Searing its own consciousness

Akiva Eldar

According to the new-old fashion of thinking in Jerusalem, by the time these words appear in print, a divine voice will have emanated from the Prime Minister’s Bureau to ridicule the American intelligence assessment that Iran has yet to give the go-ahead for the manufacture of a nuclear bomb. An industrious bureaucrat will naturally begin digging up dirt on U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair. With a little luck, it will emerge that he is in fact a convert from Judaism – just another self-hating Jew.
After all, everyone knows that the Iranians are making a fool of President Barack Obama and that the bomb is already ticking. It is a shame we cannot summon this Blair for clarifications along with diplomat Nadav Tamir, who dared to warn of the grave consequences of clashing with Obama’s administration. People in Boston have evidently not yet heard that even the head of the Shin Bet security service is forbidden to open his mouth on diplomatic matters. And what happened to Breaking the Silence, which tried to open its mouth about the events of Operation Cast Lead?
Seven years ago, then-Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon complained in an interview with Haaretz that “there are people for whom ‘the conception’ has become their whole world, so they entrench themselves in it and refuse to let it go.” He was referring to the prevailing assumption in those days that the Palestinian leadership, led by Yasser Arafat, was a partner for a solution of two states living side by side in peace. Ya’alon blasted the media for helping to nurture this dangerous concept, one so dangerous that it posed an existential threat to the state. He also complained that the media did not aid him in “searing it into the Palestinian consciousness that with terrorism and violence, they will not defeat us.”
Today Ya’alon, now the vice premier, can pat himself on the back. With help from American advisors and in coordination with Israeli security officials, the Palestinian Authority is defeating terrorism and violence. If that were not the case, he would have vocally protested the removal of dozens of checkpoints from West Bank roads.
In addition, the Sixth Fatah Congress adopted a platform yesterday that endorses the advancement of a two-state solution by peaceful means. Though it does include a narrow opening for “struggle” against the settlements, it limits it to legitimate acts of civil disobedience, such as the demonstrations against the separation fence near Bil’in. The new platform is tantamount to Fatah’s divorce from Hamas and its extremist ideology.
Let us suppose that credit for eliminating terrorism should go to those who conceived the doctrine of “searing their consciousness.” What do they now propose to sear into the Palestinian public’s consciousness? How will they persuade Palestinians that the moderate Fatah promises a better future, and that there is no basis to the extremist Hamas’ claims that Mahmoud Abbas is kowtowing in vain to the Israelis?
Ya’alon, who has since joined Likud, is now having his work done for him by the man behind whose chair hangs a picture of Yitzhak Rabin, father of the Oslo Accords. Ehud Barak declared yesterday that the rhetoric and positions presented by Fatah “are grave and unacceptable to us.” What kind of rhetoric did Barak expect? That Fatah would declare that Jerusalem would forever remain the united capital of Israel, or that it would allow Abbas to acquiescence in the continued expansion of West Bank settlement outposts?
Barak could obtain “professional” support for his criticisms from the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a well-known organization that relies on Military Intelligence’s research division. A situation assessment published by the center prior to the Fatah Congress predicted that the conference would be a platform for extremist positions on the conflict with Israel, reflecting a general radicalization of attitudes within Fatah. Such positions “reflect the basic Fatah ideology, which has its roots in the Arafat era and was not fundamentally revised by Mahmoud Abbas.”
And what does Military Intelligence think of Fatah’s declaration that it is “sticking to the peace option?” That it is nothing but “lip service.” Apparently, the only truthful statements that pass Palestinian lips are violent ones.
Israel is returning to the era of the “White Paper,” which was written during the early days of the intifada to disseminate then-prime minister Barak’s “no partner” theory. The booklet’s author, Col. Eran Lerman, who was then a senior officer in Military Intelligence, was recently recruited by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau. There, he will serve to buttress the influential national security advisor, Uzi Arad. From Arad’s standpoint, Obama is also not a partner.
Absent opposition from the left, the moral, political and security debate has been afflicted with a serious case of brain paralysis. Even as Israel stands on the brink of fateful decisions, it is searing its own consciousness.

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