Is Israel Being Stubborn?
by Yosef Y. Jacobson
Not every Israeli soldier acts like a saint, nor is every Israeli policy an act of genius. But the demand of the Obama administration that Israel freeze construction of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem is dangerously foolish. The reason is simple: If the Arabs’ demand that Israel halt the building was motivated by a desire for peace, it would have been the moral duty of Israel to follow suit. Sadly, the objective of this and similar demands is to ultimately destroy Israel. For Israel to stop the construction would thus be assisting war and bloodshed, endangering the lives of both Jews and Arabs.
This is not based on radical right-wing ideology, but on the cold facts. Think about it: Without even a single exception, every time Israel ceded territory to its neighbors, that territory became an infrastructure of terror, from which terrorists were sent to murder innocent Israeli civilians.
In the summer of 2005, Israel withdrew completely from Gaza, which it obtained in the 1967 war. Not even on an inch of land was occupied by Israel. The then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon believed that with not a single Jew left in Gaza and with the Israeli occupation over, the Arabs living there would now be driven to create a functioning state, and security would increase for both sides.
Alas, the exact opposite occurred. Hamas swept into Gaza and turned it into a terrorist infrastructure, with a single objective: to destroy Israel. The result was increased rocket attacks from unoccupied Gaza targeting Israeli civilians on a daily basis.
One decade earlier, the Oslo peace agreements persuaded Israel to cede territories in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank of Jordan), obtained from Jordan in the 1967 war, to the Palestinian Authority. What was the result? Those very territories have become bastions of terror from where young Arab men and women were sent to blow up and murder as many civilians as possible. Endless rivers of blood and tears began flowing in the buses, streets, café’s, and schools of Israel.
At Camp David, in 2000, Yasser Arafat was offered a Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem, along with 100% of Gaza and 98% of the West Bank. Arafat’s response was a terror campaign that claimed the lives of thousands of his own people, in addition to thousands of dead and maimed Jews.
For years Israel said to its Arab neighbors, “Let us live together.” Their consistent reply was: “Rather than live together, we will die together.” In 1947, the UN in its famous partition plan, offered the Arabs a state alongside a Jewish one. Israel accepted the offer; the Arabs rejected it.
After the Six Day War, Israel offered the return of the territories in exchange for peace and the Arab league issued its three famous No’s: No to peace, no to negotiation, and no to recognition. Why did the Arabs not, for their own benefit, accept the path of coexistence?
The painful answer is that the Arab objective is not to establish the twenty-second Arab state, but to destroy the only Jewish state. Arab leaders have always craved a Palestinian state that, in their oft-repeated phrase, would “extend from the river to the sea,” i.e., from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea—all of Israel. It is not about Arab desire for more land that drives the continuous strife; it is the feeling that if Israel exists, their existence is somehow worthless.
The Arab war against Israel is no more a territorial conflict than was Al Qaeda’s strike against America, and it can no more be resolved by giving away territory than anti-Americanism could be appeased by yielding New Jersey to Osama bin Laden.
What has changed from 2005 to 2010 that should convince Israel that this time around it would be any different? Has the education curriculum in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza been altered to start teaching children about the importance of peace and co-existence? Have the Imams during their weekly sermons in the Mosques changed their jargon exclaiming that Israel is not the face of the devil? Have Arab communities stopped naming streets and quarters after suicide bombers who murdered Israeli civilians?
Sadly, nothing of this has occurred. No one in the international community even demands it as a prerequisite for peace negotiations. While Israeli schools teach that peace is our greatest ideal, in every single Arab school without exception Israel is portrayed as the enemy of G-d which must be obliterated. With these realities unaltered, giving away more territories would bring more war not peace.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Netanyahu position against freezing the construction “very unfortunate” and said he hoped the U.S. “will be able to convince the Israeli government to give peace a chance by halting settlement construction in east Jerusalem and elsewhere.”
“Give peace a chance?” Israel has stretched out its neck time and time again in order to give peace a chance and it has received in return thousands of orphans.
If some day the Arabs are serious about creating a democratic Palestinian State with its capital in East Jerusalem, co-existing peacefully with Israel, why are Jews not allowed to live and build homes there? What type of democracy would it be if Jews would be banned from there? Arabs are allowed to live in all parts of Israel, but Jews are forbidden to live in parts of Palestine?
At the end of World War II, Winston Churchill quipped, “You can always rely on America to do the right thing, once it has exhausted the alternatives.” Israel, which has far fewer alternatives than the U.S., has long ago exhausted them all. How much more innocent blood needs to be spilled before we abandon the failed maps of the past? How many more children have to be blown up by suicide bombers before we pursue the only real course for peace?