The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy


The Hidden Motives of Israel’s Ruling Elites: Behind the Policy of Territory for Peace

Filed under: GeneralOslo/Peace ProcessRepresentationIsrael's Nationals — eidelberg @ 8:57 am

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, November 5, 2007. This Report is an abbreviation of a 24-page policy paper, “The Fixation of Israel’s Elites on Land for Peace: Five Interpretations,” scheduled for publication by a major journal in December.

Part I

People everywhere are bewildered by Israeli politics. They cannot fathom the motives of Israel’s ruling elites, their addiction to the futile and fatal policy of territory for peace. What really motivates these politicians?

Some pundits say they are stupid or mad or suffer from a Jewish “death wish.” Others say that Israel’s dependency on U.S military aid compels Israeli prime ministers to genuflect to Washington. Let me offer an alternative explanation.

When I made aliya in 1976, I was amused to hear people say that the paramount concern of Israeli politicians is their “seats.” This conventional wisdom actually confirms Machiavelli’s conception of politics. The father of modern political science maintained that egoism is the key principle of politics. According to Machiavelli, the essence of human nature is desire, and the strongest desire is the will to power.

Plato and Aristotle were no less aware that politicians are motivated by egoism, but they asked how can regimes be structured to serve the common good, above all, human excellence or virtue.

Egoism is commonplace, else why the Ten Commandments? Where Machiavelli departs radically from the Bible and classical political science is that he based his new science of politics on the behavior of ordinary human beings, not on the exceptions—say sterling patriots like Cicero, Washington, and Churchill.

Now, if politics is rooted in egoism, then altruism is a myth. It follows that politicians use such words as the “common good” or the “national interest” as façade to obscure and dignify their own self-interest. This applies to Israeli politicians who talk about “peace.” They too are animated by egoism.

If one studies Israel’s periodic, multiparty elections, is it not strange that regardless of which party or party coalition has won control of the government during the past 30 years, all have pursued the obviously dangerous and counterintuitive policy of yielding land to Arabs culturally addicted to war?

Most curious is the behavior of the religious parties. What motivated Shas, an ultra-orthodox party, to join the Labor-Meretz government in 1992 despite the ultra-secularism of those two parties and their commitment to yielding Judea, Samaria, and Gaza for peace?

What motivated the National Religious Party—a Zionist party—join the Sharon government of 2003 and sign its coalition agreement, which bound the signatories to the Oslo Accords?

What motivated Torah United Judaism, another ultra-orthodox party, to join the Sharon government of 2004 and thereby enable that government to expel Gaza’s 8,000 Jewish residents and render them homeless?

To cover their nakedness, these parties said something like this: “We can do more good inside the government than outside, by restraining its land-for-peace policy and by securing larger appropriations for Jewish education.” To Machiavelli, this is baloney. The principal objective of all parties is power or self-aggrandizement.

If this Machiavellian analysis is correct, then it’s futile and even misleading for opponents of land-for-peace to (1) expose the genocidal intentions of Israel’s enemies; (2) reveal the dangerous strategic consequences of that policy; and (3) appeal to moral and religious values. More than fourteen years of incessant criticism of Oslo illustrate this futility. The only way to put an end to the land-for-peace policy is for its opponents to obtain more power than its advocates. Demonstrations will not do this unless designed to topple the government and inaugurate a new kind of government, one whose leaders have a personal interest in establishing Jewish sovereignty over all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.

Israel’s ruling elites are not stupid, and it’s a strategic error to pursue plans as if they were. One should assume that these elites conform to Machiavelli’s understanding of human nature. These elites are well aware of the deadly intentions of the Palestinian Authority. Those intentions are proclaimed by PA leaders, broadcast in PA media, and manifested in ceaseless terrorist attacks.

Israel’s ruling elites do not need defense experts to know that surrendering Judea and Samaria with its strategically important highlands and water resources cannot but endanger Israel’s survival. As for appeals to moral and religious values, these have not prevented the religious parties, as indicated, from supporting, at least indirectly, the fatal policy of land-for-peace. Therefore, if Israel’s ruling elites are not stupid or mad, then that policy—as they see it—serves their own interests or serves to maintain their political power.

Part II

The question before us is this: How does the land-for-peace policy—a policy proven to be futile and deadly—how does this policy perpetuate the power of Israel’s ruling elites?

The first thing that we must bear in mind is that egoism renders politicians indifferent to history and posterity. They live in the present, and in the present they care nothing about the welfare of others, except when it serves their own interests. Egoism dulls the sense of outrage at the suffering of others. Notice that Israeli governments have not retaliated, in a sustained and decisive way, against terrorist attacks that have killed or wounded or traumatized tens of thousands Jewish women, men, and children. Limited incursions into terrorist havens and targeted killings of terrorists serve to mollify the public. Indeed, to destroy the PA and its terrorist network would contradict the land-for-peace policy which requires what Israel’s ruling elites call a “negotiating partner.”

It will not do to say that these elites are deterred by Israel’s dependence on U.S. military aid. U.S. military aid last year was $2.28 billion, a mere 1.3% of Israel’s Gross Domestic Product. The security fence, the redeployment of the IDF after its withdrawal from Gaza, and the monetary compensation of the Jews expelled from Gaza cost far more than $2.28 billion—and all this was a direct consequence of the policy of land for peace! So, what is behind what seems like inanity and insanity? Do Israel’s ruling elites have ulterior motives unknown to the public and even to the pundits?

By ruling elites I mean, primarily the leaders of three major parties: Kadima, Lukud, and Labor. These are secular parties. They know their days are numbered. Hundreds of thousands of secularists have left Israel; and while many thousands of secularists are having abortions, the religious are having babies and will eventually gain political ascendancy.

To counteract this demographic development, the Labor Party amended the Law of Return via the “grandfather clause,” which has enabled hundreds of thousands of gentiles to become citizens of Israel and thereby diminish the power of the religious vote. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit wants to nullify the Law of Return to make Israel a normal country, a multicultural country.

This is why the Jewish content of the public school curriculum has been eviscerated. “Multiculturalism” is the order of the day, systematically implemented by the ultra-secular Supreme Court, which has ruled, contrary to Jewish law and even objective international law, that Judea, Samaria, and Gaza constitute “belligerent occupied territory.” What’s going on here?

The teachings of the Prophets of Israel, intimately related to Judea and Samaria, especially Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, were engraved in the Jewish people’s collective memory. So long as Jews remained in Judea and Samaria, most Jews in Israel would remain bonded to Judaism. This bond had to be severed; Judaism had to be emasculated and the Jewish soul deconstructed. This was the hidden purpose of Oslo’s architects. And this is not all.

To perpetuate their power, the ruling elites had to keep the people powerless. What keeps the people powerless is Israel’s parliamentary electoral system whereby members of the Knesset are not accountable to the people in constituency elections. Thus, despite democratic elections, the citizens of Israel have been effectively disenfranchised for almost 60 years! That’s why regardless of which party gains control of the government, the ruling elites continue the futile and fatal policy of territory-for-peace.