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State Games

Dec 29, 2011 by

Moshe Feiglin

By Moshe Feiglin –

Last Thursday, a major simulation exercise was held at the prestigious Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliyah. The exercise, which was impressively and professionally planned, attempted to examine how Israel would respond and what would happen in the event of the following scenario:

More and more countries join with those that have already declared their recognition of a “Palestinian” state in the 1967 borders. The issue is brought to vote in the UN, which votes by a large majority to establish the “Palestinian” state. In two days, the UN Security Council will convene to ratify or reject the decision.

The simulation exercise examined those two critical days. Tens of the most senior experts in academia, security, media and politics in Israel, represented all the major players in the “game” to the best of their ability. Former Israel ambassador to Washington Zalman Shoval acted as Obama, surrounded by additional experts on American policy. The Arab states, the European Union, China. Russia, the “Palestinian” Authority and even Al Qaidah were portrayed in the most professional and authentic way possible. Former Mossad Chief Shabtai Shavit acted the part of Israel’s Prime Minister. MK Einat Wilef of Ehud Barak’s Atzmaut faction acted as the Defense Minister while Efi Eitam played Foreign Minister Lieberman. Military Correspondent Alon Ben David acted as the Chief of Staff. I (Moshe Feiglin) represented the ideological Right in the government.

Immediately at the start of the urgent cabinet meeting, it became clear that the strategy that motivated the PM (and apparently, would motivate him in reality) was to attempt to keep doing the same thing. In other words, to return to the negotiating table. Lieberman adopted the same position, as did, of course, Ehud Barak. The difference between the two (Eitam and Wilef) was that Lieberman wanted to negotiate as a delaying tactic while Barak wanted to negotiate with the genuine intention to retreat.

I tried to convince the PM that his more-of-the-same-game was irrelevant. “The world is sick of our pointless initiatives, it already made a unilateral decision, we must make a historical decision and this crisis can actually create great opportunity,” I said.

“What do you mean?” the PM asked.
“If they made a unilateral decision, so can we,” I answered. “We must announce immediately that we are declaring our sovereignty over all the areas controlled by the IDF.

Not surprisingly, my proposal was rejected. The PM was called out time and again to meet with Obama and ultimately managed to attain a postponement of one half year until the Security Council decision – on the condition that he would immediately embark upon meaningful negotiations.

In his remarks, Professor Uriel Reichman said that the simulation proves that Israel must never reach the point at which the nations of the world decide for us upon the establishment of a “Palestinian” state. His logical conclusion was that we most embark upon our own political initiative. In other words, we must retreat of our own will before we are forced to retreat.

Efi Eitam claimed just the opposite. It became clear during the simulation that all the countries concerned – including China and Russia – were afraid to force a unilateral solution on Israel. The proof? Despite the overwhelming majority in the UN, the Security Council decided to postpone its decision and to allow Israel additional time.

I was also surprised by how apprehensive the world was about forcing Israel to implement unilateral actions. Apparently, we are considered to be much stronger than we think. Despite the fact that my proposal was rejected, it worried all the countries in the simulation.

At the end of the simulation, the top-notch experts and policy-makers gathered for summaries. All of them were of the opinion that Israel must continue with the political process. All of them but one.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” I opened my concluding remarks, “most of our time today was spent with our response to events. We encountered more and more trees until we forgot – or perhaps we never understood – what forest we live in. The scenario prepared for us by the Interdisciplinary Center has already taken place in reality. The question of the Land of Israel has already been raised at the UN. It was in February 1947, when England transferred its mandate on the Land of Israel to the United Nations. On that occasion, British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin (of White Paper fame) explained the root of the conflict to the nations of the world:

The purpose of the Jews in the Land of Israel,’ Bevin explained, ‘is to establish a Jewish State. The purpose of the Arabs, by contrast, is to oppose Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine – until the very end.’

Nothing has changed since Bevin defined the goals of the two sides in 1947. Never in human history has any ethnic group received so much aid from the four corners of the earth – including from Israel – to establish a state. And that state has not been established. It has not been established because it is not the goal of the Arabs living here to establish it. Their goal is to oppose Jewish sovereignty in any part of the Land.

The basic assumption of all those present today is that since they want a state and since Israel has unfortunately already agreed to this state in principle, this shared will must dovetail at some point on our common ground. But that common ground is imaginary. It does not exist. The Arabs are in an entirely different space. The Jews are from Venus, the Arabs from Mars.

Why then, do the Arabs continue to conduct the “peace process” with Israel? Why do they always demand a state? Because although they do not want peace, they do want the peace process. The peace process serves the purpose defined by Ernest Bevin 64 years ago. When Israel negotiates over retreat, it admits that it exists on land that is not hers. With that starting point, loss of international legitimacy is simply a matter of time. The Arabs do not need to fight us with weapons. All they need is to conduct incessant negotiations with us, while in the background, the sands in the hour glass of our existential legitimacy continue to run out.

If we do not wish to reach the point at which the world will feel secure enough to impose its will upon us, we must take advantage of the first opportunity to jump from the train; we can already see its final destination on the horizon. We must turn to a new path based on the justice of our existence in the Land of Israel.

The conflict between Israel and the Arabs is not fueled by Arab despair. It is fueled by the hope of our collapse. Negotiations stoke the flames of those hopes. Our strong stand for our faith will douse Arab hopes and open the road to normal life for both sides.”

My words evoked a stormy debate. The experts had a hard time departing from their basic assumptions. But the many graduate students allowed to observe the simulation were very interested, and flooded me with questions. It is encouraging to see that Israel’s younger generation is open to thinking out of the box dictated by its elders.

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