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TANYA REINHART (TAU, linguistics) / EVIL (ISRAEL) UNLEASHED
Indymedia, Israel
December 19, 2001
(Also in 'Tikun', US, March 2002)


EVIL UNLEASHED
Tanya Reinhart

In mainstream political discourse, Israel's recent atrocities are
described as 'retaliatory acts' - answering the last wave of
terror attacks on Israeli civilians. But in fact, this
'retaliation' had been carefully prepared long before. Already in
October 2000, at the outset of the Palestinian uprising, military
circles were ready with detailed operative plans to topple Arafat
and the Palestinian Authority. This was before the Palestinian
terror attacks started. (The first attack on Israeli civilians
was on November 3, 2000, in a market in Jerusalem). A document
prepared by the security services, at the request of then PM
Barak, stated on October 15, 2000 that "Arafat, the person, is a
severe threat to the security of the state [of Israel] and the
damage which will result from his disappearance is less than the
damage caused by his existence". (Details of the document were
published in Ma'ariv, July 6, 2001.) The operative plan, known as
'Fields of Thorns' had been prepared back in 1996, and was then
updated during the Intifada. (Amir Oren, Ha'aretz, Nov. 23,
2001). The plan includes everything that Israel has been
executing lately, and more.(1)
The political echelon for its part (Barak's circles), worked on
preparing public opinion to the toppling of Arafat. On November
20, 2000, Nahman Shai, then public-affairs coordinator of the
Barak Government, released in a meeting with the press, a 60 page
document titled "Palestinian Authority non-compliance...A record
of bad faith and misconduct". The document, informally referred
to as the "White Book", was prepared by Barak's aid, Danny
Yatom.(2) According to the "White Book", Arafat's present crime -
"orchestrating the Intifada", is just the last in a long chain of
proofs that he has never deserted the "option of violence and
'struggle'". "As early as Arafat's own speech on the White House
lawn, on September 13, 1993, there were indications that for him,
the D.O.P. [declaration of principles] did not necessarily
signify an end to the conflict. He did not, at any point,
relinquish his uniform, symbolic of his status as a revolutionary
commander" (Section 2). This uniform, incidentally, is the only
'indication' that the report cites, of Arafat's hidden
intentions, on that occasion.
A large section of the document is devoted to establishing
Arafat's "ambivalence and compliance" regarding terror. "In March
1997 there was once again more than a hint of a 'Green Light'
from Arafat to the Hamas, prior to the bombing in Tel Aviv...
This is implicit in the statement made by a Hamas-affiliated
member of Arafat's Cabinet, Imad Faluji, to an American paper
(Miami Herald, April 5, 1997)." No further hints are provided
regarding how this links Arafat to that bombing, but this is the
"green light to terror" theme which the Military Intelligence
(Ama'n) has been promoting since 1997, when its anti-Oslo line
was consolidated. This theme was since repeated again and again
by military circles, and eventually became the mantra of Israeli
propaganda - Arafat is still a terrorist and is personally
responsible for the acts of all groups, from Hamas and the
Islamic Jihad to Hizbollah.
The 'Foreign Report' (Jane's information) of July 12, 2001
disclosed that the Israeli army (under Sharon's government) has
updated its plans for an "all-out assault to smash the
Palestinian authority, force out leader Yasser Arafat and kill or
detain its army". The blueprint, titled "The Destruction of the
Palestinian Authority and Disarmament of All Armed Forces", was
presented to the Israeli government by chief of staff Shaul
Mofaz, on July 8. The assault would be launched, at the
government's discretion, after a big suicide bomb attack in
Israel, causing widespread deaths and injuries, citing the
bloodshed as justification.
Many in Israel suspect that the assassination of the Hamas
terrorist Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, just when the Hamas was respecting
for two months its agreement with Arafat not to attack inside
Israel, was designed to create the appropriate 'bloodshed
justification', at the eve of Sharon's visit to the US. (Alex
Fishman - senior security correspondent of 'Yediot' - noted that
"whoever decided upon the liquidation of Abu Hanoud knew in
advance that would be the price. The subject was extensively
discussed both by Israel's military echelon and its political
one, before it was decided to carry out the liquidation" (Yediot
Aharonot, Nov. 25, 2001)).
Israel's moves to destroy the PA, thus, cannot be viewed as a
spontaneous 'act of retaliation'. It is a calculated plan, long
in the making. The execution requires, first, weakening the
resistance of the Palestinians, which Israel has been doing
systematically since October 2000, through killing, bombarding of
infrastructure, imprisoning people in their hometowns, and
bringing them close to starvation. All this, while waiting for
the international conditions to 'ripen' for the more 'advanced'
steps of the plan.
