Alex Rose
Alex Rose

Land For Peace a Misnomer Rather Than a Euphemism

On September 11, 2016, Raphael Medoff of penned a piece, “Denis Ross: If Elected Again, Clinton Should Seek More Israeli Concessions.” One is forced to wonder if a background study of Dennis Ross might help in comprehending how he arrives at this thought.

Dennis Ross is known as one who calculates that public pressure would move the parties, Palestinians and Israelis . He figures that in the Middle East, private negotiations work better. He has thrived under presidents from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan Bill Clinton, both Bushes and Barak Obama. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Ross worked for Jim Baker, the same individual who is credited with saying, F—– the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.”

In 1989, Ross and Miller——along with an Orthodox Jewish Foreign Service officer, Daniel Kurtzer of PLO recognition fame and later to become US Ambassador to Egypt and subsequently US Ambassador to Israel—–were accused of being “self-hating Jews. They had drafted a Baker speech which rocked the American Jewish community. requesting Israel’s leaders to renounce “the unrealistic vision of a greater Israel.” Apparently, an aide to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir referred to them as “Baker’s Jew boys.”

Now, it is known that Ross was absolutely dedicated to the peace process more so than anything else and obviously still is. Interesting, what in former times was entitled “Land for Peace” became “The Two State Solution”. Yet another questionable euphemism!

At the Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Survive conference which gave rise to Medoff’s article, Ross asserted that “even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority won’t work now”, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should take steps of his own. “He should at a minimum announce an official policy that there will be no further Israeli construction east of the security barrier.”

When one engages the historical record from the 1979 Camp David Accords to the present day, one can only find many concessions presented by Israel accompanied by dismissal of commitments made by the Palestinians. More than that, in every case the Palestinian reaction has been inhuman and cruel violence. What Israel has been able to achieve with Egypt and Jordan, has not been possible with the Palestinians. Ross surely knows this since his involvement in the overall process dates back to the 1st George Bush.

Professor Gerald Steinberg is of the opinion that Ross and his colleagues “in the excitement of the diplomatic activity closed their eyes to the disconnect between myth and reality,” He observes that while Ross finally recognized Arab rejectionisim of Israel’s existence had not changed, the diplomat in him would not let go. Writing in 2004, Steinberg insightfully notes that process without substance is untenable and another round of good intentions will end again in the hell of suicide bombings. Today, while in fact, suicide bombings have been replaced by knifing and weaponry, the principle remains unaltered.

A full iteration on Israeli concessions is necessary to answer the charge of Dennis Ross. Any discussion on [Israeli] concessions has to consider, as a minimum, The 1979 Camp David Accords, The 1991 Madrid Conference, The 1993 Oslo Accords, The 1994 Jordanian-Israeli Peace Treaty, The Taba Agreement [Oslo11], The 1997 Hebron Agreement, 1998 Wye River Memorandum, 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, August 2000 Camp David ‘Final Status’ Summit, 20o1 Taba Conference and 2005 Gaza Disengagement.

What distinguished the Camp David Accords and the Jordanian -Israeli Peace treaty from the rest was that Israel was negotiating with nation states viz., Egypt and Jordan. In the case of the former, Israel returned 90% of the conquered territory and made provision for an autonomous entity for the Palestinians. In the case of Jordan, it regained its entire sovereignty. Gaza and Judea and Samaria, previously illegally occupied by Egypt and Jordan respectively were retained by Israel. Obviously, Ross does not consider land returned in a defensive war a concession.

Gaza, which had become a flourishing entity with meaningful industries, active agriculture, schooling, hospitals, an entire infrastructure was handed over to the Palestinians with nothing consequential in return. The fact that it became a hornets’ nest, a Hamas enclave of terrorism surely does not negate Israel’s action not to be considered a concession.

As for the much applauded Oslo where the PLO for the first time recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, to renounce terrorism and other acts of violence, pledged to repeal clauses in the PLO National Charter calling for Israel’s destruction, Israel offered the following:

[a] Recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and acceptance of the PLO as a negotiating partner.
[b] A five year interim period of Palestinian self-governance at the municipal level, with the scheduling of negotiations on the permanent status of the Territories to begin no later than the third year of the interim period.
[c] During the interim period, elections were to be held in a newly established Palestinian Council or legislative body.
[d] Israeli military control and civil administration in Palestinian areas was to be transferred to authorized Palestinian Arabs who would become responsible for a variety of functions including municipal services and the machinery to combat Palestinian terrorism through a strong Palestinian police force and special counterterrorism units.
[e] Palestinian Arabs would take control of all their own internal affairs.

How did the Palestinians react to this major concession of autonomy?

