{Originally posted to the MEF websites}

Mordechai Kedar, a distinguished specialist of the Middle East, recently published an article arguing that Israel can never win its neighbors’ acceptance. This conclusion flies directly in the face of the Israel Victory Project I have proposed, which is about gaining precisely that acceptance. So, Kedar’s analysis calls for a reply.


He makes two arguments, religious and nationalist, to support his conclusion. “The religious reason is rooted in Islam’s conception of itself as a faith whose mission is to bring both Judaism and Christianity to an end and inherit all that was once Jewish or Christian: land, places of worship, and people. … That] Jews now attempt to pray on the Temple Mount, suggest[s] that Judaism has returned to being an active, living, and even dynamic religion. This brings the very raison d’être of Islam into question. … Muslims loyal to their religion and aware of this danger cannot possibly accept the existence of a Jewish state, not even a tiny one on the Tel Aviv coast.”

The nationalist motive concerns the Palestinian national movement being “wholly based on the negation of the Jewish people’s right to its land and state.” Therefore, it seeks “an Arab state on Israel’s ruins, not alongside it.”

Kedar concludes that ‘Arabs and Muslims are incapable of accepting Israel as the Jewish State,’ but can ‘learn to live with it.’

Combining these two motivations, he concludes that “Arabs and Muslims are incapable of accepting Israel as the Jewish State.”

In response – and this is the key point – Kedar says Israel should “tell them in no uncertain terms that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews and they are going to have to learn to live with it.” Extrapolated out, he is advising Israel should assert itself as the Jewish state to Arabs and Muslims.

Looked at closely, Kedar’s analysis and policy recommendation contradict each other: If Arabs and Muslims will never accept Israel as a Jewish state, why does he call on Israel to assert this fact and force them “to learn to live with it”? If they will never accept this reality, how can they possibly be forced “to learn to live with it”?

Despite himself, Kedar believes in Israel Victory, not Scarsdale.

In other words, Kedar does not believe his own negative prediction. If he did, he’d not be confronting Arab and Muslim rejectionism but finding ways to work around it. For example, someone truly convinced of eternal Arab/Muslim opposition to the Jewish state might give up Jerusalem to salvage the rest of the country. Or he would give up on the entire Zionist enterprise and urge Jewish Israelis to move to Scarsdale.

That Kedar does not adopt such defeatism implies that, deep down, he hopes to convince Israel’s enemies that the Jewish state is too tough, competent, and strong to be beaten, so they should give up the hopeless campaign against it. His real message is not the defeatist “Arabs and Muslims will never accept Israel as the Jewish State” but the optimistic one of “Israel will never accept Arab and Muslim rejectionism.” Despite himself, Kedar believes in Israel Victory.

Welcome to our ranks, Mordechai.


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Daniel Pipes is a world-renowned Middle East and Islam expert. He is President of the Middle East Forum. His articles appear in many newspapers. He received his A.B. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard, Pepperdine, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. He is a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace and other institutions. His website is DanielPipes.org.