Now the conditions seem to have 'ripened'. In the power-drunk
political atmosphere in the US, anything goes. If at first it
seemed that the US will try to keep the Arab world on its side by
some tokens of persuasion, as it did during the Gulf war, it is
now clear that they couldn't care less. US policy is no longer
based on building coalitions or investing in persuasion, but on
sheer force. The smashing 'victory' in Afghanistan has sent a
clear message to the Third-World that nothing can stop the US
from targeting any nation for annihilation. They seem to believe
that the most sophisticated weapons of the twenty-first century,
combined with total absence of any considerations of moral
principles, international law, or public opinion, can sustain
them as the sole rulers of the world forever. From now on, fear
should be the sufficient condition for obedience.
The US hawks, who push to expand the war to Iraq and further,
view Israel as an asset. There are few regimes in the world like
Israel, so eager to risk the life of their citizens for some new
regional war. As Prof. Alain Joxe, head of the French CIRPES
(peace and strategic studies) has put it in Le Monde, "the
American leadership is presently shaped by dangerous right wing
Southern extremists, who seek to use Israel as an offensive tool
to destabilize the whole Middle East area" (December 17, 2001).
The same hawks are also talking about expanding the future war
zone to targets on Israel's agenda, like Hizbollah and Syria.
Under these circumstances, Sharon got his green light in
Washington. As the Israeli media keeps raving, "Bush is fed up
with this character [Arafat]", "Powell said that Arafat must stop
with his lies" (Barnea and Schiffer, 'Yediot', December 7, 2001).
As Arafat hides in his Bunker, Israeli F-16 bombers plough the
sky, and Israel's brutality is generating, every day, new
desperate human bombs, the US, accompanied for a while by the
European Union, keep urging Arafat to "act".
* * *
But what is the rationale behind Israel's systematic drive to
eliminate the Palestinian Authority and undo the Oslo
arrangements? It certainly cannot be based on 'disappointment'
with Arafat's performance, as is commonly claimed. The fact of
the matter is that from the perspective of Israel's interests in
maintaining the occupation, Arafat did fulfill Israel's
expectations all these last years.
As far as Israeli security goes, there is nothing further from
the truth than the fake accusations in the "White Book", or
subsequent Israeli propaganda. To take just one example, in 1997
- the year mentioned in the "White Book" as an instance of
Arafat's "green light to terror" - a 'security agreement' was
signed between Israel and the Palestinian authority, under the
auspices of the head of the Tel Aviv station of the CIA, Stan
Muskovitz. The agreement commits the PA to take active care of
the security of Israel - to fight "the terrorists, the terrorist
base, and the environmental conditions leading to support of
terror" in cooperation with Israel, including "mutual exchange of
information, ideas, and military cooperation" (clause 1).
[Translated from the Hebrew text, Ha'aretz December 12, 1997].
Arafat's security services carried out this job faithfully, with
assassinations of Hamas terrorists (disguised as 'accidents'),
and arrests of Hamas political leaders.(3)
Ample information was published in the Israeli media regarding
these activities, and 'security sources' were full of praises for
Arafat's achievements. E.g. Ami Ayalon, then head of the Israeli
secret service (Shab'ak), announced, in the government meeting on
April 5, 1998 that "Arafat is doing his job - he is fighting
terror and puts all his weight against the Hamas" (Ha'aretz,
April 6, 1998). The rate of success of the Israeli security
services in containing terror was never higher than that of
Arafat; in fact, much lower.
In left and critical circles, one can hardly find compassion for
Arafat's personal fate (as opposed to the tragedy of the
Palestinian people). As David Hirst writes in The Guardian, when
Arafat returned to the occupied territories, in 1994, "he came as
collaborator as much as liberator. For the Israelis, security -
theirs, not the Palestinians' - was the be-all and end-all of
Oslo. His job was to supply it on their behalf. But he could only
sustain the collaborator's role if he won the political quid pro
quo which, through a series of 'interim agreements' leading to
'final status', was supposedly to come his way. He never could...
[Along the road], he acquiesced in accumulating concessions that
only widened the gulf between what he was actually achieving and
what he assured his people he would achieve, by this method, in
the end. He was Mr. Palestine still, with a charisma and
historical legitimacy all his own. But he was proving to be
grievously wanting in that other great and complementary task,
building his state-in-the-making. Economic misery, corruption,
abuse of human rights, the creation of a vast apparatus of
repression - all these flowed, wholly or in part, from the
Authority over which he presided." (Hirst, "Arafat's last stand?"
