Peace vs. ‘peace’

I got called “anti-Peace” again recently. But I am not anti-Peace, I very much wish for Peace between Israel and the Arabs so that my children who live in Israel can be safe, so that my son, who has been some form of soldier for the past ten years, can be an artist as he wishes to be.

But what I am is anti-‘peace’. What’s the difference?

A necessary condition for Peace is that the Arabs have stopped trying to kill Jews and destroy Israel. A 10-year hudna, such as Hamas offers, for example, is not Peace because it is only a particular tactic in the struggle; the goal remains the same. Peace is more or less what Israel has with Jordan today.

And what is ‘peace’? ‘Peace’ is a situation in which Israel and the Arabs have signed an agreement which states that both sides want Peace and spells out what they will do to get it, but which is either impossible to implement or which one or both sides intends to circumvent. The Oslo Accord is a good example of ‘peace’. Papers were signed, concessions were made, but Yasser Arafat never wanted Peace, never held up his end of the agreements, and ultimately made war.

Some Israelis said from the beginning that Oslo was only ‘peace’, but most thought it would lead to Peace and were bitterly disappointed.

Most ordinary people, Israelis and Palestinians, probably want Peace, although some other things that they want are incompatible. But who wants ‘peace’?

The US wants ‘peace’. The Bush Administration wants it because an agreement will make them look good in history and because they think that they can get Syria to stop supporting Iraqi insurgents by forcing Israel to give them the Golan Heights. The US State Department wants ‘peace’ because it is basically pro-Arab and knows that ‘peace’ will weaken Israel and make the Saudis happy.

Mahmoud Abbas wants ‘peace’, because it will mean more aid from the US and Europe for him, and because it will weaken Israel and serve as a stage on the way to replacing Israel with an Arab state.

Hamas and Syria want neither Peace nor ‘peace’. They do not want to help Abbas or the US. Hamas’ constituency will not accept even ‘peace’. Syria does not want ‘peace’, because ‘peace’ would (as Barry Rubin argues in The Truth About Syria) remove the excuse used by the Assad regime to oppress its population, drain the economy, and exploit Lebanon. Assad would much prefer the status quo without the Golan Heights to an agreement that would make him give up his influence in Lebanon.

The Israeli government is in an interesting position. Although Oslo taught them the difference between Peace and ‘peace’, ‘peace’ is very important to the Americans who are important to Israel. The international media, the UN and NGOs, the EU, Tony Blair, etc. — they all seem to think (or pretend) that ‘peace’ is Peace.

So the PM and the Foreign Minister need to pretend that they think ‘peace’ is Peace and are enthusiastic about it — otherwise they will be called “anti-Peace”.

It’s not a problem for me.

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