSE CONVERSATIONS
UNFORTUNATELY HAVE BECOME FEWER
AND FAR BETWEEN, I WOULD HEAR
COMMENTS LIKE "WELL, YOU KNOW,
THIS IS YOUR FAULT.
YOU ISRAELIS DID THIS.
NOBODY TOLD YOU TO BRING ARAFAT
HERE.
YOU BROUGHT HIM HERE, YOU, YOU
WERE VERY SMART, YOU ISRAELIS.
YOU KNEW BETTER THAN ANYONE.
YOU'D BE ABLE TO MAKE A DEAL
WITH HIM AND YOU WOULD BE ABLE
TO CONTROL HIM.
WHAT YOU GOT IS REALLY WHAT YOU
BROUGHT ON YOURSELVES."
AND I HAD NO ANSWER FOR THAT
ACCUSATION.
AND WHEN I THINK OF THE OSLO
YEARS, PERHAPS THE MOST SHAMEFUL
ISRAELI MOMENT WAS ENCAPSULATED
BY SOMETHING THAT RABIN SAID
JUST AFTER HE SIGNED THE
AGREEMENT WITH ARAFAT ON THE
WHITEHOUSE LAWN.
AND HE WAS ASKED "WHY DO YOU
THINK THAT ARAFAT WILL BE ABLE
TO FIGHT TERROR?
WHY WILL, WHY ARE YOU WILLING TO
TRUST ARAFAT AS YOUR PARTNER
AGAINST TERROR?"
AND RABIN RESPONDED "BECAUSE
ARAFAT CAN CONDUCT A REGIME."
AND I'LL SAY IT IN HEBREW FIRST
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE HEBREW SPEAKERS.

(Speaking Hebrew)

He continues "ARAFAT CAN CONDUCT A REGIME,
WHERE UNLIKE ME, HE DOESN'T HAVE
TO DEAL WITH THE SUPREME COURT
AND WITH B'TSELEM."
WHICH IS A HUMAN RIGHTS
ORGANIZATION.
IN OTHER WORDS, THE VERY FACT
THAT ARAFAT WILL BE BRINGING A
DICTATORSHIP TO PALESTINE, WILL
ALLOW HIM TO BE MORE RUTHLESS
WITH TERROR THAN RABIN AND
ISRAEL FIGHTING TERROR AS AN
OCCUPIER.
WE NOW KNOW THAT IN TRUSTING THE
WAR AGAINST TERROR TO A DICTATOR
IS NOT JUST A NON-STARTER, BUT
CERTAINLY IN OUR CASE, IT WAS A
RECIPE FOR BRINGING ON THE WORST
TERRORISM THAT ISRAEL EVER
EXPERIENCED.
EMPOWERING ARAFAT HAS HAD A
LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCE THAT HAS
OUT-LIVED ARAFAT HIMSELF.
ARAFAT LEFT BEHIND A SCORCHED
EARTH FOR PALESTINE.
IN FACT, ONE CAN SAY THAT
ARAFAT HAS REALLY BEQUEATHED
TWO LEGACIES TO THE
PALESTINIANS.
ONE IS, HE IS THE FATHER OF
PALESTINE.
LIKE IT OR NOT, HE IS THE ONE
WHO MADE A PALESTINIAN STATE
INEVITABLE, BUT HE'S ALSO THE
ONE WHO MADE A PALESTINIAN STATE
UNWORKABLE.
BY CREATING THE KIND OF
ANTI-DEMOCRATIC CULTURE IN WHICH
12 OR 15 RIVAL SECURITY SERVICES
WERE ESTABLISHED TO MONITOR EACH
OTHER AND THEN AT THE DECISIVE
MOMENT, TO TURN THEIR GUNS
AGAINST ISRAEL.
BY CREATING AN ENDEMIC CULTURE
OF CORRUPTION AND MOST OF ALL BY
CREATING WHAT I WOULD CALL A
CULTURE OF DENIAL, IN WHICH A
GENERATION OF PALESTINIAN
CHILDREN WERE TAUGHT TO DENY ANY
LEGITIMACY TO THE JEWISH STORY.
