[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: The English website of Haaretz does not have
available their translation for the general public. The following is IMRA
translation of the Hebrew.
One note: The talk backs on the Hebrew Haaretz website are fast and furious
from the Left. On the other hand, in all due respect to Ari Shavit for
writing this essay - his last paragraph is somewhat pathetic. He just
can't let go of the idea that somehow we should be able to retreat.]
Soul-searching on Syria
Ari Shavit Haaretz 08/09/2012
Nobody likes to admit mistakes. Neither do I. But sometimes there is no
choice. One recent Saturday I went up north. I gazed for many hours as the
Golan mountains turn red at sunset. But slowly, the sheer delight at the
spectacular beauty replaced by a heavy distress. I could not help thinking,
what would have happened today if the ideological position I advocated had
been accepted: peace for the Golan. I could not help thinking, what would
have happened today if Ehud Barak hadn't not frozen in the face of Hafez
al-Assad in 2000, if Ehud Olmert hadn't broken off from Bashar al - Assad in
I must admit, that if the world view in which I believed had been
implemented, the global jihad battalions would now be camped near Ein Gev,
and Al Qaeda's camps would be located on the shores of the Kinneret.
Northern Israel and Israel's water sources would be on the border this
summer of an armed Islamic extremist and uncontrollable entity.
Ever since I was an adult, I believed in peace with Syria. The assumptions
that served as the basis for my belief appeared rational and solid. Peace
with Syria would prevent a terrible war in the north and break up the
coalition of powers that threatens northern Israel. Peace with Syria would
isolate Iran and hit it with a strategic restraining blow. Peace with Syria
would be as durable as the peace with Egypt and Israel would be surrounded
by a ring of stabilizing political arrangements. Peace with Syria would
strengthen the forces of sanity in the Arab world and will develop a
moderate regional system, and bring the Palestinians to compromise.
These assumptions were not just my assumptions. They were the premises of
Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and their successors in the center - left. They
were also the premises of the bulk of the military establishment. They were
believed by chief of staff after chief of staff. Supporters included head of
Military Intelligence after head of Military Intelligence.
The Meretz Party was not the peace with Syria party , but instead the IDF
was the party of peace with Syria. And I, the little one. Constantly wrote
in the paper and spoke on television about the need to achieve peace for the
Golan. I vigorously pressed for Syrian peace now. The opposite position
seemed to me to be unreasonable and immoral. I saw the people opposing this
as dangerous people. I was furious with Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon, who
blocked the talks with Syria and prevented peace. I was convinced that one
day history would judge them for their refusal to make peace and treat them
as it does Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and Israel Galili [IMRA: The notion is
that if Golda Meir had agreed to retreat from the Sinai the Yom Kippur War
could have been prevented] .
And here: The opposite,. The exact opposite. If there had been peace in 2000
today there would have been a bloodbath. If we had gone to bed with Assad a
decade ago, we would be waking up this year with Jihad. If we had given up
on Katzrin and Snir, we would be having terror in Dan and Daphne. Various
and odd substances would be discharging into the sources of the Jordan.
Frequent shooting incidents would be breaking out in Tel Katzir and
Bhaon.The Syrian Heights would have turned into a black hole far more
dangerous than the black hole of the Sinai desert. The idea of peace,
which was right for its time and correct in terms of method, would have
turned into a nightmarish reality that we would have found difficult to
sustain. Sooner or later, Israel would have been forced to go back to Tel -
Fahr and Nafah and continue into Quneitra. But this time, the climb up would
have cost the price of bursts of ballistic missiles on Tel Aviv. The peace
in which I believed and I recommended would have become a major war in which
thousands might have been possibly killed.
The Golan almost disappeared in the darkness. It's time to go home. Is the
lesson that one should not try peace? No, you must try to achieve a
realistic peace. Is the lesson that you need to accept the occupation? Not,
we must continue to seek creative attempts to end the occupation gradually.
But caution, folks. Modestly. Listen to the serious warnings of the people
in the opposition while taking a sober view of the real world in which we