“He who tells the truth is driven from nine villages.” — Turkish proverb
It’s time for the absurd paradigm governing the Israel-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict — as well as the “peace process” — to be abandoned or challenged. This narrative has become increasingly ridiculous. The following is close to being the official version:
The Palestinians desperately want an independent state and are ready to compromise to obtain that goal. They will then live peacefully alongside Israel in a two-state solution. Unfortunately, this is blocked either by a) misunderstanding on both sides, or b), per the recent words of the Huffington Post, “the hard-line opponents who dominate Israel’s ruling coalition.” Israel is behaving foolishly, not seeing that — as former President Bill Clinton recently said — Israel needs peace in order to survive. One reason, perhaps a leading one, why Israel desperately needs peace is because of Arab demographic growth. Also, the main barrier to peace is the Jewish settlements.
This interpretation has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with reality. People on both sides know this, even if they rarely say so publicly.
For the Palestinian side, the pretense of peacemaking — which every Palestinian leader knows — obtains them money, diplomatic support, popular sympathy, and brings pressure on Israel. Here’s the dirty trick involved: if anyone in Israel raises concern about whether a “peace process” can actually bring peace, or raises concern about how it would be implemented, or raises concern about the documented experience of Palestinian behavior in the past, the response is that “Israel doesn’t want peace.”
The actual arguments and evidence about these problems are censored out of Western mass media and distorted in terms of political stances.
Is the peace process, after 40 years (if you count from its origins) or 20 years (if you count from the time of the “Oslo” agreement), at a dead end? Of course it is. That should be obvious.
The vast majority of Palestinian leaders favor establishing no Palestinian state unless it can continue the work of trying to wipe Israel off the map. They are in no hurry. They do not want to negotiate seriously. And of course, in the case of Hamas, which controls or has the support of about one-half of the Palestinians, this violent and genocidal intention is completely in the open. You can’t negotiate seriously with those who are not — to recall the old PLO slogan — the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. I say this with deep regret, but it is the truth.
On the Israeli side, the pretense is kept up because there is already enough Western hatred or real and potential hostility to what is required for its own self-defense. Israel offered deep concessions and took great risks continually through the 1990s. The judgment on the year 2000, the revealing year of the “peace process,” was that this Palestinian rejection of a two-state solution proved that they didn’t want one.
Now, every few days Abbas comes up with a new trick. The latest one is that he really desperately wants to meet with Netanyahu, but the Israeli prime minister must first meet his latest preconditions — which keep changing.
Every time Israel starts closing in on matching one of his demands, he just changes them.
Kerry gives Israel no credit for that on the peace issue, though it does help U.S.-Israel relations in other ways. For example, Israel will be the first country allowed to deploy the new F-35 warplane, and is getting advanced munitions that could be used to hit Iranian nuclear installations. The only condition on these weapons is — of course — that they not be used to hit Iranian nuclear installations. Still, they might be handy some day. And that is precisely the reason Israelis play along and pretend that Kerry might have a better chance at making peace than he actually does have, which is about a zero chance.
Meanwhile, it is common knowledge that there is a freeze on government permits for construction on settlements, but Abbas doesn’t care.
Speaking of Iran, it contributes to a regional situation that ensures anyone on the Israeli, Palestinian, or other Arab side would have to be crazy to make compromises or concessions for peace right now. At a time when Iran is proclaimed suddenly moderate, and when the genocidally intended Muslim Brotherhood is now a U.S. ally, and when even the Taliban is being declared acceptable, why is it that Israel is being portrayed by many of the same people as intransigent and the source of problems?
Israelis generally — not just those on the left — want peace and a two-state solution. Israelis generally — not just those on the right — do not believe it is possible at present, and they can offer much proof on this point. Moreover, given the region’s rapid movement toward revolutionary Islamism, the atmosphere is totally unwelcoming to any progress toward peace.
Even if the Palestinian Authority wanted to have a different policy, it knows that the hegemony of anti-peace Islamists makes such a move suicidal. Just turn on your radio or pick up a Palestinian newspaper and you can find the hatred, incitement, and rejection of Israel’s existence, the indoctrination of young people to carry on the conflict for decades, the celebration of terrorists and especially suicide bombers.
A situation in which anyone who believes in moderation and compromise better keep his mouth shut or face the end of his career — or even death — is not one where a compromise peace can be made and implemented.
This is common knowledge in Israel.
You’d be amazed by the names of left-of-center Israeli political figures who in private make clear their view that there is no two-state solution at present, no political solution — but that they should keep saying the opposite in public to avoid claims that Israel doesn’t really want peace. As an example, one well-known left-wing leader whose name is associated closely with the peace process said privately that Arafat was an SOB who destroyed the peace process.
Another famous dove said that nobody thinks peace is possible, but that we must still pretend otherwise.