Saturday, September 06, 2008

Fitzgerald: The Syrian-Israeli "peace process"

The smug assumptions of the Syrians (reinforced by the idiotic behavior of the Olmert regime, and opposed by too few Israelis, possibly simply worn down and worn out by the continued idiocy of their political elites) need to be discussed yet again. Here are the basic points that need to be filed away, not least by Israel's political and media elites, who should be reminded of them at every pusillanimous turn of Israeli negotiators, so pleased and proud with their derriere-les coulisses peace-processing:

1. The Golan Heights were won by Israel in a war of self-defense for national survival. Syria went to war against Israel in 1967 (and in 1973) before Israel counter-attacked, and wrested control of the Golan Heights from Syria.

2. The Golan Heights were never part of an age-old entity called Syria or Sham. The Golan Heights were part of the Ottoman Empire. When that empire disintegrated, both the Zionist representatives at the League of Nations, and the non-Jewish members of the League of Nations' Mandates Commission, felt that the Golan Heights -- sparsely populated by neither Jews nor Arabs, bur rather a handful of Druse -- should most fittingly be assigned to the Mandate for Palestine.

3. The British decided, for their own Empire, that it would be good to have a Mesopotamia (Iraq) that consisted of three former Ottoman vilayets, those of Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul. In order to persuade the French, who were entrusted with the Mandate for Syria, to allow the vilayet of Mosul to be incorporated into British-ruled Iraq, the British decided to offer up the Golan Heights and areas around it -- areas that, while originally intended to be part of the Mandate for Palestine (which, in turn, was set up for the purpose of establishing "the Jewish National Home" and for no other purpose), they thought they could, with impunity, simply remove from the territory of the Mandate. Much attention has been focused on the way in which, at the Cairo Conference in 1921, the British thought they had a right as the Mandatory power, to dispose of territory originally intended to form part of the Mandate. They had no such right, and the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations was appalled at British actions.

4. Having won the Golan Heights in a war of self-defense, Israel realized that control of the heights -- from which Syrian forces had rained down fire on Israeli farmers on northern kibbutzes for years -- was essential, for he who controlled the Golan controlled both the north of Israel and the south of Syria, including the road to Damascus that lay down below. Furthermore, the Druse of the Golan are connected to the Druse in both Syria and Israel, and are likely to offer their loyalty to whichever country they believe will retain control, or ultimately assume control, of the Golan. If the Golan is given up by Israel, this will make local Druse -- some of whom have responded to Israel's decency and chosen to enlist in the Israeli military -- more likely to take Syria's side.

5. There are now Jewish villages all over the Golan, built up over forty years. There are Jewish enterprises of every kind, including the celebrated vineyards. The Golan is a tourist destination within Israel, a small country, surrounded by hostile neighbors whose lands are dangerous for Israelis in need of relaxation to visit. The Sinai, with the resort at Sharm al-Sheik that Israel had built, once was a place for Israeli tourists to visit, but was, in a fit of short-sightedness and under the cruel pressure from Carter and Brzezinski to which Begin succumbed, surrendered to Egypt. And now it is no longer a secure place for Israelis. The Golan offers one of the very few places inside Israel where Israelis on holiday can find close at hand the kind of domestic respite, for a week or two, that is so necessary for morale.

6. In 1981, Israel formally annexed the Golan. That ought to have been the end of the matter. It would have been, with any other country. But in Israel, apparently, no part of Israel's territory, declared to be such by the government of Israel and ratified by the members of the Knesset as the representatives of the people of Israel, is ever outside discussion. But if Israel is willing to discuss -- much less actually give up -- the Golan Heights, a precedent will have been set: if the annexed Golan can be given back, in whole or in part, why not the Old City of Jerusalem? If anyone says...but, but that was annexed, that can't be given back, the reply is...well, the reply is the laconic: "The Golan was annexed, and the Golan was given back."

7. Israelis keep confusing a "Peace Treaty" with Muslims with Peace. Peace treaties are regarded, by Muslims and by those who may not be full-fledged Muslims -- like the Alawites -- but who will in their foreign policy if not in their domestic rule, seek to accommodate Muslim ways and demands, and may even be more aggressively Muslim to prove themselves, and when making any treaty with Israel, will regard such a treaty as a useful instruments to obtain further, and then still further, concessions. The treaties made by Muslims with non-Muslims can never be"Peace Treaties" in the Western sense, but rather "Truce" treaties, and the Western principle of international law, of Pacta Sunt Servanda (Treaties are to be obeyed) has no meaning in Muslim jurisprudence. Treaties with the permanent Infidel enemy are regarded as breachable at any moment, when the Muslim side feels stronger. This is not a matter of opinion. It is clear Muslim doctrine. It is what Muhammad did with the Meccans in 628 A.D. at Hudaibiyya. Muhammad is the Model for Muslims For All Time: uswa hasana (the Model of Conduct), al-insan al-kamil (the Perfect Man). This is well understood by Muslim commentators, and by scholars of the subject of treaty-making under Islam. Is it possible, is it conceivable, that the officials now conducting negotiations for the Israeli government remain, at this point, unaware of this? Is it possible that nowhere can be found a copy of Majid Khadduri's War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which so clearly and usefully sets this out? Is it possible that the smug editorial writers and columnists for Ha'aretz and other Israeli papers think that they can forever ignore Islam, and what it teaches, and why it is not such a hot idea to continue to believe so credulously what their "'Palestinian' friends" tell them?

