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Rabin on the Arab-Israel conflict

Yehuda Avner, who was the English speechwriter for Rabin is about to publish a book, The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership
.

As the Jerusalem Post reports, there is a segment in which he relates Yitzhak Rabin’s explanation to him about Oslo. It is a prescient and strategically accurate description of precisely what we see playing out before us.

“My first question was, ‘Why did you shake Yasser Arafat’s hand?’”


“Number one,” he recounts Rabin as saying, “Israel is surrounded by two concentric circles. The inner circle is comprised of our immediate neighbors – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and, by extension, Saudi Arabia. The outer circle comprises their neighbors – Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Virtually all of them are rogue states, and some are going nuclear.

“Number two,” the prime minister went on, “Iranian-inspired Islamic fundamentalism constitutes a threat to the inner circle no less than it does to Israel. Islamic fundamentalism is striving to destabilize the Gulf Emirates, has already created havoc in Syria, leaving twenty thousand dead, in Algeria, leaving one hundred thousand dead, in Egypt, leaving twenty-two thousand dead, in Jordan, leaving eight thousand dead, in the Horn of Africa – the Sudan and Somalia – leaving fourteen thousand dead, and in Yemen, leaving twelve thousand dead. And now it is gaining influence in theWest Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“Iran is the banker,” Rabin pointed out, “pouring millions into the West Bank and Gaza in the form of social welfare and health and education programs, so that it can win the hearts of the population and feed religious fanaticism.

“Thus,” he continued to Avner, “a confluence of interest has arisen between Israel and the inner circle, whose long-term strategic interest is the same as ours: to lessen the destabilizing consequences from the outer circle. At the end of the day,the inner circle recognizes they have less to fear from Israel than from their Muslim neighbors, not least from radicalized Islamic powers going nuclear.”

…The Israel-Arab conflict, he said, “was always considered to be a political one: a conflict between Arabs and Israelis. The fundamentalists are doing their level best to turn it into a religious conflict – Muslim against Jew, Islam against Judaism. And while a political conflict is possible to solve through negotiation and compromise, there are no solutions to a theological conflict. Then it is jihad – religious war: their God against our God. Were they to win, our conflict would go from war to war, and from stalemate to stalemate.

“And that, essentially is why I agreed to Oslo and shook hands, albeit reluctantly, with Yasser Arafat. He and his PLO represent the last vestige of secular Palestinian nationalism. We have nobody else to deal with. It is either the PLO or nothing. It is a long shot for a possible settlement, or the certainty of no settlement at all at a time when the radicals are going nuclear.”

Avner and Rabin were supposed to meet again the following week but Rabin was murdered the evening before by a religious fanatic. A Jewish one.

14 Comments

  1. AlexK

    3/5/2010 at 3:57 pm

    Jesus Christ TM, who doesn’t know this: “Rabin was murdered the evening before by a religious fanatic. A Jewish one.” I think by now, everyone knows where you and the writers on this blog stand. So what is the point of constantly bringing this up? It seems like you are always trying to make sure the Gentiles who read this blog say to themselves: “Oh good. THESE Jews are righteous and open-minded and on the right side of history. Good, because I for sure thought most Jews supported the murderer of Rabin.” Sheesh. Just wondering, but when you meet an Arab and tell him you are a Yehudi, do you always preface any political conversation with “I’m Jewish, but I’m not very religious and I support a Palestinian state.” It sounds a bit like “some of my best friends are …” type justification.

    Personally, I think this tragic event is our business really and our dirty laundry shouldn’t always be used to prove to others how “we have our own psychos” and so forth. But that’s just me, a right winger with an opinion. A Jewish one.

    • themiddle

      3/5/2010 at 5:12 pm

      AlexK, thanks for the new complaint, I’ve been feeling that you’re slacking off in that department recently and it’s good to see you active again.

      You should realize that any time I write a post, I assume that most of its readers over time will be people who find it through searches on Google or other search engines and not because they are my devoted readers, like you. For that reason, I find it useful, even if it takes me a little longer to write something or I find it boring to repeat myself, to include some basic information that will allow that post to stand on its own.

      As for what I’m trying to say, who I’m writing for and how write, your assumptions are silly.

      • froylein

        3/6/2010 at 12:54 am

        Sashka, if you belong to a group that is the frequent target of stereotype-driven hate and many of the stereotypes could be summed up as “mafiaesque, above the law, covering up and pulling strings behind the scenes”, the answer to such stereotypes is to prove them wrong by not living up to them, i.e. do not hide the dirty laundry in a corner. If hate persists after that, then you can legitimately address that in harsh terms, but your “track record” will show to third parties that the haters aren’t honest.

