At a special event Wednesday, Nobel Prize winner Professor Yisrael Aumann told students at Bar Ilan University that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was “making many mistakes” in his policies towards the Palestinian Authority, Iran, and in dealing with foreign pressure to withdraw from areas of Judea and Samaria.
Aumann was speaking at the University's Student Union sponsored by Project Yuvalim, a new initiative meant to broaden the discussion of Zionist issues on campuses throughout Israel. Headed by activist Yigal Brand, the Project is sponsored by Zionist Council of Israel, a part of the World Zionist Organization.
“Concessions and 'gestures' do not bring peace,” Aumann said. We need to understand that if we do not have a right to Hevron, Gush Etzion, or Ariel, we do not have a right to Tel Aviv,” Aumann said.
“We are all 'Palestinians',” he said, referring to the fact that until relatively recently, the term “Palestinian” referred not to a particular nation, but to those living in the geographical area that was termed by world powers as “Palestine”.
“Before we try to convince our enemies that the land belongs to us, we must convinced ourselves that this land is holy for us as well. I do not say that as a right-wing supporter of full settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel,” the Nobel laureate said, but from a purely geopolitical point of view.
“The only chance for peace is not to choose the path of concessions – that only leads to war,” Aumann said. “If we were playing soccer, we would look at the best teams in the world in order to learn the best strategies.” In the same way, he said, Israel should look at the powers that managed to keep the peace the longest – with the ancient Romans the most relevant example. “Look at the Roman Empire,” he said. “They managed to keep the peace for 238 years, by preparing for and being ready to fight in wars.”
Aumann also criticized Netanyahu for his stance on Iran, saying that the Prime Minister was wrong in his assessment of the level of danger to Israel from Tehran – while not worrying enough about the much more serious threat from PA controlled areas and Gaza. Netanyahu's loud comments about Iran and attempts to convince other countries to take very hawkish positions were not helping Israel, he said.
“I think he is making a mistake on Iran, a big mistake. I don't think the problem is as serious as he seems to think,” said Aumann. The real problem for Israel, he said, is the PA's terrorism and incitement, about which the government has much less to say.
Going “easy” on the PA has led to Israel's failing to stand up for itself in the international arena, Aumann said. “Ever since the disengagement, in which thousands were evicted from their homes, we have seen pressure for concessions increase. We did what everyone wanted us to do, but they hated us even more.”
As a result of the disengagement, defending Israel against terrorism has become more difficult as well, he said.
“After the disengagement, in which Israel abandoned large areas, it has become harder to convince Palestinians that we mean to remain here,” Aumann warned.