(The Guardian, December 14, 2001).
But from the perspective of the Israeli occupation, all this
means that the Oslo plan was, essentially, successful. Arafat did
manage, through harsh means of oppression, to contain the
frustration of his people, and guarantee the safety of the
settlers, as Israel continued undisturbed to build new
settlements and appropriate more Palestinian land. The oppressive
machinery - the various security forces of Arafat - were formed
and trained in collaboration with Israel. Much energy and
resources were put into building this complex Oslo apparatus. It
is often admitted that the Israeli security forces cannot manage
to prevent terror any better than Arafat can. Why, then, was the
military and political echelon so determined to destroy all this
already in October 2000, even before the terror waves started?
Answering this requires some look at the history.
* * *
Right from the start of the 'Oslo process', in September 1993,
two conceptions were competing in the Israeli political and
military system. The one, led by Yosi Beilin, was striving to
implement some version of the Alon plan, which the Labor party
has been advocating for years. The original plan consisted of
annexation of about 35% of the territories to Israel, and either
Jordanian-rule, or some form of self-rule for the rest - the land
on which the Palestinians actually live. In the eyes of its
proponents, this plan represented a necessary compromise,
compared to the alternatives of either giving up the territories
altogether, or eternal blood-shed (as we witness today). It
appeared that Rabin was willing to follow this line, at least at
the start, and that in return for Arafat's commitment to control
the frustration of his people and guarantee the security of
Israel, he would allow the PA to run the enclaves in which the
Palestinians still reside, in some form of self-rule, which may
even be called a Palestinian 'state'.
But the other pole objected even to that much. This was mostly
visible in military circles, whose most vocal spokesman in the
early years of Oslo was then Chief of Staff, Ehud Barak. Another
center of opposition was, of course, Sharon and the extreme
right-wing, who were against the Oslo process from the start.
This affinity between the military circles and Sharon is hardly
surprising. Sharon - the last of the leaders of the '1948
generation', was a legendary figure in the army, and many of the
generals were his disciples, like Barak. As Amir Oren wrote,
"Barak's deep and abiding admiration for Ariel Sharon's military
insights is another indication of his views; Barak and Sharon
both belong to a line of political generals that started with
Moshe Dayan" (Ha'aretz, January 8, 1999).
This breed of generals was raised on the myth of redemption of
the land. A glimpse into this worldview is offered in Sharon's
interview with Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz, weekend supplement, April
13, 2001). Everything is entangled into one romantic framework:
the fields, the blossom of the orchards, the plough and the wars.
The heart of this ideology is the sanctity of the land. In a 1976
interview, Moshe Dayan, who was the defense minister in 1967,
explained what led, then, to the decision to attack Syria. In the
collective Israeli consciousness of the period, Syria was
conceived as a serious threat to the security of Israel, and a
constant initiator of aggression towards the residents of
northern Israel. But according to Dayan, this is "bull-shit" -
Syria was not a threat to Israel before 67: "Just drop it... I
know how at least 80% of all the incidents with Syria started. We
were sending a tractor to the demilitarized zone and we knew that
the Syrians would shoot." According to Dayan (who at a time of
the interview confessed some regrets), what led Israel to provoke
Syria this way was the greediness for the land - the idea that it
is possible "to grab a piece of land and keep it, until the enemy
will get tired and give it to us" (Yediot Aharonot, April 27
1997)
At the eve of Oslo, the majority of the Israeli society was tired
of wars. In their eyes, the fights over land and resources were
over. Most Israelis believe that the 1948 Independence War, with
its horrible consequences for the Palestinians, was necessary to
establish a state for the Jews, haunted by the memory of the
Holocaust. But now that they have a state, they long to just live
normally with whatever they have. However, the ideology of the
redemption of land has never died out in the army, or in the
circles of the 'political generals', who switched from the army
to the government. In their eyes, Sharon's alternative of
fighting the Palestinians to the bitter end and imposing new
regional orders - as he tried in Lebanon in 1982 - may have
failed because of the weakness of the spoiled Israeli society.
But given the new war-philosophy established in Iraq, Kosovo and
Afghanistan, they believe that with the massive superiority of
the Israeli air force, it may still be possible to win this
battle in the future.
While Sharon's party was in the opposition at the time of Oslo,
Barak, as Chief of Staff, participated in the negotiations and
played a crucial role in shaping the agreements, and Israel's
attitude to the Palestinian Authority.
