Ben-Dror Yemini was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel in 1954. He studied Humanities and History in Tel Aviv University, and later on he studies Law. After his university studies, he was appointed advisor to the Israeli Minister of Immigration Absorption and then became the spokesman of the Ministry. In 1984, he began his career as a journalist and essayist. He worked as a lawyer and was a partner in a law firm. He has worked for the daily newspaper Maariv, and in Spring 2014 began writing for the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. The author of "The Industry of Lies."
Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:17 pm Oslo quitters - By Ben-Dror Yemini
Op-ed: Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to do what Palestinian leaders have already been doing for many years, as if it's something new. Israel has no obligation to take in Syrian refugees under current circumstances, and the Labor movement was actually done a solid by Jamal Zahalka.
By Ben-Dror Yemini
September 12, 2015
Mahmoud Abbas is threatening to void the Oslo accords. In fact, the Palestinians keep voiding them over and over again.
Arafat broke his commitment to them the moment he signed them. His first entry into Gaza included the smuggling of weapons and two terrorists. In 1994 he gave a speech in Johannesburg and compared the Oslo accords to the treaty of Hudaibiya. That’s the treaty Muhammad signed so that he’d have time to gather his strength and break it.
In 1996 Arafat clarified in Stockholm, “We will make life unbearable for Jews through psychological warfare and population explosion.” He also said that they would “eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian State.” These were not just statements. The Oslo accords led to a huge wave of terror. Even Yossi Sarid was mad at Arafat during those days.
But there’s also a positive side. In the last decade, the Oslo accords have changed direction. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA), headed by Abbas, is doing its part, at least in one area: Military cooperation and a real attempt to combat terrorism. This isn’t the result of anyone’s love for Israel. It’s the result of the understanding that Hamas is a danger to the Palestinians.
Any time political Islam has risen, it has resulted in repression, destruction, and annihilation. It’s as true for Gaza as it is for Somalia. And generally, political Islam’s victims are mostly Muslim. So even if there was some truth to the criticisms of Israel’s control of the West Bank, and there is, the alternative of breaking the accords is much worse. It’s bad for Israel. It’s a disaster for the Palestinians.
The Accords haven’t led to order. Some of the blame belongs with Israel for continuing to build settlements. You can’t talk about a two-state solution while tightening the Jewish grip on the land. But most of the blame lies at the Palestinians’ feet. They refused Clinton’s offer in 2000. They refused Olmert’s offer in 2008. They refused the draft of an offer that was presented to them by Barack Obama and John Kerry in March 2014. Those last two refusals are Abbas’s work. Like Arafat, he didn’t want a state. He wanted a right of return. He only has himself to blame.
It’s unclear why some in the right are celebrating Jamal Zahalka’s (United Arab List) rant at MK Stav Shaffir and her fellow Zionist Union members. He merely clarified what should have been understood long ago: The division of “left” and “right” is complete nonsense.
Zahalka opposes a Jewish democratic state. He belongs to the camp that wants Israel to annex the Palestinian territories and give all of their residents Israeli citizenship, along with the far left and the annexationist right.
Reuven Rivlin, Gideon Levy, Danny Danon, and Zahalka, all in one boat. It’s good that Shaffir did not apologize, instead saying that she’s proud to be a part of the Labor movement which built a Jewish state that must also by democratic and give equal rights. That’s the true Zionist vision.
That’s the vision that’s causing Zahalka’s fits of rage, and not just his. It’s happening to people on social media – from the right and far left. So the Labor movement should thank Zahalka. He drew a red line between it and him, and also attached himself to part of the right wing.
The Labor movement, Zahalka claimed, built towns on Palestinian ruins. It should be said: Before Israel’s foundation, the Zionist Movement made sure to fully purchase every square centimeter it inhabited. After the declarations of destruction by the Arabs, after they started a war, after the great exodus and the forced migration – Jews settled on abandoned Palestinian territory. It happens after every war. Poles settled land vacated by Germans, Ukrainians settled land vacated by Poles, Czechs settled land vacated by Germans in the Sudetenland, and on and on.
And here’s another thing Zahalka is supposed to know: There were also Arab Refugees (in those days there were no “Palestinians”) who settled the homes of Jews who escaped or were evicted from Arab countries. So first we need to make sure the Jews’ property is returned to them, even though they never declared war on those Arab countries. Then, only then, could we discuss the question of whether the aggressor’s refugees deserve some compensation for lost property. International law has a clear answer: There is no such right. Zahalka should pay attention.
Isaac Herzog’s proposal to let Syrian refugees into Israel had one result, and it was predictable: News outlets around the world, like the New York Times, took the opportunity to publish headlines such as “Netanyahu Rejects Calls for Israel to Accept Syrian Refugees”. No one in Israel took the proposal seriously, not even Herzog, but if he were Prime Minister, he wouldn’t have brought it up. But Herzog just ended up providing people with another opportunity to stab at Israel.
As far as refugees who are in mortal danger – Israel must save them if it can. But rather than attempt to save refugees, Herzog’s proposal was a chance for him to make absurd historical comparisons, such as the abandonment of Jewish refugees to the Nazis in the 1938 Évian Conference. Well, Jews could have only left Germany and Austria if they had a country that would take them. In those days there wasn’t a Jewish state that would take in Jews.
Today, however, there are dozens of Muslim countries that can take in the Syrian refugees, and anyway they’re already out. They’re not in mortal danger. They’re inside camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. From there they go, by sea and by land, to Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and Hungary. They don’t want to stay there. They want to reach Germany, England and France.
So the comparison between those who’ve already left Syria and the Jews who were trapped in Germany and Austria is simple demagoguery. Those who don’t want to stay in Hungary certainly don’t want to come to Israel, which they’ve been taught to hate for decades. Herzog didn’t ask them, he just performed a miserable publicity stunt. He’s trying very hard to differentiate himself from the extremist left, but he insists on doing it awkwardly and clumsily.
Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, which happened nearly 20 years ago, is without a doubt a traumatic event in Israel’s history. Countless words have been written about it. Recently, another book came out, titled “Yitzhak”, which looks at things from a slightly different perspective. Its author is Dvir Kariv, who led the unit responsible for the preservation of Israeli democracy in the Shin-Bet.
He was the first one to talk to Rabin’s killer, Yigal Amir, on the night of the murder. That encounter and the failure to protect Rabin left their mark on him. In his revelatory book, Kariv tells of that dramatic night, the failure, the nightmares that damaged his life, and the dilemmas of a democratic state trying to combat Jewish terrorism. It’s hard not to contemplate the fact that the Shin Bet has trouble exposing Jewish terrorists today as well.
Kariv doesn’t hide his political agenda. I fear it might skew his insights sometimes. For instance, unlike Kariv claims (as do many others), the murder didn’t lead to the “death” of the peace process. There’s no need to attribute undeserved influence to the killer. It was the Palestinian terrorism that caused the decline in public support for the Oslo accords and the Labor party. The murder actually had a reverse effect: It strengthened the party and raised the percent of people who supported peace. Then more terrorist waves and events came, and caused another decline for the Labor party. But let’s leave the insights be. It’s an important book, written from a first-person perspective, about defensive democracy.