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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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It’s Time to Tell the Truth about the ‘Peace Process’

"He who tells the truth is driven from nine villages" -- Turkish proverb.
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After all, these are policymakers who have just formed alliances with a former Nazi collaborator (the Muslim Brotherhood), and other groups which preach genocide against all Jews, hate the West, hate Christians, want to murder gays, and to make women second-class citizens. Would you listen to advice by people who do such things?

Moreover, what would happen the day after a successfully negotiated two-state solution? If cross-border terror attacks began would the United States act decisively to condemn the Palestinian regime? Could it “fix” the problem of a Palestinian state that did not live up to its commitments?

What about a state that was taken over by a Hamas coup or even a Hamas electoral victory, which happened in the last Palestinian election? Suddenly, Israel would be ringed by a Hamas-ruled Palestinian state that rejected peace; a Muslim-Brotherhood ruled Egypt and perhaps Syria; and a Hizballah-ruled Lebanon. Do you think that two-state solution or at least peace would long endure? What about a Palestinian state that invited in the armies of neighboring Arab states or Iran, with their weapons or as large numbers of advisors?

In short, would Israel be better off from those who, on the one hand, have as little intention of implementing their agreements as they have often done before and, on the other hand, those who urge you to make such a deal but can and will do nothing significant to enforce it? No. Clinton said that Israel needs peace to survive. Yet the situation is one in which a certain type of peace would endanger survival. What Israel wants is a two-state solution that brings real peace and that would enhance survival. Why is there never any talk about the quality of the peace?

But finally here is the key concept, as voiced by the Huffington Post’s article on Clinton’s speech:

“It underscored a chasm between the country’s official support for creating an independent Palestinian state and the hard-line opponents who dominate Israel’s ruling coalition.”

The problem is the word “opponents.” Israel would be happy to create an independent Palestinian state that resulted in an end to the conflict. It was ready to do so at the 2000 Camp David meeting but the Palestinian leadership then, and since, has refused to say that even a two-state solution would permanently end the conflict. It would merely initiate the next round of a battle pursing total elimination of Israel.This is not an ideological but a strategic issue. Wishful thinking and arguments that if you don’t work for peace you won’t get it are fine for the words of bystanders. They would be disastrous for actual policy. Incidentally, the three most “soft-line” supporters of creating an independent state have been Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Ehud Barak. These men learned vividly the same lessons that their political opponents did.

The real blockage to peace comes from the Palestinian leadership (including Hamas’s open preference for massacring all Israelis) and by the realities of the strategic situation that. Question: Is this a right-wing position?

Answer: No, it is just a recognition of reality. As I noted above, everyone knows it and if they don’t there are three possible reasons:

1. They want to bash Israel and subvert Israel’s relations with the West and they know what they are doing.

2. They are ignorant about the region or at least very much out of date. And this goes for those ruled by wishful thinking.

3. They think that by pretending peace is possible they can make the Arabs feel that the United States is trying to help the Palestinians and that therefore most Arabs and Muslims will think better of them and radical Islamists will like America.

Among Israelis they know that since this is a firm belief in the West keeping their mouths shut makes it easier to get along with those people who are in power in the West. And this goes for those ruled by wishful thinking, though proportionately far fewer than in the West.

It also goes for those who would gladly welcome a real, viable two-state solution but know that one is decades off and has been made more difficult by the radicalism unleashed by the supposedly moderating “Arab Spring.”Ironically, the current narrative was put in place in the 1990s precisely because an Israel that was striving for a two-state solution gave peace a chance. The effort proved to Israelis  that the Palestinian leadership wasn’t ready to make peace. The effort made the rest of the world think that the Palestinians were victims, desperate for peace. Committing terrorism must have been a cry for help.  

Arafat rejected peace; Israel was falsely blamed for rejecting peace even though the facts were well known, to people like Bill Clinton who even said so at the times, in early 2000.  

Fixing this political disaster is not a matter for politicians but one for starting the difficult task of correcting the narrative which can make the necessary policy changes in the long-run.

Barry Rubin

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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