Yitzhak Rabin was a Kahanist. I said it in 1994 and 1995, and I'm saying it again.
Contributing AuthorA contributing author.
You know, terminology is a funny thing; you have to understand the real meaning of what a person says, the words he uses, to truly understand the ideas they intend to convey. So I repeat myself for clarity...
Rabin was a Kahanist in reverse!
So is Amram Mitzna. So are both Yossis - Yossi Sarid and Yossi Beilin - Peace Now and Gush Shalom. They all want to get rid of the 'Palestinians'. The only difference is that, whereas Rabbi Meir Kahane, his followers, and the current ?transferists? like the late Rechavam Ze'evi, Rabbi Benny Elon and the Moledet/National Union party want to ?transfer? the Arabs out of the Land of Israel, and ?transfer? full control of the Land to the Jews, Yitzhak Rabin, his followers, and the current ?separationists? like Mitzna, the Labor and Meretz parties and both Yossis, et al. want to ?transfer? Jews out of parts of the Land of Israel and ?transfer? parts of the Land to Arab control.
It's a funny thing about terminology; Rabbi Meir Kahane never used the term ?transfer?. He always spoke of havdalah; that is, ?separation? between the Jews and the Arabs in the Land of Israel. The Jews would stay. The Arabs would go, voluntarily or otherwise. Interestingly, Rabbi Kahane always said he wished the Arabs a good life, somewhere else, just not in 'his' Land.
Then he was banned from running in the 1988 Knesset elections.
But a new political party (Moledet [Homeland]) was started by former Palmachnik (like Rabin) and General (res.) Rechavam (Gandhi) Ze'evi. Ze'evi revived an older terminology, not 'separation', but 'transfer'. Moledet's 1988 election campaign slogan was, "Us here; them there." Transfer meratzon - voluntary transfer - became the new terminology. Moledet wasn't banned from the elections and they won one seat.
Gandhi effectively revived the concept of population transfer and injected it back into Israeli politics. Population transfer had been used to solve seemingly insurmountable national problems throughout the 20th century. Poles and Germans were transferred after World War II. Muslims and Hindus were transferred out of and into the new states of India and Pakistan in 1947-48. Many non-Jews and Jews had proposed population transfer as a solution to the Arab settlement problem in Mandatory Palestine, before the State of Israel's birth in 1948 (see Chaim Simons' seminal work, A Historical Survey of Proposals to Transfer the Arabs of Palestine: 1895-1947 (Ktav 1988), at http://www.geocities.com/ChaimSimons).
In 1990, an Arab terrorist murdered Rabbi Meir Kahane in New York, effectively ending the political life of the 'Separation' idea. Meanwhile, in 1990, after the Labor party withdrew from a national unity government constructed by Ariel Sharon and led by Yitzhak Shamir and the Likud, Gandhi and Moledet joined a right-wing government, bringing ?transfer? to the heart of power.
Following the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991, Yitzhak Shamir led an Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference. Thus began the Madrid Process, which went nowhere. Pressure was mounting to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the 'Palestinian Problem'. Yitzhak Rabin and the Left were elected in the 1992 Knesset elections promising a change.
Rabin promised not to speak with the PLO, just as Shamir had before him. It was still illegal to meet with members of a banned terrorist organization, the PLO. But behind the scenes, Shimon Peres' prot?g? Yossi Beilin (once called ?Peres' poodle? in the Israeli press) was negotiating PLO recognition on the part of Israel, a 'Peace Process', and an eventual Palestinian State. Whether Peres and Beilin foisted this 'Process' on Rabin, or Rabin joyously embraced the idea, is a mute point, better left for academics to debate. But by September 13, 1993, Yitzhak Rabin found himself on the White House lawn signing away parts of the Jews? ancient homeland and shaking hands with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. ?Gaza and Jericho First? became the new slogan.
Arafat returned to Gaza, the Palestinian Authority was established, and the PLO was firmly in control. But terrorism didn't abate as Rabin had promised, and soon Rabin began speaking of a new terminology, not 'transfer', but 'separation'. By 1994 'separation' was revived, but not the 'separation' of Rabbi Kahane to remove the Arabs from the land and end terror attacks, but 'transfer' of the Jews from Yesha (Judea, Samaria, and Gaza), to 'separate' them from the Arabs.
Rabin was a Kahanist in reverse!
The situation continued to deteriorate. Rabin was murdered in 1995. Bus bombings grew during Shimon Peres' short reign (1995-96). Binyamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister in 1996. The 'Peace Process' tripped, fell, and, with Ehud Barak's election as Prime Minister in 1999, tried to stand up again. But Yasser Arafat shot it in the heart in September 2000. Rejecting Barak's overgenerous offer at Camp David II (one the Palestinians will probably never get again), Arafat declared the Oslo War against Israel. Soon after, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001. The Oslo War continues and, as they say, the rest is history.
