Greer Fay Cashman
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion)
February 27, 2012 - 1:00am

Former Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy doesn't think that Israel needs to insist on having the Palestinians or anyone else for that matter recognize Israel as a Jewish state or approve its right to exist.

Halevy who was speaking at Jerusalem's Kehilat Moreshet Avraham on Sunday night noted that Israel is a Jewish State and that any treaty or agreement signed with Israel by any other state or entity is tantamount to recognition. It doesn't have to be spelled out.

The fact that there are those who do not accept a Jewish State does not make Israel any less Jewish, he pointed out. "Our Jewishness does not depend on them. But we have that problem that we need their recognition."

In the peace treaties that Israel signed with Egypt and Jordan, said Halevy, there is no mention of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, so there is no need to insist on this in dealings with the Palestinians. Israel was also close to a deal with the Syrians, but decided not to go forward said Halevy, who surmised that had a peace agreement with the Syrians eventuated, it would not contain reference to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state or any mention of Israel's right to exist.

"We believe that our influence on the mindsets of our enemies is next to nil, and if they don't accept our existence here, yhis is a threat with which we cannot live."

After reaching a peace agreement with Egypt which had been Israel's "most formidable enemy," Israel should have surely gained an enormous injection of self confidence, because in this achievement, Israel had broken the Arab anti-Israel alliance of solidarity, said Halevy.

Moreover, he suggested, Israel should gain confidence from the fact that since its acceptance as the 59th member state of the United Nations, it has succeeded in opening embassies throughout the world.

"The world accepted us as a member of the community of nations, and yet we always demand that they recognize our right to exist."

Halevy questioned why Israel needs such assurance, and cited a conversation that he had engaged in with a prominent Palestinian, who had told him that Israel's insistence on recognition, would suggest that if the Palestinians don't recognize Israel, Israel would lose its right to exist.

Israel has convinced the free world that if Hamas doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, "we won't talk to them," said Halevy, who implied that this was so much hogwash. "We talk to them all the time," he said, then later corrected himself, saying that Israel may not be talking directly to Hamas, but communicates with Hamas.

As for the Iranian nuclear project, Halevy disclosed some of the details of a meeting on nuclear non-proliferation that he had attended in a European capital. There were several high ranking Iranian representatives at this meeting and the Iranian ambassador had declared that Israel must be forced to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

*Israel has never said that it has nuclear weapons, nor has it said that it hasn't," said Halevy, who had seized on the Iranian ambassador's remarks and had told him that he was absolutely right, because only legitimate states sign international treaties and that this was the first time that the Iranians had recognized the State of Israel.

The ambassador had tried to bluster his way out, but the point made by Halevy had prevailed.

Although Israel has many near miraculous achievements to its credit, Halevy believes that Israelis have not overcome an inherent Jewish perception of being the victim. After 2000 years of suffering, being despised among the nations and victims of anti-Semitic actions that resulted in massive loss of life, Israelis still have difficulty in being self confident when it comes to personal and national security. One would have expected Israelis to emerge from the 1948, '56, '67, '73,
'82 and '96 victories of war with a great feeling of self confidence said Halevy, but Israelis always labor under threat despite the fact that "we have the most efficient, most capable and most brutal defense capability in the region."

Instead of gaining confidence from past victories, Israel always faces threats with great trepidation Halevy observed. "There is a deep ingrained feeling which inhibits us in our activities and our approach to the enemy."

Despite the fact that Israel has "an intelligence community which is second to none," Israel always fears the worst, he said. Halevy conceded that Israel should prepare for the worst, but should not fear that the worst has a better chance than something less than the worst.

In negotiating with the Palestinians, Halevy continued, Israel has always focused on an end to the conflict. "There will never be an end to the conflict," he asserted. "We need to translate conflict into something you live with in different terms."

World Wars One and Two were supposed to bring an end to conflict he said, but they didn't. Halevy instanced several conflicts in which the adversaries have found a way to live together without peace treaties or final borders. "So why should we demand a final border?" he queried. "Why should we always want the ultimate?"

Halevy was relieved that the concept of a Middle East common market envisaged several years ago by President Shimon Peres, when as Foreign Minister he had written his book on The New Middle East, had not come to fruition, having been rejected by the Arab states. Halevy asked his audience to imagine the economic havoc if all the countries in the region had accepted this idea and what would have happened to the Middle East economy in the wake of the Arab Spring. "Sometimes certain types of rejection are a blessing in disguise," said Halevy.


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