Israel Nobel Laureate Tells ZOA: Olmert Plan Is Morally Repugnant & Victory For Terror
May 31, 2006

Aumann criticizes Israeli
suppression of free speech

New York – Professor Robert Aumann, 2005 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, who is also a Professor of Mathematics, founder of the Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, yesterday addressed a telephone conference of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) leadership. In his remarks, Aumann called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal for further unilateral withdrawals from Judea and Samaria “a terrible plan” which is “morally repugnant” and which will “worsen our relations with our Arab neighbors.” He also said that this plan “can only be seen as a victory for terrorism.” He also expressed deep concern for the suppression of freedom of speech and expression that is taking hold in Israel.

Excerpts from Professor Aumann’s remarks:

  • [On the failure of a policy of appeasement] “The Arabs are seeing that their policy of terrorism is being rewarded, that it works. It’s encouraging them to do more. It’s a policy of appeasement that never works. It’s worse than appeasement. Terrorists who blow themselves up are behaving rationally because their sacrifice reaps fruits, it works. [By unilaterally withdrawing] we are giving them the fruit of their terrorist acts and in that we are encouraging them to do more. We are witnessing all around the world no let-up of pressure on us. The withdrawal and expulsion of Jews from their homes has failed to generate support for Israel’s fight against terrorism. In England, they have now declared a boycott of Israeli scientists and this in the wake of the expulsion of Jews from Gaza. This policy makes things only worse for us. Our enemies are encouraged by this withdrawal.”

  • Stating that he was at a loss to explain at an Israeli plan to uproot Jews from their homes and give most of Judea and Samaria to the Hamas terrorist regime, Aumann warned that the “outcome will not be less friction as Olmert claims but in fact there will be more friction with the Arab neighbors. This withdrawal is an absolutely unacceptable act for any reason whatsoever.”

  • [On Olmert’s policy] “I think the policy of the current government is to act without asking Arabs. I don’t think it’ll be successful … we’ll go it alone, build a fence, withdraw within and we will live our lives — this is a mistake, but that’s the idea … They think the expulsion and withdrawing into smaller borders will be more successful … I think it’s morally and strategically a mistake.”

  • “There is a lot of tiredness and fatigue in Israel. We’ve been fighting for 80 years and it doesn’t look like its going to end. Israelis say it can’t go on this way, but if we aren’t willing to go on this way we must close the shop. Many Israelis do have this battle fatigue. And they stand by while the Israeli government implements a policy that is demonstrably wrong.”

  • [On the relevance of game theory to his political views] A long-term interaction is more easily achieved than a one-shot operation … you have to be patient, you have to have time, the present cannot be too important for you. People who write on their flag ‘Peace Now’ are mistaken. You are more likely to achieve peace now if ‘now’ is not so important to you. I think [Israelis] do not have enough patience … all this emphasis on peace we’re terribly eager for is counterproductive — it puts peace at a further distance.”

  • [On seeking a quick peace] It’s a mistaken policy. We have to hold on to our current positions, we should not display weakness and we should sit tight … I think this idea that it is our side that has to suggest solutions is not a good idea. Let’s hear some reasonable ideas from the other side.”

  • [On Israeli failure to protect Jewish holy sites in Palestinian hands] Those things are extremely unfortunate, especially … the destruction of remains beneath Temple Mount. Again, this is a sign of weakness. It’s not high on the Israeli agenda. One doesn’t hear much about it.”

  • [On Israeli failure to place the issue of Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder on the international agenda] “Also very bad is our inaction in response to continuing incitement in the Palestinian Authority school curricula. This continues unabated — it was one of the items in successive Oslo agreements for Palestinians to tackle. I spoke to [Foreign Minister] Tzipi Livni about it, but there’s been no action.”

  • Professor Aumann was sharply critical of another unfolding tragedy in Israel — “a very, very unpleasant phase of suppression of freedom of expression” and he cited three examples that are “absolutely anathema” to the rights of its citizens: “1. We had a few years ago the suppression of Arutz-7, which represents right-wing views and it was taken off the air. There were several pretexts for it, but there was no call for that. [The government] simply didn’t like the opinions expressed and they silenced it; 2. There is the case of the Sergeant Hananel Dayan, an Israeli soldier awarded a citation for bravery in performing his army duty … who saluted the Chief-of-Staff [Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz at his award ceremony] but refused to shake his hand because of the role of the Chief-of-Staff in uprooting his family from Gaza. Although he was under no legal obligation to shake the IDF Chief’s hand, he was harshly reprimanded and dismissed from his unit; 3. There’s the case of the activist Nadia Matar, who wrote a critical letter to [the head of the Disengagement Authority] Yonatan Bassi, who organized the compensation of the Gaza expellees. She’s being put on trial, a police file was opened against her, for insulting a public official. Can you imagine being up on trial for that? I don’t think you can make out a case for imprisonment for expressing ideas, even if you don’t like it. We’re passing into a Bolshevik regime.”

  • “There is no basic difference between Fatah and Hamas — they are two movements jockeying for power but they have no ideological differences. And yet one thing remains constant — their war against the Jews continues unabated.”

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