Israel Needs to Promote Its Vision, Not the Palestinian One
The following was among a collection of essays produced for and distributed at the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus on May 16. Translated from Hebrew.
Imagine a post-modern reality in which the concept of truth has been discarded and a "narrative" has replaced a people's history, identity, values, and reality. Imagine that this subjective narrative is no more valid than the next person's subjective narrative. Then imagine a courtroom with plaintiff, defendant, prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. The lawyer defending his client accused of stabbing might speak like this: "My client denies the charge, though he fully accepts how the plaintiff could have the knife stuck in his chest as something intended to hurt him."
That's roughly the state of the debate in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict where the two sides' positions are routinely presented as equal of worth. Remarkably, this is not just the case with United Nations or Quartet mediators, but with Israelis themselves, who too often attempt to enunciate an "objective" viewpoint that entertains both narratives and apologizes on behalf of Israelis.
Such a detached approach may be suitable for academics who can afford to stand aloofly back when researching the past. But it is not acceptable for a nation fighting for its life. Not only does Israel's empathy for the Palestinian narrative not bring peace any closer, but it actually encourages violence and perpetuates the conflict. Self-doubting and indecisiveness, apologetics and attempted appeasement assure repeated wars, suffering, and bereavement. This was apparent even when Israel won the decisive military victory in the Six-Day War of 1967; consider the pathetic case of the Temple Mount, fifty-five years later and still under Jordanian-Palestinian control.
If one side is committed to its enemy's destruction, while the other is consumed with self-doubts and appeasing urges, the former's hopes of victory can only intensify while the latter's resilience and fighting spirit can only decrease. The success of the Zionist movement did not result from numerical or material superiority but from a powerful sense of purpose and unwavering belief in the justness of its cause. Were these foundations of Israel's success to be eroded by attempts objectively to understand the Palestinian narrative, Israel will be unable to end its conflict with the Palestinians on favorable terms, no matter its military, economic, and technological superiority.
Has a Palestinian leader spoken sincerely and emphatically about the "Zionist narrative"? Of course not. Anti-Zionists know what they want and display no scruples about committing atrocities and war crimes in its pursuit. While Israel must not imitate their gruesome practices, it should stick to the facts and instill these in its own citizenry and argue them to the international community. Only through utter conviction in the justness of its cause and unapologetic assertion of victory over the Palestinians will Israel finally attain peace.
Israelis, then, must see a different reality from the post-modern one, a reality in which they are convinced of the justness of their cause and expose the Palestinian enemy as the genocidal force it is. These steps will allow it to fight and win the century-long war. As Israel unapologetically celebrates its victory, echoes of this momentous event will reverberate across the world, driving states in the region and beyond to adopt a more favorable attitude toward the Jewish State.
The struggle over the Land of Israel has gone on so long because Israeli Jews have refrained from asserting their victories.
[ Shlomo Ne'eman, chairman of the Gush Etzion Regional Council ]