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December 04, 1992 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-12-04

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Community Views

Editor's Notebook

Arab Concessions?

The Kishke Quotient



In most pro-
tracted argu-
ments, the is-
sues sometimes
become so con-
fused and dis-
torted that the
basic principles
are lost with some dema-
gogues taking advantage of
the distortions.
That is exactly what has
happened in the Arab-Israeli
conflict. At times, when ana-
lyzing media reports, Middle
East watchers may feel like
they are reading Alice in
It's time to take an assess-
ment of the gut issues in this
First, Israel has never ini-
tiated any conflict with any
Arab nation. For 43 years, it
has been prepared to live in
eace with its neighbors but
none has come forth with
peaceful accommodation ex-
cept Egypt.
Second, Israel exists today
only because of one reason:
its military might. If it were
.not militarily superior to
Arab nations, "peace loving"
Arab states would have long
ago wiped Israel off the map.
Third, the so-called Pales-
tinian issue has nothing to do
with peace in the region.
Even if that very difficult
problem were solved today,
,,:eace would not exist in the
region. It will not exist until
some 20 Arab nations emu-
late the late Anwar Sadat
who understood that the
obligation for peace rests on
Arab shoulders. He paid with
his life for his courage.
Fourth, the "land for peace"
phrase is nothing more than
a PR slogan. Arab nations
, have stated there can be no
peace unless Israel gives up
land but they have not said
would be peace. That is
-.7 there
a crucial distinction. Consid-
er if Israel surrendered land
before the Gulf War. The
Th Scud missiles would have
i been much more effective
when fired from the Gaza
strip or the West Bank.
' Fifth, Israel has had its
survival threatened daily for
some 43 years, and one can-
not measure what that does
to the psychology of a nation.
Thus, if Israelis have be-
come "hardened" and suspi-
,ious, who can blame them?
It has suffered through five
wars, daily terrorist attacks,
thousands of lost lives and
hundreds of thousands of war
injuries. Yet the world points
its fingers at Israel and Arab
'-aggressors escape criticism.
Sixth, in the entire discus-
sion of the "peace process," no


Berl Falbaum is a West
Bloomfield-based freelance

one ever discusses conces-
sions which need to be made
by Arab nations. The only
ones demanded are those
sought from Israel.
Professor Ruth Wisse, of
McGill University, who has
written extensively on the
subject for Commentary,
summarized it best:
"... The Arab war against
Israel, though hardly a play,
is very much a moral strug-
gle, not between equal claims
and equal justices but be-
tween a very powerful, com-
plex and determined people
that seeks to destroy the Jew-
ish polity, or to cripple it as a
prelude to its destruction,
and the Jews who intend to
protect that polity.
"On the Jewish side there
is democracy, tolerance of
pluralism, implicit accep-
tance of regional diplomacy.
On the other side there is —
at best — benevolent despo-
tism, and propagation of Jew-
hatred as a national and
religious ideology. If one has
any respect for the Arabs, one
should certainly do them the
courtesy of acknowledging
their view of the world.
"But to accept this view of
the world as though it were
morally unexceptional is to
sacrifice every principle of
democracy and international
That about states the case

bin. They voted for a change
from a more conservative and
less "flexible" government yet
the loss of life continues —
despite all the "liberal" pro-
posals and "olive branches" of
the Rabin government.
They are wondering if ac-
commodation is indeed the
answer if Israel will continue
to suffer under unrelenting
attacks with a loss of inno-
cent lives.
The tragic events of recent
months with the new gov-
ernment in place only under-
line that the obligation for
peace rests with the Arabs.
The formula for peace in
the Middle East is, concisely
stated, a very simple one: The
Arabs only need to accept the
existence of Israel, put down
their arms and abandon their
objective to destroy the Jew-
ish state.
This would require no con-
cessions, no negotiations, no
sacrifices. All it would require
is a sincere desire for peace.
If this were to occur, nego-
tiations would be possible to
settle the Palestinian prob-
lem and a host of other polit-
ical, economic and social
issues which tear at the
hearts of peace-loving Israelis
and Arabs alike.
Even the peace with Egypt
is a fragile one with the
Egyptian press practicing the
most hostile and virulent

