We — those of us who care about Israel — need to be sustained these days. It’s hardly news that the inmates are running the asylum. And it’s easy to feel the blood pressure rising.
Barry Rubin describes the situation exceedingly well in his latest article, “Why isn’t there peace? Because of Israel, of course!”
Its thesis: “The main element of the Israeli-Palestinian talks is that only the Palestinian side makes demands.”
Tell us about it!
“Who knew? It’s all Israel’s fault there isn’t peace. Why? Because it hasn’t forgotten its history and doesn’t want to be a ‘willing martyr.’
“Former US president Bill Clinton said it was all Arafat’s fault when he left office, but has now discovered that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blocked peace. The Palestinians are the new Jews – no doubt Passover seders are being prepared for next year that read, “Let my (Palestinian) people go.”
“Only right-wing, extremist Likudnik reactionaries dare to question this. All political scientists agree: case closed. Israeli-made global non-warming of the peace process is the problem.
“But wait a moment. Leaving aside the past history of Palestinian intransigence, terrorism, refusal to compromise, etc., there remains a fascinating central question: What else could Israel have done? What else should it be doing now?
“Herein lies the problem. Israel has been ‘set up’ so that its only ‘acceptable’ alternative is to make unilateral concessions which, as we’ve seen before, result only in more denunciations of Israel, followed by more Palestinian demands for unilateral concessions.”
This is how Rubin describes the situation (with my emphasis added):
For starters, “Israel cannot ask for anything at all. If it does, the Palestinians will reject it, and that will be ‘Israel’s fault.’
“For example: Suppose we withdraw to the 1967 lines and you drop your demand for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to Israel.
“How about we support you becoming a sovereign state immediately and you recognize Israel as a Jewish state? Never!
“OK, how about you…
“Mommy! He’s hitting me again!
“Mommy here means the UN, Arab League, Muslim umma, the United States, the EU, Russia and the international community generally.
“This is literally true: Israel can give, but not ask for anything in return.
Second, “Israel must ignore past experience.
“Withdrawals lead to the land turned over being a base for new attacks? Forget it. More withdrawals! Verbal promises in exchange for material concessions aren’t kept? The world promises to back you up and acknowledge after the concession that you really want peace and then forgets that pledge? Pretend it didn’t happen…”
Third, “Israel must forgo any analysis of future problems that could arise from these concessions.
“For example, an independent Palestinian state established with no Palestinian concessions could…import weapons, sign military cooperation treaties with any other party it wanted, invite in foreign advisors or troops, incite its population against Israel and glorify terrorism. It could be taken over by Hamas, refuse to stop cross-border attacks or to arrest those responsible, go after Israel in the international courts, seek UN condemnation of Israel as an aggressor, and much more.
“This situation is comparable to the classic question that parents have long asked their children: If everyone else was jumping off a cliff would you do it, too? Israel’s situation is slightly different: If everyone else told you to jump off a cliff but no one else was willing to take the plunge, would you do it?
“THE ANSWER, of course, is ‘no’ – even if those urging you to jump promised to be your friend between the time you jump and the minute you hit the ground.
“Just because ‘everyone’ says Israel is at fault, that the status quo is untenable, that something must be done right now, or that the Palestinians cannot wait to make peace based on two states doesn’t mean that any of these things are true.
“If the Jewish people simply went along with majority opinion it would have gone out of existence a long time ago. And if Israel simply went along with foreign majority opinion it would have been wiped off the map a long time ago.”
“…the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership” results in a loss of opportunity for the Palestinian Arabs, and they get far less than they might have…”After each diplomatic failure due to unmentioned Palestinian rejectionism the world goes away for a while and finds something else to do.
“…desperately trying to come up with new ideas (concessions) in order to gain international praise (not going to happen) is a waste of time. Don’t panic. See through the nonsense.”
Ah! I’ll have more to say about this below.
And what sort of nonsense are we seeing today?
Well, we’ve got European nations, notably Germany and the Netherlands, “urging” Israel to once again freeze all construction over the Green Line in order to bring Abbas to the table.
Surprising? Of course not. But provokes some very impolitic responses non-the-less. Herein do we see the truth of what Rubin wrote. Only Israel is expected to make concessions. And concessions, yet, to an entity that has been uncooperative and defiant in the extreme.
What is more, the EU is expected to “mention negatively” the decision by the Israeli Ministry of Interior to build new housing in Gilo. That will happen in Brussels after the EU foreign minister’s monthly meeting to be held on Monday. Right now officials in Brussels are discussing how much prominence to give the issue.
