I have been asked by a number of friends to discuss my vision of how things can be “resolved” between ourselves and the Palestinians. Just to put everything in perspective, I have already discussed in prior blogs a number of key principles that I am operating from:
1. That radical Islam such as manifested by Hamas is an ideology that is totally irreconcilable with Israel. Here is a pedestrian manifestation of this problem in this interview of a Palestinian mother in an Israeli hospital where doctors were saving her son’s life: here.
2. Fatah and its political face, the Palestinian Authority, are no better. Abbas, as President of both Fatah and the PA, rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish State and calls for the right of return. Fatah continuously calls for armed conflict and the murder of Israeli’s and Jews. For reasons that are understandable but completely incorrect, many “experts” including people who understand the underlying problems of Fatah and PA, essentially want to “believe” that Fatah/PA is “relatively” more moderate. See here.
This is hope without foundation. Every time you say PA you must also say Fatah. They are one and the same. We must be very careful not to follow these supposed experts since they will not be living here when the rockets start to fall on Tel Aviv from Ramallah and Bethlehem. Take, for example, this very recent article by Dennis Ross (the note at the beginning of the article is from my friend who writes very insightful commentary) who now has finally woken up to the problems with Hamas but feels we can still do a “deal” with Abbas. Yet, he was one of the “experts” pushing Israel to allow the importation of cement into Gaza. Guess he got that one wrong… Pure fantasy.
2. That the issue of Palestinian refugees is an invented concept since 1965 and completely foreign to all other refugee issues in the world. Therefore, there is no real “right” of return and this is a straw-man created to ensure that no reconciliation is possible.
3. Israel pre-1967 is still considered by nearly all Palestinian leaders across the spectrum as occupied. Though I have not yet written on the concept of occupation, I want to suggest a few issues in this regard:
- Reasonable minds will certainly differ on whether the post-1967 lands captured by Israel in a defensive war is occupied or disputed. I will cover this in a future blog. However, the fact that the International Red Cross’s designates these territories as occupied is not necessarily correct or reasonable.
- The point here of occupation is not the post 1967 lands but the tricky language used by many Palestinian leaders across the political spectrum that the land of Israel, since it’s founding, is really Arab occupied land. There is a conspiracy of silence to not directly ask the question and force Fatah, Abbas and Hamas to say — yes, Israel is the legitimate land of the Jewish People in which it was founded in 1948. That Haifa, Netanya and Tel Aviv are Israeli cities and Palestinians give up ALL claims to pre-1967 Israel. This is NEVER said explicitly and the media, such as the recent interview of Khaled Mashal of Hamas by Charlie Rose never asks the question this explicitly and provides the wiggle room to keep the concept of “occupation” vague and misleading.
4. The level of incitement in the Palestinian press, radio, TV and internet continues unabated. This is regardless of whether it is Hamas or Fatah or the PA. An entire generation of Palestinians have been raised on this anti-Israel, anti-Semitic creed. Please do yourself a favor and spend time on Memri.org and Palwatch.org to understand the reality of this insidious and vile ongoing propaganda and incitement of hatred towards Israel and Jews.
5. There is common wisdom expressed by many that one does not make peace with their friends but with their enemies. Yes, that is true, but only if the enemy has accepted the reality of defeat of their current ideology and approach towards Israel. As long as an ideological enemy believes it has not been defeated, a peace agreement is not worth the paper it is written on.
6. As I have written extensively before, honor and shame are the prism through which Arabs view success and failure in the world. So, in the event, there is the total defeat of your enemy, the enemy must still believe there was some type of recovered honor in order to move forward to a resolve the conflict. That was the case with Egypt after the Yom Kippur War. They were completely defeated yet felt that their honor was recovered and Sadat could make the trip to Jerusalem. But be warned, this is not a simple solution and we have had some real close calls with Egypt over the past few years with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. The closet analogy to what needs to be done is how the U.S. dealt with post-War Japan (I lived in Tokyo during the tail-end of this period). The total defeat of Japan with the bomb along with the dismantling of the ideology of Emperor worship, the complete change in the education system and disarmament were required to make a real peace agreement with Japan. We are a long way off from this with the Palestinians.