  2. Ben-David

    3/6/2010 at 2:08 pm

    … except that Jordan fairly quickly pulled out of any partnership, Egypt always had to be pulled to the table by the Americans, and Syria/Lebanon were beholden to the Iranian fundamentalist camp before Oslo even began.

    I think it’s an accurate assessment of our geopolitical situation, but grossly oversimplifies the many interests and motives of our Arab neighbors – including long-simmering internecine rivalries.

    It also turned out to be overly optimistic in expecting our Arab neighbors to act out of enlightened interest in their nations’ long-term welfare. Not typical behavior in thug-o-cratic dictatorhips.

    • themiddle

      3/6/2010 at 4:07 pm

      Jordan is still a partner, Egypt is still a partner and Syria/Lebanon may have been up for grabs with the senior Assad.

      You’re also forgetting that He was killed, which hurt opportunities that might have existed otherwise. When Netanyahu took over, he put the plan into a deep freeze until the Americans forced him to sign Wye. The truth is that Yigal Amir won because Rabin was one of the few people in Israel to have sufficient credibility to pull the nation in the direction Oslo was headed. By winning, Amir removed the opportunity for us to learn what might have been. It’s very likely that the Palestinians would still have said “no” to Rabin as they did to Barak, since Rabin himself says that this is a “long shot,” but it would have galvanized Israel instead of giving us the split we’re seeing now.

  3. Ben-David

    3/8/2010 at 4:30 am

    Middle’s freudian typing slip:

    You’re also forgetting that He was killed
    – – – – – – – – –
    … so Rabin=Jesus. He died for our sins!

    Amir didn’t win – Netanyahu did, by a landslide. Despite a highly-pitched emotional campaign that used the same disgusting rhetoric of personal destruction on display in your post:

    “don’t give a prize to the *murderers* – vote for Peres!”

    Yet Netanyahu still won.

    Here’s a little history you’re dropping in order to portray Rabin’s Oslo as a Kennedy-style Camelot:

    – Rabin ran on a get-tough platform. Oslo was a bait-and-switch. Later, Ehud Barak did the same thing. No Israeli politician ever won by running on a peace platform.

    – Oslo passed the Knesset by one (bought) vote. By then, Rabin’s popularity and credibility had begun to sink.

    – Perhaps because of that – just before the assassination, Rabin was pushing the hard-left people in his camp to pull back from the more exreme policies of Oslo.

    Again, you betray your ignorance when you write:
    It’s very likely that the Palestinians would still have said “no” to Rabin as they did to Barak, since Rabin himself says that this is a “long shot,” but it would have galvanized Israel instead of giving us the split we’re seeing now.
    – – – – – – – – – –
    The only people who “see a split” are erstwhile lefties and those who view the situation through the lens of left-leaning media.

    Netanyahu II is a far more stable government than Netanyahu I. The pro-Oslo camp of Labor-Kadima-Meretz shrunk significantly in both votes and influence – the last-minute “anyone but Bibi” campaign that artificially boosted kadima’s numbers decimated Labor and Meretz.

    Every major poll shows a “post-Oslo” consensus among Israelis: there is nobody to talk, there may never have been anyone to talk to, there is no future for 2 states west of the Jordan.

    Israel has been galvanized – by continued Pali violence and the fallout of internecine violence like the expulsion from Gaza.

    The only people talking about a split are those, now unpopular, can only dream of such a split.

  4. themiddle

    3/8/2010 at 5:05 am

    Um, I never suggested that Rabin was saint or god. Don’t be ridiculous.

    Further, the ONLY reason Netanyahu won is that Arafat wanted him to win. Hence the 3 suicide bombings just before the elections to ensure Peres didn’t have a hope. It was a very impressive reading of the situation by Arafat. With Peres, he would have had to negotiate but with Netanyahu, he didn’t have to negotiate but could enjoy the benefits of Oslo. He could vilify Israel’s leader and the world would side with him. Ultimately, he drove a wedge between the US and Israel and Netanyahu signed Wye.

    When Netanyahu came to power this time, Arafat’s protegee, Abbas, essentially decided to play the same game.

