By Noah Nissani

 

Persistent fallacies sustained for a sufficient time, become accepted as universally truths by the public. When a monopolized media mobilizes for this cause and when the fallacy is based in an apparently related truth, the effect is magnified. The fallacy that the Israeli left favors the peace process with the Arabs more than the right has gained acceptance among the Israeli public by means of both the above circumstances. The de jure monopolized radio and television, and the de facto monopolized written press, were and are repeating this fallacy insistently. And it seems to be supported by the fact that the left, in an acquiescent attitude that has not shown to be fruitful, has pronounced in favor of more far-reaching concessions in exchange for dubious signed peace agreements,

However, the facts show that the most relevant, and possible the only real, achievements in the peace process were attained during the periods of Likud government. The Likud was the first to sign a peace agreement with an Arab nation, and brought about the convocation of nearly all Arab nations to a comprehensive peace conference in Madrid. It is significant that this achievements were attained under two Likud prime ministers, Menachem Begin and Isaac Shamir, known to be extremely opposed to territorial concessions.

When Rabin (Labor) took power from the hands of Shamir (Likud) in 1992, a few months after the Madrid conference, Israel and the Arab world were involved in a general peace process. Bilateral direct talks, without the participation of third parties, continued with all the adjoining nations, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. At the same time, nearly all the other Arab nations participated in multilateral conferences. In the face of the more acquiescent position of the new Israeli government, Asad hardened his position, and he now demands not only the return of the entire Golan Heights, but also the Israel withdrawal to the June 4 1967 lines. Namely, Syria demanded from Israel to withdraw beyond the international boundary, and to return a strip of Galilee Syria conquered in 1948.

Convinced that it would help, Syria reinforced its baseless demand with a massive bombing of Israeli towns carried out by the Hizbullah terror organization from an area in Lebanon under Syrian control. Rabin responded to this aggression with a large scale military action in Lebanon, but for the moment the peace negotiations continued. At this point Rabin took a new step toward Syria by asking the Americans to clarify with Asad the security conditions he would grant Israel in exchange for a withdrawal to the June 4 lines. Asad did not hurry to accept Rabin's indirect generous proposal and seeing the effect of violence, he suspended the talks after the meeting of the Syrian and Israeli chiefs of staff in June 1995, and launched new Hizbullah bombing against Israeli populations. Peres, who became Prime Minister after Rabin assassination, responded with a new military action against Lebanon, and the talks with Syria and Lebanon remained definitively interrupted.

When Likud returned to power in May 1996, the promising peace process initiated by Shamir in 1991 was in total crisis. The multilateral talks have waned. The face to face meetings with Syria and Lebanon were suspended one year ago. Combat and bombing took the place of peace talks. The far reaching and fruitless concessions made by Rabin raised Asad expectations, whose demand that the new Israeli government stand behind Rabin's generous offers makes the renewal of the peace talks very difficult. In June 1996, a few days after Netanyahu became prime minister, the Arab foreign affairs ministers met in Cairo and acceded to Syria and Arafat's demand that Arab nations suspend the normalization process with Israel. However, one year after the return of Likud, Arab foreign affairs ministers met again in Cairo, but now they had changed their mind and the renewed Syria and Arafat's demand to suspend the normalization process with Israel was met with dissent.

The dubious Oslo agreement signed in 1993 by Rabin and Arafat was repeatedly violated by both sides from the beginning. Its stipulations are so disconnected from reality that they are impossible to fulfill. More problematic than the naive stipulations are the numerous fundamental issues that remained non stipulated. The exact beginning and ending dates of the talks to arrange pending issues were established with the ingenuous faith that all would be easily resolved with mutual goodwill. In practice, from its earliest implementation by the Rabin-Peres administration, none of the steps specified in the Oslo agreement could be effectuated on time. In place of the hoped peace, Palestinian terror reached proportions never seen before. Rabin responded with prolonged closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which reduced hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families to misery. To replace the Palestinians that had been employed in Israel and were now deprived of their livelihood, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers were imported under shaming slavery conditions of "indentured labor." (1)

Honoring the democratic principle of governmental continuity, Netanyahu administration continued the peace process with the Palestinians, despite the strong opposition of the Likud party to the Oslo agreement. Netanyahu carried out the Rabin-Arafat agreement concerning the city of Hebron, whose accomplishment was suspended by Peres in response to a bloody wave of terror launched by the Palestinian in the eve of the 1996 elections. Thereafter, Netanyahu confronted one of the perplexing deficiencies of the Oslo agreement. The agreement establishes the exact three dates on which additional areas of Judea and Samaria would be transferred to the Palestinian administration, but forgets to specify the areas and their size. This serious deficiency of the Oslo agreement was corrected by the Wye River Netanyahu-Arafat complementary agreement which arranged all pending issues concerning the interim period of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Perhaps the most important advance in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process during the Netaniahu administration was in the area of security and human relations. Terror has been greatly reduced thanks to the collaboration between the security services of Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy. More than one hundred thousand Palestinians have returned to work in Israel with the consequent improvement in the situation of their families. The return of the Palestinians workers allowed the reduction of the number of foreign workers. However, the stain on Israel's history for being perhaps the only Western nation with legal slavery in the form of indentured labor since 1918, will remain for ever. (2)

The monopolistic print and broadcasted media, feeling itself menaced by the policy of liberalization and suppression of monopolies, has launched a systematic campaign against the government based in three lies:

1) That the Israeli economy is in depression.

