First Published: Morning Freiheit, October 5, 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Arab countries, with Syria and the P.L.O. in the lead, are mobilizing all their resources in an effort to expel Israel from the UN. At the conference of foreign ministers of the Moslem countries, held recently in Jeda, a resolution was passed to expel Israel from the community of nations. (Why an organization of Moslem countries? Is this supposed to be a new crusader’s movement? And Yassir Arafat, with his plan for a secular democratic Palestine – is he going to boycott his Moslem brethren?)
The bid to ostracize Israel was also on the agenda at the conference of the 46-member Organization of African Unity which convened at Kampala at the end of July. This move was not a surprise. It was preceded by attempts to oust Israel from various international bodies. In the case of UNESCO, the attempts succeeded. But did the suspension of Israel using greater prestige and increased activity to this organization, when hundreds of the most distinguished and talented people in the world of arts and science now boycott UNESCO?
The host of the OAU conference, president Idi Amin, hailed the Arab bid to expel “imperialist” Israel from the UN. According to his logic, the expulsion of Israel would solve all the problems of the Middle East. How fortunate mankind is to have such a wise and humane leader! Egypt was more “moderate” and suggested only the “suspension” of Israel. In the end, the Arab bloc failed to force through their suggestion of expulsion, and a watered-down resolution was adopted, with the reservations and/or opposition of five African countries: Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Liberia and Zaire.
One wonders – what is the moral validity of such resolutions and what will be their political repercussions? Although it is naive and almost out of place and date to raise moral questions regarding the proceedings in the UN, this organization does claim to represent the highest values of international justice. And who has the right to preach to Israel? – India and Pakistan, which conquer each other’s territories and create camps of millions of refugees? Or the black racist Idi Amin, who held a knife to the throat of an English professor because he dared to criticize him, and was carried through the streets of Kampala by four white businessmen? (Bar-nir, Al-Hamishmar).
We do not imply that Israel is perfect or free of fault. We have never concealed the heated arguments about the kind of Israel we envisage. But there are basic facts which nobody can deny. So far Israel has not executed even one terrorist, including those caught red-handed at the murder site: Israel has so far not annexed territories but wants to negotiate their future. When and where was ever territory returned after a war without negotiations? Even those who claimed that all the territories should be returned envisaged this act only after the signing of a peace treaty.
So much for the moral aspects but what is the political soundness and foresight of these moves against Israel? We do not intend to argue with the fanaticism of Yassir Arafat. He has always said, and continues to say, that his aim is to destroy Israel. Therefore, there is no common plane on which to argue.
One can understand tough negotiations, the desire of each side to achieve the maximum, but this constant pendulum between war blackmail and the proclamation of peace intentions does not serve any positive purpose, even from the Arab point of view. The Israeli government is an elected body in a democratic society and can negotiate and be flexible only with the support of the majority of its people. When the Arab leaders speak, we see them on the television screen and everybody can judge them for himself. The threat of the sword does not convince even the most dovish person. On the contrary, the young Israeli citizen and soldier says: if another war is unavoidable, let us have it under the best strategic conditions for us.
It is now fashionable to be anti-Israeli, because of self-interest on the one hand (oil) and a distorted image of Israel on the other. But tiny Israel is not the villain in the world. A settlement can be achieved only by mutual respect and a straightforward approach.
The near future will show in which direction the Arab countries and Sadat as the leader of the most important one, are driving – towards further negotiations, or another era of tension and the danger of war.