The mysterious Elder of Ziyon, one of the smartest guys around, has written an excellent article called “The If-Then Fallacy.”
The fallacy consists of inferring that if Israel makes some kind of concession, then the Arabs — and the interested bystanders such as the EU, UN, media, US administration, etc. — will respond positively. Mr. Ziyon gives several examples in which this did not occur, the withdrawal from Gaza being a prominent one.
It was suggested that if Israel would withdraw, then not only would Gaza no longer be Israel’s problem, but Israel would be rewarded diplomatically for taking risks for peace. Israel did withdraw, at great social cost — a price the former residents of the settlements there are still paying. The result was that Hamas stepped up its rocket attacks, bringing about a war for which Israel was blamed (and unfairly vilified). And the world still believes that the Gaza strip is Israel’s responsibility!
The unsound inference made in such if-then propositions depends on a hidden premise: that the Arabs have some positive objective in their relations with Israel like peace, economic development, a Palestinian state, etc. If that were the case, then perhaps Israeli concessions would lead to an improvement in relations.
But this premise is false. Neither the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs — Hamas or Fatah — nor the majority of the ‘Palestinians in the street’ has these things as a primary goal. This is obvious with Hamas, who enjoy publicly saying it, but it is not hidden very deeply by the leaders of Fatah either. Their overriding policy objective is the elimination of Israel and the establishment of Arab control over all the territory presently occupied by it.
This was the objective in 1948, and it was Arafat’s objective. Nothing has changed.
This is why all of the peace processing and all of the initiatives by Israel and the West have been fruitless. This is why the Obama Administration’s plan to create a Palestinian state by pressuring Israel will either fail or will be disastrous for Israel. It is irrational to try to negotiate borders while one party remains committed to the destruction of the other party.
And this is the reason that it is essential that a prospective peace partner be prepared to say, in Arabic as well as English, that Israel is the state of the Jewish people.