THERE WAS NO TEMPLE IN
JERUSALEM, THERE WAS NO ANCIENT
JEWISH PRESENCE IN JERUSALEM,
THERE WAS NO HOLOCAUST.
THIS IS NORMATIVE THINKING NOW
FOR THE GENERATION THAT GREW UP
UNDER OSLO, UNDER ARAFAT.
AND THAT TOO IS OUR
CONTRIBUTION, OUR TRAGIC
CONTRIBUTION, TO IMPEDING THE
POSSIBILITY OF PALESTINIAN
DEMOCRACY.
WHEN I
HEAR THE ARGUMENTS BEING MADE
ABOUT WHETHER HAMAS SHOULD RUN
OR SHOULDN'T RUN IN THE
ELECTIONS, IT SEEMS TO ME TO BE
ENTIRELY MISSING THE POINT.
YES, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN FATAH AND HAMAS IN THAT
FATAH, OR THE P .L .O. IS
WILLING TO PLAY THE DIPLOMATIC
GAME, IS WILLING TO AT CERTAIN
MOMENTS SUSPEND TERROR OR TURN
THE TERROR ON AND OFF.
BUT ON
THE CRUCIAL ISSUE, WHICH TO MY
MIND IS NOT TERRORISM, BUT
TEACHING THE PALESTINIANS THE
WAY RABIN TAUGHT US, THAT THIS
IS A LAND THAT IS BEING SHARED
BY TWO PEOPLES AND THERE IS NO
ALTERNATIVE TO A TWO STATE
SOLUTION.
THE FACT THAT NO PALESTINIAN
LEADER HAS YET TOLD THEIR PEOPLE
IN ARABIC, WHAT SIEB ARACAT
RECENTLY SAID IN CNN, ON
CNN IN ENGLISH, WHICH IS WE
RECOGNIZE THE RIGHT OF ISRAEL
TO EXIST.
NO ARAB LEADER HAS YET SAID
THAT.
NO PALESTINIAN LEADER HAS YET
SAID THAT TO HIS OWN PEOPLE.
THAT IS THE PROBLEM FOR REACHING
PEACE AND FOR CREATING THE KIND
OF DEMOCRATIC CULTURE IN WHICH
WE CAN BEGIN TO FEEL THAT THERE
IS SOME SENSE OF RECIPROCITY.
SOME SENSE THAT WE REALLY CAN
MAKE A DEAL THAT RECONCILIATION
IS POSSIBLE.
LEGITIMACY, ACCEPTING THE
LEGITIMACY OF THE JEWISH
PRESENCE IN THE LAND, IS
POSSIBLE ONLY IN A DEMOCRATIC
CULTURE.
AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT
ARAFAT HAS PROBABLY MADE
IMPOSSIBLE FOR THIS GENERATION.
I RECENTLY MET WITH SOME OF THE
LEADERS OF THE DIVESTMENT
MOVEMENT IN THE PROTESTANT,
MAINLINE PROTESTANT CHURCHES
THAT WERE VISITING ISRAEL.
AND I WAS ASKED WHAT WOULD MAKE
ME FEEL SAFER AS AN ISRAELI.
WHAT WOULD MAKE, WHAT WOULD GIVE
ME THE SENSE THAT I CAN AFFORD
TO BEGIN TO TRUST MY NEIGHBOURS
AND BEGIN TO REACH A PEACE OR
RETURN TO A PEACE PROCESS.
AND MY ANSWER WAS VERY SIMPLE.
WHEN I BEGIN TO SEE AN ACTIVE
DEBATE, A DEMOCRATIC DEBATE IN
THE PALESTINIAN PRESS OVER THE
QUESTION OF HOLOCAUST DENIAL.
