The Israeli government’s response to the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism has been to improve policing and to denounce Palestinian incitement, but neither measure can stop the violence. When a 13-year-old brainwashed Palestinian child terrorist is shot as she tries to stab an Israeli guard in the West Bank, the world does not see Palestinian incitement and decades of hate culture. The world sees instead Palestinian teens driven to desperation by the “Israeli occupation”.
The Palestinian PR machine is working extremely well.
In an article written in December 2015 in Tablet, Ron Rosenbaum examined with a heavy heart the possibility that Israel may not survive. He is pessimistic about the Iranian nuclear threat despite the nuclear deal that he supported, but his bigger concern is that Palestinian hatred for Jews will keep getting worse. He notes,
He [Hitler] tried to hide his monstrous crimes. In Palestine, they are celebrated.
Rosenbaum predicts that,
The knifings will never stop […]. The possibility will haunt every walk in the street, every trip to the market, every stroll in a public place.
In a follow-up interview with the CBC, Rosenbaum is even more pessimistic.
Rosenbaum also mentions the ongoing threats from Hezbullah, Daesh, and Hamas, but there is another threat that may turn out to be the most dangerous of all: anti-Israel attitudes in the West.
Israel is tiny compared to its neighbors. Its survival relies on support from the West for its military strength and for protection against hostile resolutions at the United Nations Security Council. However, the next generation of Western political leaders is being brainwashed to hate Israel. They attend universities that hold yearly Israeli Apartheid Weeks and where professors teach that Palestinians are victims while Israel occupies and steals their land.
In the not-too-distant future, the U.S. will elect a President from the JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace) and SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) generation, and even before that, most of the President’s staff will be from that generation. Pro-Israel activists lament that President Obama does not support Israel enough, but some of the future U.S. presidents will support Israel much less.
The strong alliance between Israel and U.S. has not always existed and is not guaranteed to last forever. France was once a close ally of Israel, but that relationship deteriorated significantly under the presidency of Charles De Gaulle. The same could happen with the U.S., and this time there may be no other country to pick up the mantle.
The prevailing narrative in the West, even among Israel’s staunchest allies, is that the solution to the conflict is a negotiated two-state solution. It is a beautiful narrative that fits Western liberal sensibilities: both sides have faults, both sides want a two-state solution, and both sides could agree on a reasonable compromise if only given a chance.
The problem with this narrative, however, is that it is phony. Only one side in this conflict wants a two-state solution and is willing to compromise to achieve it. The Arab side has never wanted a two-state solution, does not want it today, and shows no interest in compromising.
Israel unfortunately encouraged this narrative when it signed the Oslo accords, therefore appearing to acknowledge the ability of the Palestinian leadership to govern and to negotiate a peace agreement, but the Palestinian leadership does not have that ability or desire. Oslo was an honest mistake, but Israel has yet to recover from it.
The consequence of this false narrative is that Western expectations are frustrated by the lack of progress, and the stronger side, Israel, is blamed for the stalemate. Israel is seen as the occupier who keeps building on stolen land. Traditional anti-Semites exploit this situation to whip up a modern and more widespread form of anti-Semitism, hatred of the Jewish state.
Jews should be able to live in the West Bank just as Arabs live in Israel, and in any case, Israel builds practically nothing outside of large settlement blocks that are widely expected to be part of Israel in a two-state solution. The settlements are not an obstacle to a two-state solution although they are a convenient excuse for Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas to not negotiate peace with Israel.
The Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian terrorist groups, and the BDS movement have one goal only, no Jewish state. They would strategically settle for two states if one state is purely Arab and the other is majority Arab. It is no coincidence that their slogan is,
From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free.
All this is ignored by Western leaders who routinely imply a moral equivalence between Israel’s settlements and Palestinian terrorism in a misguided attempt to appear fair and balanced.
Unless the narrative is changed, despite the best efforts of Zionists to reverse the growth of anti-Zionism in the West, the negative Western attitude towards Israel will only worsen, and this will threaten Israel’s very existence. Unless Israel’s leadership takes charge of the narrative, Israel will, in one way or another, become an Arab state.
Israel must provide the West with a different narrative that accepts the need for eventual Palestinian autonomy, but that does not rely on Palestinian goodwill.
Naftali Bennett, a member of the Israeli government’s security cabinet, admitted that his own government lacked “strategic thinking”. Without any strategy of its own, Israel is at the mercy of the fanciful negotiated-two-state-solution narrative promoted by Western politicians.
Opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Isaac Herzog both proposed unilateral steps towards separation from the Palestinians. Herzog wants a fence around settlement blocks that Israel intends to keep as part of a two-state agreement. He said,
I want to separate from as many Palestinians as possible, as fast as possible.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, is content to propose nothing while maintaining a status quo that does not exist. The situation is changing and will continue to change, whether Bibi wants it or not.
Will Israel lead the change, or will it will be forced to react to the whims of others? That is the question.
I am not endorsing any particular proposal, but I strongly agree with Lapid when he says,
This passive approach to our destiny is misguided and dangerous. We need an approach based on pragmatism and genuine security for both sides. The answer is separation. As decisively as possible.
A new narrative must be developed, starting with steps to implement separation between Israel and the Palestinians, and continuing with a plan on how to define the borders of Israel and obtain international recognition for them. In this narrative, the decision to create an Arab state next to Israel must be clearly and resolutely placed into the hands of the Palestinians. The narrative must not leave reasonable room for accusations against Israel of occupation or expansionism.
Despite his lack of initiative during almost seven years at the helm, Bibi is in the best position to lead a new coalition that can create the new narrative. If Israel continues the strategy of going with the flow and hoping for the best, its future as a democratic and Jewish state is in doubt.