INTO THE FRAY: Obsessing over Oslo – Einat Wilf in “The Atlantic"
INTO THE FRAY: Obsessing over Oslo – Einat Wilf in “The Atlantic"
Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not - Jeremiah 5:21

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See – traced to John Heywood (1497 – c. 1580)

Fair-minded, rational human beings might surely been excused for believing that the “jury is no longer out” on the land-for-peace doctrine and its “two-state” corollary.

A desperate and dogged obsession

After all, by any conceivable criterion, the endeavor to implement them, beginning over a quarter-century ago with the ill-conceived—and hence, ill-fated—Oslo Accords have proved a tragic and traumatic failure—precipitating all the perils its opponents warned of, but none of the promised pay-offs it proponents pledged.

Yet, despite the fatal fiasco that two-statism has proven, many of its proponents, impervious to both reason and bitter experience, refuse to admit error—clinging to their credo with a desperate and dogged obsession, reminiscent of the most devout religious radicals.

Even when compelled to admit the calamitous consequences that the quest of their cherished goal has wrought, they resist any thought of renouncing further pursuit of it—as if its eventual attainment was some divinely ordained inevitability. Rather than raise doubts as to the prudence of further efforts to attain their goal, they embark on concocting new ways of achieving it—prepared only to concede that the methods of its pursuit were flawed, at times even resorting to the very ideas they previously rejected as unacceptably detrimental!

A perverse diagnosis

A glaring illustration of this unfortunate phenomenon appeared recently in the well-known publication, “The Atlantic”—where apparently political correctness, rather than sound augmentation, is the overriding criterion for publication. This was an opinion piece written by a long-standing two-stater, Einat Wilf, a former MK for the Labor Party (2010–2011), and later (2011–2013) for the now defunct Independence Party, founded by ex-Defense Minister, Ehud Barak—whom she followed into political oblivion in 2012.

In the article, entitled, “The Fatal Flaw That Doomed the Oslo Accords: The very feature of the agreement that was supposed to ensure its success was its undoing”, Wilf admits: “In retrospect, the Accords seem less a triumph than an abject failure”.Howeverrather than admit that the problem was the very attempt to foist statehood on the Palestinian-Arabs itself, she embarks on an endeavor to identify flaws in the methodology used to do so.

Somewhat perversely, she diagnoses the cause of Oslo’s failure as precisely the features which made Oslo possible in the first place: “Constructive Ambiguity”.

The “Constructive” culprit

Thus, Wilf writes: “What doomed the Oslo Accords is also what made them possible in the first place: constructive ambiguity”.

She then goes on to explain the concept of “Constructive Ambiguity”: “Given decades of war and bloodshed, the theory went, the two sides could not be expected to immediately settle their core disputes; an interim period of trust-building was required. It was better to remain ambiguous about the core issues which needed to be resolved, the negotiators assumed, rather than force the sides to adopt positions and make concessions which they might not be ready to make.”

This, according to Wilf, was both the factor that facilitated Oslo and caused it to fail: “This constructive ambiguity, imbued in each element of the Accords, proved to be utterly destructive”—leaving the rational reader to conclude that, if what made Oslo possible also caused is failure, then surely, it was never feasible in the first place! For, according to Wilf, Oslo, the flagship endeavor of two-statism, was either doomed to failure—or never to exist. Or am I missing something here?

A staggering contention

Condemning “constructive ambiguity”, Wilf writes: “Instead of building trust and allowing the parties to adjust to the reality of the inevitable compromises which were necessary for peace, it merely allowed each side to persist in its own self-serving interpretation of what the Accords implied and to continue the very behavior which destroyed trust on the other side. And so, when the time came, a few short years later, to settle the core issues, the ensuing failure was all but inevitable.”

In many ways this is staggering contention, underscoring the obtuse arrogance of obsessive two-statism.

Indeed, one can only wonder which clauses of the Oslo Accords Wilf feels prompted the Palestinians “own self-serving interpretation of what the Accords implied” to mean that they were somehow entitled to engage in wholesale carnage of Israeli civilians in cafes, buses, and streets—an “inconvenient fact” totally absent in Wilf’s analysis of why “trust was destroyed”.

No less astonishing is Wilf’s brazen assessment of what compromises are “inevitable”—highlighting the haughty belief by two-staters of the indisputable axiomatic truth of their oft disproven, but ne’er discarded, political prescription.

“Inevitable” parameters for peace?

Wilf details what she deems the inevitable “parameters of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians” as follows: “a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, Jewish Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Arab Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and a special arrangement in the Holy Basin to secure freedom of worship for all; annexation of major Jewish settlement blocs adjacent to the Green Line in exchange for swaps of equivalent land; removal of all other settlements from the West Bank; and enabling Palestinians living in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, to settle into a new State of Palestine—not into Israel”.

So there you have it—Wilf’s “inevitable” prescription for peace: Divide Israel’s capital; allow armed Arab militias to deploy within mortar range of the nation’s parliament and other institutions of government; remove tens of thousands of Jewish communities, and their residents, while retaining others in exchange for unspecified—and unspecifiable—land swaps involving territory within pre-1967 lines; and open up the envisaged Palestinian state to inundation by millions of “refugees” from neighboring Arab countries—all this after the Palestinians have shown themselves to be spectacularly incapable of managing their own affairs—even without a “tsunami” of largely impoverished newcomers.

What could possibly go wrong??

