The Golem Heights Of Olmert's Presumption
by Hugh Fitzgerald (June 2008) Imagine another war, for there will be another war of the Arabs against
The Golem of Hebrew legend is a creature who is formed of inanimate clay, but is wonder-working and beneficent. However, in modern Hebrew slang the word “golem” is used, presumably because only the “made from inanimate clay” part is implicated, to refer to someone who is stupid, who is a fool.
It is hard to believe that at this moment Ehud Olmert, the current Prime Minister of Israel, whose popularity level is below 10%, who is widely seen has having been responsible for unnecessary Israeli casualties toward the end of the 2006 war against Hezbollah, who is now under investigation – as he has been so often in his life – for suspected corruption, and who is, therefore, pulling a Sharon, attempting to divert attention from his legal troubles, or at least win some temporary popularity for his putative peace-making, by agreeing to discuss the possibility of handing back the Golan Heights to Syria.
Yet we now hear that this awful Israeli government, with so many confused and incapable people (save for the one good appointment Olmert did make, which was Daniel Friedmann as Minister of Justice, for Friedmann has decided to rein in the runaway Israeli Supreme Court, which Aharon Barak taught to go off on frolics and detours of its own, whenever it felt like it) has for months been having “indirect talks in Turkey” with Syria. On Al-Jazeera the Syrian Information Minister, Muhsin Bilal, claims:
"We received commitments and messages from the Israeli government and the Israeli prime minister that guarantee, via the Turks, that he knows what the Syrians want….He knows that the whole of the Golan Heights will be returned to Syria and that Israel will withdraw to the lines of 4 June 1967."
Amazing, isn’t it, that at this very moment, when the Druse who live in and near the Golan, on both sides of the border, are because of the spectacle of Hezbollah’s repeated attacks on the Druse in Lebanon, attacks presumably supported by Hezbollah’s supporter Syria, are most likely to be receptive to the idea of permanently choosing Israel as the state they prefer to hold the Golan, that at this point Olmert and Livni choose to let out news of their “discussions” with Syria.
There are, as there always are, clearer heads. In
And two-thirds of the Israeli public opposes the surrender of what is now part of
But there are those who, despite all the evidence of all the negotiations, and all the peace-processsing, and all the treaties, that Israel has ever been party to, that somehow this negotiation, and this peace-processing, and this obvious “truce” treaty (even if it is wrongly identified as a “peace treaty”), will lead to a different result than what the long catalogue of Israeli folly in such matters suggests will be the inevitable result.
Oh, it would get a promise, by the trustworthy Syrian government, to end its support of Hezbollah. But how likely is it that that promise would be kept? Doesn’t the Syrian elite depend for its wellbeing on what it can milk from cash-cow
To suggest that the Alawites, who make up 12% of the population, and who have been collaborating so closely with Iran in supporting Hezbollah partly because they feel they need the legitimacy, as Muslims, that Iranian approval – and an Iranian cleric’s fatwa – help to supply – why would they endanger this, by leaving the camp of anti-Israel stalwarts?
It makes no sense. It would open the Alawites up to new charges. Now, they would not merely be seen as pseudo-Muslims, with their syncretistic cult of Mary. Now they would be seen, if they ceased to be part of the anti-Israel camp – and obviously that is what Olmert and Livni think they can achieve by handing over the Golan – as not merely quasi-Muslims, but clearly as enemies, and the fact that on Christmas and Good Friday government offices close in Syria would suggest that those Alawites are crypto-Christians, and the Ikhwan, supported by Saudi-financed television channels, could make life impossible for Syria.
And there is one more terrible thing. Israel did not, as it had every right to do under the laws of war, keep the Sinai, but gave to Saint Sadat territory that he, and much of the world, treated as “sacred Egyptian territory” even though most of it did not become part of Egypt until the 1920s (see, on this, the discussion in the Diary of Col. Richard Meinertzhagen, and his map of the Sinai). Israel still acts as if it does not have a perfect right, under the Palestine Mandate and under Resolution 242, to hold onto all of the “West Bank” and, if it so wishes – but obviously it does not wish – Gaza. But about two places – the Golan Heights, and the Old City of Jerusalem – the Israeli government, and people, of
In the death throes of his terrible tenure, in his awful administration, if Ehud Olmert were – in defiance of the overwhelming will of the people and of common sense – to suggest an Israeli willingness to give up what all former Israeli governments, once the annexation of the Golan nad taken place, maintained would never be given up, was no longer subject to negotiation, then what would happen with the Old City of Jerusalem? The Arabs are quick to focus on precedents. They took the surrender to Saint Sadat of the entire Sinai as a precedent, and in their view a conclusive one, for the future surrender of other territories won in the Six-Day War, a war of self-defense. And they will not drop it.
There may be, there sometimes is, an argument for assisted suicide. But that happens in the case of individuals, in physical torment.
Imagine another war, for there will be another war of the Arabs against
And he quotes Dore Gold: "In a world in which Iran is on the march and extending its influence from
But, having given that side its due, in true Times fashion, he gives more weight to those who think what Olmert is doing is just the ticket:
"On the other hand, many other [how many other?] Israeli officials and analysts see great benefits for
And he ends with this, that is not attributed to the beliefs of "many others" but stated, as if it were a fact of which we have all taken judicial notice:
A real peace treaty with
Let's see if we agree with Ethan Bonner that pulling
It would be a "major victory for
It is not obvious at all that
But this is stated, as accepted truth, in the course of what is, after all, supposed to be a report, by a reporter, whose job is one of telling the readers about this Israel-Syria negotiation is taking place, and what may be its subject, and the varying opinions of Israelis on the notion of giving back the Golan. His job is not to tell readers of the Times that if the negotations are successful, and Israel gives up the Golan Heights this will, of course, "pull Syria out of the orbit of Iran and return it to the more pro-Western world of Egypt, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia" and "would be a major victory for Israel. "
This is not gospel truth. This is a guess, and not an educated one either, from a reporter who, like so many reporters for the Times, does not know the meaning of the phrase ultra vires.
He could look it up.
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