With the outbreak of the Oslo War, the murder of Tourism Minister and Moledet leader Rechavam Ze'evi (October 2001), and the increasing ferocity of suicide bombings, ideas in the Israeli body politic have crystallized. 'Transfer' as a viable idea revived substantially, and 'separation', when a security fence is added to it, gained new momentum.
I will try to draw a picture of current Israeli attitudes to the ideas of transfer and separation based on a study of over 20 polls and opinion surveys, by such reputable sources as the Jaffe Center National Security Survey, Ha'aretz/Dialogue, Ma'ariv/New Wave, Dahaf, Gallup Israel, MarketWatch, and Shevachim/Panorama, between mid-2001 and the end of December 2002 (a good source for poll archives is Independent Media Review & Analysis). All the polls are representative samples of the population, including Israeli Arabs. Given the nature of the questions asked, one can assume that inclusion of Israeli Arabs tends to lower support for 'Transfer' and raise support for 'Separation'. We can assume that support among Israeli Jews for 'Transfer' is higher than reported here, and support for 'Separation' lower. Different terms are used in different surveys, the most common being 'Transfer' (whether understood as voluntary or forced) and 'Voluntary Transfer'. Then there's the question of whether the survey refer to 'Palestinians' in Yesha (Judea, Samaria, and Gaza), Israeli Arabs, or both.
Support for 'Transfer': Opinions range from a low of 32% for annexing Yesha (Judea, Samaria, and Gaza) and forcibly expelling the Arabs presently living there, to a high of 66% supporting 'voluntary transfer', meaning within the framework of an agreement. Distrust of Israeli Arabs can be seen in the 72% of Israeli Jews who feel that Israeli Arabs are a danger to their security and to the state. Leading to the 44% of Israeli Jews who would like to curb the rights of Israeli Arabs. The Jaffe Center Survey for 2002 found that 46% of Israeli Jews want to 'Transfer' Palestinians, while only 31% would want to 'Transfer' Israeli Arabs also.
Understanding opinions regarding 'Separation' is a bit more complex. The terms most commonly used are 'Separation', 'Withdrawal', and 'Unilateral Withdrawal'; with agreement or without, with a security fence, without mention of any fence or wall, abandoning or evacuating some or all of the settlements, and distinguishing whether the settlements are in 'populated Arab areas' or not.
Support for 'Separation': Opinions range from a low of 32% with full evacuation of settlements (forcibly, if necessary - 'transfer' of Jews), to a high of 74% support for 'Separation' with a fence, and settlements left in place. Wording seems to be very important here, more so than with the issue of transfer. Whereas in one survey, 48% support 'Unilateral Withdrawal' and abandoning of all settlements, in a second poll, 46% say that only within the context of an agreement, would they agree to evacuate almost all the settlements, and in a third, 46% support evacuation, but only of settlements in 'populated Arab areas'. Support for 'Unilateral Withdrawal' from 80% of Yesha, consolidating 80% of the settlers into settlement blocs on the remaining 20% of the land, and the building of a security fence ranges from 39-57%.
The picture we're left with is that there is an approximately equal amount of support (high 30's- low 50's percent), both over time and with multiple ways of wording the survey questions, for ?Transfer? of Arabs or Jews (?Separation?) from parts of the Land of Israel. Temporary variances all depend on the wording of the survey questions and what's happening, in security terms, at any particular time. Both the Left and the Right advocate their policy of 'transfer' for the 'sake of peace'.
Those today who present ?separation? as a moderate centrist position are really obfuscating ?transferists? (but against Jews) and just as extreme as the ?transferists? who want ?separation? from the Arabs by sending them somewhere else to live.
So I return again to my original claim: Rabin and the Left are Kahanists, but in reverse!
A true 'centrist' position would probably advocate co-existence, maybe even a bi-national state 'Isra-Stine' or 'Pala-Rael', or something. But then, not too many people from the Israeli Left or Right see a 'peaceful, democratic' neighbor in the foreseeable future. And, with anywhere from 40-80% of Palestinians (depending on the polls? wordings) calling for continued violence against Jews, including suicide bombings, Palestinians don't seem to be ready for peaceful co-existence yet.
'Separation' without uprooting settlements, isn't real separation between Jews and Arabs. And what about Israeli Arabs? If Jews aren't allowed to live in 'Palestine' (maybe they should be, if there is 'peace'), shouldn't moral symmetry demand that Arabs who are presently Israeli citizens be repatriated to their 'homeland', the Palestinian State? Partial 'transfer', just as partial 'separation', seems to be nothing more than a slogan, not a well thought-out policy.
You know, terminology is a funny thing; it has a way of confusing people, or covering up true intent. Whether it is 'transfer' or 'separation', used by the Left or by the Right, what seems clear to me is that no serious centrist position exists today. Extremism rules the day.
So, I repeat myself. Rabin was a Kahanist in reverse. And Rabbi Kahane was a 'separationist'. Isn't terminology funny?
Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree in International Relations & Policy Analysis. His articles have been published on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, as well as in print newspapers.