[1] Zero to repudiate terrorism and to negate violence and to refrain from anti-Israel propaganda. Instead of promoting peace education as promised, public schools became factories which inculcated hatred of Israel and Jews while nurturing a ‘cult of death’ in children. Vilifying Israel in demonic, anti-Semitic terms on Palestinian media channels, calls for Jihad, praising terrorists as heroes and Hamas leaders as brothers.
[2] Zero to the acceptance of Israel’s existence. Comparing Oslo to a historic treaty similar to Mohammed’s rational for making and breaking treaties, using maps, insignia and terminology to suggest “Occupied Palestine’, disseminating inflammatory and fallacious material in order to deny Jewish nationhood and Jewish historic roots in the Land of Israel, while referring in Arabic to Arafat’s ‘phase strategy’ of utilizing the Accords with the objective of destroying Israel – a blatant repudiation of the agreement.
[3] Zero to change the PLO Covenant – vote time postponed – failure to remove clauses denying Israel’s right to exist, and to annul clauses calling for an armed struggle.
[4] Zero to directive to take ‘all measures against terrorism.’ Did not outlaw organizations that carried out or championed terrorist acts [including Hamas and Islamic Jihad] nor disarm lawless militias nor closed their training camps, but sought reconciliation with rivals who openly aided, abetted and carried out terrorist acts. In summary, they allowed some Palestinians to attack Israel while others negotiated.
[5] Zero to abide by limitations placed on the PA’s police force. Israel was not provided with a full list of police personnel nor a register of all weapons as stipulated. Incredibly, former terrorists who were specifically barred from serving in the police under the terms of the agreement, were accepted.
[6] Zero to adopt transparent methods of funding and honest government procedures. Contrary to expectation, the average Palestinians’ standard of living plummeted under self rule. There has been evidence of misuse of foreign aid, corruption and graft among the Palestinian officials.
[7] Zero to respect for human rights and the rule of law. The size of the police force far exceeds norms. The strong arm tactics, torture and excessive intimidation of citizenry was rampant while the lack of due process and freedom of the press is questionable.
[8] Failure to extradite or discipline terrorists. Abusing the terms of the agreement that allowed the PA to prosecute and sentence perpetrators by conducting bogus ‘quickie trials’ and establishing jails with revolving doors.

With Oslo 11 at Taba, Israel engaged in further redeployment of Israeli troops and divided Judea and Samaria into three zones, classified as Areas A, B and C as follows:

Area A: Gaza and Jericho plus 7 major Palestinian cities designated for full PA responsibility, including internal security and public order.
Area B: 450 Arab towns and villages where the PA were assigned civic functions, while Israel continued to control security.
Area C: Rural and unpopulated areas in Judea and Samaria witch Israel considered strategically important for its own defense and Israeli settlements in the Territories also remained the exclusive responsibility of Israel as set forth in previous agreements.

It is important to note that the Palestinian reaction to most of the concessions as defined under Oslo have perpetuated for all the subsequent agreements; in particular terrorism and hatred inculcated in the education of the children, and the martyring of the violist terrorist attacks.

Given the historical record on Israeli concessions and Palestinian reaction, what sort of logic persuades Ross to suggest further Israeli concessions? Is his intellect diminished to the point of not seeking a different formula than the one which has failed on so many occasions and in which he personally engaged in?
For his edification, he might consider:

[a] Redesigning the Peace Process by Richard Landes [Tablet Magazine, Sep 25, 2012].
[b] The Crux of the Conflict is Simple: Israel wants to survive [Israeli Victory is the only way to bring peace] by Gregg Roman [ Middle East Forum Sep 9, 2016].
[c] Israel’s History and Right to Exist – an adaption by David Meir Levi and David Horowitz [Discover the Networks July 23, 2014].
[d] How Strong is the Arab Claim to Palestine by Lawrence Auster [Front Page Magazine [Aug31, 2004].
[e] The Truth about Settlements by Arthur Cohn [Jewish Journal June 26, 2013].
[f] Debunking the Claim that ‘Palestinians’ are the Indigenous People of Israel by Daniel Grynglas [Jerusalem Post May 12, 2015].
[g] Beyond the Politics of the Moment by Dror Eydar [Israel Hayom Dec. 8, 2015].
[h] Radical Islam, Israel and Agiprop by Guy Milliere [Gatestone Institute April 23, 2015].
[i] The Two State Solution is 87 Years Old by Victor Sharpe [American Thinker Mar 29, 2009].
[j] Peace Process or War Process by Daniel Pipes [Nothing Abides 2009].

Dennis Ross and a good number of his State Department colleagues could be well served by exposure to the master historian Barbara Tuchman’s, ‘The March of Folly’ in which she definer’s folly as acts which are clearly contrary to the self-interest of the organization or group pursuing them. According to her , “self-interest is whatever conduces to the welfare or advantage of the body being governed; folly is a policy that in these terms is counter-productive” Tuchman considered folly to be the most dangerous act of misgovernment and saw it as a “self-destructive act carried out despite the availability of a recognized and feasible alternative.
Barbara Tuchman also speaks of yet another phenomenon which she classifies as “wooden-headedness”. This she views as “the source of self-deception——a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by the facts.

As an extension of his limited knowledge of Arabs, Ross would gain an informed picture of the Arab world by studying yet another great historian David Pryce-Jones’ “The Closed Circle – an Interpretation of the Arabs.” He would find a mirror image from the words, “Westerners habitually and ignorantly misconceive the responses they are likely to encounter from the Arabs, unsuitably and even laughably projecting their own political and moral attitudes where these cannot apply.”

On Jews, the lesson for Ross can be found in an early 1967 statement from Tuchman:

“With all its problems, Israel has one commanding advantage – a sense of purpose – to survive. It is conscious of fulfilling destiny. It knows it must not go under now, that it must endure. Israelis may not have affluence—-but they have what affluence tends to smother – a motive. On the whole and for the present, the pace-setters of the nation have—-a knowledge why they are there and where they are going.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.