WHEN I BEGIN TO SEE THE
PALESTINIAN MEDIA INCLUDING THE
FATAH MEDIA, BEGIN TO RUN
ARTICLES THAT NOT ONLY PROMISE
THEIR PEOPLE THAT GREATER
PALESTINE IS IN THE OFFING, BUT
THAT BEGIN TO CHALLENGE THAT
ABSOLUTIST NOTION AND BEGIN TO
PREPARE THEIR PEOPLE FOR THE
INEVITABILITY OF LIVING BESIDE A
JEWISH STATE, WITH A JEWISH
MAJORITY IN WHATEVER BORDERS.
THEN I WILL BEGIN TO FEEL SAFE
OR BEGIN TO FEEL I CAN TRUST A
RENEWED PEACE PROCESS.
I'D LIKE TO TELL YOU ONE MORE
STORY, WHICH FOR ME REALLY SUMS
UP THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF REACHING
RECONCILIATION WITH A
NON-DEMOCRATIC PALESTINE.
IN LOOKING AT THE MIDDLE EAST AS
AN ISRAELI CONTEMPLATES THE
QUESTION OF DEMOCRACY, OUR VIEW
TENDS TO BE A SERIES OF
CONCENTRIC CIRCLES.
OUR INNERMOST CIRCLE OF CONCERN
IS THE FUTURE OF ISRAELI
DEMOCRACY AND THAT REMAINS AN
ONGOING AND, AND PASSIONATE
CONCERN FOR THE ISRAELI PUBLIC.
HOW DURABLE IS OUR DEMOCRACY
THAT WE'RE CONSTANTLY MEASURING?
THE NEXT CONCENTRIC CIRCLE IS
THE QUESTION OF PALESTINIAN
DEMOCRACY AND THE FINAL CIRCLE
IS THE QUESTION OF DEMOCRACY IN
THE REGION.
WHERE ONCE MANY OF US IN ISRAEL
MIGHT HAVE HOPED THAT A
PALESTINIAN STATE WOULD BECOME
THE FIRST ARAB DEMOCRACY, NOW I
THINK MOST ISRAELIS BELIEVE, IF
I MAY PRESUME TO SPEAK IN THE
NAME OF MOST ISRAELIS, THAT A
PALESTINIAN STATE MAY WELL END
UP BEING ONE OF THE LAST ARAB
DEMOCRACIES TO EMERGE.
WHAT DOES GIVE ME SOME MEASURED
OPTIMISM, IS THAT FOR THE FIRST
TIME WE ARE SEEING CHANGE
HAPPENING IN THE REGION.
ALBEIT, THROUGH MILITARY
INTERVENTION AND PRESSURE.
BUT THE
WARNINGS THAT WERE MADE BEFORE
THE IRAQ WAR, THAT AMERICAN
INTERVENTION WOULD INTENSIFY THE
JIHAD, HAVE TURNED OUT TO BE
ONLY HALF TRUE.
YES, THOSE WARNINGS CERTAIN DID
TURN OUT TO BE, TO BE, TO BE
ACCURATE.
BUT AT
THE SAME TIME, WE'VE SEEN UNDER
THE, UNDERCOVER OF THIS
INTERVENTION, AS A RESULT OF THE
TURMOIL IN THE ARAB WORLD, AS A
RESULT OF THE END OF THE
STABILITY OF THE ARAB WORLD,
WHICH WAS A CODE WORLD FOR
KEEPING THE ARAB WORLD IN
PERMANENT FROZEN SUSPENSION, WE
ARE SEEING MODERATE VOICES
AROUND THE REGION ALSO BEGINNING
TO EMERGE.
THE FACT THAT LEBANON IS IN THE
PROCESS OF BREAKING FREE OF
SYRIAN OCCUPATION, THE FACT THAT
THE UN HAS FORGOTTEN ISRAEL FOR
A MOMENT AND TURNED IT'S
ATTENTION TO SYRIA AND IN FACT
IS PASSING RESOLUTIONS WITH
TEETH THAT MAY ACTUALLY IMPOSE
SANCTIONS ON SYRIA.
THE FACT THAT IRAQ IS ENGAGED IN
AN ARAB CIVIL WAR AND THAT WE
HAVE SEEN A VERY IMPRESSIVE
ELECTORAL PROCESS, IF NOT YET A
GENUINE DEMOCRACY EMERGE THERE,
ARE ALL PIECES OF AN EMERGING
COUNTER-WEIGHT TO THE
INTENSIFYING JIHAD.
