Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Just let me do the talking"

One of things that Israelis love to say is, "Rak ten li le-daber" -- 'Just let me do the talking.' Well, Israeli males certainly like to say it. It means something like, if you just let me speak, I will convince you that I am right or reasonable or something to that effect. Ehud Barak was completely convinced that he would succeed as a negotiator -- all he had to do was to put his suggestions on the table at Camp David, and the Palestinians would either be convinced, or would show that they are not serious about peace. It is like your brother-in-law who tries to convince you that he can sell your car at a better price than you can -- just let him do the talking. When one brother-in-law fails, another pops up, or maybe it is a cousin or a neighbor.

The latest "brother-in-law" is Ehud Olmert. He says that the Palestnians are partners -- well one or two of them are, and that they will go with his deal. That deal is not as good as the one that they accepted (with reservations) when offered by Pres. Clinton. But no matter...they lost the intifada, they are suffering mightily, Hamas has taken over Gaza -- trust me, I can convince them.

Of course, conventional wisdom would say that under those circumstances they will be less likely to cut a deal. After all, it took an initial victory in the October 1973 war to give Egypt the security and national honor it needed to cut a deal with Israel. Why would a battered Palestinian authority agree to terms that it couldn't agree to when it was politically stronger?

Ehud Olmert has made a big deal of Muhammed Abbas's reasonableness as a partner. What will he say when Abbas hangs tough on demanding that Israel recognizes its responsibilty for the Arab refugee problem, or rejects Israel's demand for recognizing it as a Jewish state? I suppose he will "pull a Barak" -- he will go around the world saying, "What do you want? I tried. The buyer wasn't serious."

Let's hope that he doesn't react that way. Who is ready for another intifada?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, Egypt was making peace offers before the 73 war. It was the lack of interest on the part of Israel (why make concessions to a nation they so easily defeated in 67?) that convinced Sadat to try war.

Avi Shlaim writes about this in "The Iron Wall". Seymour Hersh wrote about it in his biography of Henry Kissinger. Shlomo Ben Ami mentions it too. It's virtually never mentioned in the US mainstream press, because as Chomsky points out it goes against the storyline that Israel was always willing to make peace with any Arab nation that offered it. So the fact that Israel brushed off Sadat's offers pre-73 is sort of embarrassing.

Donald

Jerry Haber said...

Donald, very good point. I didn't want to imply that this was the first peace offer Egypt made after 67. I read Shlaim's book several years ago, and he was very convincing on that score.
I just wanted to suggest that psychologically it is some times easier for a state that has recovered some of its lost national pride to make concessions.

Anonymous said...

shkoyekh!

GBacharach said...

Iv returned just to post anouther article iv found: http://www.davidproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=300&Itemid=166

hopefuly itll enlighten a bit.

and about Egypt making peace offers before the 73 war, thats not true. They essentialy just said they Might make peace once they get sini back. And with friends like egypt who needs enemies:

http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=05C1C31E-1F8B-4096-A41E-4C5F5EB64618

http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=56E2A983-895F-4A10-905D-5F3263C7A7D8

That deal is not as good as the one that they accepted (with reservations) when offered by Pres. Clinton. But no matter...they lost the intifada

Why reward terrorism?

Anonymous said...

That's true. I mean the part about recovered national pride. I'd guess it was easier for Sadat to make peace after the relatively good performance of the Egyptian military in the 73 war.

Great blog, btw. I like your hero Judah Magnes, what little I know of him (I think he came up in Tom Segev's book). I don't mean this in the usual Palestinian-bashing way, but it's too bad there wasn't a Palestinian Gandhi who could have worked with him towards a peaceful solution for both peoples. Not that I'm blaming the Palestinians--Gandhi types aren't all that common in any society.

Donald

Jerry Haber said...

gbachrach, good to see you back. If I read those posts, you have to read Avi Shlaim's book in which he talks about the opportunities for peace that Israel missed.
Another one of my favorite Israeli refusals to consider a peace settlement, this time with the Palestinians, is related in Akiva Eldar and Itit Zertal's book,The Lords of the Land. In 1967, after the six day war, military intelligence people came to Eshkol and the government and said that now was the time to seek Palestinians on the West Bank for a Palestinian state All this was before Hamas, before the settlements ,before radicalization, before a single rock was thrown. Eshkol's government said no; they would negotiate only with Jordan, a position that Peres held until Oslo. What an opportunity missed!
But you know, as Abba Eban could have said, the Israelis never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity....