I quote from an article I wrote in February 1994, because it
reflects what anybody who read carefully the Israeli media could
see at the time: "From the start, it has been possible to
identify two conceptions that underlie the Oslo process. One is
that this will enable to reduce the cost of the occupation, using
a Palestinian patronage regime, with Arafat as the senior cop
responsible for the security of Israel. The other is that the
process should lead to the collapse of Arafat and the PLO. The
humiliation of Arafat, and the amplification of his surrender,
will gradually lead to loss of popular support. Consequently, the
PLO will collapse, or enter power conflicts. Thus, the
Palestinian society will loose its secular leadership and
institutions. In the power driven mind of those eager to maintain
the Israeli occupation, the collapse of the secular leadership is
interpreted as an achievement, because it would take a long while
for the Palestinian people to get organized again, and, in any
case, it is easier to justify even the worst acts of oppression,
when the enemy is a fanatic Muslim organization. Most likely, the
conflict between the two competing conceptions is not settled
yet, but at the moment, the second seems more dominant: In order
to carry out the first, Arafat's status should have been
strengthened, with at least some achievements that could generate
support of the Palestinians, rather than Israel's policy of
constant humiliation and breach of promises."(4)
Nevertheless, the scenario of the collapse of the PA did not
materialize. The Palestinian society resorted once more to their
marvelous strategy of 'sumud' - sticking to the land and
sustaining the pressure. Right from the start, the Hamas
political leadership, and others, were warning that Israel is
trying to push the Palestinians into a civil war, in which the
nation slaughters itself. All fragments of the society cooperated
to prevent this danger, and calm conflicts as soon as they were
deteriorating to arms. They also managed, despite the tyranny of
Arafat's rule, to build an impressive amount of institutions and
infrastructure. The PA does not consist only of the corrupt
rulers and the various security forces. The elected Palestinian
council, which operates under endless restrictions, is still a
representative political framework, some basis for democratic
institutions in the future. For those whose goal is the
destruction of the Palestinian identity and the eventual
redemption of their land, Oslo was a failure.
In 1999, the army got back to power, through the 'political
generals' - first Barak, and then Sharon. (They collaborated in
the last elections to guarantee that no other, civil, candidate
will be allowed to run.) The road opened to correct what they
view as the grave mistake of Oslo. In order to get there, it was
first necessary to convince the spoiled Israeli society that the
Palestinians are not willing to live in peace and are threatening
our mere existence. Sharon alone could not have possibly achieved
that, but Barak did succeed, with his 'generous offer' fraud.
After a year of horrible terror attacks, combined with massive
propaganda and lies, Sharon and the army feel that nothing can
stop them from turning to full execution.
Why is it so urgent for them to topple Arafat? Shabtai Shavit,
former head of the Security Service ('Mossad'), who is not bound
by restraints posed on official sources, explains this openly:
"In the thirty something years that he [Arafat] leads, he managed
to reach real achievements in the political and international
sphere... He got the Nobel peace prize, and in a single phone
call, he can obtain a meeting with every leader in the world.
There is nobody in the Palestinian gallery that can enter his
shoes in this context of international status. If they [the
Palestinians] will loose this gain, for us, this is a huge
achievement. The Palestinian issue will get off the international
agenda." (interview in Yediot's Weekend Supplement, December 7,
2001).
Their immediate goal is to get the Palestinians off the
international agenda, so slaughter, starvation, forced evacuation
and 'migration' can continue undisturbed, leading, possibly, to
the final realization of Sharon's long standing vision, embodied
in the military plans. The immediate goal of anybody concerned
with the future of the world, should be to halt this process of
evil unleashed. As Alain Joxe concluded his article in Le Monde,
"It is time for the Western public opinion to take over and to
compel the governments to take a moral and political stand facing
the foreseen disaster, namely a situation of permanent war
against the Arab and Muslim people and states - the realization
of the double phantasy of Bin Laden and Sharon" (December 17,
2001).
============
(1) For the details of this operative plan, see Anthony
Cordesman, "Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians A
second Intifada?" Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS) December 2000, and it summary in Shraga Eilam, "Peace With
Violence or Transfer", 'Between The Lines', December 2000.

(2) The document can be found in:
http://www.gamla.org.il/english/feature/intro.htm

(3) For a survey on some of the PA's assassinations of Hamas
terrorists, see my article "The A-Sherif affair", 'Yediot
Aharonot', April 14, 1998,
http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart/political/A_Sharif.html

(4) The article (in Hebrew only) can be found in:
http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart/political/01GovmntObstacleToPeace.doc


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