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December 30, 1977 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-12-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH , NEWS' 'Friday, December 30, 1977 31

M.E. Conflict Being Reduced to 'Ordinary' Status?

By DAVID LANDAU
(Copyright 1977, JTA, Inc.

If Menahem Begin
brings peace to Israel he
will become a hero of
Jewish history. He will
share the Nobel Peace
Prize with President Anwar
Sadat of Egypt. He will be
hailed and feted as a
statesman of giant
stature—and deservedly so.
He will receive the
accolades of his
countrymen, and the honest

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apologies of those who
questioned the wisdom of
his policies and actions.
And deservedly so.
How will he have done
it? How does one explain
the evident paradox of the
dyed-in-the-wool hard-liner
coming to terms with the
enemy when for 30 years
the ostensible moderates
who led Israel failed to do
so? Of course the
"deGaulle syndrome" is
readily available as a
suitable scientific
explanation, complete with
historical precedents to
prove its pertin-
ence-validity.
Indeed, it was this
thesis—that only a
hard-line opposition leader
of unimpeachable moral
authority can ultimately
push through an unpopular,
even humiliating,
withdrawal—that comforted
some of us in Israel and
some of Israel's friends

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around the world when
Begin was swept to power
last May. And, indeed,
current political events
inside Israel show there is
much truth in it.
But the "deGaulle
syndrome" alone is too
facile, too pat to provide a
genuinely comprehensive
and incisive explanation of
what has happened in
Israeli policy-making. It is
useful as a shorthand for
describing the internal
political situation. But it
does not deal with the
essence of the Begin-Sadat
equation.
That essence is that
Begin regards Sadat and
himself as the leaders of
two countries locked in an
ordinary conflict over the
ordinary issues of rights
and interests, land and
waterways. He does not
perceive them as mythical
champions engaged in a
supernatural struggle from
which only an apocalyptic
deliverance can free them.
In this he sees eye-to-eye
with Sadat, who already,
early in 1971, only months
after coming to office,
announced that Egypt was
prepared for a peace treaty
with Israel, albeit on its
own terms, which haven't
changed much since then..
In saying this, Sadat in
effect triggered off the
process whose climax is
being witnessed in these
dramatic days. He was
withdrawing Egypt from
the Arabs' own apocalyptic,
metaphysical view of the
conflict, as expressed in
the "nos" . of Khartoum.
Egypt henceforward would
regard the struggle with
Israel as amenable to
ordinary, mortal, human,
here-and-now solution. It
need not continue until the
end of days.
This was the clear
implication of Sadat's 1971
proclamation, the
significance of which only
grows as time passes and
its truly historic
proportions come into ever
sharper focus.
That significance entirely

MENAHEM BEGIN
escaped the government of
the day in Israel. Premier
Golda Meir's response was
mealy-mouthed and
unimaginative, despite the
recent efforts to invest it,
retrospectively, with hidden
depths of conciliatory
meaning. Defense Minister
Moshe Dayan's scheme for
a far-reaching Suez Canal
"interim settlement" was
slapped down by a coalition
of Mrs. Meir, Israel Galili,
Yigal Allon and a number
of army generals.
And Dayan, who was
astute enough to know that
the metaphysical
dimensions of the conflict
had dissipated with the
death of Egyptian
President Nasser, was
nevertheless not prepared
to fight hard enough from
within to ensure the
adoption of his proposal. It
needed the Yom Kippur
War to secure its eventual
adoption, and the ouster of
Labor—minus Dayan—for
Israel to make its own
break with the
metaphysics.
Until the very end,
Labor's leaders were
mouthing the myth that the
Arabs' refusal to acquiesce
in Israel's permanent
sovereign existence is the
true heart of the conflict.
It was as if Nasser had
never died and Sadat had
never taken over. For Mrs.
Meir and her proteges
nothing had changed in
Egypt. The talk of a peace
treaty was lies. The
demand for total Israeli
withdrawal a cover-up.
Egypt still believed in the
ultimate goal of chucking
the Israelis into the
Mediterranean as the
ultimate goal to strive for.
And the Labor leaders
continued for years to
propagate this
metaphysical myth as the
bedrock of their
fundamental policy aim: to
do nothing and gain time.
War once a decade came to
be regarded, with a horrid
fatalism, as an inevitable
part pf living in Israel.
The ostensible moderates
in Israel appear now,
ironically, to have
mirror-imaged the Arab
hard-liners in that both
camps had their eyes set
on a solution still shrouded
in the mists of the future
and both, therefore, sought
to avoid talk of a final
settlement here and now as
both hopeless and harmful.

Begin, despite his deep
belief in the uniqueness of
the Jewish experience,.
refuses to treat the
Israel-Arab conflict as
unique. Rather, he regards
it as a struggle of the
Franco-German type,
where decades of
blood-letting did not
preclude a quick and
complete peace. His is an
attitude free of complexes,
freed of the slogans of the
past which are no longer
relevant to the reality of
the present—at least on the
Israel-Egypt axis.
The experiences of the
Israelis here in
Egypt—specifically, the
media personnel covering
the peace talks—can be
seen as merely a reflected
repercussion of Sadat's and
now Begin's historic
decision to reduce the
conflict from metaphysical
to ordinary proportions.
In the Nasser-Meir days
the normalcy and
naturalness of our daily
contacts here with
Egyptian officials,
newsmen and chance
acquaintances would have
been inconceivable.
This is the real nature of
the cataclysm that has
occurred in the Mideast
conflict. It has become
ordinary, at last, concerned
with concrete things like
territory and security, no
longer with intangible but
implacable—and therefore
irreconcilable—hatred.
"Ordinary" conflicts too
can go on for decades, even
centuries, and cost
countless lives. And there
is no knowing at this
moment whether our
now-ordinary conflict is
indeed on the verge of
solution. But the very fact
that it- is an ordinary
conflict gives reason to
hope that a solution is
possible.

Sadat Names

Foreign Minister

CAIRO (JTA)—President
Anwar Sadat appointed
Egypt's Ambassador to
West Germany, Mohammed
Ibrahim Kaamel, as his
new Foreign Minister.
The 50-year-old career
diplomat will fill the post
left vacant when Foreign
Minister Ismail Fahmi
resigned last month in
protest against Sadat's
peace initiative and his
decision to visit Jerusalem.
Kaamel will lead the
Egyptian negotiators when
the Cairo conference enters
its second stage of talks on
the foreign ministers level
next month.
A lawyer by profession
and son of a former
Supreme Court judge.
Kaamel became acquainted
with Sadat when both were
imprisoned by the British
during World War II. They
have kept up their
friendship ever since then.

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