GBacharach said...

In 1967 few palestinians even reffered to themselves as palestinians and Jordan didnt renounce its claims to the west bank yet. I dont see how that "missed opportunity" could be used against Israel.

MYTH

“Egypt terminated the War of Attrition and offered peace to Israel, only to have Jerusalem spurn these initiatives.”

FACT

In the summer of 1970, the United States persuaded Israel and Egypt to accept a cease-fire. This cease-fire was designed to lead to negotiations under UN auspices. Israel declared that it would accept the principle of withdrawal from territories it had captured.

But on August 7, the Soviets and Egyptians deployed sophisticated ground-to-air SAM-2 and SAM-3 missiles in the restricted 32-mile-deep zone along the west bank of the Suez Canal. This was a clear violation of the cease-fire agreement, which barred the introduction or construction of any military installations in this area.

Time magazine observed that U.S. reconnaissance “showed that the 36 SAM-2 missiles sneaked into the cease-fire zone constitute only the first line of the most massive anti-aircraft system ever created.”12

Defense Department satellite photos demonstrated conclusively that 63 SAM-2 sites were installed in a 78-mile band between the cities of Ismailia and Suez. Three years later, these missiles provided air coverage for Egypt’s surprise attack against Israel.13

Despite the Egyptian violations, the UN-sponsored talks resumed — additional evidence that Israel was anxious to make progress toward peace. The talks were swiftly short-circuited, however, by UN Special Envoy Gunnar Jarring, when he accepted the Egyptian interpretation of Resolution 242 and called for Israel’s total withdrawal to the pre-June 5, 1967, demarcation lines.

On that basis, Egypt expressed its willingness “to enter into a peace agreement with Israel” in a February 20, 1971, letter to Jarring. But this seeming moderation masked an unchanging Egyptian irredentism and unwillingness to accept a real peace, as shown by the letter’s sweeping reservations and preconditions. The crucial sentences about a “peace agreement with Israel” were neither published nor broadcast in Egypt. Moreover, Egypt refused to enter direct talks. Israel attempted to at least transform the struggling Jarring mission into indirect talks by addressing all letters not to Jarring, but to the Egyptian government. Egypt refused to accept them.

Just after the letter to Jarring, Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s new president, addressed the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Cairo. He promised support to the PLO “until victory” and declared that Egypt would not accept Resolution 242.14

Five days after Sadat suggested he was ready to make peace with Israel, Mohammed Heikal, a Sadat confidant and editor of the semi-official Al-Ahram, wrote:

Arab policy at this stage has but two objectives. The first, the elimination of the traces of the 1967 aggression through an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it occupied that year. The second objective is the elimination of the traces of the 1948 aggression, by the means of the elimination of the State of Israel itself. This is, however, as yet an abstract, undefined objective, and some of us have erred in commencing the latter step before the former.15

^ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths2/WarofAttrition.html#g1

Tell me something Shlaim wrote that contradicts the above.

btw I stopped visiting this blog mainly because of you writing about Finkelstein who seems to hate Israel with a passion as well as any successful Jew in America. And then theres his friend chomsky

http://www.paulbogdanor.com/chomskyhoax.html

Peter H said...

Shlomo Ben Ami is a better source than the JewishVirtualLibrary. Here is what Ben Ami writes in Scars of War, Wounds of Peace:

"Initally, Israel was unimpressed by the change of leadership in its Southern border. Jarring was explicitly told in February 1971 that Israel 'will not withdraw to the pre-1967 lines.' Israel's blunder became more clearly apparent when President Sadat for the first time in the history of the conflict committed Egypt, in his response to Jarring's questioning 'to enter into a peace agreement with Israel.' Sadat's commitment can be seen as a belated response to to the Israeli peace guidelines of 1967 or a correction, as it were, of the notorious Khartoum no's. The tragedy was by now the Israeli government had drifted farther to the right.

Israel's short-sightedness became even more unpardonable when one realizes that her leaders were fully aware of the boldness of Sadat's move. Both Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan were forced to acknowledge the revolutionary change in Egypt's position. In an interview with the London Times the Prime Minister admitted that Sadat was "the first Egyptian leader to say that he was ready to make peace." Dayan believed this was an entirely new situation that called for 'a careful assessment', one that was never made. In fact, Sadat's response to Jarring went even further; it indicated that Egypt wanted an Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied Arab lands, but it did not link Egypt's readiness for peace with withdrawal from other fronts.

