The Israeli/Arab Conflict – Will This Ever End?
A wise but pragmatic Israeli answered this way: “No, this is not going to end in the near future. Israel needs to be prepared to protect herself in this conflict for the next 100 years like it has over the past 100.” This statement surely does not sound very hopeful, but it does look the truth in the eye with an understanding that the facts must be acknowledged and dealt with. Things like armies, hate and nuclear armament can’t easily be swept under the carpet and ignored.
Many Jews and some Israelis would rather fool themselves into believing that the much-anticipated peace will be attained by merely forfeiting lands gained in the 1967 war and establishing a Palestinian state. They dream that these concessions are required to repair the damaged honor of the Arabs who have never gotten over losing the battle with Israel who in six days fought off Arab military assaults from all sides in a joint effort to push the Jews into the sea.
What these dreamers fail to realize is that the Arabs not only have yet to get over losing the 1948 war in which Israel came into being, in spite of a massive joint Arab effort to forbid it. But the Arabs have not accepted the fact that the Arab empire no longer rules these lands or others that were captured in the great Arab conquests ages ago. According to their culture, there are only two types of lands in the world – lands under Muslim control (Dar al-Islam) and lands that are not yet under Muslim control (Dar el Harb – literally “the house of war”). Lands that have at any time come under Muslim control will forever be considered Dar al-Islam lands (Spain and Israel for example). Lands that have not yet come under Islamic domination – the rest of the world – are on the conquering agenda whenever the global situation allows it. For this reason, the rest of the world is considered “the house of war.” The simple state of NOT being dominated by Islam is considered in their religion as an act of aggression against it.
No matter what they say, Israel’s sworn enemies are not interested in a peace settlement. They are interested in Israel disappearing and ceasing to exist.
With all this said, I still believe that peace can be attained, although “peace” might be the wrong term to use to define the goal. “Normalization” for Israel in its Middle Eastern neighborhood would be a much better definition of the goal that we should be aiming for. “Peace” would demand that either Israel’s Arab neighbors become Zionists or Israel become an Arab State. Neither of those options is realistic. But whatcould come about in reasonable normalization would be Israel’s neighbors accepting Israel as she is and interacting with her as a neighbor. Chances are that when that comes about, Israel’s relations with some Arab states might be better than the relations between many Arab states themselves. The reason is simply that the Arabs who are friendly to Israel stand to gain so much more from the relationship, as have countries around the world that have enjoyed Israel’s friendship and assistance.
Ironically, the biggest deterrent to proceeding with establishment of normal relations between Israel and its neighbors is the “peace camp” itself, which systematically sabotages the real potential for normalization by pushing their preferred agenda of retreat, which Israel could never agree to. If normalization is to come about, it can only be set in place by responsible and pragmatic leadership, and not by hazy eyed dreamers who fantasize that if Israel just retreats we can all live like brothers.
The fact is that in the Middle East, the Arab countries themselves would overrun each other if they had a chance (and they do, from time to time when they think they can). That is what Israel could expect, as well, if it didn’t have a strong army protecting its borders and national interests. The basis for regional normalization is exactly that – Israel has a strong army, and is open to having positive relations with all of its neighbors. Naturally, this cannot be at the cost of Israel’s security or by forfeiting our country’s assets and land.
The truth is that Israel’s neighbors and the international community will be much more respectful if they can see that we have a clear message and are firm on our own national agenda. Mixed messages and the willingness to negotiate on the very fundamentals of Jewish national existence project a very dangerous message to those who still hope to see the Jewish State as a passing phenomenon that will again be forgotten by history – which is not the case. The return of the Jewish people from the exile and the re-establishment of the Jewish State in the land of Israel are irreversible facts. The sooner Israel’s neighbors acknowledge Israel as a permanent part of the regional scenery, the sooner we can get on with building normal relationships as neighbors living in peace and mutual respect.
David Ha’ivri is the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. He and his wife Mollie live in Kfar Tapuach, Shomron with their eight children. You can follow him on Twitter @haivri