Slicing and Dicing the Israeli Salami

Of course, Crooke has cause and effect reversed: the checkpoints do not foment terrorism; terrorism created the need for checkpoints, as anyone with a modicum of grey matter can see. No sooner had the checkpoint at the Ariel junction -- the scene of several drive-by shootings and suicide bombings in the past -- been lifted than a shooting attack on Israeli civilians followed. Nor did terrorists take long to strike when the checkpoint at the Shuafat crossing in northern Jerusalem was dismantled; 20-year-old Rami Zoari was shot and died of his wounds shortly after.

Similarly, Ivy-League intellectual and current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Michael Ignatieff, on a fact-finding mission to the Middle East, fell for the Palestinian line that the Camp David negotiations between Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Yasser Arafat would have led to a Bantustan-type territory. Gazing from his intellicopter, Ignatieff piously intoned that he "knew he was not  looking down at a state … but at a Bantustan." This is now recognized as an apocryphal claim, which should have been evident to anyone who took the trouble to scrutinize the proceedings and consider the real facts on the ground. The same fabrication was retailed in Noam Chomsky’s 2003 publication Middle East Illusions, which asserted that Barak’s Camp David proposal entailed the cantonization of the disputed territories. But Faisal Husseini himself acknowledged, in the Lebanese Al-Safir newspaper for March 21, 2001, that Barak had agreed to a wholesale withdrawal from all of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s subsequent offer was even more generous.

These Western “observers” are unwilling to admit what both the Israeli and Palestinian administrations know: that it is Israel, with its checkpoints, intelligence services, and anti-terrorist raids, which keeps the weak and beleaguered Fatah regime from toppling to Hamas insurgency. Nor do they question the fact that some sixty-plus years after the UN partition plan paved the way for the creation of the Jewish state, Israel remains unrepresented on maps and globes in the Arab countries, as if Israel had already been morseled into oblivion. Indeed, a Fatah anniversary poster portrays the area where Israel should be as screened by a portrait of Yasser Arafat, a keffiyeh, and a rifle.

As Mitchell Bard indicates in a review of Jimmy Carter’s disreputable Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, following the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and its relinquishing almost all of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, “the truth is the entire territorial dispute with the Palestinians, assuming they were ever to accept the existence of Israel, boils down to about 6% of the West Bank,” in proximity to the Green Line. It is even less today, and the Israeli proposal to retain a scrap of territory for defensive purposes in exchange for a percentage of Israeli land has been rejected outright by the Palestinian Authority.

The fact is that Israelis are not slicing the Palestinian salami but offering, under reasonable conditions that guarantee Israel’s security needs, the entire salami more or less intact, which was the case with the Gaza pullout. The slicing goes the other way, as Arafat intended. Honig points out that the scheme is now being followed by Arafat’s loyal student and adjunct Mahmoud Abbas, “who dishes up salami slices to a ravenous world, while posturing simultaneously as the pitiable underdog and the valiant altruist.”

There are, naturally, diverse ways of flitching the Israeli salami. Abbas’ method involves the adroit technique of non-reciprocal negotiations or even refusing to negotiate unless major concessions are extracted from Israel prior to diplomatic mediations. Ismael Haniyeh, leader of Hamas, has embarked upon a more direct expedient, literally carving up Israeli land with mortars and missiles, targeting the Gaza belt communities. Various Muslim nations, Turkey and Iran most prominently, and their European fellow-travelers have brought their knives to the table as well, in the form of so-called “Freedom Flotillas” meant to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza and thus allow for yet more sophisticated cutlery to enter the terrorist enclave. Here, the ultimate purpose is not simply to slice the salami, cut by cut, but to chop it up into edible chunks, town by town. Hamas terrorists are clearly not interested in Bourguiba’s “plan of phases” but in cubing by ever larger segments.

The position in which Israel finds itself today is by no means an enviable one. The salami is being thinly but relentlessly sliced at one end -- Fatah’s “negotiating” gambit -- and diced at the other -- Hamas’ military aggression. And invited to partake in the salami-sampling festival are the United Nations, many European governments, and the slavering hordes of “peace activists.” One never knew the little Israeli salami could accommodate so many rapacious appetites.