Olmert's National Policy of Guilt

An insight into what motivates Israeli policy.

Dr. Moshe Dann,

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In his speech at the opening of the Knesset, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "For forty years we have been flagellating ourselves with a sense of guilt that we competently
The "occupation of Arab lands" began 200 years ago.
understood too late, that which we should have understood from the beginning." He was referring to Israel's victory in the Six Day War of 1967 and its "occupation" of Judea, Samaria (the "West Bank") and Gaza (YeShA).

A key architect of Israel's unilateral retreat from and destruction of 25 Jewish communities in Gush Katif and northern Samaria, Olmert offers an insight into what motivates Israeli policy: guilt.

This 'original sin,' occupation and oppression, haunts the Left, but it doesn't begin in 1967. For Arabs, it begins (at least) in 1948, what they call the Nakba (the "Catastrophe") - Israel's establishment and victory. For most Arabs, as reflected in school texts, media and mosques, the "occupation of Arab lands" began 200 years ago, when Jews began to return to what was then called Palestine, the Land of Israel.

Olmert's guilt mirrors the "Palestinian Right of Return," the on-going plight of Arab refugees, and Israel's acquisition of land and property as a result of the war. But which war?

Guilt knows no boundaries; self-incriminating and distorting reality, it can threaten existence itself. Psychologically devastating, it is even worse when the 'immorality' seemingly continues. On an individual level, one can sometimes escape through denial (e.g., the victim deserved it, or the acts never happened); admitting guilt and compensating the victim can assuage guilt. But, in Israel's self-perception, who was the victim? Who was responsible? Who is immoral? Olmert's sense of shame and guilt leave no doubt - Israel is at fault and Israel must pay.

Going back to 1948, however, means national suicide. Going back to 1967 offers compromise. For the Arabs and most Muslims, however, the distinction is no more than a trick; the wrong in 1948 cannot be erased by the bribe of returning to borders of 1949; hence, the "Palestinian right of return."

Ever since Israel entered YeShA in 1967, the Left has been apologizing for that miraculous victory, even though Israel's very existence was at stake. They are even more incensed that Israelis had the 'audacity' to move into areas that were formerly forbidden to Jews. But Jews lived throughout YeShA before 1948 and the area holds deep historical and strategic significance for the Jewish people.

Despite the fact that no Arab-owned land was taken (or "stolen") by Jews in 1967, the Left considers this "occupation." Understandably, their guilt would stop there; but it doesn't. In order to justify Israeli "occupation of Arab land" in 1948, the Left would sacrifice Jews who "occupied Arab land" since 1967. But removing Jews who moved into YeShA in order to pay for what happened in 1948 leaves the 'original sin' intact.

This distorted notion was the basis for the Oslo Accords in 1993, in which nearly all Palestinians and Arab cities were placed under the control of the Palestinian Authority. Only later, when Yasser Arafat and Palestinian terrorists renewed war against Israel, despite a period of enormous growth and prosperity in the Arab sector, did Arafat's aims become clear. It was not a question of territory, but of Israel's very existence.

Using the Left's criterion of occupation, the establishment of State of Israel itself was immoral. If Israel has no right to live and rule in Judea and Samaria, then it has no right to rule over Israeli Arabs or over property claimed by Arab "refugees" from 1948.

What frightens the Left, reflected in Olmert's admission of guilt, is the possibility that Jews did "steal Arab lands," that Israel does discriminate against Arabs, that Israel is responsible for Palestinian terrorism, that Zionism is racism. So, they blame "the settlers." It's convenient and it diverts attention from more basic questions of national self-doubt and identity. This explains why the Left clings so desperately and tenaciously to a "peace
For the Left, a Palestinian state would vindicate what happened in 1948.
process" even though it's a total fantasy - and everyone involved knows it.

For the Left, a Palestinian state would vindicate what happened in 1948. It would legitimize Israel's existence and free Israel from the burden of responsibility for Arab refugees. In fact, the Left undermines the integrity of the state itself. If the Left is correct, Zionism is wrong.

For the Left, abandoning YeShA means no longer having to say "I'm sorry"; no need to defend the Jews' moral, legal and historical rights to live in YeShA or anywhere else. If Palestinians can be convinced or forced to accept a state, then Israel is off the hook. To the Left, a Palestinian state is doing t'shuvah.

The Left's most dangerous message is that, despite success in Israel's on-going war against Palestinian terrorism, we not only can not win, but we should not win. That is moral depravity.




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