Conflict and Controversy over the CentralConference of American Rabbis–Three Perspectives

Retired Maj. Gen. Oren Shachor

Retired Maj. Gen. Oren Shachor, former Israel Defense Forces chiefintelligence officer, held a field briefing for his subordinateofficers and field operatives last week at Cava restaurant on westThird Street.

Actually, it was just an interview with a Jewish journalist.

But Shachor, just retired after 30 years in the IDF’s highcommand, hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the interview yet. Taking aseat before a cup of black coffee, he directs his wife, Leah, tobring him his briefing book. She returns with a yellow legal pad,which he crisply flips open, announcing, “I am beginning with pointone.”

Ten points down the legal pad later, Shachor has made a compellingcase for why the Oslo peace process is in such grave danger, why itmust continue, and what would happen to Israel and the Mideast shouldit to fail.

Shachor knows because, as much as any person in the IDF, he wasmidwife to the accords. He negotiated the first interim agreementwith PLO officials, he negotiated the development of the DahaniaAirport in Gaza, and he was point man for the civilian securityarrangement in Hebron. Four years ago, Shachor looked on asthen-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin signed these agreements on theWhite House lawn. “As an intelligence officer, my target was Arafat,”said Shachor. “Then he became my partner.”

Despite some terrorist activities, the result, said Shachor, wasan increase in peace, prosperity and security for the Palestiniansand the Israelis. “If Mr. Rabin were alive today,” said the general,”we would be near the end of the interim agreement and nearing afinal agreement with more and more security.”

Instead, he said, the government of Prime Minister BinyaminNetanyahu has crippled the peace process. “We have no efficient teamof negotiators, no grand plan, no directives,” he said. “They holdonly cosmetic meetings, and there is no trust between thePalestinians and the Israelis. The peace process will collapse.”

Last September, before the wave of suicide bombings that left manyIsraelis dead, Shachor wrote a memo to Netanyahu, outlining hisconcerns. “I told him that if there were no constructive dialogue,there would be violent activities,” he said. “Unfortunately, hedidn’t pay attention.”

Shachor, who left the military last May, came to Los Angeles as aspeaker for Shalom Achshav, or Peace Now. An active member of theLabor Party, he believes, with a general’s determination, in PeaceNow’s longtime shibboleth that Israel can never have security withoutpeace, or vice versa. If you want security, said Shachor, you muststrengthen the hand of the peace movement.

Immediate steps toward reviving the peace process, according topoints No. 9 and No. 10 of the general’s briefing: The United Statesmust become more deeply involved in bringing the parties together,and Israel must do more to strengthen Arafat economically. As Arafatweakens, warned Shachor, he will be tempted to summarily declare aPalestinian state and, if need be, defend it with a messy guerrillawar. Why would Arafat do such a thing? “He knows it worked forBen-Gurion,” said Shachor.

Briefing over; journalist dismissed.

For more information on Americans for Peace Now, call (310)858-3002.