Daniel Pipes has written an article — “Peace Process or War Process?” — in the fall issue of Middle East Quarterly that is brilliant in its conceptual understanding of what is going on with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
It doesn’t matter what Obama does to advance “peace” here, says Pipes, it doesn’t matter how his approach differs from that of the two Bushes or Clinton — he is doomed to failure. For, in spite of the differences in the policies of the aforementioned presidents, there is an essential way in which all of their approaches share a common vision: That the conflict might be solved via goodwill. War would be “finessed” as steps were taken towards peace.
This, says Pipes, has been the predominant Israeli attitude since the disaster of Oslo in 1993:
“…the ultimate mistake lay in Yitzhak Rabin’s misunderstanding of how war ends, as revealed by his catch-phrase, ‘One does not make peace with one’s friends. One makes peace with one’s enemy.’ The Israeli prime minister expected war to be concluded through goodwill, conciliation, mediation, flexibility, restraint, generosity, and compromise, topped off with signatures on official documents. In this spirit, his government and those of his three successors — Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak — initiated an array of concessions, hoping and expecting the Palestinians to reciprocate.
They did not. In fact, Israeli concessions inflamed Palestinian hostility. Palestinians interpreted Israeli efforts to ‘make peace’ as signals of demoralization and weakness. ‘Painful concessions’ reduced the Palestinian awe of Israel, made the Jewish state appear vulnerable, and incited irredentist dreams of annihilation. Each Oslo-negotiated gesture by Israel further exhilarated, radicalized, and mobilized the Palestinian body politic to war. The quiet hope of 1993 to eliminate Israel gained traction, becoming a deafening demand by 2000. Venomous speech and violent actions soared. Polls and votes in recent years suggest that a mere 20 percent of Palestinians accept the existence of a Jewish state.
“Rabin’s mistake was simple and profound: One cannot ‘make peace with one’s enemy,’ as he imagined. Rather, one makes peace with one’s former enemy. Peace nearly always requires one side in a conflict to be defeated and thus give up its goals.
“Wars end not through good will but victory.” (Emphasis added)
“…Since 1993, in brief, the Arabs have sought victory while Israelis sought compromise.
“…But who does not win, loses. To survive, Israelis eventually must return to their pre-1993 policy of establishing that Israel is strong, tough, and permanent. That is achieved through deterrence — the tedious task of convincing Palestinians and others that the Jewish state will endure and that dreams of elimination must fail.” (Emphasis added)
Says Pipes, “This process may be seen through a simple prism. Any development that encourages Palestinians to think they can eliminate Israel is negative, any that encourages them to give up that goal is positive.
“The Palestinians’ defeat will be recognizable when, over a protracted period and with complete consistency, they prove that they have accepted Israel. This does not mean loving Zion, but it does mean permanently accepting it — overhauling the educational system to take out the demonization of Jews and Israel, telling the truth about Jewish ties to Jerusalem, and accepting normal commercial, cultural, and human relations with Israelis.”
America has a role to play here, Pipes tells us.
“…Americans face a stark choice: Endorse the Palestinian goal of eliminating Israel or endorse Israel’s goal of winning its neighbors’ acceptance.
“To state the choice makes clear that there is no choice — the first is barbaric, the second civilized. No decent person can endorse the Palestinians’ genocidal goal of eliminating their neighbor…the U.S. government must stand with Israel in its drive to win acceptance.
“Not only is this an obvious moral choice, but Israel’s win, ironically, would be the best thing that ever happened to the Palestinians. Compelling them finally to give up on their irredentist dream would liberate them to focus on their own polity, economy, society, and culture. Palestinians need to experience the crucible of defeat to become a normal people — one whose parents stop celebrating their children becoming suicide terrorists, whose obsession with Zionist rejectionism collapses. There is no shortcut.
“This analysis implies a radically different approach for the U.S. government from the current one. On the negative side, it puts Palestinians on notice that benefits will flow to them only after they prove their acceptance of Israel. Until then — no diplomacy, no discussion of final status, no recognition as a state, and certainly no financial aid or weapons.
