06 November '15..
Last week, Channel 10 aired an "expose" on what the network termed the "racism bus" or the "apartheid line." As it turns out, a number of bus drivers on the No. 286 route from Tel Aviv to Ariel have been refusing to allow passengers to board unless they present an Israeli ID card. Why? According to the drivers, it is because there is no security on the bus, and in light of the recent wave of terrorist attacks in which one stabbing has followed another, they are not willing to take any chances.
"When things calm down again, we will allow them to board again," they said of Arab passengers who do not have Israelis IDs.
This natural reaction, fear of becoming a victim to terrorism, does not get Channel 10's sympathy. The report concluded: This is racism and apartheid. "All men are created equal, but not on bus No. 286," they said.
Obviously this is unpleasant behavior with terrible connotations. But what is the correlation between this news item and apartheid or racism? To be racist is to display perceived superiority over another ethnic group. Apartheid was a government policy, anchored under the law, against a particular race. Do these elements exist in the No. 286 bus story? According to the report itself, Arabs who possess Israeli ID cards have been permitted to ride the bus. Is the drivers' and passengers' fear of Palestinians unfounded? Is it derived from nothing? Or does it rest on experience?
Where is the Israeli reporters' journalistic responsibility? Do they not know that no public diplomacy will ever be able to undo the damage of these accusations against their own state? The media has the utmost responsibility to rein in the hysteria that is so common in our parts. What was gained by this report, other than self-righteousness and making Israel look bad in the eyes of the world?
The failure of the talks between former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat at Camp David, and the outbreak of the Second Intifada shortly thereafter in September 2000, prompted the collapse of the Oslo idea. In an August 2013 article I wrote, I presented evidence that Arafat had planned in advance the war that immediately followed Camp David. The Israeli Left, watching its work drown in a sea of blood, turned Barak into an enemy. It was Barak, not reality, who was to blame for the fact that Israel had "no partner" for peace.
Ever since then, the fundamentalist Left has tried its hardest to prove that there is, in fact, a partner and that the reason for the ongoing failure of peace talks is actually down to Israel's attitude -- the thought that substantial gaps can be bridged in the span of three weeks or the belief that Arafat would be willing to agree to anything less than all the territory or the disparaging of the Palestinian people.
Even if we assume they are right -- have not the last 15 years provided enough proof that there is no one to talk to on the other side? Even after Barak offered to divide Jerusalem, the Palestinians did not respond positively. Not even close. They also refused to relinquish the right of return for Palestinian refugees. When the time comes, they said, we will ask every refugee whether they prefer compensation or to return to Israel.
The Palestinians schooled the Israelis and the Americans on how to negotiate: They managed to get Barak to offer far-reaching concessions that no Israeli leader before him had even dared to imagine, and they gave nothing in return. They extorted the Israeli negotiators beyond their limits. And even then, this only served as the basis for the outlandish concessions they managed to get from former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, to which they also did not respond.
Unfortunately, it was only the Palestinians who were skilled in the Middle Eastern art of bazaar-like negotiations. They are master negotiators. The attempt to ignore these negotiation tactics, and the Western tendency to criticize this type of negotiating style, has been our downfall more than once. It is almost a reflection of the empty and condescending attitude that the Left harbors for the Arabs.
Last year, Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker wrote that current Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas played a "negative role" in the Camp David summit, and that "petty and political interests -- Arafat played Abbas, then his chief negotiator, against fellow Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei -- put him in a passive and unwise position."
This was Drucker's in-depth analysis of the collapse of the peace talks -- internal games of pride and ego. This week, however, Drucker aired a film titled "The Secrets of the Peace Talks" that suggested something entirely different: Abbas was not a passive participant, but rather the primary objector to Barak's plan. He felt that accepting Barak's offer would be tantamount to treason -- a selling out of the Palestinian cause.
Incidentally, last year the Obama administration offered Abbas a plan that surpassed even Olmert's generous offer from 2008. The document mentioned two capitals in Jerusalem and 100% of the territory, of course, including land swaps and partial right of return. Not surprisingly, Abbas rejected this plan as well. More than Arafat! And they keep trying to sell Abbas to us as a friendly grandpa figure who can be a partner for peace.
This game of "bold" proposals fail to take the core issues into account: Perhaps it is time to acknowledge the fact that the root of the conflict is anything but territory? What is Jerusalem to the Jewish people? Will the public ever be willing to hand the Old City over to the Palestinians? What is the meaning of the different myths and narratives? (In Drucker's film, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat reprised his half-serious joke that his ancestors built Jericho 10,000 years ago.)
As is par for the course for an Army Radio alum, Drucker's film focused on the superficial personal angle. Tensions between individuals, body language and of course the eternal axiom that there is no point in talking to the Palestinians about anything less than everything -- every last bit of territory Israel conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War. The danger inherent in this approach is that the Palestinians have never declared that this would be enough for them. Even if Israel agreed to the right of Palestinian return, it would still not ensure the end of the conflict or the Palestinian demands.
Aaron Miller, a member of the American delegation at Camp David, presented his take on things. According to him, the idea that if Arafat did not accept the terms then he was not a partner for peace was the main problem with Camp David, and it set the stage and the tone for the lack of trust that still exists today, in essence shaping the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians for generations. In other words, the fact that Arafat rejected every possible offer, as Abbas does today, does not mean that there is "no partner." So what the hell does it mean?
Considering the course of history, this way of thinking is a bit arrogant -- the idea that it is all up to us, the Israelis, and that if we had only made one more concession in favor of the poor Palestinians, the entire picture would be different today. Forget about 100 years of Arab incitement against us and 1,400 years of Islamic loathing of the Jews as a nation and as a religion, and the hundreds of times that the Palestinians have declared that they will never recognize the Jews' right to a state. None of that really matters as long as it is the Jews' fault that there is no peace; the Jews' fault that the "frustrated" Palestinians are carrying out terrorist attacks; the Jews' fault for being "racist," because for some reason they are afraid of being murdered by Arabs, of all people.