AND HERE I THINK IT'S CRUCIAL TO
RE-EXAMINE THE PREMISE OF A WAR
OF CIVILIZATIONS THAT IS VERY
POPULAR ON THE RIGHT.
AND THOSE THAT ARE PROMOTING,
ADVOCATING A WAR OF
CIVILIZATIONS IN SOME CASES OR
SIMPLY DIAGNOSING A WAR OF
CIVILIZATIONS, ARE PERHAPS
MISSING A MORE PROFOUND MOMENT
HERE, WHICH IS THAT WE ARE
WITNESSING THE BEGINNING OF AN
INTERNAL ARAB WAR, AN ARAB
CIVIL WAR, AND THAT IS CLEARLY
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN IRAQ.
FAR MORE IRAQIS ARE BEING KILLED
THAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS AND
THEY'RE BEING KILLED BY FELLOW
ARABS.
SO THAT THE MORE PRESSURE IS
MAINTAINED BY THE WEST, THE MORE
THE WEST CAN REMAIN STEADY, THE
MORE WE WILL BE ABLE TO CREATE
THE CONDITIONS IN WHICH THIS
EMERGING ARAB CIVIL WAR CAN TAKE
PLACE AND THE MORE EMBOLDENED
THE MODERATES WILL HOPEFULLY
FEEL.
I'D LIKE TO MAKE A FEW COMMENTS
AND THEN PERHAPS END ON THIS.
ABOUT ISRAEL'S RESPONSIBILITY
IN ENCOURAGING DEMOCRACY IN THE
REGION.
AND I WOULD ARGUE FOR A THREE
FOLD RESPONSIBILITY ON ISRAEL'S
PART.
THE FIRST, MOST OBVIOUS
CONTRIBUTION THAT ISRAEL CAN
MAKE TO ENCOURAGING DEMOCRACY IN
THE MIDDLE EAST, IS BY ENHANCING
IT'S OWN DEMOCRACY.
WE DO NOT LIVE IN A BUBBLE IN
THE MIDDLE EAST.
WE ARE CONSTANTLY BEING OBSERVED
BY THE ARAB WORLD.
AL JAZEERA, OTHER ARAB SATELLITE
STATIONS MAINTAIN OFFICES IN
JERUSALEM, INTERVIEW ISRAELI
POLITICAL FIGURES, REGULARLY
REPORT ON ISRAELI SOCIETY TO THE
ARAB WORLD IN A WAY THAT HAS
NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.
AND WHILE MUCH OF, OR PERHAPS
MOST OF THAT REPORTING, UH,
TENDS TO BE DISTORTED,
NEVERTHELESS ENOUGH OF ISRAELI
REALITY SEEPS THROUGH SO THAT WE
ARE BEING OBSERVED AND TESTED
FOR OUR DEMOCRATIC COMMITMENTS.
AND THE
FACT THAT WE SAY WE ARE THE ONLY
DEMOCRACY IN THE REGION, WHICH
WE, WHICH WE CERTAINLY ARE, IS
AT ONCE A SOURCE OF PRIDE AND A
SOURCE OF RESPONSIBILITY.
AS THE ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE
MIDDLE EAST, WE NEED TO CONTINUE
TO EXAMINE THE STATE OF OUR
DEMOCRACY.
SO FOR
EXAMPLE, IN THE QUESTION OF
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ARAB CITIZENS.
IT'S A VERY COMPLICATED
QUESTION.
THE ARAB MINORITY IS A VERY
PECULIAR MINORITY.
IN FACT, I KNOW OF NO OTHER
MINORITY QUITE LIKE IT IN THE
WORLD, WHERE IT IS WITHIN
ISRAEL, A SECOND CLASS MINORITY
BUT WITHIN THE ARAB WORLD, IT
IS PART OF THE REGIONAL
MAJORITY AND IT IS VERY
UNEASILY ALIGNED, AT LEAST
EMOTIONALLY, WITH A HOSTILE
REGIONAL MAJORITY.
