Washington Post Editorial “There will be a day after in Gaza. Here’s what it can look like” (12/15/23) is not nearly as impactful or as interesting as writing about what a ‘day after’ will look like. The Washington Post lends its views to a solution that has so many “ifs” in a column that the Guinness book of world records came knocking.
Even though the Post admits that the “decades long conflict … has defied generations,” they seem to think they have an answer – if an answer cluttered with “ifs” is an answer.
The editorial is filled with ‘both-side-isms,’ stating “extremism and deadlock have failed both sides.” The inaccuracy of this remark shows the Post is naive at best or biased towards the Hamas-led Gazans at worst.
Israel (and different combinations of world powers and organizations) have offered two-state solutions to the Palestinians numerous times. How many times does this have to be repeated? The best opportunities came in 1937 (the Peel Commission Plan), 1947 (the UN Partition Plan), 2000 (the Camp David Summit), and 2008 (the Ehud Olmert peace plan). Each time the Palestinians said no. The last two times, they were offered terms which essentially gave them close to 100% of what they wanted – and they walked away without making counteroffers. Who gets such terms in a negotiation, much less a side that has initiated wars and lost!
And the fact that the Post said that this latest battle was an “eruption“ of violence?! A pogrom is not an eruption – it was a one-sided slaughter by Hamas. The editorial admitted later in the article that Hamas launched the “horrific attack on Israeli civilians” which “provoked” an Israeli military response. Washington Post Editors should be astute enough to know that it didn’t “provoke” an Israeli response; it “necessitated” an Israeli response. Hamas continued to bombard Israel with rockets after the attack, which had to be stopped. Further, the surprise attack and subsequent slaughter of innocents showed Israel that giving Hamas free reign in Gaza was a devastatingly failed experiment.
The editorial blamed Netanyahu for Israel’s failure to keep its citizens secure. Ultimately it is true that security is the responsibility of the Prime Minister. However, it’s pretty clear that there were multiple system failures, though the Post can’t miss an opportunity to bash the right-wing Prime Minister.
The Post likes to mention polls, when showing the unpopular current view of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu. These polls are indeed critical of him, but not his message. Israelis overwhelmingly support his message. Israel must rid Gaza of Hamas!
The Post proposed the fantasy that “the United States and Arab nations should prepare now … after the shooting stops, laying the groundwork to restart the process of creating two states, Israel and Palestine.” The editorial did not address the fact that neither the Palestinians nor its supporters seem to want a two-state solution. Why not bring out the polls for that? According to World Poll, and this is just before the recent war, only 23% of Palestinians were in favor of a two-state solution. Further, in pretty much every protest in America and Europe led by Palestinian/Hamas supporters numbering not hundreds of thousands but in the millions at this point, never have there been chants demanding a two-state solution. What is ever present at the protests are the “from the river to the sea” chants, which means the complete destruction of Israel – a goal they don’t hide. The failure to recognize that it takes two parties to agree to a two-state solution was conspicuously absent from the Post’s peace methodology.
The editorial goes on to say that “an Israeli commitment” is needed to start the two-state solution process but only requires that “Hamas, Gaza will need an administrator until elections.” The Post conveniently skips over the questionable interest of the Palestinians in a two-state solution and proposes that they should hold elections. Elections? Gaza had one election, one time. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has a leader who is in the 18th year of his four-year term! And the neighboring Arab states aren’t known for having elections, if that’s any indication of the prospects of elections going well in the Palestinian Arab areas.
The Post suggests that “the best – really, the only – option is the Palestinian Authority” (PA) to be the administrator of Gaza until elections. The editors do concede that the PA, is “admittedly, unpopular among Palestinians and Israelis alike.” But the editors forget that the reason why PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is in the 18th year of a four-year term is that if they held an election, the PA would lose to Hamas. The editors also ignore the PA’s “pay-to-slay” policy of giving generous financial rewards to Palestinians for murdering Israelis. Israel cannot be expected to tolerate more terror attacks from Gaza.
The ‘house of cards’ hopes of the Post editors fall further into disarray when they admit that “Palestinians’ support for Hamas has grown,” but the editors don’t stop there. They believe that once the Palestinians find out about the Hamas atrocities with the war being “rife with misinformation” … “a reckoning against a Hamas leadership that brought them to destruction might occur.” But Hamas’s popularity has swelled precisely because their fellow Palestinians approve of the atrocities. That’s where the polls seem to be pointing.
The editors continue their fantasy that a “reckoning is more likely if Palestinians have a reason to believe in a brighter future”. Do the editors believe that because that’s what they would want in the Palestinians’ shoes or because they think that’s what the Palestinians would want? Israel and other nations have for decades given the Palestinians an abundance of development aid. It sure seems that polling in the Palestinian areas of Gaza and the West Bank reveal more of a “destroy Israel” goal for their future. And that would coincide with the increased support for Hamas, which has put the goal of “destroying Israel” on public display. According to their charter, that is their raison d’etre.
To the editors’ credit, they do admit that there needs to be “reform of an aging and corrupt Palestinian Authority.” And this is the group that they want to administer an election? And they admit that the PA will need to be pressured to even hold the elections. What results does the Post expect from the elections? Should Israel agree to the potentially life-threatening outcome?
But according to the editors, for their fanciful plan to work on the Palestinian side, “all will depend on movement in Israel.” And of course, if it doesn’t work, they will have Israel to blame!
Next, the editors believe the Gulf nations will provide aid to rebuild Gaza but will withhold the monies “if Israel refuses to commit to a road map for a two-state solution.” The irony! It’s the Palestinians who have never sincerely and honestly negotiated for a two-state solution. And with the massacre that they perpetrated against Israel, along with decades of intransigence in negotiating, the Palestinians have demonstrated that they are not interested in two-states for two peoples. As for the Gulf states, they have never lifted a finger to advance the vaunted two-state solution.
The editors conclude, soberly, in their point–by–point prescription for peace that “this moment is an unlikely opportunity” that requires “a little bit of hope, too.” Their plan sounds more like a pipe dream than a peace plan – all too premature.
Dr. Michael Berenhaus is a freelance activist who works to combat anti-Israel bias in the media. He has been widely published in news sources such as The Economist, The New York Times and The Washington Post.