Another Anniversary by Rael Jean Isaac


The hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration has passed to mixed reactions.  It has been celebrated, as it deserves to be—the achievements of the Jewish state that emerged from it are breathtaking—but also attacked and denigrated.

Some of the attacks are unsurprising.  The “Foreign Minister” of the “State of Palestine” Riyad Malki said it was bringing legal proceedings against the British government in British and international courts, in his words, to “compel the British government to apologize and make reasonable reparations to make up for that tragedy [the Balfour Declaration] including recognizing the State of Palestine.” The UN is using the occasion to set aside $1.3 billion to fund Palestinian legal campaigns against Israel and to support creation of an independent Palestinian state.

Emily Thornberry

More unsettling are some British reactions.  Melanie Phillips reports that Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to attend the dinner celebrating the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a dinner attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu as the guest of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.  In his place he sent the Labor shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry who made no secret that she saw nothing to celebrate.  In an interview with the Middle East Eye news site, Thornberry said: ”I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it…and I think probably the most important way of marking it is to recognize Palestine.” Even more unsettling are the reactions of some hitherto respectable Jewish organizations.  For example, the American Jewish Historical Society has clearly gone over to the dark side with its plan (only withdrawn under pressure) to “commemorate” Balfour with speeches by two anti-Israel activists, partnering with the viciously anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace.

Which brings us to the importance of another anniversary that went totally unremarked: the 24th year anniversary this September of the signing of the Oslo accords in Washington.  There is a direct connection between the rampant, ever-growing hostility to Israel and the so-called “peace” agreement Rabin signed with Arafat.  Until then, Arafat had been a terror chieftain whose fortunes were in sharp decline.  Whatever the failures of Israel’s 1982 campaign in Lebanon, it had one major success, forcing the PLO, which had sowed havoc in both Jordan and Lebanon, to find refuge in Tunisia, a backwater where it remained weak and constrained.  With Oslo Israel bestowed vigorous new life on the PLO—and on the worldwide assault on her own legitimacy.

As remarkable as Israel’s stupidity was the enthusiasm with which it was greeted by Israel’s supporters (a reminder—think catastrophic global warming—of just how wrong a “consensus” can be).  As American Jewish organizations vied for a place on the White House lawn to witness signing of the “historic” peace agreement, AFSI was a lone pro-Israel organization in denouncing the agreement and in pointing out its inevitable disastrous consequences.  There would be individuals who spoke out and indeed traveled to Oslo to protest the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Arafat, Rabin and Peres.  These were the people who at the time we called “the real heroes of Oslo,” including Rabbi Avi Weiss, Ronn Torossian, David Kalb and Joshua Meisels of the Coalition for Jewish Concerns (AMCHA) as well as New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who brought a group of prominent New Yorkers to Oslo.

It’s not that no major Jewish organization saw that Oslo was a hideous mistake.  Mort Klein, then (and now) head of the ZOA, was fully aware, but such was the general euphoria that he felt it impossible to stand directly in front of the tidal wave and instead initially called for PLO “compliance” with the agreement it had signed.  Of course the PLO did not comply but nobody in a position to do so called them on it, certainly not the Israeli government.  As the terror against Israeli citizens rose astronomically, Rabin absurdly and repeatedly denounced the mounting incidents as “attacks on peace” rather than what they were—attacks on Israel.

Outpost printed many articles against Oslo before, during and after the signing of the Accords.  Here we reproduce one of them, written by David Isaac, entitled “The Handshake”, published in December 1993, which in brief space, epitomized what was fundamentally wrong with Israel’s action.


“’Now join your hands, and with your hands, your hearts.’ With this line, Shakespeare reveals the potency of a handshake.  It is a symbol of friendship, of common cause, of shared fate.  Or in the case of Israel, a sealed fate.  For by shaking hands with Arafat on a world stage, Rabin transformed Arafat from pariah to partner, and symbolically transferred to him the age-old rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

Until that White House ceremony and that handshake, polls in Israel showed a majority opposed to the agreement with Arafat.  How could they fail to do so? He was the arch-fiend, confined by circumstance to random murder of innocents, but dedicated to the death of the state and its Jewish inhabitants.  But with the handshake, as the world watched, Arafat, like the snake shedding his skin, gave the illusion he had cast off his evil essence.  The visual power of the handshake deceptively transformed him, and in so doing, disarmed the Jews’ ability to withstand him.  Opposition in Israel melted away.

