Yossi Beilin’s Problem
Sooner or later, even the best of evangelists becomes tiresome. Maybe that’s Yossi Beilin’s problem. There’s only so long that one can listen to the withering barrage of admonitions, self-incriminations and poisonous denunciations that passes for Beilin’s contribution to international discourse before one begins to suffer from the sinking feeling that we’ve heard all this before. Of course, there isn’t any question that we have heard it all before. It was said at Oslo, at Wye, at Camp David, at Taba, now we’ve arrived at Geneva, and we are once again being subjected to fervent assurances that the Palestinian national movement can be reconciled, is already reconciled, to the existence of the Jewish State. Once again we are told to believe that it is only the ill will of our democratically elected leaders, whose failure to realize the obvious rectitude of the self-appointed peacemakers renders them illegitimate in any case, and our own accumulated paranoia that stands in the way of peace, justice, and a paradise of human brotherhood. Their rejection at the ballot box only proof of the necessity of their defiance, withering criticism only proof of their courage, opposition only proof of their vision, we see before us the extraordinary power of political theology, in the fervent, violent belief that the people have no real right to govern themselves, no real right to decide their own destiny. Only the visionaries may rule, only the righteous have the right to decide the fate of their nation and their people.
The sordid nature of the whole thing became terribly apparent at the Felliniesque signing ceremony last week. One almost expected a bevy of clowns, flute players and half-naked women to come prancing out on stage at any moment. What we got was an extraordinary procession of slanderous rhetoric, libelous accusations and violent threats, all at a ceremony supposedly dedicated to the furtherance of peace and understanding between the two parties. The Israelis on hand seemed nonplussed, confused, perhaps slightly drunk (I’m told the partying was heavy on the flight over), mumbling a few words about the necessity and inevitability of peace before retiring in favor of Israeli pop star Aviv Gefen, who did his best John Lennon impression, complete with white Nehru suit, which someone should have told him no one, including the Nehrus, have worn for over thirty years. It all seemed to underline what many millions have been thinking for three years: the Israeli Left is dead, bankrupt, finished, pathetic, useless, slightly dangerous in its desperate death throes. It has collapsed utterly, worse then the American Left collapsed during Vietnam. It has embraced cowardice, confusion, self-hatred and a violent, reprehensible contempt for its own people. I was reminded watching the whole thing of the special report on the Geneva negotiations, which aired a few weeks ago on Israeli television. At one point Avraham Burg, who recently tried to unilaterally announce the death of Zionism in a magazine article, sat, in all his sweaty, demagogic glory, kippa perched on his bald head, slamming the table and bellowing like Khrushchev and his shoe at the UN, screaming: “Take the Temple Mount! Take it! Take it and give me the Right of Return!” As though he were empowered by the Israeli government to take or give anything, let alone the holy site which serves as the central symbol of the Jewish people. Not that it mattered, in the end they took it and kept the Right of Return anyways. Burg was no doubt deeply proud of his negotiating skills. He had, after all, gotten a few minutes of screen time, and all it cost him was the Temple Mount.
Of course, everyone is taking this extremely seriously. The international elite always enjoys celebrating Israelis who concur with their belief that their country is, at least in some small manner, the work of Satan himself. CNN has nearly turned itself into the Geneva channel over the past few days. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who managed to find nothing bad to say about the anti-Semitic takeover of the Durban conference a few years ago but, when pressed, seemed to think it was all Ariel Sharon’s fault anyways, has been falling all over himself to endorse the maneuver. Jimmy Carter, the patron saint of dictator hugging Leftists and professional do-gooder imbeciles, has also put in his endorsement, along with attacking the current president of the United States. Of course, seeing as George Bush has actually managed to face down one or two Middle Eastern dictators in a way that the erstwhile peanut farmer never could, Carter’s jealousy is hardly surprising. And the European Union, an organization which lectures to other countries about democracy while unilaterally imposing the will of France and Germany on all its members, has begun to pump millions of dollars, which might otherwise go to paying back the United States for rebuilding their economies and defending them militarily for fifty years, into Beilin’s campaign to convince the Israeli people to support the Accords, or, failing that, to convince the international community to impose it on them. Perhaps the point of all this is to underline the core belief of the international Leftist elite: all peoples deserve democracy, freedom and justice, unless, of course, you happen to do or think anything of which we disapprove, in which case you should shut up while we decide what to do with you.
Well, having been subjected to a week of all Geneva all the time, I don’t much feel like shutting up. I feel like speaking my mind, and perhaps all these babbling multilateralists will be interested in hearing the opinion of someone who actually lives in the country upon which they foist so much contempt and opprobrium. Here it is: I think the Geneva Accord is a disgrace. Its an appalling, grotesque usurpation of Israeli sovereignty and democracy by a morally, intellectually, and politically failed elite who have no right, no right whatsoever, to attempt to undermine the current Israeli government or to impose a peace agreement, any peace agreement, let alone this pathetic, capitulatory, dangerous surrender of some of Israel and the Jewish peoples most fundamental rights, most especially the right to a state of their own which will exist as a Jewish State in perpetuity, on the State of Israel.
But what is most inexcusable, most reprehensible of all is that this has happened before, and at the hands of exactly the same people under exactly the same circumstances. Once again Yossi Beilin has negotiated in secret with members of a movement which fundamentally denies Israel’s right to exist and has emerged with an agreement which he claims will bring peace and justice for all parties and open the door to a Utopian Middle East of peace and brotherhood among all people and nations. One might almost think that this isn’t a coincidence. One might almost think that this is something that Beilin needs. That he has to do. That he has to believe. Otherwise he might have to admit that his Messianic ambitions did nothing more than drag Israel into one of the bloodiest and most difficult wars in its history. That he has done incalculable damage to Israel’s military and economic security. That he has contributed mightily to the rise of a ferocious new global anti-Semitism, fueled by the very Muslim and Arab nations he believed his peace plan would reconcile forever with the Jewish State. But no. This is impossible. Beilin has neither the courage nor the capability for that level of self-examination. You see, if he had just had a little more time to negotiate, if Barak had only dealt differently with Arafat, if Israel had only negotiated the core issues sooner, Ariel Sharon, George Bush, the “extremists on both sides”…its always somebody else’s fault.
But it isn’t somebody else’s fault. Its Yossi Beilin’s fault. It’s his fault because he bought the PLO’s lie that it had acknowledged the right of the State of Israel to exist. Its his fault because he did more to anyone else then anyone else to install a terrorist leadership in the West Bank and Gaza, legitimize it in the international community, and provide it with arms and ammunition. Its his fault because he slandered and libeled everyone who voiced even the most marginal of misgivings about such actions, because he sought to push and manipulate a democratic country into adopting an agreement around which no consensus existed. But more than anything else, its his fault because, despite all the death, all the violence, all the disillusionment, despite the realization even on the part of many of the formerly faithful that no partner for peace exists on the Palestinian side, he himself has learned nothing. Because he is too weak and too frivolous and too fanatical to grapple with the terrible moral implications of what he has done. Because if he and his fellow true believers can do it all over again, but bigger and better, with rock stars and speeches and televised ceremonies, all paid for with EU money and played out in the midst of the Great Game of the War on Terror, then maybe, just maybe, they might be able to live with themselves. So far the indications are not good, recent polls indicate that 70% of the Israeli public opposes the Geneva Initiative. Israel, it seems, does not have the same problem as Yossi Beilin.