    Anybody who doesn’t see a split or who thinks that most of the country supports the settlement movement is dreaming. There is definitely a split. The issue isn’t whether Israelis think the Palestinians want or don’t want to negotiate. The issue is what to do with the settlements. Israel may have been galvanized regarding who its enemies are and that they must be fought, but it is far from galvanized regarding what should be done with Judea and Samaria. The key consensus is that Jerusalem is Israel’s and therefore Israel can and should continue to build it up. This sentiment does not extend into the West Bank/Judea and Samaria.

    Your abundant confidence blinds you to what you’re reading just as much as it blinds you to what is actually happening.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3807031,00.html

  5. Ben-David

    3/8/2010 at 3:35 pm

    Middle – read the Hebrew talkbacks.

    They were quoting similar numbers at various points in the Oslo process, but the voting turned out differently.

    • themiddle

      3/8/2010 at 5:01 pm

      Like I said, the suicide bombings changed everything. If tomorrow there was another spate of bombings, of course public opinion would be swayed. The point is that a split exists and it is not a split about how Israelis perceive the Palestinians, it is a split about how Israelis relate to the settlement movement and its costs.

  6. abu arabb

    5/28/2010 at 6:20 am

    In the name of God the Merciful
    The existence of the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab and Muslim is itself a strange
    Because the Zionist entity is not shared with the Arab world of anything characteristics such as religion, customs
    Traditions and language. The existence of Israel within the Arab world is a big mistake, and constant tension
    In the Middle East, and we note since 1948. Such as the entry of foreign bodies within the human body begins
    Body fever, tension and fatigue and to ensure that until the UFOs.
    To all Arab and Islamic countries to form the Ministry of Defence and one common to all States and the expulsion of the Jews
    From the Middle East. This is the best choice for Arabs and Jews in that one because Bjrdasiraiil within the Arab world
    Will feel the Arab world would not be true of the world would not be true of the Jewish people will never feel the stability and comfort, unless
    Came out of Palestine, all Palestine greetings to all

  7. Nicholas Price

    6/10/2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hi

    I recently got interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict.. and I was searching for some maps of the territories of Palestine and Israel during the last 100 years….If the pas shown in this website taken from the London times are correct http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2006/05/10/the-shrinking-map-of-palestine/
    If I was Palestinian I would be really really really really
    furious…and the Israelis are complaining of terrorism….France was just an England and France were occupiers in different parts of the world and faced “terrorism”..in Algeria,Cyprus,etc…Israel took all the land of Palestine and they expect people to sit with their hands tied….Are they serious

    • themiddle

      6/10/2010 at 5:52 pm

      Um, Nicholas, that territory in 1917 was controlled by the Ottomans. The lands that were privately owned represented about 25% of the province (it wasn’t a country). When the war began in 1948, Palestinians owned about 21% of the lands with about another 9% being public lands and the Jews owned about 7.5% of the land. Then the Palestinians, together with a number of Arab countries, launched a war and ended up losing much of this land. Hope that helps.

  8. abu arab

    8/28/2010 at 1:30 pm

    The existence of the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab-Muslim is in itself a strange
    Because the Zionist entity is not shared with the Arab world, anything that characteristics such as religion, customs
    Traditions and language. The existence of Israel within the Arab world is a big mistake, and constant tension
    In the Middle East also note since 1948. Such as the entry of foreign objects inside the human body begins
    Body fever, tension and fatigue and to ensure even go out foreign objects.
    To all Arab and Islamic countries to form the Ministry of Defence and one common to all States and the expulsion of the Jews
    From the Middle East. This is the best choice for Arabs and Jews in that one because he Bjrdasiraiil within the Arab world
    Will feel the Arab world would not be true of the world would not be true of the Jewish people will never feel the stability and comfort, but if
    Came out of Palestine, all Palestine greetings to all

  9. arab

    11/2/2010 at 2:34 am

    There is no democracy in Israel as a state is illegitimate and illegal and not recognized
    Evidence of this if anyone wanted to write a comment in the Israeli websites
    Does not allow him or be there are many obstacles to prevent him from writing a comment The reasons for Arab-Israeli conflict is the occupation of Palestine in 1948.
    Palestine Arab Islamic state like the rest of the Arab and Islamic states surrounding
    Them. Means that there are Jews and Zionists in Palestine a big mistake, because this entity
    Zionist is not consistent with the surrounding area (such as language, customs, traditions and religion)
    The only solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict is the expulsion of Jews from Palestine
    All of Palestine. The Jewish people will not rest and will not feel comfortable and stability
    But if it gets out of Palestine and the Middle East completely. If people continue to
    Jews in Palestine and the Middle East, the death and destruction will continue.
    Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain

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