2) That the peace process was interrupted by Netanyahu's administration.

3) That there is a link between the "interruption" of the peace process and the economic "depression", because foreign investors restrain from transferring capitals to an insecure area.

It is of the nature of the lies that insistent repetition for a sufficient time convinces many people of their truth, but the facts will infallibly disclose their fraudulence. That the Israeli economy is neither in depression nor in recession (3), but in a healthy process of recovery, development, liberalization, and consolidation, was shown in two Hebrew articles on this site. That the peace process with Syria and Lebanon was interrupted during the Rabin-Peres administration, and that the impractical Oslo agreement was repeatedly violated by both sides from the beginning, and continued by Netanyahu was already pointed out here. And that there is no link between the peace process and foreign investments, or that, on the contrary, Netanyahu's peace policy attracts foreign investors, was finally confessed by the daily newspaper "Haaretz."

In the first page of its economic section, in the place of honor generally held by an economic editorial article, on February 2, 1999, appeared an article signed by the journal's economic correspondent Abraham Tal, intitled "The Facts Speak". A few lines of this article are worth transcribing here:

"It is seen from the data, that the [foreign] investment decreased in 1998 by nearly 26% in relation to 1997. The decrease results from the financial investment. The real investment - establishing new factories or acquiring existent ones - increased in the last year by the highly impressive amount of 43%. ....It is easy to explain the reduction in financial investment. They are highly mobile investment in response to local changes and to alterations in the world economy. Furthermore, most of the reduction in the financial investment was in the fourth quarter of the year, in which great agitation affected international financial markets [caused by the crash of the Russian economy and the leaning to fall of the South American markets.] At such times, foreign investors and speculators want their money at hand. ...This fact has great significance in light of assertions, which have been heard in past years, concerning the negative influence of the interruption of the peace process on the readiness of the foreign investors to participate in the Israeli economy. ...[Foreign] investment also increased in 1997, and then it was explained that decisions respecting investments are taken long before their realization.... It is a little more difficult to accept such explanation respecting the investment in 1998." ("Haaretz", "The Data Speak", Abraham Tal, February 28, 1999. Translation and explanations in brackets by N.N.)

The only ray of light in the darkening peace process during the Rabin-Peres period ('92-'96) was the signing of the peace agreement with Jordan, which formalized the strategic partnership which existed since the early seventies. In the unwritten Shamir-Hussein agreement, with the somehow forced consent of Arafat, the Israel-Jordan peace would contain, as established in the Camp David agreement, the solution of the Palestinian issue. The Oslo agreement violated this understanding, and closed the way to Jordian-Israeli collaboration in this difficult joint issue. In some measure it voided the Israeli-Jordian peace, since it left this sickly fount of future conflicts between both nations.

(1) The United Nations considers indentured labor a remaining form of slavery in numerous third world nations. Hebrew readers can verify this in the entry "Slavery" of the Hebrew Encyclopedia.
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(2) "...importing of indentured Indians to the Caribbean began in 1836 with a shipment of a hundred "hill coolies" to British Guiana. From then until the trade ended in 1918, more than half a million immigrants, most of them indentured, were fed into the plantation system of the British Caribbean. ... Chinese were imported to various parts of the British Caribbean as late as 1918, .." ("The Asian Diaspora in the New World: From Indentured Labor to Brain Drain", Roger Daniels, University of Cincinnati, 1996) 
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(3) Recession, depression, recuperation and boom, are terms of an obsolete theory, which described the free market as a wave phenomenon. This theory distinguished four alternating steps in which the market wave rises, reaches the summit, turns downward, and reaches the bottom. The last two steps were named recession and depression. Since the wave theory was abandoned, the diagnose of recession and depression requires the presence of a set of economic parameters, such as reduction of the number of jobs with consequent increasing unemployment, diminution of private consumption, reduction of salaries, a number of bankruptcies greater than the number of new companies, etc.. Clearly, none of these indicators are currently present. Television, radio, and newspapers, in an orchestrated chorus, use the moderate increase in unemployment to create the false appearance of depression. Defending their own interests menaced by the anti-monopolistic liberal policy of the government, they do not disclose that the increase in unemployment is sectoral and not general, as it would have been if caused by recession or depression. And that, on the contrary, the current disemployment is caused by two main factors: First, the positive evolution of the Israel economy from industries based on low-paid-workers to high-tech and highly-paid fields. Second, world markets are flooded with inexpensive merchandise from the South Eastern Asian countries whose economies and currencies have collapsed. (Hebrew readers can find a detailed analysis of the economic facts in two Hebrew articles on this site: "Is the Economy in Depression?" and "Economic Development in '98")
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