Sunday, August 06, 2006

The real estate war

Mr. Levy is the voice of reason. Hopefully he will be heard across Israel. It's time to understand the Arab perspective: Israel's occupation of land is the source of all wars in the Middle East.

By Gideon Levy

This miserable war in Lebanon, which is just getting more and more complicated for no reason at all, was born in Israel's greed for land. Not that Israel is fighting this time to conquer more land, not at all, but ending the occupation could have prevented this unnecessary war. If Israel had returned the Golan Heights and signed a peace treaty with Syria in a timely fashion, presumably this war would not have broken out. Peace with Syria would have guaranteed peace with Lebanon and peace with both would have prevented Hezbollah from fortifying on Israel's northern border. Peace with Syria would have also isolated Iran, Israel's true, dangerous enemy, and cut off Hezbollah from one of the two sources of its weapons and funding. It's so simple, and so removed from conventional Israeli thinking, which is subject to brainwashing. For years, Israel has waged war against the Palestinians with the main motive of insistence on keeping the occupied territories. If not for the settlement enterprise, Israel would have long since retreated from the occupied territories and the struggle's engine would have been significant neutralized. Not that a non-occupying Israel would have turned into the darling of the Arab world, but the destructive fire aimed at Israel would have significantly lessened, and those who continued to fight Israel would have found themselves isolated.

The war against the Palestinians is therefore unequivocally a territorial war, a war for the settlements. In other words, in the West Bank and Gaza, people were killed and are getting killed because of our greed for land. From Golda Meir to Ehud Olmert, the lie has held that the war with the Palestinians is an existential one for survival imposed on Israel when it is actually a war for real estate, one dunam after another, that does not belong to us. The situation is different with Syria. For 33 years, the Syrians gave up the military effort to reinstate their occupied lands. Israel can pass a dozen Golan Heights laws to annex it, but occupied territory remains occupied territory. During those three decades, the prevailing view in Israel was that there was no need for peace with Syria: The Syrians sat quietly anyway, so why give them back the Golan? This is the same dangerously foolish thinking that characterized the first 20 years of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians sat quietly, surrendered under the Israeli occupation boot, and it did not occur to anyone to return their territory. Instead, Israel established the settlements. Only when the Palestinians woke up and realized they were going to lose their lands forever did they begin a violent campaign; and only after blood was spilled, did Israel wake up from its dreams and realize that it could not hold onto all of the territories forever.

Thus, with regrettable delay and years of bloodshed, the recognition of the PLO, the Oslo accords, the disengagement and the convergence were born - all partial and fake solutions meant to postpone the end of the occupation. We did not need all of that with the Syrians - after all, they sat quietly all of these years. Now comes the war in Lebanon and proves that this was a mistake. Although the Syrians sat on the sidelines, the danger from that direction was not removed and the delusion that the Golan would forever remain in Israeli hands, without our being asked to pay for its occupation, is now slapping us in the face. But the current war could yet turn out to be only an appetizer for the coming wars, which will be far more dangerous. The saying that time is on our side is another delusion. The Arab and Muslim world has armed, in all of this time, and the danger of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is already hovering over our heads. The only response to that is maximum neutralization of the flashpoints, before the bomb arrives.

But Israel has chosen to close its eyes and build its future on a horrifyingly temporary quiet, or on more and more war operations. Just when territory is losing its military importance because of the development of new fighting technology, Israel is using security excuses to stay in the territories. Former-prime minister Ehud Barak criminally missed the opportunity to sign a peace treaty with Syria after he got "cold feet," as witnesses said, and retreated at the last minute. That's how it works with us. When the other side is quiet, why return territories? And when they do go to war, "there's nobody to talk to," and certainly not while we are "under fire." While we are ready to jump on any war bandwagon, as in this time, we endlessly procrastinate when it comes to peace negotiations. Now, too, when Syria, pushed around by the U.S., desperately wants to return to the "family of nations," is an excellent time to try to make peace with it - but there are those who say now is not the time. What will the Americans say? They, after all, are against any deals with Bashar Assad of "the axis of evil." So, there it is, another excuse to miss a golden opportunity, another mendacious excuse. As in the case of the peace with Egypt, the move that has guaranteed Israel's security for years far more than any war, and which was put together behind the America's back, America would not be able to oppose a peace agreement with Syria. Now, after we've hit Hezbollah and ruined Lebanon, the prime minister of Israel should declare: the Golan for peace. That could contribute a lot more to our security than a thousand useless daring operations in Baalbek, but it would take a lot more courage than going off to fight another unnecessary and useless war.

For the skeptics:


Blogger in indigo said...

for those who are tempted to write off levy as living a post-zionist dream in a devastatingly zionist reality,

patrick seale says much of the same in this recent article:

my perception of syrian public perception, which comes as an american grad student who has spent some time in damascus, is that this is the viable direction. i've learned to not underestimate how much israel is perceived as an occupying force and learned that most syrians care far more about the golan heights -- e.g. territory that is disputably syrian -- than about territorial issues that are not on their soil. pulling out from gaza doesn't resolve the golan heights.

this may be obvious to many, but i have to admit that until yesterday, i was not willing to entertain the golan heights as up for sale.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

Doing what Mr. Levy proposed takes so much courage that no living Israeli leader could bare. Our bravest leader was murdered by extremists when he tried to change this situation.

Fewer people believe in the bible stories of us having to own all these lands. but too many people don't trust Arab people. every territory Israel gave up became a terrorist base used against it. people here don't have the necessary breath-length to endure set backs in such a process and every mistake makes us conquer back.

we just don't trust each other in the middle east (and for good reasons, shows the empirical evidence). any ideas?

12:43 AM  
Anonymous frank said...

"every territory that Israel gave up became a terrorist base used against it"

What a load of rubbish! I don't have any middle eastern roots but I know this is false. What about Sinai?

The problem is words like "terrorist" and the total lack of any sense of proportion that many Israelis seem to possess. That's why people don't trust you.

12:54 AM  
Anonymous frank said...

P.S. my understanding of the tactics of terrorists is that they target civilians more than soldiers. At the last bodycount, the IDF had killed about 7 or 8 civilians for every Hezbollah fighter, whereas Hezbollah have killed more IDF fighters than Israeli civilians. this suggests to me that Israel is the main terrorist base in this war

1:00 AM  
Blogger gene said...

What i find works is smoking a peace pipe with hashish or marijuana to calm people down.
Please find a way to peace the world is watching fundamentalism unfold,
just like 9/11.

2:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... provides a rebuttal to Mr. Levy's suppositions.

4:16 AM  
Anonymous Juliana said...

Thank you Mr. Levy!
Hopefully your voice will not be lost among so much hatred. If only all your compatriots would see the world as you see it.

4:39 AM  
Anonymous ISRAELI said...

<<...If Israel had returned the Golan Heights and signed a peace treaty with Syria in a timely fashion, presumably this war would not have broken out...>>

An answer is in your question...

Who opened the war, Syria or Israel? Syria.
Who won the battle, Syria or Israel? Israel.
What are you talking about saying to return Golan Heights? Forget about it. But, even if we assume that Israel had returned the Hiights, whether we could be sure for 100% the war would not have broken out?

Let's see what do you think about it: "If Israel... PRESUMABLY..." What have you said? Presumably? Yes, I agree with you. This is the correct word. Moreover, if Israel had returned everything... If Israel had returned even that it had never had... If Israel, in addition, had thrown itself away from the Middle East to the Moon... Even then, Arab/Muslim nations would never had been sleeping at night, thinking the way to stick Jews.

What "IF" are you talking about? Wake up, habbibbi! This is the everlasting war which has been going on since the Bible's time. The peace between Jews and Muslims will never be achieved! Have I discovered America by saying this? Whether I have said something new? Everyone knows it and every one pretends like hears it the first time in their life.

Ceasefire, as a temporarily solution? Maybe. Peaceful coexistence? Maybe. But forget the situation when Jews and Muslims are going to hug and kiss each other. This is an everlasting fight which will maybe (not sure for 100%) end up at the end of the Universe . And do not blame Jews along in this.

About this war: if you, Lebanese, have failed to deal with Hezbollah, we try to help you. Do we have a choice?

As a conclusion, Israel will be on the World Map as long as it strong!

PS: Rewording your statement, I would say "If we all had changed our mind, we would have got that notorious Peace".

5:30 AM  
Anonymous Wild Rice said...

This article is right on the point. It is now time to recognize that the best deal can get is the Saudi plan which calls for Israel to withdraw behind the 1967 lines in exchange for peace treaties. And it should be the policy of the United States to withhold aid to Israel until they are ready to accept this plan.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous Lili stikes again. said...

So?? this is what it's all about? Syria again? Didn't you finish with Syria two years ago? are they still your friends? is that why we're both being bombed for a month?

For me.. even getting to talk about the golan heights is such a bad and BS excuse.

when watching the real great power of Hizbulla (I didn't know it's so big. did you??) I now realize how lucky Israel was to have this chance and strike. to let things go as they planned by Hizbulla was really going to make great damage to Israel if they would strike first.

As for the main argument of this article - Israeli greed for land.
I really don't know. for part of the arab world Iran, Syria and Hizbualla, the very existence of Israel is a greed for land.

The golan height were occupied because, correct me if I'm wrong, Syria used to bomb Israel from there. just like Hizbulla was doing to Israel before that war. Standing there with a gun to Israel's head, using it from time to time.
Do you think Israel can live with that? I don't.

let us not forget who triggered this dammed war. it was really not Israel this time!

As a not religious Israeli Jew (and gay for all that matters) I could not care less about the territories. and not for the golan heights. I would vote to give them back if I thought it would do better, I'm not so sure about that. I can see the real big war coming in a few year with your big sister Iran. I want to be ready for that. (and no - I'm not being paranoid. they have proven their power already in this war)

I do however care about the existence of Israel were I grew up. we are here to stay. get that straight. if we go - you're going with us. get that too.

for all of us.
and get Hizbulla out of Lebanon. they are the real enemy of both of us.

P.S - The link did not work for me. (I was skeptic.. ha ha.. -)) but I do assume it was there. I wonder why it was removed.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Too often every Jew and every Israeli is characterized as being 100% in alignment with the government's policy in every respect. I believe Hezbollah should be disarmed (for the sake of Lebanon, Israel and Palestinians). If they continue to fire rockets at civilians in Northern Israel then it might take military might to accomplish this (not necessarily Israeli military) but in the end territorial concesion has been and will always be a part of achieving peace with Palestinians and their proxy fighters, even if some extremists say their goal is to take every square inch of Israel.

Again, I am so glad you posted this editorial, because it shows that there are vibrant debates raging in Israel. I would like to hear more disseting opinions in Syria, Iran and southern Lebanon, and maybe one day we will.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of hypocritical idiots. You start wars, get your butts kicked and then bitch about losing territory. To the victor go the spoils. Just reward for the lives you maniacs destroy. You don't want to live in peace with Israel or anyone. You brought this war on. Live with the consequences of your actions. There are no innocent Lebanese, Syrians, or Iranians. Why should Israel care about civilian casualties? You raise your children to hate Israel so when they are killed, it's just one more future terrorist they don't have to worry about blowing up a bus or shooting a weapon at them. You people are a plague on this earth. You constantly blame everyone except yourselves for the problems you cause. Your two faced and a disgrace to your religion, family, and the world.

9:39 AM  
Blogger mrtez said...

Just goes to show you how blindfolded some are to either the real problems of the region or the people of this country.
come and visit us, i am sure you would be surprised to see how loving we people are.

10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Litani River Article:

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jews lived in absolute peace with Arabs in Arabic countries for centuries like Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria... so to say it is impossible for there to be peace between Arabs and Jews is absurd. It wasn't until the conflict over occupation and settlement started that problems began to arise.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Nicholas said...

lili, I so so agree with you and your last post. Thanks for putting it so clearly!!

I hope you are safe, Haifa seem to be 'targetted' by Lebanon daily now... it looks terrible from the tv screens and the internet.

take care and be strong.

it does really seem like Lebanon cant wait to have their sister Iran take over their country and impose the lovely laws and rules... including public killings, no rights for women, no rights for gays and Lesbians, no fine food, no fun, no sex, no free speach and no free thoughts and mond...

I'll live this to the editors of this blog and to the readers in the nation of Lebanon to decide what they prefer for their future.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous tool said...

fack! can you people stop saying that we should get hezbollah out of lebanon! the hezbollah in Lebanon are Lebanon.

i need gas...fack!

12:53 PM  
Blogger Carmel said...

to frank - what about Sinai? Sinai was given back in the context of peace agreements which is a totally different thing. however, numerous terror attacks still occur there, as you probably know. Palestinians or Lebanese don't have a strong enough entity you could make agreements with that can contain Hamas or Hezbollah, the way Egyptians contain "|the Islamic brothers" for instance. and yet, I've visited Egypt and I've seen how after so many years our peace is still so cold and suspicious....

this is not about facts as much as it is about how many Israeli people PERCEIVE those facts and so far there is no basic trust to do all of this. we have to start with trust.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous CK said...

The Shame to be an American...

Very good piece ...a must read for all

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting article (and images)

3:58 PM  
Anonymous dror from israel said...

to the last Anonymous:

lies will get you no where:

for example :

"The Palestinians who confront Israeli evil are called "terrorists." "

not true. some of the Palestinians and israelis confront israeli evil and not by bombing themselfes in resturnts and busess. they are not terrorists, and they acchive much more then Hamas and other "freedom fighters".

almost all the article is lies propognada.

like :

"This perception is no favor to Israel, whose population is declining" - say what? where man do you live? who is the idiot editor how publish this article?

4:12 PM  
Anonymous dror from israel said...

i a ment the article by ck

4:13 PM  
Anonymous tool said...

u on crack son?

8:48 PM  

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