SO THAT WHEN AN ISRAELI JEW
LOOKS AT THE ARAB MINORITY, WE
SEE AT ONCE OR WE FEEL, MANY OF
US FEEL AT ONCE GUILTY FOR THE
SECOND CLASS STATUS OF ARAB
ISRAELIS.
AND ALSO WEARY OF WHETHER THIS
COMMUNITY IS GOING TO BE A 5th
COLUMN OR NOT.
NEVERTHELESS, FOR ALL OF OUR
FEARS AND I WOULD ARGUE TO SOME
EXTENT JUSTIFIABLE FEARS, WE
NEED TO ACTIVELY ENGAGE IN A
DEMOCRATIC DIALOGUE WITH THE
ARAB MINORITY, WHICH WE HAVE NOT
AS A SOCIETY BEGUN TO DO, IN
ORDER TO DEEPEN OUR CREDENTIALS
AS A DEMOCRACY, TO DEEPEN THE
QUALITY OF ISRAELI, ISRAEL AS A,
AS A DEMOCRATIC ENTITY.
AND I WOULD ADD PARENTHETICALLY,
THAT HERE AGAIN RABIN HAS LEFT
US WITH A VERY POSITIVE LEGACY,
AGAIN YOU SEE THIS AMBIVALENCE
THAT I FEEL ABOUT RABIN LEGACY.
RABIN WAS THE FIRST PRIME
MINISTER TO PUT THE QUESTION OF
ARAB EQUALITY, OF EQUALITY OF
ARAB CITIZENS, ON THE AGENDA.
WHEN HE WAS MURDERED, HE WAS
MOURNED, I BELIEVE, AS DEEPLY
AMONG MANY ARAB ISRAELIS AS HE
WAS AMONG JEWISH ISRAELIS.
RABIN WAS THE FIRST TO TELL US,
NOT ONLY THAT THE OCCUPATION WAS
UNTENABLE, BUT TO GO A DEEPER
LEVEL AND TELL US THAT JEWISH OR
ISRAELI DOES NOT EQUAL JEWISH.
ISRAELI IS A BROADER CATEGORY
THAN JEWISH.
AND THAT'S A VERY DIFFICULT
CONCEPT, NOT ONLY FOR JEWISH
ISRAELIS TO ABSORB, BUT ALSO
ARAB ISRAELIS.
WE NEED TO BEGIN A DIALOGUE
WITH THE ARAB COMMUNITY ON
ISSUES RANGING FROM EQUALITY TO
INTEGRATING ARAB ISRAELIS, NOT
JUST INT...
FORMALLY INTO THE SOCIETY, BUT
MORE PROFOUNDLY INTO SOME FORM
OF COMMON ISRAELI IDENTITY.
SO THAT IS OUR FIRST
RESPONSIBILITY TOWARD ENHANCING
DEMOCRACY AT THIS CRUCIAL MOMENT
FOR DEMOCRATIZATION IN THE
MIDDLE EAST, WE NEED TO BE A
BETTER DEMOCRACY.
SECOND, IS WHAT WE BEGAN TO DO
IN GAZA AND WHAT I BELIEVE WE
WILL CONTINUE TO DO IN THE WEST
BANK, WHICH IS IN THE ABSENCE OF
A CREDIBLE PARTNER FOR A
NEGOTIATED PEACE ON THE
PALESTINIAN SIDE, IN THE ABSENCE
OF A PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP
READY TO TRULY OFFER ISRAEL
RECOGNITION AND LEGITIMACY AND
TO CONVEY THAT MESSAGE TO THEIR
PEOPLE, WE WILL NEED TO CONTINUE
IMPLEMENTING UNILATERAL
WITHDRAWAL, WHICH WILL GRADUALLY
END THE OCCUPATION.
AND I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT
THAT IS SHARON'S LONG-TERM GOAL,
PERHAPS AFTER THE NEXT
ELECTIONS.