“On the positive side, the U. S. administration should work with Israel, the Arab states, and others to induce the Palestinians to accept Israel’s existence by convincing them that they have lost. This means impressing on the Israeli government the need not just to defend itself but to take steps to demonstrate to Palestinians the hopelessness of their cause. That requires not episodic shows of force…but a sustained and systematic effort to deflate a bellicose mentality.”
The bellicose, non-compromising, nature of the PA is evident once again. This time it’s a memo put out by Fatah, which was obtained by the Associated Press. It says:
“All hopes placed in the new US administration and President Obama have evaporated, [as Obama] couldn’t withstand the pressure of the Zionist lobby, which led to a retreat from his previous positions on halting settlement construction and defining an agenda for the negotiations and peace.”
Of course, Obama set himself up for this, with the demands he originally made, leading the PA to think he was going to deliver Israel on a silver platter. This runs completely contrary to what Pipes recommends. Palestinian hopes that Israel can be defeated have only been strengthened via Obama’s posturing.
Abbas stated, once again, that he would not sit at the negotiating table with Israel until all settlement building had been frozen, including in the occupied territory of Jerusalem.
Words matter a great deal and often not enough attention is paid to them. There is, instead, interpretation based on wishful thinking — or a desire to look the other way.
It had made the news that the US State Department says that any unity government forged by the Palestinians must be based on Quartet principles:
“Commitment to non-violence, recognition of Israel, acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.”
I acknowledge readily enough that there is no way that Hamas will even pretend to commit to non-violence. (Fatah pretends.) As to previous agreements, Hamas has spoken about “respecting” them, which is diplomatic word play — and I don’t know if the U.S. would accept that.
But what leaped out at me is “recognition of Israel.” There have been Hamas leaders who have said, “Recognize Israel? Of course. It’s here. We acknowledge that it’s here.”
What’s missing from this formulation is the need to recognize Israel’s RIGHT to exist as a Jewish state. That, my friends, is something else all together.
Will there be reconciliation? That depends on the day of the week, and the hour of the day.
Today in Ramallah Fatah signed the Egyptian-generated agreement for reconciliation. According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Service, Hamas is in favor but has not said so publicly yet. Egypt is requesting a final answer by tomorrow.
The very ugly saga of the Goldstone Report continues…
Today the Security Council will be meeting in special session, at the request of Libya, to debate the issue. Israel has been hard at work in diplomatic circles, communicating to Western nations the need to take a stand here, lest sanction be given to terrorism.
This session is not, however, expected to end with a recommendation that the report be sent to the International Criminal Court. Founded in 2002, the Court prosecutes individuals charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and the like.
Tomorrow, however, the UN Human Rights Council will meet in special session, at the behest of the PA (which has observer status in the UN).
I stop right here for a moment, however, because I accessed the UN announcement about this and found that it says that the request was made by “Palestine.” Whoa! There IS no Palestine. And yet, as I’ve been learning in discussions with a lawyer here, the UN is perilously close to acting as if the PA indeed is a state.
(Should we be surprised, then, that UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon praised Abbas’s involvement in pushing this issue forward?)
At any rate, the request was co-sponsored by the following members of the Council: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Senegal.
Discussions in this forum are expected to last for more than a day, and there is speculation that it may send the report to the General Assembly which might send it to the Security Council (GA actions not being binding), which might yet send it to the International Court of Justice, which is the judicial arm of the UN and adjudicates in issues between states.
It is not clear to me, and I have not yet been able to learn enough about the presumed process (such as it may be) to gain understanding as to why two different courts are being discussed and what would determine in which direction the report might be sent. In his recent statement on the matter, Netanyahu referred to the Criminal Court, when he said it was ludicrous and he would not permit trial of any Israelis within that court.
None of it will do us any good. But I point out that as the Court of Justice adjudicates between states, there is a legal problem, as Gaza is not a state and is controlled by a terror organization. But the UN is not likely to let this stand in its way.
I also mention here the fact that process seems to requires the report to come into the hands of the GA first, but that the real action would be in the SC.