If one pays attention to J Street, or Michael Lerner, or the editorial writers of certain newspapers, or to any of the numerous persons who believe it their solemn responsibility to disparage, dishonor, and defame the Jewish state, it is the “right wing” government of Israel that stands in the way of a peaceful solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. As a lie, this one is a whopper.
As Joseph Goebbels said “ If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”. Lies about Israel certainly fall into this category. They are repeated often, and by persons who should know better, so that even the most fervent advocates of Israel begin to wonder whether there may not be some truth to it.
Recently one of my readers expressed annoyance with my criticism of President Obama for his recommendation that Israel begin negotiations by returning to the 1949 cease fire lines. His email to me read “Nothing so far has worked. Obama is trying something new. You could at least give him credit for that. Since you are critical of him, what are your alternative suggestions?”
Sounds reasonable, except that it is based on a false premise and lack of understanding of what is required to achieve peace in that conflict.
First, this is not “something new”. In fact, Obama’s suggestion means returning to the status quo that existed from 1949 to 1967. At that time the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was in Arab hands. The Western Wall was off limits to Jews. But most importantly, there was no occupation that the Palestinians could point to. There were no Jewish settlements serving as “an impediment” to peace. And yet, for some reason, there was no peace.
The cease fire lines of 1949 set up suicidal and indefensible borders. Terrorists continually crossed these lines to kill Israelis. Syrians shot down on the farming communities of the Galilee from the Golan heights. , And Israel’s neighbors were emboldened to make war, with the single goal of extirpating the Jewish state. Is this what our President expects Israel to go back to?
Secondly, with respect to alternative recommendations. It is never possible to resolve a dispute between two parties if one of them does not want it resolved. The Palestinian Arabs have come up with a never-ending series of excuses to avoid a peace deal. They have made it clear that the only thing that will satisfy them will be a complete disappearance of the Jewish state. The only thing negotiable is whether this happens all at once or in stages.
Let’s look at the record. Attempts at peace have been made repeatedly. Recently Flame published an article outlining the many failed attempts to make peace, and outlining why intransigence by the Arabs has made peace impossible.
Even before the modern state of Israel was born, in 1947 the United Nations proposed a two state solution. The Jews accepted it, while the Arabs rejected it and started a war that resulted in the deaths of one of every 100 Israelis.
From 1949 to 1967, Egypt and Jordan controlled Gaza and the West Bank. There was absolutely no talk of a Palestinians state at that time, though the Palestine Liberation Organization came into being during this time.. (What were they planning to liberate?)
After Israel’s victory in the Six Day War of 1967, Israel offered peace to her neighbors. The Arabs responded; “No Peace, No Negotiation, and No Recognition of Israel”. Under the direction of President Bill Clinton, a series of negotiations occurred in 2000, in which Israel offered to withdraw from 97% of the West Bank and all of Gaza. Yassir Arafat turned this down, did not offer a counter proposal, but started a war. Further peace offers were made by Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, and in 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza, turning it over to the Palestinians.
None of this led to peace. Why? Because the Arabs have stated repeatedly, right up to the present, that they will never accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. They fully expect to be able to destroy the existing “Zionist entity”, and will not enter an agreement that will forgo the possibility of continuing the conflict.
Over the last two year, matters have gotten worse. The Palestinians, encouraged by the behavior of the Obama administration, are demanding that the US force Israel into an untenable situation which they are hoping will lead to the destruction of the Jewish state. Unfortunately President Obama has obliged them, making demands on Israel, some of which are simply suicidal, while demanding nothing of the other side. This a formula that tells the Arabs they need not negotiate, the US will do it for them. In other words, no negotiated settlement can ever happen
Many well-meaning people have asked why Israel does not simply end the occupation, and remove the settlements as a way to achieve peace. Again, this has been tried.
First, in 2000 Israeli forces vacated their buffer zone in South Lebanon with the express purpose of ending any conflict with Hezbollah; six years later, they got a war with Hezbollah anyway, a war in which thousands of missiles were fired into Israel. And now Hezbollah, massively armed, controls all of Lebanon, and threatens Israel with another war.
Secondly, in 2005, hoping again for peace, Israel pulled all its forces and settlements out of Gaza, to allow the Palestinians to develop their own autonomous state. What was the result? A major war with Hamas in 2008-9. The kidnapping Of Gilad Shalit, held for over 5 years with no Red Cross visits in violation of international law. Numerous cross border raids., Thousands of rockets and mortars that have killed and maimed civilians. Recently an anti-tank missile was fired at a school bus killing a child. This is not the hoped for peace.
Not long ago, Israel had planned to vacate the West Bank. Now that it has seen Gaza and South Lebanon turned into heavily armed staging areas, filled with terrorists dedicated to killing Jews, withdrawal from the West Bank does not seem like a wise move.
So what should Israel do? Israel cannot bring about a solution of the conflict unless the other side wants it. Hopefully, over time, a new generation of Palestinian Arabs, exposed to the internet, well- educated, and economically advanced, will see the enormous advantages of peace with Israel. Until then, Israel must remain strong, must ignore those who tell her what she must do “for her own good”, and must not bend to the whims of the New York Times or Barack Obama, would-be experts who have no idea about the historic and current realities in that part of the world.