AND IN ENDING THE OCCUPATION,
WHAT WE WILL DO, IS END THE ARAB
WORLD'S EXCUSE FOR BLAMING
OTHERS FOR THEIR OWN
CIVILIZATIONAL FAILURES.
THE ONLY WAY IN WHICH THE ARAB
WORLD WILL BE ABLE TO MOVE
FORWARD IS IF IT LOOKS AT
ITSELF.
AND SO LONG AS THERE IS THIS,
THIS OCCUPATION TO WHICH THEY
CAN CONTINUE TO POINT AND SAY
"WE NEED TO, WE NEED TO CONTINUE
TO DEAL WITH THIS.
ONTO.
THE THIRD, NO LESS SIGNIFICANT
RESPONSIBILITY THAT WE HAVE IS A
LITTLE MORE SUBTLE, BUT AS I SAY
NO LESS IMPERATIVE AND THAT IS
THAT ISRAEL HAS THE
RESPONSIBILITY TO REMAIN STRONG.
NOT TO GIVE PSYCHOLOGICAL
VICTORY TO TERRORISM, TO THE
CULTURE OF TERRORISM.
WHAT WE
HAVE DONE AS A SOCIETY IN THE
LAST FIVE YEARS OF RECLAIMING
OUR STREETS AND CAFES AND BUSES
FROM THE JIHADIST WAR, WAS A
CONTRIBUTION TOWARD THE EVENTUAL
DEMOCRATIZATION OF THE MIDDLE
EAST BY PROVING TO THE ARAB
WORLD THAT DEMOCRACIES CAN BE
STRONGER IN WAR THAN JIHADIST
TERROR CULTURE.
NOW, THE
DILEMMA THAT WE FACED IN OUR
ANGUISHED DEBATE OVER THE LAST
YEAR REGARDING UNILATERAL
WITHDRAWAL FROM GAZA WAS
PRECISELY OVER THIS QUESTION.
THE MOST COMPELLING ARGUMENT
THAT THE RIGHT OFFERED, TO WHICH
I HAD NO ANSWER AND STILL HAVE
NO ANSWER, IS THAT BY
UNILATERALLY WITHDRAWING FROM
TERRITORY DURING A WAR, WE ARE
IN EFFECT CONVEYING THE MESSAGE
TO THE PALESTINIAN PUBLIC AND
TO THE ARAB WORLD BEYOND THAT
TERRORISM PAYS.
THAT THEY DROVE US OUT OF GAZA.
NOW I DON'T BELIEVE THAT IT WAS
TERRORISM THAT DROVE US OUT.
I THINK IF ANYTHING, IT WAS THE
FACT THAT WE WITHSTOOD
TERRORISM, THAT ALLOWED MANY OF
US, PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF WHO
INITIALLY OPPOSED UNILATERAL
WITHDRAWAL TO SAY "WELL, WE ARE
ALREADY WELL ON THE WAY TO
CONTROLLING TERRORISM, NOW LET'S
CONTROL OUR SECOND URGENT
PROBLEM, WHICH IS THE OCCUPATION
AND THE DEMOGRAPHIC THREAT TO A
JEWISH DEMOCRAT...
DEMOCRATIC STATE."
AND IF SHARON IS WILLING TO
TAKE THE HEAT DOMESTICALLY TO
PULL US OUT, LET'S DO IT.
NEVERTHELESS, THE WAY IN WHICH
THIS WAS CONVEYED TO THE
PALESTINIAN PUBLIC, WAS A
VICTORY FOR TERROR.
AND IT WASN'T ONLY HAMAS THAT
WAS CONVEYING THIS MESSAGE, BUT
MAHMOOD ABBAS SAID AT ONE OF
THE RALLIES CELEBRATING THE
ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL, THAT IT'S
THANKS TO THE MARTYRS, WHICH OF
COURSE IS A CODE WORD FOR THE
SUICIDE BOMBERS.
IT'S THANKS TO THE MARTYRS THAT
ISRAEL FLED GAZA.
THAT IS A SERIOUS CONSEQUENCE OF
THE POLICY OF UNILATERALISM THAT
WE NEED TO FACTOR IN TO FURTHER
UNILATERAL WITHDRAWALS IN TERMS,
AT LEAST, OF THE TIMING.
