Peace requires both sides involved to believe that a state of peace is in their national interest. The Palestinians do not want peace and for them peace would be considered an enormous failure.
Think of the who’s who of secretaries of state who have tried to broker peace between Israel and Palestinian Arabs since 1948. Giants from both parties put their own personal prestige as well as that of the United States on the line and never produced anything more than temporary agreements and photo ops. Both Republicans and Democrats failed, as did their “Quartet” counterparts. Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry, Colin Powell, Tony Blinken and others all worked for a final peace agreement and came up empty-handed—as did the presidents who employed them. The question is why? If you throw the best and brightest and enormous resources and promises at a problem, how can the problem still remain unsolved?
A thought exercise will provide part of the answer. Do you hate somebody? Most people dislike some people and this feeling may even reach the point of hatred. That’s pretty normal. Would you kill that person? And would you kill yourself in the process of killing that person? Those last two questions for most normal people are beyond discussion. One may hate another but taking a life is immoral and not something most would consider. Now think of the Palestinians. One canard sold to the West is that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) are extremist terrorist groups but the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its associated Fatah organization are somehow moderate. Nothing could be further from the truth. While many Fatah and PA officials do not seem to be Islamic fundamentalists, their hatred of Jews and their desire to destroy the State of Israel are indistinguishable from the feelings of Hamas and PIJ members. Their hatred is so intense that they are willing to die to kill a Jew, any Jew—not some specific Jew who somehow may have harmed them personally. In the indictments of those involved in the suicide bombing in downtown Jerusalem on March 21, 2002, the bomber (a PA policeman) was told by a PA intelligence officer that whatever he did, he had to kill at least one Jew. To the best of my knowledge, no Nazi officer told another officer or enlisted man to ever endanger himself in order to kill Jews. The ones dropping the Zyklon gas canisters were on the roofs of the gas chambers and out of harm’s way. Those in the mobile killing squads on the Eastern front murdered Jewish men, women and children and were never in danger from their victims or the locals who often helped in the task. The Palestinians themselves often say that they love death more than Israelis love life. At the height of the Intifada and subsequent killing periods, Palestinian support for attacks against Israeli citizens would reach 65 percent or higher in the general Palestinian population. Many of those famous secretaries of state wished to claim that only a small percentage of Palestinian Arabs were actually involved directly with terror. While that might be technically correct by the numbers, the PA and its voting populace lionize the murderers and name streets and buildings after them. How would you like to visit a square named after someone who killed one of your parents or a sibling?
One may argue that the Japanese also committed and glorified suicide with many of their kamikaze attacks against US soldiers and naval ships. So if the Japanese could come around to make peace and be a solid ally of the US and the West, why can’t the Palestinians one day change course and make peace with Israel? We see that fanatical devotion to killing the enemy does not necessarily have to prevent peace between former combatants. While true, there is one more consideration in the Palestinian view of Israel.
The hatred of Israel and Jews is only one reason behind failed peace efforts for all of Israel’s 75 years of existence. The second is geopolitical brainwashing. If you ask Palestinians or their international supporters about the history of this portion of the Levant, they will tell you that there was a Palestinian state over what today is Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank—”from the River to the Sea.” Jews showed up and took over about half in 1948 and then stole the rest in 1967. They thus see Israel as a completely illegal state, and if you listen to them, that is what they will tell you. They—unlike our distinguished secretaries—do not see the events of 1948 as a legitimate birth of a nation and those of the Six Day War in 1967 as some type of overreach; rather, they see 1948 as a disaster (“Nakba” they call it and memorialize it every year since 1948). They do not see any legitimate place for a Jewish homeland, and all of the arguments of Jews being in the Land of Israel for 3000 years or Jews purchasing land for kibbutzim and moshavim mean nothing to those who believe in a nonexistent Palestinian state prior to 1948. Israel is a terror state; Israel is an illegal state; Israel is an apartheid state. The only real difference between the Palestinian factions is that Hamas, Jihad and the PFLP say they want to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth, while the mealymouthed PA claims only when speaking with Western officials that there is land for two states. One notes that the PA has rejected any proposal that would allow Israel to have defensible borders, and that is no accident. The PA wants to get rid of Israel as badly as Hamas does, but they simply enjoy the billions in international aid that come with pretending to want peace. Did you know that Yasser Arafat went straight from the White House signing of the Oslo Agreements to a mosque in South Africa, where he promised a “million martyrs” to go up and take Jerusalem? Was the Yasser Arafat of the Rose Garden or of the mosque the real deal? You can figure that out for yourself.
The fact that the Ottomans ruled this region until World War I and then afterwards, the British took over Egypt, Palestine, Jordan and beyond means nothing to the Palestinians or their Jew-hating supporters in universities and BDS movements. That there was never a Palestinian state anywhere is simply an inconvenient fact for our 21st century antisemites. Even after 1948, Gaza was under brutal Egyptian rule, while the West Bank of the Jordan River was claimed by Jordan as its own. Not until the ill-conceived Oslo Accords of 1993 did Palestinian Arabs ever have governmental control over a square centimeter of any land. But the Palestinians and their supporters are not big on history. They are big on converting traditional Jew-hatred into Israel hatred and vice versa. It does not take much to convince an antisemite in Europe or on a university campus to hate Israel.
Now let’s take the two pieces together. We have a people convinced that they had a country that was stolen from them by a bunch of European Jews leveraging the Holocaust to take their land. Couple that with a mentality that is filled with hatred and grievance for the theft of their non-existent country. The result is Palestinian intransigence. They simply have no interest in making a peace agreement that would require them to recognize a legitimate state of Israel and leave Israel militarily safe. But the West blames Israel because they have enormous leverage over the Jewish state. President Obama halted shipments of Hellfire missiles during an active conflagration in 2014, while European countries routinely blackball Israeli products produced over the 1948 armistice line. If the West wants peace between Israel and the Palestinians, then they should tell the Palestinians that they are on their own. Begging them to make peace has led to nothing but misery for Palestinians left in ancient refugee camps as well as Israelis who have lost loved ones or been injured in Palestinian terror attacks. As James Baker did to Israel, the time has come for Secretary Blinken to tell the PA that when they are serious, they should call the State Department switchboard.