Soviet dissident Sharansky blames Oslo Accords for new war, dusts off earlier proposal

by WorldTribune Staff, October 31, 2023

Soon after Hamas claimed 500 people died in an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza hospital, a story that was amplified by The New York Times, anti-Israel demonstrations intensified worldwide. Some continued to hold this view even after proof emerged that the deaths (far fewer than 500) and damage were caused by an errant rocket fired by Palestinian terrorists.

Why does Israel never get the benefit of the doubt?

“The simplest answer is to say that that’s anti-Semitism,” Israeli politician and human-rights advocate Natan Sharansky told the Wall Street Journal’s Tunku Varadarajan in an Oct. 27 report. Israel is seldom denounced in good faith, Sharansky said, but instead is subjected to the “three Ds”: demonization, double standards and delegitimization.

The ideology holds that “the oppressed are always right, and that resistance to oppressors is always legitimate,” Sharansky said. Intellectuals, academics and college leaders “refuse to call the most primitive act of anti-Semitism by its name,” and instead dignify the Hamas murders as a form of “anticolonial” struggle.

What about the Palestinians? Aren’t they oppressed?

“Well, I would say that Palestinian people are oppressed by the ruthless dictators and terrorists who rule over them,” Sharansky said. “And the free world—including some of my leaders, in my own country — are accomplices. If there is one crime against the Palestinians to which Israel should plead guilty it is the Oslo Agreement” — the peace accord Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed in 1993.

Sharansky, who was once the best-known refusenik — a name for Soviet Jews who were denied permission to emigrate to Israel, abhors the Oslo Agreement, which is still regarded in some circles as the touchstone of Israeli-Palestinian compromise. The agreement handed control of Palestinian land to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority in the belief that he would be able to subdue Hamas.

“I’m not against compromises with the Palestinians,” Sharansky said. “I’ve said I’m for a two-state solution from the moment I came to Israel. I want Palestinians to have the same rights as I, but they should never have an opportunity to destroy me.”

At Oslo, Israel foisted “a ruthless dictator on the Palestinians. We told them, ‘Like it or not, he will be your leader.’ With [Bill] Clinton and all the free world, we gave Arafat the power to destroy all the beginnings of freedom of the Palestinian people and helped build a generation of haters,” Sharansky said, adding it’s “absolutely ridiculous” that a “fifth generation” of Palestinians lives in refugee camps, but he says “their leaders are to blame. And the free world, that gives money to these leaders — a lot of money.”

Sharansky believes Israel’s security can be assured only by a free Palestinian society, in which people “enjoy a normal life, normal freedom, the opportunity to vote and have their own human rights.” In “The Case for Democracy” (2004), he wrote: “I remain convinced that a neighbor who tramples on the rights of its own people will eventually threaten the security of my people.” The book was published a year before Israel “disengaged” from the Gaza Strip, withdrawing the army and forcibly uprooting Jews who had settled there.

Sharansky also says calls for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resignation in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks are premature.

“Look, for this exact reason there will be an investigation. In Israel, even small battles are studied minute by minute. What happened? What was right? What was wrong? Here, there will be huge investigations. There will no doubt be a committee of the most respected judges and war specialists who would analyze the failure of intelligence—military and political,” Sharansky said.

No one denies that “everybody who was at the top was responsible, in one way or another. You can’t say that the head of intelligence is responsible, but the prime minister is not.” But Israel’s success in identifying and killing “so many leaders of Hamas who are hiding” proves that “we restored our intelligence practically immediately. From the feeling that we lost everything in 24 hours, you already have a feeling that your intelligence is working.”

Credit for the “quickest mobilization,” he says, “goes to the people, of course, but it’s also because of our leaders. So this is definitely not the moment to say, specifically, that the prime minister, or this minister, or this leader, has to resign.” Such action, says Sharansky, is “only for after serious investigation. Right now, we have to win the battle. And Bibi and our army are leading us in this effort.”

Your Choice

Please Support Real Journalism