American Jewish leaders, baffled by the sudden acceptance of Arafat, whom they had so long excoriated, were swept along.  Wearied of worry, they embraced disgrace.  A mass murderer was found “not guilty.” In this hall of mirrors, the world was the court.  The jury, the Jews, had acquitted him.  Eliahu Zaana-Snir relates a story his grandfather told him.  After the slaughter in the disturbances of 1929, the Jewish community leaders in Jerusalem were invited to receive condolences by the Mandate Government Secretary, Sir Harry Luke.  Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, who led the delegation, knew of the involvement of British authorities who stood aside while Arabs killed blameless, defenseless Jews in cold blood.  Secretary Luke extended his hand to Rabbi Kook.  Rabbi Kook refused the handshake, saying “I will not shake a hand besmirched with Jewish blood.” Rabbi Kook understood the power of a handshake.

But Rabin’s handshake did more than obfuscate Arafat’s corruption.  His foul figure became equal in stature with the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the United States.  Standing with two world leaders, Arafat became their partner and was even referred to as ‘a partner in peace.’ And in the process, Rabin became an accomplice in the pillaging of Jewish rights.  For the handshake symbolized the transfer of Jewish rights to the Land of Israel to the man dedicated to the extinction of all Jewish national rights.  Throughout two thousand years of persecution, Jews were comforted by the knowledge that the Land of Israel was theirs.  For two thousand years, they guarded their rights.  For two thousand years, they waited to return.  Now, in an evanescent instant, their rights were gone.  Rabin had literally handed them to the enemy.

But the handshake was something more.  It was a culmination of a campaign of lies.  After the Six Day War of 1967, when the Arabs recognized that the prolonged pan-Arab assault won Israel world sympathy, they redefined the conflict.  No longer was it between Israel and Arab states, but between Israel and “the Palestinians.” The PLO, crowned as “the sole legitimate representative” of this freshly fabricated people, now claimed that it was not the Jews but the Arabs who had been persecuted and oppressed, not the Jews but the Arabs who were without a homeland.  While their minions murdered, the PLO covered their tracks with moral make-overs and pious preaching for an end to Israeli occupation.  Out of myth and mist they created the Palestinian whose identity was strikingly similar to that of the Jew.  And what of the Jew? He became the Nazi.  The propaganda succeeded, not least by weakening the will to resist of many Jews both in Israel and the Diaspora.

And so, with the handshake, Rabin proclaimed his willingness to abandon Jewish identity, Jewish national rights, Jewish raison d’etre to the Palestinians, a paper people.  Despite all the lies, ordinary people everywhere knew Israel as a courageous country that strove for decency even as it fought for survival.  If the handshake holds, if the deadly process it signifies is not cut short, the world will know Israel as yet another failed, squalid appeaser of terror and evil.”

The deadly process referred to in “The Handshake” is not at an end.  A Trump “peace plan” (better described as yet another “territory for terror” plan) is in the works, supposedly to be released in  December.  The timing could scarcely be more bizarre.  Abbas has just teamed up with Hamas, whose commitment to Israel’s destruction does not even allow for the euphemisms to which Abbas occasionally resorts.  Iran is cementing its takeover of Lebanon through Hezbollah and moving its forces to the Golan border.  Iran makes no secret that its goal is to position itself to destroy Israel.

Can Israel summon the will to resist? Can it cut short the deadly process? Or will it continue playing the dangerous game of Russian roulette, saying yes or yes/but to Trump and relying on the Palestinian Arabs once again to save the state by their recalcitrance to any and all concessions? Abbas is a feeble reed on which to rely for Israel’s salvation.

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Article by Ruth King

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Editor: Rael Jean Isaac
Editorial Board: Herbert Zweibon, Ruth King

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