WHAT MADE UNILATERAL WITHDRAWAL
SUCH A WRENCHING DECISION FOR
US, WAS THAT IT PITTED TWO OF
OUR BASIC RESPONSIBILITIES IN
THE WAR OF TERROR AGAINST EACH
OTHER.
ON THE ONE HAND, THE NEED TO END
THE OCCUPATION OF THE
PALESTINIANS, WHICH WAS WHAT WAS
THE CONSEQUENCE OF WITHDRAWING
FROM GAZA.
AND ON THE OTHER, THE NEED TO
REMAIN STEADFAST AGAINST TERROR
AND NOT EVEN INADVERTENTLY
CONVEY THE IMPRESSION TO THE
ARAB WORLD THAT WE'RE ON THE
RUN, WHICH WAS THE NEGATIVE
CONSEQUENCE OF WITHDRAWAL.
THESE DECISIONS IN ISRAEL ARE
OBVIOUSLY NEVER STRAIGHT FORWARD
AND THE TRUTH IS THAT WE DON'T
FACE GOOD OR BAD OPTIONS, WHICH
IS WHAT OUR EIDOLONS OF THE
RIGHT AND THE LEFT WOULD HAVE US
BELIEVE, BUT WE REALLY FACE BAD
OR WORSE OPTIONS.
THE LAST POINT THAT I'D LIKE TO
MAKE AND THEN I WILL SUM UP, IS
IN RELATION TO THIS ISSUE OF
ISRAEL'S NEED TO CONVEY STRENGTH
TO THE ARAB WORLD AS A WAY OF
ENCOURAGING DEMOCRATIZATION,
CONCERNS IRAN AND IRAN'S NUCLEAR
PROGRAM.
IF, GOD FORBID, THE MULAS GO
NUCLEAR, THE CHANCES CERTAINLY
OF AN IRANIAN DEMOCRACY EMERGING
TO SAY NOTHING OF THE
CONSEQUENCES ON THE REGION WILL
BE DEVASTATING.
THE MULAS WILL PROJECT A SENSE
OF INVINCIBILITY AND IT IS IN
ISRAEL'S RESPONSIBILITY IF NO
ONE ELSE WILL DEAL WITH THIS
ISSUE, FOR US TO DO WHAT WE DID
IN IRAQ IN 1981 AND DEAL WITH
THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR THREAT.
AND THIS BRINGS ME BACK TO ONE
LAST COMMENT ON RABIN AND
RABIN'S LEGACY.
WHEN
RABIN WENT TO OSLO...
TO, TO, TO THE WHITEHOUSE AND
BEGAN THE OSLO PROCESS, HE
OFFERED AS HIS SECURITY
RATIONAL, THE ARGUMENT THAT
WHAT ISRAEL NEEDS TO DO IS STOP
DEALING OR WASTING IT'S PRECIOUS
SECURITY CAPITAL ON SUPPRESSING
THE PALESTINIAN INTIFADA.
BECAUSE
THE PALESTINIANS FROM HIS POINT
OF VIEW, WERE NOT AN EXISTENTIAL
THREAT TO ISRAEL AND ISRAEL
INSTEAD NEEDS TO TURN IT'S
SECURITY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS
IN FACT ISRAEL'S REAL SECURITY
THREAT AND THAT IS IRAQ AND
IRAN.
AND AT ONE POINT DURING RABIN'S
10 YEAR, UH, HE HAD TO MAKE A
DECISION ABOUT BUYING A UH, OR
UPGRADING THE IS...
A FLEET OF PLANES FOR THE
ISRAELI AIR FORCE AND THERE
WERE TWO MODELS.
ONE OF THEM WAS A LONG RANGE
BOMBER THAT HAD THE CAPACITY,
COINCIDENTALLY, TO REACH IRAN
AND RABIN CHOSE THOSE BOMBERS.
AND IN THE AIR FORCE, THEY
BECAME KNOWN AS THE TEHERAN
BOMBERS.
