OpinionMiddle East

The confused Jewish left now denounces Oslo Accords

They never really cared whether Yasser Arafat ever fulfilled his obligations, including fighting terrorism or halting Palestinian incitement.

Palestinian politician Ahmed Qurie, also known as Abu Ala, and Yossi Beilin, a former Labor Party negotiator involved in the Oslo Accords, in a meeting on June 5, 2004. Photo by Flash90.
Palestinian politician Ahmed Qurie, also known as Abu Ala, and Yossi Beilin, a former Labor Party negotiator involved in the Oslo Accords, in a meeting on June 5, 2004. Photo by Flash90.
Moshe Phillips
Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.  

You know the American Jewish left is deeply confused when its leaders start denouncing the Oslo Accords, which they themselves helped create. But that’s exactly what just happened.

Partners for Progressive Israel, the longtime U.S. support group for Israel’s Meretz Party, sent out a mailing on Oct. 17 that featured a remarkable statement by its past executive director, Ron Skolnik.

Skolnik asserted that “the legacy spirit of the Oslo Accords … while reciting the lyrics of peace, ultimately amplified the tune of separateness and segregation, which inevitably led to othering and dehumanization.”

Is he kidding?

And who was responsible for creating and promoting those accords, with all their “segregation” and “dehumanization”? Why, it was none other than Skolnik’s own Israeli partners, Meretz and its allies.

The far-left Meretz, in its various incarnations, has always been on the fringe of Israeli society. It reached its peak in 1992, winning 12 Knesset seats in that year’s election. Twelve is only 10% of the Knesset, but that was Meretz’s high point—and it put them in a position of influence.

Suddenly, Meretz was the second-largest party in Yitzhak Rabin’s governing coalition. With its 12 Knesset members, Meretz had four ministers and two deputy cabinet ministers. Their voices were heard in every cabinet meeting, in every discussion with the prime minister and throughout the media.

Rabin’s close aide Yossi Beilin was one of the main architects of the Oslo agreements. A few years later, Beilin illustrated his true colors and joined Meretz, serving as its chairman and representing it in the Knesset.

The other Oslo architects, such as Ron Pundak, were also much beloved in Meretz. When Pundak passed away, Meretz chairwoman Zahava Gal-On called him “one of the greatest peace advocates Israel has ever known.”

So Meretz thought that the Oslo Accords were wonderful. But today, Meretz’s chief American backers are telling us that Oslo promotes segregation.

Just what happened?

What happened was that Meretz loved the Oslo Accords and pushed Rabin to accept it because PLO leader Yasser Arafat loved it. Arafat saw it as the way to bring about a sovereign “Palestine” state, and Meretz’s rule of thumb has always been to support whatever the Palestinian Arab leadership demands.

Arafat got out of the Oslo Accords all that he could—control over 40% of Judea and Samaria, and almost all of the Gaza Strip. And a Palestinian Arab army disguised as a “security force” and terrorists released from Israeli prisons as “gestures.” Not to mention billions of dollars in U.S. and international aid.

Once Arafat pocketed those concessions, he lost interest in the Oslo Accords. It didn’t serve his purposes any longer. So Meretz’s American supporters lost interest in the accords as well. They never really cared whether Arafat ever fulfilled his obligations, including fighting terrorism or halting Palestinian incitement.

They just kept echoing his demands, and when Arafat died, the Meretz crowd began echoing the demands made by his successor, Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. No matter how many times Abbas has publicly denied the Holocaust, no matter how often the related Fatah movement and powers that be in Ramallah boast about carrying out anti-Israel terrorism, Meretz and its supporters in the United States stand by him.

 So that’s how we have reached the point of Partners for Progressive Israel calling the Oslo Accords an instrument of “segregation” and “dehumanization.”

These are troubled and confusing times for the Jewish left. Meretz has so little support among Israeli voters that it didn’t win a single seat in the last Knesset elections. The Oslo Accords, which Meretz said would bring peace, did nothing of the sort. And the Palestinian Arabs, whom they told us to trust, are now beheading Jewish babies.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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