Published in The Jerusalem Post on July 16, 2000
Oh, how we have compromised and conceded so much for the sake of peace with the Palestinians!
A decade ago they told us that talking directly to the PLO was necessary for peace, despite that organization’s monstrous terrorist record. Creating the first self-governing authority in Palestinian history, in Gaza and Jericho, also was necessary for peace, they told us.
And we said *Dayenu* — we’ve had enough of the conflict; we will live with this. For the sake of peace.
Arming Yasser Arafat’s police force with tens of thousands of rifles and other military equipment was said to be necessary for peace too. Even when this “police” force and other Palestinian Authority security forces mushroomed far beyond the numbers permitted by accord with Israel, and even when these “police” fired on IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians, we said *Dayenu* — somehow, we will live with this. Peace requires us to look the other way.
Turning a blind eye to PA human rights abuses, Holocaust denial, and virulent anti-Semitic propaganda also was necessary for peace, it was explained to us. And we reluctantly said *Dayenu* — we will live with this.
Next, it was imperative to give Arafat more land in Judea and Samaria so that he could “solidify his regime”. So we signed the Oslo II accord, handing over more than 30 percent of the West Bank — despite the fact that the PA had failed to live up to its original Oslo treaty obligations. And again we said *Dayenu* — we will live with this.
The PA’s commitment to fighting terror proved spotty and sporadic. Pot-shot shootings at Israeli passenger cars and roadside bombing attempts became so routine in the territories that these ceased to make headlines. Next, the City of our Patriarchs was handed over to the PA, with the minimalist of minimal security arrangements in place for the protection of Hebron Jewish residents.
But we said *Dayenu* — we will live with this, in the hope that peace will yet come.
The Wye accord committed us to three more staged withdrawals: first an additional 13 percent of territory, then another 9 percent. This put 98 percent of the Palestinian population of the territories under Arafat’s control, along with about 50 percent of the land and some important mountain aquifer resources. Some Jewish towns became isolated pockets within Palestinian-controlled territory. Arafat again promised to live up to his original treaty obligations.
And we said *Dayenu* — we will live with this.
As a gesture of our goodwill, we began freeing from jail Palestinian security offenders “without blood on their hands”; then we released Palestinian murderers who had Palestinian blood on their hands; then we freed terrorists whose hands had spilled Jewish blood. We gritted our teeth and said *Dayenu* — we have no choice but to live with this.
We turned a blind eye to the creeping but clear PA takeover of Jerusalem, our “united capital”. We stood by haplessly as the PA built a “parliament” building on the borders of Jerusalem; as the diplomatic activities of Orient House were expanded; as PA security men became the real enforcers in the Old City; and as the Wafq undertook massive illegal construction on the Temple Mount.
It was hard, but we said *Dayenu* — we’ll stomach the insult because peace requires compromise. But our forbearance began to wear thin.
In the summer of 2000, Arafat started to huff and puff and threaten, talking about renewed armed conflict and a unilateral declaration of statehood. Again, we were supposed to say *Dayenu* — we will swallow this for the sake of peace.
But Israel had been pushed too far, and people began to question and protest the process. “We are being asked to yield too much more”, they said.
A backlash developed to the outrageous concessions demanded: forfeiture of the Jordan Valley and almost 100 percent of the mountain regions in Judea and Samaria; dismantling of more than 50 settlements; “sharing” of sovereignty in Jerusalem — with the city effectively divided and the Temple Mount absconded. The Palestinian “right of return” was to be implemented under the flimsy disguise of “family reunification”. The world was to recognize Palestinian statehood, while Arafat could continue to ‘struggle’ for more.
At this point, the People of Israel awoke from its slumber, changed its vocabulary and said *Dayenu!* Enough is enough! No farther.
One million Israelis turned out for a mass rally in Tel Aviv to declare that no amount of Palestinian threatening or violence, nor any degree of international pressure, would succeed in pushing us beyond our security red lines or strip us of our national and religious treasures. There will be no return to the 1967 borders; no abandonment of 50,000 settlers; no influx of Palestinian refugees; and no relinquishment of sovereignty in Jerusalem, they proclaimed.
And faced with a determined Israeli consensus, the PA sued for peace on more reasonable terms, and quiet reigned in the Land of Israel.