SO THAT RABIN ACTIVELY PREPARED
THE ISRAELI ARMY AND AIR FORCE
FOR AN EVENTUAL CONFRONTATION
WITH IRAN, RABIN UNDERSTOOD
THAT NO OTHER COUNTRY WOULD IN
ALL LIKELIHOOD, CONFRONT IRAN.
I THINK HE HAD IRAQ IN MIND AS
WELL.
HE DIDN'T TAKE THIS WAR INTO
ACCOUNT, BUT NEVERTHELESS I
THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT
AMERICA IS BOGGED DOWN
SUFFICIENTLY IN IRAQ AND
CONFRONTING A DIVIDED DOMESTIC
OPINION, WHICH WILL NOT ALLOW IT
TO PRECEDE ON TO IRAN.
I THINK BY DEFAULT THAT'S GOING
TO BE OUR JOB AND I BELIEVE
WE'RE GOING TO DO IT AND THAT
WILL BE, NOT JUST A DECISIVE
CONTRIBUTION TO ISRAEL'S
SURVIVAL, BUT COULD HAVE
REPERCUSSIONS AS WELL FOR
DEMOCRATIZATION.
AS WELL AS OF COURSE CREATING
WIDE SPREAD INSTABILITY, WHICH
WE NEED TO FACTOR IN AS WELL.
AND THE LAST POINT I'D LIKE TO
MAKE IS, THE LESSONS THAT ISRAEL
HAS LEARNED AS A DEMOCRACY
CONFRONTING TERRORISM AND
OCCUPATION OVER THE LAST 30
YEARS, I WOULD SAY WE LEARNED
TWO VERY PAINFUL LESSONS.
THE FIRST IS A DEMOCRACY CANNOT
AFFORD TO FOOL ITSELF INTO
BELIEVING THAT IT CAN REMAIN A
DEMOCRACY WHILE ENGAGING IN NON
OR ANTI-DEMOCRATIC BEHAVIOUR, IN
PARTICULAR IN SUPPRESSING A
REVOLT OR IN DEALING WITH AN
OCCUPATION.
AND I THINK THAT'S A LESSON, A
SOBER LESSON FOR THE UNITED
STATES.
AND WE IN ISRAEL, FOR MANY
YEARS, FOOLED OURSELVES INTO
BELIEVING THAT ONE CAN MAINTAIN
A BENIGN OCCUPATION.
MANY OF YOU I'M SURE REMEMBER,
WE PRIDED OURSELVES ON
MAINTAINING THE HAPPIEST
OCCUPATION.
AND WE
LEARNED IN THE END THAT THERE IS
NO SUCH THING AS A BENIGN
OCCUPATION.
AND THAT THERE ARE NO DEMOCRATIC
SHORTCUTS FOR A SOCIETY THAT
WANTS TO MAINTAIN IT'S
DEMOCRATIC SOUL.
AND...
HOWEVER
TRAUMATIC AND TERRIBLE THE
PRICE THAT ISRAEL PAID FOR THE
OSLO PROCESS, THANK GOD RABIN
CAME ALONG AND SET THE PROCESS
IN MOTION THAT ENDED, OR BEGAN
TO END, THE OCCUPATION.
THE SECOND NO LESS URGENT
MESSAGE THAT WE LEARNED, IS NOT
TO DECEIVE ONESELF ABOUT THE
POSSIBILITY OF MAKING PEACE WITH
DICTATORS.
DON'T HAVE ILLUSIONS ABOUT FALSE
ALLIES.
AND WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENS IN THE
REGION, WHATEVER ELSE HAPPENS IN
THE WEST, AN ISRAEL THAT REMAINS
TRUE TO THOSE TWO HARD EARNED
INSIGHTS IS, I BELIEVE, AN
ISRAEL THAT WILL BE ABLE TO
MAINTAIN A STRONG, HEALTHY
DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY THROUGH
WHATEVER IT IS THAT FACES US IN
THE FUTURE.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

(Cheers and applause)

Watch: Yossi Klein Halevi on "The View From Israel"