Obama’s Mistaken Assumptions About Israel and Peace
The American Heritage dictionary defines “victory” as the defeat of an enemy or triumph in a struggle against difficulties. “Peace,” on the other hand, is characterized by the absence of hostilities, or alternatively, a treaty to end a conflict that results in public security and order.
These two definitions do not necessarily conform to one another, especially in the super-charged atmosphere of hatred, hubris, and religious fundamentalism that defines today’s Middle Eastern caustic political scenario. The Palestinian Authority for its part, has repeatedly cited Israeli intransigence as the sole reason for the failure to achieve a settlement. This argument has been accepted as valid by the Obama Administration, which is eagerly anticipating the upcoming Israeli elections, in the hope that a new left wing labor administration will be able to make the necessary “concessions” in the name of peace.
Left unsaid is the fact that on at least three prior occasions Israel offered the Palestinians a settlement giving them almost everything they were, in theory, asking for, only to be re-buffed. The Palestinian response has been to unleash the previous two intifadas; the objective of which, was to sway world opinion to their plight. In this regard, they have achieved a great deal of success as manifested by Israel’s escalating isolation in the international community, the mushroom growth of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement), and the support among all too many American Jews for a two-state solution at ANY price.
If the current U.S. Administration actually believes that only a left-labor government will be able to make the necessary compromises to Israel’s security and that an Israeli-Palestinian accord will solve the problems of the Middle East, they are wrong on both counts. They also ignore the lessons of history. With the exception of the recently concluded war with Hamas and Israel’s 1982 incursion into Lebanon, ALL of Israel’s major wars were waged by left of center governments.
The left wing Mapai party of David Ben-Gurion fought both the 1948 war for independence and the 1956 Sinai campaign, while the Labor coalition governments of Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir fought the 1967 and 1973 wars respectively.
In 2006, the Kadima government of Ehud Olmert, in response to the capturing of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, and continuing rocket attacks from that group, launched still another campaign against Lebanon. Ironically, it was the Likud governments of Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon that negotiated the peace treaty with Egypt and Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. Israel’s thanks for the latter was the election of Hamas as Gaza’s governing body and thousands of rockets flying across her borders.
As for the idea of a more “peaceful” Middle East; would an Israeli-Palestinian accord actually change the realities as they exist? Would ISIS cease its depredations in Iraq and Syria? Would Iran suddenly decide it no longer needs nuclear weapons? Would the Syrian civil war come to an abrupt end? Would Islamic militias in Libya lay down their arms? Would the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan curtail their attempts to overthrow the central government? Would Hamas and Hezbollah end all offensive actions against Israel?
Would Boko Haram, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Shabab, and al-Qaeda all disband? Would the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc., stop all funding of radical Islamic activity, and would fundamentalist Sheiks and Imams cease preaching hatred of the West and the need for Jihad? The answer is obvious.
According to a recent Pew Research Center Global Attitudes survey, some 97% of all Palestinians hold an extremely negative view of Jews. In this vitriolic atmosphere, ANY agreement Israel signs with the current Palestinian Authority would at best, only be a temporary cease fire. Israel, since its inception, has only sought to live in peace, which it defines as mutual recognition, an end to all terrorist activity, and defined security arrangements.
By comparison, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Hezbollah seeks victory, which they define as the complete annihilation of the Jewish state. As one can plainly see, these are two very different goals. Carl Von Clausewitz, in his military treatise Vom Kreig (On War), once observed that “Victory is the creation of a better political reality.” A better political reality in this sense would be for a new Palestinian leader to seek an accommodation with Israel.
Since all of the Gaza strip and the vast majority of the West Bank is already under the control of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority respectively, the Palestinian state, for all practical purposes, already exists. All that is needed is for the Palestinians to accept the existence of Israel and evince a willingness to live alongside it in peace. The impetus for peace therefore, lies with the Palestinians. It has always been so. It has also always been an Arab War against Israel, NOT an “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”
Perhaps, one day, they will produce a leader capable of recognizing this fact. He would be the rarest of all leaders; a statesman combining the courage and vision of Anwar Sadat with the political skills and acumen of Winston Churchill. He will also require a very loyal and dedicated bodyguard. Until such time as he arrives, the chimeric illusions of peace or victory will continue.
Caren Besner has written articles published by Sun-Sentinel, Jerusalem Post, Jewish Journal, IsraPost, the Jewish Voice, Independent Sentinel, The Times of Israel, San Diego Jewish World, and American Thinker.