Israelis generally—not just on the left—want peace and a two-state solution. Israelis generally—not just 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 Authoritywished a different policy, it knows that with the hegemony of anti-peace Islamists such a move on its part would be suicidal. Just turn on your radio or pick up a Palestinian newspaper and you can see and hear 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 believed 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 at the names of left-of-center famous Israeli political figures that in private make clear their view that there is no two-state solution at present, no political solution, but 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 that peace is possible but that we must still pretend otherwise.
There are two phony arguments raised on this issue of why Israel obstructs the peace it desperately needs: settlements and demography. It should take only one minute to dispel this nonsense. And that is why these arguments must be censored out of the mainstream debate by ridicule and insult.
Can settlements be blocking a successful peace process? Of course not. If the Palestinians were so discomfited by construction on settlements they would logically want to accelerate the peacemaking process. This is what King Hussein of Jordan warned them about at the 1984 Palestine National Council meeting. Hurry and get peace, he said, before the settlement process has gone forward too long. They ignored the advice; they weren’t in any hurry.
Again, though, if settlements are gobbling up the land perhaps to the point of no return, shouldn’t the Palestinians demand negotiations immediately instead of refusing to talk for a dozen years and setting countless preconditions that seem to become more demanding as any previous ones are met?
Then we have the bogus demographic issue. The Gaza Strip and West Bank are not part of Israel. Nobody today seeks annexation. Palestinians—except those who live in Israel’s borders—are never going to be citizens of Israel. Ironically, let’s remember, it is the Palestinians who demand that they will through the fictional “right of return” get to be Israelis. Bill Clinton recently said, with total ignorance:
“Is it really okay with you if Israel has a majority of its people living within your territory that are not now, and never will be, allowed to vote?”
No. They do not live “within [Israel’s] territory.” Therefore, the question does not arise and it will never arise. Israel has not annexed and never will annex the Gaza Strip and West Bank. No one thinks the Palestinians there are citizens and they do not want to be citizens. In fact, they vote in their own elections, or at least once did so and live under their own government and laws. How could anyone not understand this?
Finally, there is the never-addressed issue of what I call, “the day after.” Let’s face it. The Obama Administration and its predecessors have made—how can I put this politely?—some mistakes about the Middle East . They have often urged on Israel very dangerous, even suicidal, courses. They have not always been faithful to allies.
Are these the best-informed, best-intentioned, and best-judgment people to heed? Perhaps it is possible that Israeli leaders actually do know more about the Middle East and their people’s interests than does Washington or Western journalists and “experts.” Perhaps Israel’s people, as shown by their own repeated votes in free elections, are better informed than those thousands of miles away who never lived through this history an,d understandably, don’t put Israeli interests first.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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