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The Fixation of Israel’s Elites on
“Land for Peace”:
Five Interpretations

Paul Eidelberg
ACPR Policy Paper No, 172, 2007


The fixation of Israeli governments on “land for peace”, a policy that has resulted in the murder and maiming of more than 10,000 Jews, puzzles the pundits. They puzzle over the fact that regardless of which party or coalition of parties controls the Government, the policy of land for peace continues despite its obvious futility and fatal consequences. They wonder what animates Israel’s ruling elites? Why do they continue to negotiate with terrorists, with Arabs or Muslims steeped in a fourteen-century religion driven by hatred of “infidels”, a religion whose armies, according to the Center for the Study of Political Islam, have slaughtered approximately 270 million people since Muhammad? The pundits also wonder why the people of Israel, who exercise the franchise, tolerate their ruling elites? Given periodic, multiparty elections, why don’t the voters elect statesmen possessing enough courage, wisdom, and integrity to face the truth about the implacable nature of the enemy – statesmen who can pursue a strategy whose goal is to defeat the enemy? Why do the voters repeatedly elect governments that appease the enemy via the futile and fatal policy of land for peace?

This paper examines five interpretations of that policy and the mentality of its advocates. In addition to economic, psychological, cultural, theological interpretations, it sets forth a Machiavellian interpretation of Israel’s ruling elites going back to the founding of the state, an interpretation that departs from conventional analyses. These interpretations sometimes intersect, but each provides a distinctive way of understanding the persistency of Israel’s bewildering policy of land for peace. Moreover, with the help of Machiavelli (and his disciple Thomas Hobbes) we shall see that the policy of land for peace renders the differences among Israel’s ruling elites insignificant.

For the complete text of this paper in English, click here.