Ms. Meir's cabinet did not rise to the dramatic challenge posed by Anwar Sadat. In the same interview where she recognized the boldness of Sadat's reply to Jarring, the Prime Minister continued to insist that Israel 'must have' Sharm el Sheikh, that Egypt 'could not return' to Gaa, and that the Golan Heights and much of the West Bank, including united Jerusalem, must remain under Israel's control. She also took the liberty on another occasion to say that 'Sharm el Sheikh is of absolutely no use to the Egyptians.' It would take the Yom Kippur War for Israel to make peace under the same conditions Mrs Meir now so haughtily rejected."

GBacharach said...

The tragedy was the notorious Khartoum no's.

Perhaps the JVL's version is one-sided but so is Ben Amis version.
It shows that Isrel's leaders were wary of making peace with the arabs and rightfuly so:

The crucial sentences about a “peace agreement with Israel” were neither published nor broadcast in Egypt. Moreover, Egypt refused to enter direct talks.

Just after the letter to Jarring, Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s new president, addressed the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Cairo. He promised support to the PLO “until victory” and declared that Egypt would not accept Resolution 242.14

Five days after Sadat suggested he was ready to make peace with Israel, Mohammed Heikal, a Sadat confidant and editor of the semi-official Al-Ahram, wrote:

Arab policy at this stage has but two objectives. The first, the elimination of the traces of the 1967 aggression through an Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it occupied that year. The second objective is the elimination of the traces of the 1948 aggression, by the means of the elimination of the State of Israel itself. This is, however, as yet an abstract, undefined objective, and some of us have erred in commencing the latter step before the former.15

yep egypt sure wanted peace!

Peter H said...

The crucial sentences about a “peace agreement with Israel” were neither published nor broadcast in Egypt.

Assuming this is true, it still doesn't prove anything. Politicans make different statements to different audiences all the time. Perhaps Sadat was not ready to sell the Egyptan public on a peace treaty with Egypt until Israel committed to a full withdrawal from the Sinai. The fact that both Moshe Dayan & Golda Meir had acknowleged the importance of Sadat's response to the Jarring Initiative shows that it can't be dismissed as mere propaganda.

The reason Israel did not respond seriously to Sadat's Initiative is not because of any inconsistent translations, but because it didn't want to back to the pre-1967borders with Egypt. In February 1971, Moshe Dayan acknowledged that if we could return all the territories the Egyptians would be ready for peace". Yet he also stated that "he would prefer Sharm-el-Shaykh without peace to peace without Sharm-el-Ehaykh" (Norman Finkelstein, Image and Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, p. 159).

Moreover, Egypt refused to enter direct talks.

Read Jon Kimche's account of Israel's response to Sadat. Golda Meir made clear that Israel would not return all the territory it won to Egypt. At that point, Sadat realized there was no way he could get the Sinai back peacefully, and would have to use the military means.

Just after the letter to Jarring, Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s new president, addressed the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Cairo. He promised support to the PLO “until victory” and declared that Egypt would not accept Resolution 242.14

I found a translation of Sadat's speech to the PNC in Raphael Israel's book, The Public Diary of Anwar Sadat. This would seem to be the relevant paragraph you are referring to (p. 34)

"The whole world was satisfied with the Security Council Resolution of 1967. You are certainly entitled to reject it...Our policy has been to insist on Israeli withdrawal from all territories occupied in 1967 and on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people as provided by the UN decision. The solution that was pointed out by the Security Council will have to take into consideration the whole body of UN decisions from 1947 afterwards."

I don't see any rejection of Resolution 242 on Sadat's part, nor do I see this as a call for the destruction of Israel. In any case, even if this speech was inconsistent with Sadat's public response to the Jarring Initiative, it doesn't prove that Sadat wasn't serious about peace. Again, politicans make different statements to different audiences. Sadat probaly wanted to mollify his Palestinian audience before embarking on a politically costly attempt to make peace with Israel.

Five days after Sadat suggested he was ready to make peace with Israel, Mohammed Heikal, a Sadat confidant and editor of the semi-official Al-Ahram, wrote [...]

Mohammed Heikal ended up having a very bitter fallout with Sadat, so this shows nothing about Sadat's intentions.