|OSLO AND ITS VICTIMS
by Michael Freund
The Jerusalem Post, September 10, 2003
|Israeli police are on high alert. Palestinian terrorists have been firing mortar rounds at Ashkelon and Gush Katif, people are
afraid to ride the buses, and Hamas is promising more violence - welcome to this week's tenth anniversary of the signing of
the Oslo Accords.
When Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat reached across the White House Lawn and shook hands back on September 12, 1993, guided toward each other by a beaming Bill Clinton, those in attendance burst into applause, their shouts of joy clearly audible
on news footage of the event.
But the roar of the crowd has long since abated, replaced by the deafening sound of explosions, terror and death. Oslo was
quickly revealed to be a fool's bet, one in which the future of an entire country was placed into the hands of its unrepentant
Never before has a country so strong yielded so much to an enemy so weak; and never before has a government so brazenly
endangered the fate of its own people.
Behold the hard facts: In the ten years prior to Oslo, a total of 211 Israelis were killed by Palestinian terror, while in the ten
years since the agreement, that number has risen to l,110, an increase of over 426%.
Oslo failed to bring peace, and it failed to put an end to Palestinian terror. It did not unify the nation, nor did it give birth to economic prosperity. Instead, Oslo's legacy can be found in cemeteries throughout the country, in hospital wards and
rehabilitation centers, in the scars and prosthetic devices that its victims will carry with them forever.
"History", the late historian Barbara Tuchman once said; "is the unfolding of miscalculation," and she might as well have
been referring to Israel's dealings with the PLO. Although the Palestinians never lived up to their part of the bargain, Israel
persisted in signing agreements with them. There was the 1994 Cairo Agreement, the 1995 Oslo 2 Accords, the 1997 Hebron
deal and the 1998 Wye Agreement.
Refusing to acknowledge its error, Israel dug itself ever deeper into the hole, turning over more land, only to receive more
funerals in return.
The transcript of failure is extensive and heartbreaking, but it cannot be ignored. As far back as December 1994, Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, "Arafat is not taking enough action against Hamas. I would expect better results in the fight
against terrorism" (The Jerusalem Post, December 6, 1994).
And Shimon Peres, mastermind of Oslo, admitted back in March 1995 that, "Yasser Arafat must show more willpower, more
character in his fight against terror. If he is too weak to do that or lacks the will, why should we negotiate with him at all?"
But negotiate with him is exactly what Israel continued to do, and here we are ten years later, with Arafat still in control and
Jews still dying.
Yet even after the past decade's horrors, our government still doesn't get it. They now talk about expelling Arafat, but
leaving the Palestinian Authority in place, as though installing a new "godfather" will make the Mafia any less of a criminal
They still don't realize that the problem is not just Arafat or Abu Mazen or Abu Whoever, it is the existence of the Palestinian
Authority itself, which is little more than a hothouse for terror, corruption and bloodshed.
Remember, this experiment of establishing a Palestinian entity has not been going on for a year or two or three. It has been
going on for a decade, for ten long and painful years, years filled with unprecedented suffering and violence. It is time to call
it quits, to say "enough is enough", and stop proceeding down a path that has failed again and again.
Oslo is an experiment whose time has passed. Only a "mad scientist" would be willing to press forward with it.
The only way out of the current morass is for Israel to reassert full control over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, dismantle the
Palestinian Authority and destroy the infrastructure of terror. It won't be clean, and it won't be pretty, but a government's
first priority is to protect its citizens, not to appease international public opinion.
At the root of Oslo lay a dangerous mix of defeatism, despair and gloom, which brought to power a government that was
prepared to forsake our national patrimony. Oslo's practitioners were ready to withdraw from Jewish history, and undercut Jewish destiny, questioning our very right to be on this sacred soil.
If the past ten years teach us anything, it should be that forgoing our Divine and eternal right to this Land inevitably leads to
an erosion in our security and well-being. The two are inextricably lined, and we must no longer shy away from making this
clear to the world.
The first step toward healing this nation is to heal the rift in the Land, and to reclaim what is rightfully ours. We spent the
past decade trying to divide it, and look where that has gotten us.
The time for retreat is over. Now, let us move forward, and advance, and take back our Land, once and for all.
|The writer served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister's Office under former premier Benjamin Netanyahu.|
|FREEMAN CENTER FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES