This week’s breach of Israel’s Golan border by a crowd of Syrians was telegenic, but it probably didn’t give most viewers the impression that Israel is about to achieve piece with its neighbors.
Even less conducive to that impression is the fact that this event occurred as part of Nakba Day, which brands the modern state of Israel’s creation 63 years ago as a nakba, catastrophe, and is marked with ever-increasing intensity each year by Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, and Arabs in other countries. This year’s Nakba Day also included, among other things, a terror attack in Tel Aviv by a lone Israeli Arab civilian that killed 1 and injured 19.
To this can be added the recent unity pact between Fatah, Israel’s alleged peace partner, and Hamas, whose charter proclaims that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it”; Fatah leader, and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas’s statement a day before Nakba Day that Palestinians would never give up the “right of return” and that every Palestinian “has the right to see Palestine and return to the homeland because the homeland is our final destination”—which could only occur in lieu of Israel; and Abbas’s New York Times op-ed this week that included bald, defamatory lies about Israel’s establishment and said that “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would…pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice”—a “peace” message being hard to detect there.
Nor is the regional situation any better, as Iran continues to progress toward nuclear weapons in the face of impotent Western “sanctions” and increasingly warlike winds blow from Egypt, which has been deteriorating fast since the nonbelligerent, pro-Western Mubarak regime was overthrown in February amid Western excitement over “democracy.”
And now, as Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu embarks for Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Friday, address AIPAC on Sunday, and address Congress on Tuesday, voices are calling on him…to lay out a peace plan including precise details on Israeli concessions.
The fact that some of these calls come from friendly sources reflects the remarkable tenacity of the “peace process” paradigm in the face of such stark countervailing evidence. The Jerusalem Post, for instance, criticized Netanyahu this week for being too “ambivalent” and “vague” about “his conditions for the creation of a Palestinian state” in a speech he gave to the Knesset on Monday. This at a time when the Palestinian Authority’s (let alone Hamas’s) contempt for the iconic “state existing side by side with Israel in peace and security”—as anything but a springboard to a “final solution” for Israel—is blatantly expressed daily, as if Abbas’s paean to the “right of return” and other hostile pronouncements were not sufficient.
In a similar vein, in the Washington Post veteran peace-process analyst David Makovsky, claiming that Netanyahu “needs to overcome suspicions about his desire for a breakthrough,” advised him to “take the opportunity of his May 24 address to a joint session of Congress to lay out a compelling political vision toward renewed peace talks.” Lest anyone minimally cognizant of the facts worry that the circumstances are less than propitious, Makovsky has the remedy: “Of course, mutual [Israeli-Palestinian] recognition must be accompanied by a vigorous public peace education campaign, with both sides making clear that each has a historic attachment to the land and that the land must be shared”—a statement so glaringly at odds with the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ethos and tenets as to take one’s breath away.
But while the _Jerusalem Post_’s and Makovsky’s admonitions were at least respectful toward both Netanyahu and Israel, Thomas Friedman’s in his latest Israel-bashing New York Times column this week were—not surprisingly—anything but. In his previous notable effort in that genre, dispatched from Cairo in February, Friedman had bitterly berated Israel for not sharing his confident enthusiasm about the “Arab spring.” Just last week he admitted that “Watching the Arab uprisings these days leaves me with a smile on my face and a pit in my stomach…. Is the breakdown in these societies too deep for anyone to build anything decent out of?” But the seeming humility does not carry over to Israel, toward which Friedman’s animosity is deep and abiding.
Thus on Tuesday Friedman, while allowing in one breath that “I have no idea whether Israel has a Palestinian or Syrian partner for a secure peace that Israel can live with,” declares in the next that
Israel needs to use every ounce of its creativity to explore ways to securely cede the West Bank to a Palestinian state.
I repeat: It may not be possible. But Netanyahu has not spent his time in office using Israel’s creativity to find ways to do such a deal. He has spent his time trying to avoid such a deal—and everyone knows it. No one is fooled.
Such “everyone” and “no one” is, of course, a form of rhetorical bullying, negating all those who think “creativity” could no more help Israel make a “deal” with the jihad that confronts it than it could help the United States make one with Al Qaeda. But Friedman knows better:
The only way for Netanyahu to be taken seriously again is if he risks some political capital and actually surprises people. Bibi keeps hinting that he is ready for painful territorial compromises involving settlements. Fine, put a map on the table….
Along with the abuse—many people take Netanyahu seriously—comes, again, that demand for specificity, where Israel is supposed to cough up everything it would concede in putative negotiations (leading reasonably to the question—what would then be their point?) while the other side comes up with Nakba Day and the International Criminal Court.
Yet, “absent that,” in the world according to Thomas Friedman,
it’s just silly for us to have Netanyahu addressing the U.S. Congress when he needs to be addressing Palestinians down the street. And it is equally silly for the Palestinians to be going to the United Nations for a state when they need to be persuading Israelis why a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement is in their security interest.
Again that astonishing disconnect from the reality. One gazes, finally, at that phrase—“persuading Israelis why a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement is in their security interest”—in disbelief. At least it helps clarify the steadily declining fortunes of the newspaper that employs the columnist.
For the devout, then, whether courteous ones like the Jerusalem Post editorialist or Makovsky, or nasty ones like Friedman, nothing dims the splendor of the sacred “process.” Certainly not the troubling phenomena mentioned in this article—nor much worse ones like the over 17 years of suicide bombings, rocket firings, and other terror that Israel has endured in pursuit of the chimera.
As for what it would take finally to convince them that it’s a bust, clearly it would need to be something so dire that it’s actually preferable that they keep spouting their nonsense.
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