Should the Settlements Be so Vital to the Peace Process?
Putting aside the many intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, are the settlements really the main reason why there is no peace between Israel and the Palestinians? To accept the notion of the omnipotence of the settlements-issue vis-à-vis the peace process is to set a dangerous precedent to future conflicts in which only one side is held accountable for its actions. The Palestinians and their many Western supporters seem to have manufactured a reality where truth has become irrelevant and perceptions rule the discourse.
The constant human rights violations and the rabid anti-Semitism emanating from the Palestinian territories have become non-issues to those -- mainly European and American analysts and experts -- trying to provide solutions to the conflict.
Instead of demanding cultural change and reformation within the Palestinian society, these Western voices see residential buildings as the primary reason for the continuance of the conflict. It seems that those pursuing compromise, by repeating the mantra of the importance of a solution, have created a world comprised of competing narratives.
Palestinians are given a free pass on hatred that has become one of the main tenets of the forming of a Palestinian national identity. Why does the West cultivate a Palestinian narrative which is defined according to the existence and consequent actions of Israel?
The economy in the West Bank has produced unprecedented wealth in the territories, but little has changed in terms of ideas. The PA-run media is airing programs depicting Jews as sons of pigs and monkeys and recently, the seemingly moderate technocrat Saeb Erekat proclaimed that Palestinians will never accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
One thing to be learned from this is that one’s economic conditions seem to have very little to do with one’s ideological aspirations. Improved economic conditions are seldom a gateway to liberalism.
The Obama administration would do well to pursue an aggressive liberal -- in the classical sense -- agenda to demand that the seemingly eternally oppressed peoples would take responsibility for their actions and would therefore be in a place to define their own respective destinies. One needs to keep in mind that the successful liberal projects of Europe and North America did not take place in a history-free vacuum. Europeans are acutely aware of their barbaric past. However, the two continents are products of ever evolving ideas, except for those ideas that make both continents great; namely the fact that classical liberal thought has produced unprecedented liberty for all of their respective citizens and equality between the genders and minorities.
Such ideas are not race-based or insular in nature, but belong to everyone, and therefore politicians should be reminded that the Palestinians deserve attention which is not patronizing, but critical, inspiring, and ultimately rewarding.
Accepting the notion that the existence of settlements in the West Bank is the main obstacle to peace is indeed patronizing and a dangerous disservice to the Palestinians and their cause. Succumbing to a false narrative will not free Palestinians of their plight, but gives tacit consent to anti-Semitism and Islamic radicalism. By constantly drumming up the necessity of continuing the settlement freeze, the peace-enthusiasts are doing no favors to the Palestinians. The only approach to the conflict must be cultural, because it is the only approach which treats them as a people capable of change.