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April 2000 - Return to Complete Index    MiddleEast.Org         4/09/00
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 "Barak is the most dangerous prime minister in the
 history of Israel. Already in 1982 he proposed to
 extend the Lebanon war to a total war on Syria.
 Then he explained (in a memorandum to Sharon) that
 the best way to do that is without sharing the
 plans with the government. Today he is consulting
 only with the heads of the army and the security
 services.  Never had the army as much grip on
 Israeli politics as in the times of Barak."
   Professor Tanya Reinhart
   Tel Aviv University (3/23/00)

MID-EAST REALITIES - Washington - 9 April.  The same military, and in fact
many of the same persons, who brought us the invasion of Lebanon in 1982
and now maneuvering to bring us another Middle East war to start off this
new millenium.  This is what is really going on behind-the-scenes while CNN
reporters parrot press releases and focus on photo opps.

Remember just a few things about the Israelis:

1)  The War in 1982 was prepared and ready-to-go just waiting for an excuse.
An anti-PLO Palestinian shot the Israeli Ambassador in London and that was
used as the trigger for the war.  Even though Maggie Thatcher herself, then the
British Prime Minister, publicly spoke up to indicate that the PLO had nothing
to do with the shooting, the Israelis knew what they wanted to do and there
was no one willing or able to stop them.  The Americans, professing opposition,
actually gave the Israelis the wink.

2)  Ariel Sharon was at the time "Defense Minister" and he lead the Israeli
Army forward craftily deceiving even his own Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, as
he went.  Sharon fits the definition of war criminal for many things he has done,
including the Sabra and Shatilla massacres in that war.  He now heads Israel's
Likud Party and wants to be Prime Minister.

3)  An important General at the time advocated creating another excuse that could
then be said to justify attacking and destroying the Syrian Army and then remolding
the politics of the region by Israeli dictate.  His name was Ehud Barak.  He now
heads Israel's Labor Party and is Prime Minister.

As another war begins to be weaved in the Middle East, the Israelis are more
dominant now than ever.  They have the U.S. by the balls and in the bag -- regular
readers of MER know the details.  They have the Arab regimes more confused,
divided, and infiltrated than ever.  They have the military might and the
propaganda apparatus to prevail.  They know the Europeans will make a few noises
but will not do anything serious.  And they would probably actually like for the
Iranians to dare get involved for they want to take them on as well for in just
a few days of battling there are some nuke and missile targets they have in mind.
And lastly, the Israelis know there's nothing to worry about from the U.N., a
humbled and now graying appendage of U.S. foreign policy that has gotten use to
performing elephant wiper tasks when it is assigned the cleanup work after the
guns have gone silent and the important decisions have already been taken.

The following column by Professor Tanya Reinhart in Israel a few weeks ago
tells part of what's really going on in Israel, smoothed over abit for
Israeli sensibilities.

            By Professor Tanya Reinhart*

So nothing is going to come out of this peace. Only three months
ago it looked so feasible: to bring the soldiers back home, to stop
renovating shelters in the Galilee, to forget about the northern
border, and afterwards, peace like with Egypt - including, if you
wish, visiting the unseen Syrian landscapes. But that's not what
will happen.

There are two narratives about what happened in the Clinton-Assad
summit in Geneva. Ours - the only one heard in Israel (and on CNN) -
is that Assad just doesn't want peace. "The masks have been unveiled",
said Barak, "the Syrian position is not ripe for the decisions
which are necessary in order to reach a peace treaty". Assad is
insisting on those 500 meters in order to humiliate us and derail
the process.

The second narrative can be witnessed in Robert Fisk's report in the
British "Independent": "The two men held three hours of talks,
through interpreters, at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, with
the Syrian leader patiently explaining he was not going to fall
into the same 'peace' trap as the Palestine Liberation Organization
leader Yasser Arafat. He will not make peace with Israel before
guaranteeing the return of all of the occupied Golan, captured by
Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Mr Arafat signed a peace
settlement then failed to gain a majority of the occupied West Bank
or a capital in Jerusalem."

In this narrative, the dispute is not over the 500 meters at all
("it was conveyed on behalf of Assad that he is willing to compromise
on the withdrawal line, and even to full Israeli control over the
whole of the Kineret coast, while continuing to negotiate water
rights"). The dispute is over the model of the peace. There are two
models in our history: in the Egyptian model, all stages of the
withdrawal and guarantees were finalized before the treaty was signed
(the later discussions concerned the autonomy for the Palestinians).
The withdrawal was set to spread over three years, and only after 2/3
of Sinai was evacuated, embassies were set up. The Taba issue remained.
Both sides held it precious, and the Israelis used to spend their
vacations on its shores. That's why the decision regarding it was left
for the end.

In the Arafat model, the Oslo agreement was signed with almost nothing
agreed upon, besides Israeli declarations of principle about willingness
for a withdrawal. Seven years later, it turns out that the Palestinians
have halted the Intifadah, but Arafat didn't get anything of what was
promised to him in the west bank. What was realized was the autonomy
plan which the Palestinians always rejected.

Assad is saying that he will agree to a Sadat style peace, and not to
an Arafat style one. Barak is demanding that he will first sign, open
embassies and fight the Hizbollah. And then, if we will be satisfied,
we will withdraw. This is the Arafat model. Barak does not agree to
the Sadat model.

So there is no peace. But without peace, Lebanon is the Israeli Vietnam,
and life in the northern towns is hell. But it's ok, there is an
answer: 'unilateral withdrawal'. The US is threatening Syria that it is
supporting this plan, and has already begun to pressure Arab leaders to
support it as well. It is a little hard to understand why one needs
to threaten anyone to agree to an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon - what
everybody in the region has been demanding all along. But "unilateral
withdrawal" is the code name for a plan which Sharon has already
proposed three years ago: we will withdraw unilaterally while
creating some kind of provocation (such as, not fully withdraw)
and then, with the first missile, we will go on a total war. The world
will be on our side, because we have withdrawn. Since our soldiers are
no longer there, it would now be possible to burn the earth from the air.

Barak and others have mentioned this "Kosovo plan" several times. This
is what is being prepared in the north. And if it will prove necessary,
"we will also attack Syrian targets".

Barak and Sharon are counting on the fact that Assad is currently weak,
and his army is not what it used to be. So this time there will be no
missiles and no sealed rooms. Maybe they are right, but who wants to
check? And if they will succeed this time, how long will it last?

Making peace by the Sadat model would make much more sense. There is
still time to stop this summer's war.

[Translated from the original Hebrew in Yediot Aharanot, 30 March]

* Professor Reinhart teaches Linguistics at Tel Aviv University.

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