The snake-oil of “specificity”

As an alleged antidote to ruinous “ambiguity", Wilf suggests replacing it with “specificity”. She writes: “In place of destructive ambiguity, we need constructive specificity. Serious peacemakers need to let go of vague and nebulous concepts such as ‘trust’ and ‘confidence building’, and…spell out every detail”.

So instead of delaying agreement on intractable core issues for later resolution, Wilf proposes resolving them immediatelyi.e. Israel should agree, posthaste, to Palestinian demands for the physical establishment of a Palestinian state, the physical division of Jerusalem, the physical demolition of Jewish communities, and the physical influx of potentially hostile hordes into the territory abutting and overlooking Israel’s coastal megatropolis—all this in exchange for an ephemeral pledge by the Palestinian-Arabs not to covet any territory across the pre-1967 lines--a pledge they are clearly unable/unwilling to make, and even if made, would be of highly dubious credibility. 

Accordingly, translated into plain English, Wilf’s proposal is indistinguishable from saying that the sides should agree on what they disagree so that they can agree. Gee! What a splendid idea. 

Seen in this light, “specificity” is clearly little more than “snake-oil”.

“Ariel too deep to be included…”

A brief perusal of Wilf’s other writings immediately underscores just how much she is willing to capitulate to Palestinian demands; what she has in mind when she refers to “annexation of major Jewish settlement blocs”; and what fate she envisages for Jews not included in those blocs.

Thus for example, she is unambiguously clear about excluding Ariel—a city of 20,000 residents and home to a fully-fledged university with over 10,000 students, both Jews and Arabs—from any major settlement bloc.

In 2016, she wrote: “The eastern border must be based on the required minimum to allow a significant number of settlers to join Israel, but no more than necessary. We must give up Ariel…” 

In a later 2017 article, entitled “Constructive ambiguity has not worked. Peace needs constructive specificity”, she reaffirms this with unequivocal specificity: “I propose that the main blocs, except Ariel, should be part of Israel. Ariel goes too deep into the West Bank to be included”.

As for another large Jewish community, east of Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim, with almost 40,000 residents, she stipulates: “I propose that Ma’ale Adumim…be connected to Israel only with a road.”

Specifying abandonment of Jewish communities

By this, Wilf clearly negates the annexation of Area E1 on Jerusalem’s eastern flank, which connects Ma’ale Adumin to the capital. The significance of this is to potentially isolate Ma’ale Adumin from Israel, with its only lifeline being a tenuous road through Palestinian-controlled territory, which could be disrupted and severed at will, leaving its 40,000 residents, stranded, at the tender mercies of their frequently less-than-amicable neighbors.

What could possibly go wrong? Or have I said that before? 

As for the fate of her countrymen not included in her designated (sans-Ariel) blocs, Wilf is again unabashedly specific,prescribing that they should be abandoned: “The “no” to the settlements must be unambiguous. There is no need to evacuate them, and there is no need for a compensation plan for those who leave. The settlements beyond the border should be left to wither economically and be deprived of support”.

 Doesn’t get much more specific than that!

Wilf seems to apportion equal blame to Israel and the Palestinians for the failure of the Oslo endeavor: “These two grand obstacles to peace—Israeli settlements and the Right of Return—each representing a form of territorial maximalism and the ideological negation of the other people’s right to self-determination in the land, grew ever larger under the umbrella of constructive ambiguity.”

Oblivious to “pesky details”

Oddly, Wilf seems totally oblivious to “pesky details”, such as the murderous terror unleashed by the Palestinians, their Judeophobic indoctrination and Judeocidal incitement, as significant “grand obstacles to peace”—perhaps because they would spoil the aesthetics of the misleading “symmetry” in the intellectual edifice she attempts to construct. But beyond this jarring omission, her appraisal raises several other trenchant questions.

For example, one might well ask why two-staters object so strenuously to the “settlements” and the “settlers”? After all, if genuine two-state peace is possible—as two-staters claim—they could certainly be a welcome source of employment for their Arab neighbors. But more to the point, unless two-staters believe that in a post-peace scenario, the Arab residents of Israel should be forced out of a Jewish Israel, why should they believe that Jewish residents be forced out of an Arab Palestine? Why should an Arab presence in a Jewish nation-state be compatible with a resolution of the conflict—but a Jewish presence in an envisioned Arab nation-state be incompatible with such a resolution? Unless of course, two-staters know what they cannot admit: That while an Arab minority can exist and thrive in a Jewish state, a Jewish minority is likely to be torn limb from limb in the Arab state they advocate...

Invoking divorce rather than marriage

According to Wilf, in order to achieve some kind of lasting settlement “the parties need to approach the negotiations not as a marriage, but as a divorce.”

This kind of reasoning does have some superficial appeal to it—until one considers the context.

Indeed, having your disagreeable spouse separate, and move off to some distant location, allowing each former partner to live their life in undisturbed peace, is one thing. It is quite another to allow a belligerent spouse to take control of a property overlooking your own—from which he/she can harass you continuously, egged on by similarly inimical neighbors in the surrounding areas.

For a basic flaw in Wilf’s reasoning is her seeming assumption that once a Palestinian state is established, all grievances will disappear. This of course is a grave miscalculation—and any putative Palestinian state will certainly be subject to incitement and infiltration by the most radical elements that abound in the Muslim world—spurring it on to further aggression against the infidel Zionist entity—with or without the complicity of Israel’s purported peace partner.

It is thus clearly time for obstinate two-staters to accept that their two-state formula is little more than a prelude to a flimsily disguised, more sinister and longer range design: A two-STAGE strategy for the total elimination of the Jewish state.

Martin Sherman is the founder & executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies