Slicing and Dicing the Israeli Salami

Writing in the Jerusalem Post on June 19, columnist Sarah Honig deconstructs the Arab and Palestinian design for defeating Israel via a policy of “salami-slicing.” Unable to destroy Israel in one fell swoop, Honing writes:

[T]hey settled on slicing Israel’s salami bit by bit to deprive it of strategic depth, render it more vulnerable to predations and erode it by demonization and demoralization.

Every concession that Israel makes to its Palestinian pseudo-negotiating counterpart, without the slightest reciprocation, is just another slice of territory, another fragment of legitimacy, lost to its enemies. Honig points out that the term was coined by Hungary’s communist dictator Mátyás Rákosi, who in the 1940s pursued the policy of szalámitaktika -- salami tactics -- to gradually dismember the opposition parties.

The salami tactic has a long history in the Middle East and was employed with consummate effect by terrorist kingpin and Fatah leader Yasser Arafat, in particular by manipulating the Oslo Accords to his advantage. In an Arabic-language message broadcast on Jordanian TV on September 13, 1993, Arafat revealed that the Oslo DOP (Declaration of Principles) was, in the words of Efraim Karsh, “merely part of the implementation of the PLO’s ‘phased strategy.’” Palestinian Authority Minister Faisal Husseini, in an interview with the Egyptian daily Al-Arabi on June 24, 2001, referred to the Oslo Accords as a “Trojan Horse” and a “temporary procedure” in the larger “strategic” plan to destroy Israel.

Arafat’s  purpose was again confirmed by Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al Quds newspaper, who told the Jerusalem Post on November 20, 2004, that Arafat, intent on pursuing his program of “slices,” had assured him that “the day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine. ... The Oslo Accords will help bring this about.”

The Palestinian dictator in his recipe of “slices” or “plan of phases” was following Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba’s advice that Israel could not be erased in a frontal attack but only by bits and pieces, a plan which echoed the sermonizing of Mohammed Heikal, editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram, who, writing on February 25, 1971, scolded the Arabs for putting the final step before the intermediate one, that is, for aiming at “the elimination of the state of Israel itself” before effacing the traces of the Israeli military victories. Adapting method to circumstance, Arafat, a blood relative of the infamous Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, merely updated the policy of Muftism into the present day under the rubric of his “phased solution.” “Nothing but the sword,” swore al-Husseini, “will decide the future of this country.” Only now, the Palestinian sword, having morphed into the less conspicuous shafra or jambiya, would no longer be wielded to kill with a single thrust but by gradual and tortuous disarticulation.

The bitter joke in this spurious dynamic is that the salami tactic, used so effectively by the Palestinians, has been imputed to Israel as part of its presumed agenda to dissect the West Bank into easily controllable slivers.

Alastair Crooke, formerly a special adviser to EU envoy Javier Solana and founder of the Conflicts Forum, writing in the London Review of Books, blithely accepts the accusation that Israel has “salami-sliced” the West Bank with its “army posts, military zones, fences and Israeli-only roads” -- the familiar anti-checkpoint argument that pretends there is no such creature as a Palestinian suicide bomber on his way to butcher as many Israeli civilians as he can possibly take with him.