Shmuel Katz: â€œHearing is Believingâ€� on Israelâ€™s Peace Treaty with Egypt
Israel Egypt Border Fence
Don’t count on the survival of the 33 year old Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt. The likely Presidential victory of Mohammed Morsi , the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in Egypt may not be stopped by the ‘soft coup’ of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Cairo. Just look at the recent Sinai terrorist attack on the work party building a barrier along Israel’s southern border with Egypt. Three terrorists and one Israeli contractor were killed, while another Israeli was wounded. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak noted in a Jerusalem Postarticle set against the backdrop of Egypt’s Presidential runoff elections:
We expect the President to take responsibility for all of Egypt's international commitments including the peace treaty with Israel and to ensure security arrangements are in place in the Sinai to stop these kinds of attacks.
There are a lot of Israel’s supporters, myself included, who viewed the Egyptian Peace Treaty, negotiated between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Jimmy Carter at Camp David in 1979 as a capitulation of Israel’s strategic depth. The Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai is ill equipped to monitor increasing al Qaeda and Palestinian terrorist activity. If SCAF fails to survive or checkmate a Muslim Brotherhood regime, you can bet on who loses the strategic high ground. Therefore Israel will proceed with completion of the security fence between the two countries.
Shmuel Katz 1914 to 2008
David Isaac of Americans For a Safe Israel reminds us of someone who opposed his friend Israeli PM Menachem Begin’s conclusion of the 1979 Camp David Accords, Shmuel Katz (1914-2008). Katz had been a personal advisor to Begin, but publicly broke with him over the Peace Treaty with Egypt. Katz was in the High Command of the Irgun during the War for Independence and like Begin was a member of the first Knesset. Katz, a South African by origin, came to the pre-State Palestine in the 1930’s, a supporter of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism. Jabotinsky urged Katz to go to London in 1940 to edit the Jewish Standard that espoused raising a Jewish army to fight the Nazis. Katz returned to Palestine in 1946 to assume a top role in the Irgun, The Revisionist Zionist militia. Katz had a multifaceted career as a journalist, author, historian, and political activist. Katz was the author of Battleground: Fact and Fantasy in Palestine, Lone Wolf: A Biography of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky and The Aaronsohn Saga.
Isaac noted in his blog post, “Hearing is Believing” Katz’s opposition to the 1979 Camp David Accords and relevance today:
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Israelis Cling to Faith in Peace Treaty,” reports that many Israeli officials “are finding solace in the view” that the peace pact with Egypt will hold despite the advent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This is startling given the September 2011 ransacking of the Israeli embassy by Egyptian rioters, the incessant calls by Brotherhood leaders to liberate the al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, and the vaporization of Israel’s natural-gas supply from Egypt.
Shmuel gave up on the Egypt-Israel treaty 35 years ago, right from its inception, and he publicly warned about its dangers throughout the years. A mere three months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem, Shmuel wrote:
If there had not in the past three months been other sufficient indications, then Sadat’s angry refusal to make microscopic “concessions” in territory where Egypt has had no sovereignty, which is certainly not “sacred” and which is of no importance to Egyptian security — but which is important for an attack on Israel — are enough to demonstrate that this man does not envisage peace with Israel but (in the words of the Prime Minister) peace without Israel. (“From No-Man’s Land to ‘Sacred Soil,”The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 28, 1978):
It seems Israeli officialdom is still playing catch-up. Why was Shmuel able to see the treaty for what it was while so many Israelis were not? Was he like a prophet of old, divinely gifted with second sight?
Shmuel would have been amused. The only difference between Shmuel and so many Israelis is that, unlike them, he didn’t replace thinking with wishful thinking. And, he listened. As Shmuel said in an episode of “Firing Line” (April 1, 1979):
I don’t think that the question is primarily one of an article in an agreement. I am looking at what is being said in the periphery of the agreement by Egyptian spokesmen. … Now as far as the intentions of Sadat are concerned, I believe what he says. You can’t ignore the fact that when you’ve had a peace process or negotiations going on for a whole year, that just as you’re about to sign the treaty, one side says, “I’m not signing unless I am given the right to go to war,” and then say you don’t take it seriously.
Representing the other side in this “Firing Line” debate was Prof. Shlomo Avineri of Hebrew University, who dismissed Shmuel’s example of what Egyptian spokesmen were saying as mere “rhetoric.”
Paying no mind to what the Arabs say continues today. Indeed, it’s necessary if the fiction of a peace treaty is to be maintained. The Wall Street Journal article mentioned above quotes Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national-security adviser, as saying, “I don’t think we should see a dramatic change in the strategic policy of Egypt in the future no matter who is elected and no matter how blunt the statements by this future president might be.” Not only is Mr. Eiland discounting past statements, he’s conveniently brushing off future ones as well.
Sadat not only ensured for his nation the removal of Israel’s effective security belt — down to the last grain of sand and the last Jew — which would protect it in a future war, but, despite Begin’s protestations, he also in fact achieved (by the addendum to Clause Six of the Peace Treaty) adequate formal legitimization for joining a future all-Arab war against Israel, under whatever pretext may then be available to Egypt.
That war has yet to come. But Shmuel never pretended to know when. He just knew it would come.