Many Israeli politicians, judges, academics, and journalists suffer from what I call the Pharaonic syndrome. We see this pathology most clearly in the pages of Exodus describing the behavior of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
Pharaonic syndrome – stubborn egomania
Despite devastating plagues over a period of some years, the Egyptian despot stubbornly refused to let the Jews go. After the seventh plague, God hardened his obstinate heart to enable him to endure further attacks. Since he was responsible for so much evil, God deprived him of the freedom to repent and desist from his obviously ruinous policy. The Pharaoh was driven by egomania. I call this egomania the Pharaonic syndrome.
The Pharaonic syndrome afflicts the minds of Israel’s political elites. During the past two decades, six Israeli prime ministers – Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert – have tried to make peace with the Arafat-led or Abu Mazen-led PLO, an organization whose record of terrorism and murder dates back to its formation in 1964. That the PLO charter still calls for the destruction of Israel did not deter these prime ministers.
These prime ministers – Lenin would have called them “useful idiots” – have enabled the PLO to accumulate vast stores of weapons. They have allowed them to train an army in the south which, coordinated with Hezbollah forces in the north, threatens Israel’s existence. .
Pharaonic syndrome in action: territory for peace
The most obvious manifestation of the Pharaonic syndrome in Israel is its government’s mindless adherence to the futile and demonstrably disastrous policy of “territory for peace,” a policy made official in the Oslo or Israel-PLO Accords of September 13, 1993.
Since the signing of those accords, which rescued Arafat from Tunis and enabled him to establish a terrorist network in the Land of Israel, some 1,700 Jews have been murdered. Many thousands more have been wounded, maimed, and traumatized. Yet, on the fifteenth anniversary of Oslo Accords, Uri Savir, who was Director General of the Foreign Ministry and Israel’s chief negotiator of the Accords, had the Pharaonic audacity to tell The Jerusalem Post: “It is either the continuation of Oslo or nothing.”
The Post dignified Savir’s Pharonic remarks by placing it on the front page of its September 14, 2008 issue. The following day, the Post published on its front page MK Yuval Steinitz’s warning that a “two-state solution [to Israel’s conflict with the Arab Palestinians] would bring about Israel’s demise.”
Steinitz has been called a protégé of Netanyahu. Does his warning represent the views of his political mentor? So far as the present writer is aware, Netanyahu has never apologized publicly for his adherence to Oslo. In fact, he voted against a Knesset resolution to abrogate the Oslo agreement, even though his own office, when he was prime minister, issued almost daily reports of how the PLO was violating that agreement. Therein is a case study of the Pharaonic syndrome.
Netanyahu still suffers…
In any event, it seems Netanyahu is still suffering from that syndrome. That he remains in lockstep with the lethal policy of “territory for peace” is evident from his insistence on “reciprocity” in dealing with the PLO-Palestinian Authority. Since he persists in saying “we need a negotiating partner,” it’s reasonable to infer that he does not exclude the establishment of a Palestinian state, despite Steinitz’s warning. The Pharaonic syndrome dies hard.
Pharaonic syndrome in political philosophy: Israel as “democracy”
Another manifestation this syndrome is the undeviating affirmation on the part of Israel’s ruling elites – politicians and judges, academics and journalists – that Israel is a democracy. Is there a connection between this manifestation of the Pharaonic syndrome and the mindless adherence to Oslo? Yes, if only because Israel’s reputation as a democracy induces its prime ministers to engage in negotiations and compromise with Israel’s implacable enemies. Such effete behavior is expected of democrats, as witness the willingness of the United States to negotiate with Iran, the epicenter of Islamic jihad, as if one can talk Islamic despots out of their global objectives.
Here let us pause. Ever since 1975, when the United Nations declared Zionism a form of racism, Israel’s ruling elites have shed away from asserting Zionism – the idea that led to and justified Israel’s rebirth. What now endows Israel’s government with legitimacy and its ruling elites with respectability is not Zionism but democracy. The ethos of democracy involves settling disputes through mutual compromise. Hence, to preserve Israel’s reputation as a democracy, Israeli governments have negotiated with the PLO. This legitimized the PLO as well as its goal: the creation of an Arab state on Jewish land!
Impairment of territorial integrity
Notice, however, that the practical consequence of legitimizing a Palestinian state is to delegitimize the Jewish state by impairing – if only in stages – Israel’s territorial integrity. This is why Israel’s Penal Code stipulates that any act that impairs Israel’s territorial integrity is treason! A petition to this effect was submitted to and rejected by the Supreme Court, whose rulings subordinate Jewish values to democratic values even though the Court itself is a self-perpetuating oligarchy. The destructive tendency of the Pharaonic syndrome is quite evident in the Supreme Court, some of whose rulings, uttered in the name of democracy, have truncated the Jewish commonwealth. Suffice to mention its ruling that Gaza, as well as Judea and Samaria, constitute “belligerent occupied territory.”
The Pharaonic syndrome is manifested in the Myth of Israeli Democracy, which permeates the people of this country. The Sharon government’s withdrawal from Gaza, and the expulsion of its 8,000 Jewish residents in 2005, was justified in terms of democracy, even though an overwhelming majority of the voters rejected that policy in the January 2003 election!
The national election of January 2003 was hardly a triumph of democracy when Likud leader Ariel Sharon campaigned against but subsequently adopted Labor’s policy of unilateral disengagement!
The ruin of Israel
The Pharaonic syndrome, which warps the minds of the “best and the brightest,” is ruining Israel. I wonder whether anything less than shock treatment can overcome this syndrome. I have no confidence in democratic elections in Israel if only because the actual governing institutions are very far from being democratic, as I have often demonstrated.
Meanwhile, Israel is threatened with destruction. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas want to wipe Israel off the map, and the capitals of democratic Europe, it seems, would not regret Israel’s demise. Israel must therefore drastically alter the way it is perceived. It must cease to be perceived as a democracy. In republican Rome, a dictator was elected for a season to deal with wartime emergencies. Confronted by multiple enemies, Israel needs a dictator to mobilize the country and to selectively wage war against her enemies.
War is the only option. Democratic elections with their paltry politicians will only distract and divide us. We must put an end to all the lies about “territory for peace.” We must put an end to all the lies about Israeli democracy. We must shatter the Pharaonic syndrome or perish.◙
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