strong is the
Jewish con-
nection to Bill
Clinton? On
' the first night
of Rosh Hash-
anah, about
85 of his 300 campaign
staffers in Little Rock at-
tended synagogue. And the
following week, a memo
was issued from campaign
headquarters telling Jew-
ish staffers not to use cam-
paign work as an excuse not
to attend Yom Kippur ser-
That's involvement.
But how will that trans-
late into a Clinton admin-
istration supportive of
Israel and sensitive to
American Jewish concerns?
Morris Amitay says the
proof will become evident
through key appointments
in the next few weeks and
through policies of the Clin-
ton administration in its
first three months in office.
Mr. Amitay, a Jewish ac-
tivist in Washington and
former executive director of
the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC),
was a key figure in the cam-
paign's effort to win Jewish
votes. (It has been estimat-
ed that Mr. Clinton won as
much as 85 percent of the
Jewish vote.)
"If you didn't like Bush
and Baker's treatment of Is-
rael, these guys have to be
better," Mr. Amitay said of
Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
He said to look for the key
people who will be named
to national security posts
and check their pro-Israel

You can tell a lot
about a president
by how he feels
in his gut toward

Israeli Defense Forces working within the West Bank.

as accurately as possible.
President-elect Bill Clinton
seems to recognize the "un-
balanced" nature of the
debate when he stated in
the pre-election campaign
speeches that it was time for
Arab nations to make con-
The hope is that he will use
the presidency to place the
pressure where it belongs.
Israelis also are beginning
to feel even more frustrations
under the administration of
Prime Minister Yitzhak Ra-

anti-Semitism. Yet, this too
escapes any censure of critics
of Israel.
The Palestinian problem,
admittedly, needs to be
solved. But one should note
it was created by the Arab
nations — not Israel — who
exploited the issue and have
taken advantage of it for
years, not because they want
a Palestinian state, but be-
cause it puts pressure on


records, and to look for
statements from the new
administration regarding
the peace process, the Arab
economic boycott, arms
sales and other important
Mideast issues.
"This administration will
want to be inclusive" when
it comes to involving Amer-
ican Jewish leaders, Mr.
Amitay added.
But as we prepare to
scrutinize and analyze a
new administration, we
need to reassess our own
standards for determining
who is a friend. First, look-
ing for Jewish names when
it comes to appointments in
the administration is not
necessarily an accurate
gauge of support for Israel.

Certainly it's a change of
pace to see names like Man-
delbaum, Reich, Segal,
Berger and Kantor men-
tioned regularly as key ad-
visers, particularly after
Pat Buchanan had pledged
that a re-elected Geroge
Bush would wage "a reli-
gious war" from the White
If nothing else, this indi-
cates that Bill Clinton and
Al Gore include Jews
among their advisers and
friends. But that doesn't
mean that all of these Jews
share a common view about
resolving the Mideast con-
flict, or any other key issue,
for that matter. There are
Congressional Jews — War-
ren Rudman of New Hamp-
shire comes to mind —
whose voting records on the
Mideast and issues of Jew-
ish concern have been less
than sterling, and of course
there are non-Jews, elected
and appointed, who have
been among Israel's most
effective advocates.
In addition, the Israeli
government equation has
changed dramatically as
well. Whether or not we are
aware of it, our mindset has
been affected by 15 years of
Likud dominance, to the
point that American Jews
might consider some state-
ments by Israel's prime
minister — on the territo-
ries or accommodations for
peace — as too soft on Is-
rael if they were spoken by
a leader in this country.
As a reflection of the
change in thinking among
Israeli leaders, American
Jews supportive of a land-
for-peace outlook, who were
to the left of the main-
stream here for many years,
are now finding favor in the
eyes of both the Rabin and
Clinton policy makers. Sara
Ehrman, for example, a for-
mer AIPAC staffer and
leader of American Friends
for Peace Now, is in the
Clinton inner circle and
played a key role in the
The reaction one has to
the name Jimmy Carter is
another factor to consider.
Some Jewish activists have
responded negatively to just
about anyone connected
with Mr. Carter's foreign
policy team, including An-
thony Lake and Warren
Christopher, top advisers to
Mr. Clinton who served in
the Carter administration.
Didn't Mr. Carter bring
about the peace accord be-
tween Israel and Egypt?
Don't we think of the 1979
agreement as the high point
of Arab-Israel relations and

KISHKE page 10

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