Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ten years on, in case anyone has forgotten

Happened to be going through some old files of mine and came across journal entries I'ed written almost exactly a decade ago. No sweet nostalgia though because they were chilling notes about the early weeks of the Oslo War or Second Intifada, grisly descriptions of the daily bombings, riots, shootings and lynchings with which our dear Palestinian Authority peace partners ripped up the supposed peace accords and unleashed some of the worst and most consistent campaign of terror Israel has seen.

It's amazing what time will do, how far removed I feel today from that fear and confusion and disorientation as day to day life was turned upside down and ordinary citizens felt like they were taking their lives in their hands just by travelling to work or going down to the shops.

I hope that Obama or some of his advisors remember what happened here in October 2000. I hope they realise why ordinary pro-peace Israelis feel nervous, cautious, even fearful about new concessions and a new peace process considering the horrific way in which Oslo quite literally exploded in our faces, mere weeks after the dovish pro-Oslo Barak administration offered PLO chairman Arafat the most drastic concessions ever proposed by an Israeli government.

Barak's government was determined to reach peace that summer. He went out on a limb with a deal which included concessions most Israeli citizens would have found hard to swallow, but which Barak was determined to go through with anyway. Arafat, rather than building on this unprecedented Israeli flexibility walked away from the talks and shortly after initiated an all our terror campaign against Israel which cost the lives of over 1000 Israelis, wounded thousands more, around 70% of those casualties Israeli civilians.

So despite how the foreign press likes to prattle on about Israeli "intransigence" "belligerence" and other sweet little epithets that paint our nation, or at least our leadership as little better than the Mongol hordes, the actual reason Joe Israeli feels nothing but trepidation in the face of renewed American and European and general international pressure for more concessions, more relaxing of security, is none of these, just simple self-preservation from a people who were so badly burned the last time they went out on a limb for peace.

It's the same reason all the campaigns to boycott, scream at, delegitamise and otherwise blacklist the Jewish state are mostly met with indifference and nose thumbing by Israelis. Better than any American or European "peace" activist, we know what the horrors of war are, we know what it means to leave the house for work in the morning without knowing whether we'll return home in one piece, if at all.

We've been there and done that and we know that the only thing that stopped it in the end was military action and the construction of the security fence. Not talks, not concessions not fairweather ceasefires that leaked attacks like sieves. Nothing worked to stop the daily Palestinian perpetrated carnage on Israeli streets until Israel's military finally was given the green light to aggressively go after the terror networks and infrastructure riddling Gaza and the West Bank. Would that all those visits by Zinni, Powell, Mitchell and their buddies had yielded results, but at the end of the day they produced nothing but hot air and empty platitudes.

Increasingly many Israelis have come to the realisation that perhaps there is no solution to be had right now, that all we can do is try to muddle through as best we can. It's not a pleasant thought, and it doesn't mean there won't be attempts to make things easier for all the peoples living in this troubled little corner of the world, but it does mean that people are more cautious about grand peace talks and grand concessions which open us up to more Oslo era terror.

Some people look at all this and dismiss us as a PTSD nation, and maybe there is some truth to that. I don't think anyone lives through such an extended period of life threatening daily terror without experiencing some kind of long term trauma. But that isn't at the root of our present day caution or our increased resolve not to bend to international will. No, I'd say it was common sense.

Doesn't mean that when push comes to shove the Israeli leadership will hold firm, but for the sake of all Israel's citizens, I pray that they do.

Peace is nice, but only if you are alive to enjoy it.