Is there a left-wing Israeli who doesn't have a "Palestinian" friend or two? Why, they are practically de rigueur these days, and the more secular, the more sweetly liquid brown-eyed, the more they can join their "Israeli friend" in common mockery of "Orthodox Jews." No, it is not what Sami Nuseibeh says, or others of that plausible (apparently plausible, but to some of us perfectly transparent) ilk, who are now beginning to promote "one-state solution" line. Because after all, what intelligent semi-secular Arab, having seen the effects of Lords of Muslim Misrule (whether Fast Jihadists or Slow Jihadists) among the Gazan Arabs and the "West Bank" Arabs, would not wish to enjoy the benefits of an Israeli polity? And never mind, for now, that “one-state solution.” If the State of Israel retained all of the "West Bank," while not extending the privilege of Israeli citizenship to local Arabs, it would allow them as much local autonomy as is consonant with Israeli security. Yet these secular and semi-secular Arabs support a “one-state solution” even while choosing to ignore what that phony “one-state solution" would in the end do in the Jewish state of Israel. It would ultimately bring about the very thing they, those secular advanced Arabs, would sensibly wish to avoid – a nice illustration of the famous tale of the Scorpion and the Frog.

8. Some people think Israel needs a “peace treaty” with Syria. No, it doesn’t. It needs only to preserve the conditions that will make Syrian mischief-making less likely not just this year or for the next few years, but unlikely because of the great damage that would be inflicted on Syria. Are the Syrians more or less likely, if they regain the Golan, to go to war, in ten years, or twenty, against Israel? Will Syria be so prosperous by then? Presumably the one thing really standing in the way of that is the continued Israeli hold on the Golan. And will the people of Syria then be so content with their lot that the Alawites, if they retain control, will no longer feel the need to establish their Muslim bonafides in the only way they or other Arabs know how, which is by joining in the war on Israel in any way they can? Or, if the Alawite despotism comes undone and Sunni Muslims take control, will they remain so permanently pleased with the Golan that they will, though Muslims, somehow manage never again to take to heart what Islam inculcates, which is that the whole world in the end belongs entirely to Allah and to his people, but on the To-Do List for Muslims, highest priority is given to recovering any land once possessed by Muslims?

The very idea that Muslim Arabs could ever be reconciled to the permanence of an Infidel nation-state, and one smack in the middle of Dar al-Islam and, what’s more, peopled by the once-despised Jews, requires from Infidels, from Israelis, a vast amount of willful ignorance. It is difficult to believe that this level of ignorance can continue to be maintained, but successive Israeli governments have proven equal to that task.

So it is up to others, outside the government, to learn about Islam on their own. It should not lead to despair, but to a salutary clearing of the air. Israel will exist as long as its military retains the ability to deter the enemy. That enemy wishes to eliminate the state of Israel. Some wish to do it, think it can best be done, by military means. Others think it will take different tactics, toward the same end, and that for now military means would not work. They prefer the slow chip-chipping away, by means of whatever reasonable-sounding furrowed-brow peace-processing can be offered. The Muslim Arab side always counts on the understandable clouding of Israeli minds that the very word, and the fata-morgana prospect, of “peace” always brings about.

The position of Israel does not worsen if its people, and its government, begin to study and to understand the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam. Israel is not harmed if those who presume to protect and instruct the people of Israel actually learn a great deal about what Islam inculcates, and how many Muslims receive what they are taught, and the full extent of the Total Belief-System of Islam. Israel is not harmed if the people and government of that permanently beleaguered state learn about the 1350-year history of Islamic conquest.

It is only thus that realism -- overcoming the steady Fool-of-Chelm hum, whether from a Simple Simon, or a political leader attempting to buy a little temporary popularity so that investigators lay off him (Olmert) or his son (Sharon) -- will become the basis of Israel’s policy. And then will come the necessary embrace of Deterrence, not of further surrenders of Israeli assets and rights -- legal, historic and moral -- to bits of land that long ago should have been annexed (round about late June 1967 would have been just right). The annexation should have been accompanied by a detailed State Paper explaining those legal, moral, and historic rights, and why, given the doctrines of Islam, no faith could be put in treaties, or for that matter in that idiotically, and therefore aptly, named, deceitful undertaking known as “the Peace Process.”

And whatever objections might have been raised, again and again and again, Israeli leaders should refer to Islamic doctrine, refer to the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya, and by dint of such repetition, demand from howling Muslims that they explain what the Islamic view of things is, that they explain where Majid Khadduri, or Antoine Fattal, or Arthur Jeffery, or Samuel Zwemer, or Henri Lammens, had things wrong. Yes, give them a chance to explain what Islam teaches, and keep the discussion right on that subject – forever.

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