7. This leads us to a final observation, that peace between leaders in the Middle East without buy-in by the public is very dangerous and may quickly unravel.
If one follows carefully my line of reasoning, one will conclude that there are a series of necessary events to occur before any type of resolution can happen. There may be periods of quiet but that does not mean resolution. Westerners are very focused, as a culture, on “resolving” things and coming to a conclusion. Our whole concept in the West on compromise is built on the idea that “splitting the baby” — win-win — creates resolution. That is not the case in the Middle East. In the ME one can have periods of calm and then warfare without necessarily having any type of final resolution to the conflict. I find it extraordinary that so many intellectuals, both Israeli and Western thinkers, believe that resolution is both the goal and is distinctly possible by following a game plan. That all we need to do is figure out the way to compromise without respecting, in any way, how powerful Honor and Shame are in their society. It behooves you to read the excellent analysis of this subject by Dr. Harold Rhode. I want to state as forcefully as I can that this is folly and will only lead to increased instability and bloodshed. The consequences of a Western approach to reconciliation and resolution will extend the conflict. Placating Fatah and Hamas, as well as the Palestinian body-politic, on issues such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, encouraging the current refugee definition and turning a blind-eye to Palestinian willful incitement will encourage stronger forms of intransigence, violence and conflict.
We are talking about fundamental changes in attitude that will require a number of conditions:
1. Fully recognized defeat by the Palestinians and disrepute of current ideologies
2. Complete elimination of indoctrination and propaganda
3. Acceptance by the Arab populace as well as their leaders of the reality of a State for the Jewish People and acceptance of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.
4. A cultural shift that perceives honor in this resolution.
You can see that this is a long time away. Otherwise, we have not created anything durable. The closest analogy to our problem I heard from my friend Ken Abramovitz last month. In his lecture on how to deal with this severe Islamic threat he compared this to dealing with a lion from the wild. Our personal fantasy that somehow the lion will not eat us if we treat it nice is absurd and we all know that. It’s his nature to have you for lunch if he is hungry. If you domesticate him from birth — it may be possible and even that could take a number of generations. But any accommodation to a full grown lion from the Sahara is just suicidal. And we should not think that if enough Jewish blood is spilled the world will then understand our predicament. Just look what is happening with the Yazidis. Do you want to be in their situation?
Aside from a lack of willingness by Palestinian leaders to deal with this in a forthright manner, they are enabled by left wing constituencies both inside and outside Israel that encourages the Palestinians to not directly address the defects in their society. I have given you so many examples of this in my other blogs that I do not want to repeat myself here. In a most direct assult on the left’s surrender to insanity, Martin Sherman’s piece is very real. Suffice it to say that as long as Palestinians and their Western enablers see the reprehensibility of the ills in Palestinian society as the result of the “other”- either due to some amorphous concept of occupation or due to an inability for societal introspection, no resolution to the conflict is possible. This culture is well explained by Prof. Kedar.
Many of my Western friends will find this hard to accept since we all like movies to have a clear (and usually happy) ending. In this part of the world, this is pure fantasy. Our sense of defeatism which is typically framed as “what else can we do?” or “what choice do we have?” is our biggest danger. I hear more and more of concepts such as “unilateral withdrawal” advocated by some really smart people. This is not smart. In every withdrawal, the vacuum was filled, whether in Gaza or Lebanon, with violent and dangerous entities attempting to destroy our State. So, in the meantime, Israel cannot negotiate against itself and must “wait out” the changes in their society. Only Israel can define its national priorities and objectives. All other nations and groups have their own priorities, prejudices and imperatives and they are not ours. And yes, this will mean our continued presence in Judah and Samaria while we attempt to improve the economic and social lives of all inhabitants. And this may, in the end, involve some form of confederation as part of Israel. There is a constant refrain from many quarters that we will face a population time bomb but detailed research proves this is a red herring (Amb. Yoram Ettinger has written extensively on this topic. This is just one example.) Bibi understands this well as the “long game” in this mess we call the Middle East.
It is not a resolution but this is the reality.