A negative statement about Israel’s plans to build housing for young couples in a neighborhood that is solidly part of Jerusalem and is founded upon Jewish land?
In spite of the fact that Netanyahu has agreed to the Quartet plan to begin negotiations again without preconditions, while Abbas has not.
In spite of the fact that there are town squares in PA territory named after terrorists, and that PA-produced textbooks teach jihad.
In spite of the fact that official PA maps cut out Israel: http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=5739.
And in spite of the fact that Abbas ignored all pleas to not go the unilateral route of the UN.
All that matters here in the end is that Netanyahu remembers to say NO! and NO! and only NO!
Our prime minister is not at liberty to say publicly some of the other things he most undoubtedly is thinking.
According to Muhammed Ishtayeh, a confident of Mahmoud Abbas, the PA has sent a letter to the Quartet, in which it called for the dismissal of Tony Blair as the Quartet’s envoy.
Said Mr. Ishtayeh, “Our general evaluation of his efforts is that he has become of no use at all. He has developed a large bias in favor of Israel (read: he doesn’t always take our side) and he has lost a lot of his credibility…We hope the Quartet will reconsider the appointment of this person.”
A spokesman for Blair has said these comments do not reflect what he is hearing from Palestinian leadership. I’m sure it has occurred to him that what they say to his face and what they say otherwise may well be two different things. Just as I’m sure there are things Blair must be thinking right now that he can’t say any more than Bibi can.
I think it’s a litmus test of a sort — the question of how the Quartet responds to this. How much will they scrape and bow to the PA.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO — in response to a Palestinian Arab request — is moving towards granting full membership to a Palestinian state. The 58-member board of this organization has voted to allow the full membership of 193 nations to vote on admitting “Palestine” to its ranks as a full member of UNESCO, during its General Conference that starts October 25 in Paris.
The US, Germany, Latvia and Romania voted against this, and 14 nations abstained. All the European nations of UNESCO’s executive board, with the exceptions of Russia and Belarus, either abstained or voted negatively.
Israel released a statement with regard to this situation, in which it pointed out that UNESCO’s task is to address issues of culture, science and education, but it has found the time in this session for six decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
However, “The decision to grant the Palestinians membership [in] UNESCO will not advance their desire for an independent state whatsoever.”
While in the US, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed her anger by calling for a cut-off of US funding to UNESCO if the Palestinian request for membership is approved.
“Feeling that their efforts at the UN Security Council will fail, the Palestinian leadership is shopping the UN system for recognition.
“This attempt to rig the process needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. Our contributions are our strongest leverage at the UN, and should be use to stand up for our interests and allies and stop this dangerous Palestinian scheme.”
Blessing on your head, Ileana!
Just yesterday, by the way, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) decided to grant the status of “Partner for Democracy” to the PLO’s Palestinian National Council. This does not give the Palestinians voting rights in the Council but allows them to speak before PACE’s assembly, and most committees.
According to a PACE statement, the Palestinians pledged to pursue the “values upheld by the Council of Europe, hold free and fair elections, and work towards abolishing the death penalty.” The assembly will monitor key issues such as making the PNC democratically elected, refraining from violence and rejecting terrorism.
When you stop laughing, you can continue reading…
This is what happens when nations and agencies in which they participate totally prostitute themselves to politics, ignoring all that is reasonable and fair and honest.
And it strikes a startling counter-point to the forthright position of Ros-Lehtinen.
If you have the stomach for it, I’ll give you one more item:
According to the French magazine Le Canard Enchaîne, this is what French President Nicholas Sarkozy told his cabinet after he returned from attending the General Assembly meeting in September:
“It is silly to talk about a Jewish state. It would be like saying that this table is Catholic. There are two million Arabs in Israel.
“…the US has been asking Abbas for years to come to the negotiating table. He is willing to do it because he is a statesman. Netanyahu, on the other hand, never fails to disappoint us.”
I won’t dignify this with a comment.
Tomorrow night, we begin the holiest day of the year: Yom Kippur. We are in a period in which heshbon nefesh — a personal accounting is required of all Jews.
And it is in the spirit of this time that I frame my response to all that I have written about above:
The State of Israel, the state of the Jewish People, will be here long after the UN and the EU — and certainly the PA — are ancient history. This knowledge is what sustains.
If you will be participating in Yom Kippur prayers, I ask that you pray for Israel.
May all of Am Yisrael do a communal heshbon nefesh, so that we might stay strong in our purpose.
May we all be inscribed and sealed for blessing.
Please, take the time to see this video, and then to share it. It is stunning in its understanding of what is happening today, and it makes my response very clear.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.