It is always difficult to speak out against anything that is labeled as pro-peace. After all, who in their right minds is against peace?
Not the people of Israel, who have been assailed by war and terror every moment of their state’s short life, and who have endured the last three years of a Palestinian terrorist war.
And not American friends of Israel, who have watched every effort for peace fail because of the unwillingness of the Palestinians to halt their violent ways and accept Israel’s legitimacy.
But that’s what supporters of the “Geneva Initiative,” now officially called the Geneva accords — which was presented in an extravaganza this week — say about its detractors. Stamped with the approval of none other than former President Jimmy Carter, former South African political prisoner Nelson Mandela and the nations of the European Union, the accords is being acclaimed as an enlightened alternative to a “hard-line” Israeli government and a Bush administration “biased toward Israel.”
The accords’ authors and their cheerleaders in the international media are also already labeling everyone who points out the shortcomings and the inherent illegitimacy of this bizarre charade as “extremists” and foes of peace. But the rhetoric of Geneva’s advocates tells us a lot more about them than about their critics.
The main purpose here is an open attempt to circumvent Israeli democracy.
After all, those who claimed to represent the people of Israel at Geneva were the same people who earlier this year asked Israelis to give them the power to conduct the country’s affairs.
In case you missed the results of those elections, here’s an update: They lost in a landslide, for the second time in two years. Indeed, the principal Israeli architect of this affair, former Cabinet minister Yossi Beilin, couldn’t even get himself elected to the Knesset as a member of Israel’s far-left Meretz Party after being rejected by the members of mainstream left-wing Labor.
Beilin has as much right to represent Israel as Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan have to represent the United States. But more important than the pretensions of Beilin is the international community’s desire for “regime change” in Israel.
This is the same group of world leaders and media outlets that have unfairly denounced every instance of Israeli self-defense for decades, and that has stood by silently as their vituperation helped fuel the fires of anti-Semitism in Europe.
The foreign governments who paid for the Geneva extravaganza — Switzerland and the European Union — are impatient with Israel’s refusal to break under the pressure of Palestinian terror. They don’t like Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who despite his acceptance of a Palestinian state, refuses to divide Jerusalem or lessen Israel’s vigilance against Palestinian terrorism.
It must be pointed out that no other country in the world — not even the most barbaric dictatorships, let alone a democratic country — is treated in this manner. This recourse to treating Israel as such a pariah that can be insulted at will can only be understood in the context of a worldwide surge in anti-Semitism.
But, having said all that, does the Geneva show really matter?
Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.”
The intentions of many of the Jewish supporters of this plan are undoubtedly pure. They want peace for Israel, and they mistakenly imagine that Geneva will help.
This assumption wrongly places the responsibility for the lack of peace on Israel. Such thinking shows they have learned nothing in the last 10 years, which saw Israel sign several peace agreements that were, in turn, trashed by a Palestinian leadership that never had any intention of living up to their terms.
It doesn’t matter whether you think the Geneva accord is either equitable or compatible with Israel’s survival. The Geneva concessions will be seen as the starting point for future talks, which will inevitably lead to the next round of Palestinians demands. Israel’s failure to accede to those will be seen as a new obstacle to peace. The end result, as with the Oslo process, will inevitably be more bloodshed.
Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Jewish Exponent on-line at www.jewishexponent.com.