Sunday, April 27, 2008

Peace or real estate

By Gideon Levy

"....For that reason, we must be grateful to Assad. Because from now on we will no longer be able to make do with hollow talk about how "we are looking forward to peace" and how we are ready to hold negotiations with any Arab leader. Yesterday's slogans about the Golan such as "the country's eyes" and "strategic depth" are also no longer relevant. If Syria wants to attack Israel, it can do so with or without the Golan Heights. The issue of sovereignty is also not a matter of discussion - the entire world has passed judgment: The Golan belongs to Syria.

Thank God it is also not possible to talk about "the rights of our forefathers" when it comes to the Golan Heights. If the Golan belongs to us, well then so does the Gilead and all of Jordan - everybody considers these claims hallucinatory. The choice facing us right now, therefore, is between open spaces for hiking, wineries, bed-and-breakfasts and magnificent grazing pastures on the one hand, and the chance for a strategic peace with our most dangerous neighbor on the other.

If Israel rejects the opportunity it might get now, if the government misses this chance as well - if indeed it is a chance - then we all, both Israel and the rest of the world, will know that this is not a peace-seeking country but a real-estate-seeking country, not to mention a country that provoked war. If a handful of right-wing extremists succeed in inducing fear in the majority government, if the majority government is not successful in passing a decision favoring peace at the expense of real estate, if the Israeli mainstream does not wake up from its deep slumber and immediately begin acting with energy and determination to get the government to withdraw from the Golan in return for peace, then we will know that the extreme right rules this land......

.....Think about a border where there is peace with Syria, imagine dinner in Damascus. Conjure up in your mind a trip to Europe by car via Syria and Turkey......At least we will know we have the option of the world's best humus in the Damascus casbah. Is that not better than the option of wine from the occupied and looted Golan Heights? Does that sound hallucinatory? No more than the intimidations by the right. "

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