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Strange Bedfellows: The Geneva Accords
Last uploaded : Sunday 14th Dec 2003 at 15:20
Contributed by : The Editors


We are in two minds about the ?Geneva Accords.? Jewish ethics value any effort by human beings to come together in one room and talk about their monumental disagreements. During the past three years so much precious blood has been shed by tiny, besieged Israel at the hands of Hamas, Jihad, Hezbollah and other terror groups that any treaty that can energise efforts in the region to stop these groups in their tracks and bring peace to the Arab-Israeli conflict has to be seen as worthy of praise.

However, hearing that Terje Roed-Larsen, the UN Special Envoy for the region, is not a supporter of the Accords (he uses the words ?absolutist? to describe its terms) and that the Hamas and Jihad are also against the plan gives one pause. One of the notable tenets of the plan proposes the end of the ?right of return? apparatus that would see up to four million Palestinians, descendants and elderly survivors of what they deem the ?Naqba? (catastrophe of 1947-48) settling in Israel. If Larsen and the Hamas share similar sentiments then he has --albeit unwittingly -- allied himself with a rum bunch.

Then we have American Secretary of State Colin Powell giving legitimacy to the Accords by wishing to meet with its architects, who include Drs Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abbed Rabbo, Secretary Powell?s enthusiasm for the Geneva Accords has drawn unprecedented rancour form Jewish communities all over the world. The proposal that the Temple Mount be controlled by the Arab authorities in exchange for forfeiture of the Right of Return has enraged many Jews and this has brought forth some poisonous rhetoric from many quarters, including our own Inbox here at this website. It is unfair to condemn Colin Powell as an enemy of Israel; some of the descriptions of the Secretary from angry critics suggests a remarkable ignorance of his unique background; his love for Yiddishkeit and for the Jews dates back to his childhood growing up in a mixed neighbourhood where in an era of racial prejudice he worked for the kind and generous Jewish owners of a grocery shop. He is a distinguished public servant and General and it seems unlikely -- indeed inconceivable -- that he would seek to support any policy that threatens Israel. It is being reported in the Israeli press that Powell is ?fuming? over a tirade by Israel?s Deputy Ehud Olmert at a recent meeting.

Conversely, the Accords are seen by many as an insult to the Israeli government. A group of renegade peace campaigners has defied its own national policy and set up a kind of ?alternative regime? in cahoots with Yasser Arafat. (This is not our opinion but that of millions of observers around the world.) Geoffrey Alderman in the British ?Jewish Chronicle ? of 14 November has even suggested, partly in jest, that the Israeli architects of the Accords, Messrs Beilin, Mitzna and Burg serve a spell in prison for approving a plan that gives away Ariel, Efrat and Har Homa and prohibits Jews from praying at the Temple Mount.

What makes one uncomfortable is the use of the word ?traitor? to describe the Jewish supporters and participants in the Geneva effort. Where and when did we last hear this word? On Fridays, like clockwork, Yitzhak and Leah Rabin had to endure cried of ?traitor? outside their flat in Ramat Aviv. The rest is history.

So, what do we Jews want? Before we are flooded with letters saying Diaspora Jews and non-Jewish observers have no right to dictate how Israelis live, we want to stress to our readers that any ?Accord? must be approved by a Referendum of the Israeli public. But is the Geneva plan being devised by Diaspora Jews? Not one of the main participants is a Jew comfortably ensconced in a home in Los Angeles or Toronto or Paris. Beilin, Mitzna, Burg and Ayalon have given a lifetime of blood and sweat to the Israeli nation and have a right to be heard.

At this time of the Festival of Lights we urge all participants in the ?Geneva? plan to listen to the voices that oppose it and to absorb those criticisms, however harsh. (Yitzhak Rabin, hero of ours as he is, is not believed to have listened as much as he should have to the settler and religious leadership, and at his very worst, had a contempt for these groups of fellow Israelis.)

Those who are vehemently opposed to the plan need to temper their rhetoric and ask themselves if a perpetual cycle of violence, unemployment and exodus (a recent report stated that 60% of Israelis are seeking another passport) is an acceptable alternative to a peace accord that brings economic prosperity and international regard to the Jewish state to match that of the Rabin era.


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