The blood oath

“Mr. President, will you take a call from Prime Minister Netanyahu in five minutes? He says it’s urgent, very urgent.”

“Rahm, I can tell from the tone of your voice that you’re not asking me a question. You’re giving me an order.”

Rahm Emanuel smiled.

President Obama did his best to match it and then said, “There are times when I don’t know who is doing most to screw me, you or Netanyahu.”

“Mr. President, we work as a team.”

“I take it you mean you and Netanyahu, not you and me.”

Rahm’s only response was another smile.

“Okay, I’ll take the call.”

Rahm pressed a button on the President’s desk and said to the operator, “Put him straight through when he calls.”

Obama drew on an imaginary cigarette. “Rahm, there’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask you for a long timeā€¦. Do you think I’d be sitting in this chair if I had not agreed to have you as my chief of staff?”

Rahm thought about saying “No” but settled for “Probably not”.

“Yes, Prime Minister. What can I do for you today?”

“Mr. President, I need you to understand that I have a very serious problem on my hands because of my commitment to assist you to advance the peace process. As you know, my government has ordered building inspectors to enforce a 10-month freeze on the construction of new buildings in Judea and Samaria. But our inspectors are being blocked by some of the settlers. It’s not yet turned seriously violent but I fear it will if we proceed with enforcement.”

“You must decide, prime minister, who rules, you or the settlers. I’m sure the IDF can handle them.”

“Mr. President, there’s some background to this problem that you may not be aware of. Back in 1980, General Sharon signed an oath with his blood. He did it at a meeting with very many senior IDF officers. They all signed the oath with their blood. Down the years since then, the same oath has been signed by many others with their blood. In the event of a government of Israel seeking to withdraw from Judea and Samaria for peace with the Palestinians, the oath commits those who signed it to make common cause with the settlers and fight that government to the death. Mr. President, I am frightened. If I do what you ask – we both know that a temporary freeze will be the overture to a full withdrawal – I could trigger a Jewish civil war, and that could be the end of Israel.”

Rahm Emanuel was about to speak. The President silenced him with a gesture.

“Binyamin, I am aware of the blood oath. Perhaps none of my predecessors were, but I am. I’m also aware that when Prime Minister Begin started to stuff the occupied West bank with settlers, it was for the purpose of creating the civil war scenario you now fear. He calculated that no Israeli prime minister would want to go down in history as the one who gave the order to the Jewish army to shoot Jews out of occupation for the sake of peace with the Palestinians.”

The President paused to debate briefly with himself what he should say next.

“Binyamin, it’s time for all of us to face the truth. The dangerous mess that you Israelis are now in is entirely of your own making. You should not have settled the occupied territories. Very soon after the 1967 war the government of Israel was advised by its own legal experts that settlement would be illegal. That was also the opinion of the governments of the organised international community, all of them, and you Israelis told them to go to hell.”

“Mr. President, I’ll be the first Israeli prime minister to say there’s some truth in what you’ve just said. But it’s only a small part of the whole truth. The settlements went ahead only because the governments of the major powers failed to give us a red light. Security Council Resolution 242 ought to have contained clauses emphasizing that settlement of the newly occupied territory would be illegal and would not be tolerated. Before you press me further, Mr. President, think about that and then ask yourself who, really, is most to blame for the dangerous mess we are all in.”

The line went dead.

The conversation above is imaginary but the blood oath is not. I tell the true story of it in Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. My source was Ezer Weizman when he was Israel’s minister of defense.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page