Last week I spoke to a woman, a senior citizen who reads a column that I write in the local Jewish Federation newsletter. “I enjoy your articles,” she said, “but what I want to know is this: after all these years, when will Israel ever get peace?”
“When we get different Arabs,” I answered.
Of course what I meant was that we cannot reach an agreement with those whose deepest desire is that we be gone from the Middle East, who do not recognize the legitimacy of any Jewish sovereignty regardless of borders, and who encourage murder and venerate murderers in all of their institutions.
This becomes evident in negotiations in which the PLO refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, insists upon a ‘right of return’ for the descendants of 1948 refugees, and refuses to consider Israel’s most basic security needs — all the while continuing to glorify murderers and incite young people to become terrorists, even suicide terrorists.
Someday there might be a new Arab leadership, I suggested, that is more interested in economic development than revenge, and then there might be a possibility of peace.
So this morning I was telling “Robman,” who often comments on this blog, about the conversation. And he made an interesting point: there are other ways to get to peace than to make a deal with the Arabs.
There is more to the persistence of Arab terrorism than just hatred and a pathological desire for revenge. There is the belief that if they persist long enough, they will ultimately succeed in getting rid of the ‘Zionist enemy’. To a certain extent, this is part of Islamic ideology — after all, there was a 200-year Crusader kingdom in the Holy Land that was ultimately overcome, something Palestinians talk about a lot.
But that isn’t the only source of encouragement, and the intensity of the struggle is amplified, perhaps even sustained, by the encouragement the Palestinian (and other) Arabs receive daily from the rest of the world, implying that theirs is not a lost cause.
There is the continuous chorus of anti-Israel demonization flowing from UN bodies and from the EU. There is the ceaseless sniping at Israel from most of the world’s media. But there is also the far more concrete and potent support that the Palestinian Arabs receive from their strongest supporter and closest ally in the world: the United States of America.
Let’s just look at what the PLO entity gets from the US: the great majority of its financial support, both direct aid and training for its army (excuse me, ‘security forces’); money to pay the salaries of PA workers (mostly ‘security forces’) including those in Israeli prisons for terrorism and murder, and those in Hamas-ruled Gaza; and contributions to UNRWA, the agency that maintains the refugee camps where residents are paid to have children that the Arabs will never allow to be resettled anywhere but Israel, and where they are taught to hate Jews and Israel in UN schools.
That’s only money. There is also the unrelenting political pressure on Israel to make concessions like freezing construction, releasing prisoners and ceding land, regardless of the fact that extreme PLO positions on issues absolutely fundamental to peace never change. There is the refusal to acknowledge Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.
And we can’t forget that in the periodic regional wars that the Arab nations and Iranian proxies launch against Israel, the US steps in and stops the fighting when Israel is on the verge of a decisive victory. Each time Israel prevails, but the US always makes sure there will be a next time.
Peace does not only come from diplomacy or agreements. More often, historically, lasting peace comes about because one side defeats the other. Chamberlain and Stalin signed ‘peace’ agreements with Hitler, but peace did not arrive until Russian tanks entered Berlin. And who is preventing Israel from defeating its enemies conclusively? Who is propping them up and giving them hope that they will win in the end? The United States of America.
Recently President Obama announced that he wants to scale down US involvement in the Middle East. Unfortunately, he also said that he would continue to push for an Israel-PLO agreement.
Rather, I suggest that we try a new pro-peace strategy: really support Israel and stop helping her enemies.