Had a pretty interesting - and equally disturbing - conversation with former Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel this morning about what Israel's options are in the political and international arena, now that the International Court of Justice at The Hague has ruled that the security barrier has to go - no matter what's blowing up, no matter what the security needs.
"Part of the public in many countries in the world sees terrorism against Israel as legitimate," Liel, told me, continuing, "So when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declares that Sunday's fatal terrorist attack in Tel Aviv is the first casualty of the ICJ, people say, 'you deserve those casualties.'"
Simple as that.
As the French ambassador to Great Britain might have said: "You pesky Jews from that shitty little country causing all the world's trouble, you deserve terrorism." Now, don't misunderstand, Liel wasn't speaking for himself - but rather paraphrasing the gist of attitudes he's apparently running into over there on the Continent, openly and commonly enough to warrant offering in an interview.
"If we can get the Labor Party to join a unity government, it will be easier to convince the world that this is a step towards peace. I see this as a key. Because as long as there is no sign that Israel is going back towards peace talks, the indifference to Israeli casualties will continue. And we can yell and scream and less and less of the world will care, because they see our presence in Gaza and the West bank as illegitimate to begin with. So if you have casualties as a result of an illegitimate move -- and now the fence is illegitimate, 'so have casualties - it's your problem. We've told you what to do -- so don't come crying to us now.'"
What perplexes me is how Liel, a polished, veteran diplomat and co-author of the Geneva Accords (that, by the way, had their fair day in the sun here, were feted by the media - and were soundly dismissed by major sectors of Israelis, not to mention being given the heave-ho by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon) responded to those sorts of malicious, cruel sentiments. Did he stand up for Israel, indignantly take umbrage, turn and walk away?
Well, ahh, not according to what's been written about the Geneva Accords signing ceremony in Steven Plaut's sly update of "Cat in the Hat."
So I don't know the answer to that one, but Liel did say offer that “Israel should... convince the world -- and it’s not easy, by the way -- that this disengagement plan is very painful for Israel, that it’s a step towards the resumption of peace talks."
"convince the world -- and it’s not easy, by the way"
Yeahright. As if nearly a thousand dead, thousands more maimed and wounded, a teetering economy and worrisome chattering class noises of civil conflict didn't make the point clear enough already.
“It is not enough to just put out a statement and send photos of the last terror attack. It will not, in my mind, change anything -- nothing substantial. What can change things substantially is a political move and more coordination with the international community.”
Anyway, here is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs response page on the issue, and here's a thoughtful take in Ha'aretz, surprisingly enough, on the barrier/fence/wall rollercoaster, a ride will gain steam and speed en route to the United Nations via the Palestinians and as Labor Party Chairman Shimon Peres and Sharon wrangle every freakin' kilometer of the route laying track to a Unity Government.