The Impossible Peace

by Bruce S. Thornton

Private Papers

The New York Times editorial page published last Saturday a collection of short editorials on Israel ’s campaign to neutralize Hezbollah. With the exception of Richard Perle’s, most of the opinions represent the tired received wisdom that ignores the true cause of the conflict and relies on various silver bullets like “diplomacy.”

Perle, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense now with the American Enterprise Institute, understands that Hezbollah and Hamas must be defeated: “Israel must now deal a blow of such magnitude to those who would destroy it as to leave no doubt that its earlier policy of acquiescence is over.” As for global whining about “disproportionate response,” Perle rightly recognizes thatIsrael is involved in an “existential struggle” that makes its response entirely appropriate.

Perle identifies the core issue: not the “occupation,” not “Palestinian national aspirations,” but the century-long violent assault against Jews and Israel on the part of Muslims whose religion justifies their attempt to destroy the “infidel” divinely destined to live under Islamic hegemony. All the other issues the world obsesses over are meaningless unless the survival of Israel is first guaranteed and Muslims prove that they are willing to coexist peacefully with Israel. But as the last six decades have shown, Israel ’s survival depends on its own willingness to show its enemies that it will use force to defend itself.

As for the “occupation” and “nationalist aspirations,” these are smokescreens used to obscure this existential threat to Israel , the camouflage made necessary after three military attempts to destroy Israel ended in defeat and humiliation. And both excuses for violence against Israel depend on historical lies. When Rashid Khalid, a professor at Columbia and a notorious apologist for terrorism, writes in the Times that the “underlying problems” are “the denial of rights to Palestinians and the occupation of Arab lands,” he indulges a monstrous distortion of history.

How did Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem , documented in history as the traditional Jewish homeland and capital, become the “occupied West Bank ” and “Arab lands”? Through violent conquest, of course. The true “occupation” is the Muslim continuing occupation of lands that were Jewish and Christian for centuries. That occupation ended in Palestine when the Ottoman Empire went to war on the side of Germany and, having lost, paid the price that aggressors always pay when they lose. The victors carved up the caliphate and created the states of the modern Middle East, including Israel. The failure of the Arabs to recognize a legitimate state created by the same historical process that created their own nations, and their continuing failure to recognize Israel in deeds rather than in words, are the root cause of the ongoing crisis.

Since Muslim hatred of Israel is the dynamic behind the crisis, the desperate calls for pie-in-the-sky solutions like an “international  trusteeship over the Palestinian territories” (Avishai Margalit) or still another toothless U.N. resolution (Chibli Mallet) are useless, mere stop-gaps even if they could be implemented. But of course they won’t be, because for these solutions to work someone would have to destroy Hamas and Hezbollah, and it simply isn’t in anybody’s interest other than Israel ’s to do so –– particularly given how messy a job it is to root out terrorists who have callously embedded themselves among non-combatants. Once again, Israel is compelled to be the Dirty Harry of theMiddle East , the one nation with the nerve and skills to do the nasty work everybody else knows must be done but do not have stomach to do themselves.

The calls for “diplomacy” chanted like a mantra by the rest of the Timeseditorials are even more delusional. Judith Kipper, from the Council of Foreign Relations, must live in some alternative universe to write that the U.S. needs to engage in “meaningful diplomacy” that includes murderers like Hamas and Hezbollah. And what would be the goal of such talks? To “revive the detailed peace plan already negotiated by the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But of course, Hamas, Hezbollah, their state sponsors Iran and Syria, and a significant majority of Palestinians do not endorse any “peace plan” that allows Israel to exist without committing demographic suicide by admitting the mushrooming population of Palestinian “refugees.” Without genuine acceptance of Israel’s existence on the part of Syria, Iran, and the Palestinian Arabs, agreements signed with Egypt, bought off with $2 billion a year in U.S. subsidies, or with Jordan, a pathetically weak state, do very little to solve the root problem.

We have already had decades of diplomacy, talks, “road maps,” and any number of various “agreements” that have all shipwrecked on Palestinian intransigence. Worse yet, every concession made by Israel to further the elusive “peace” has been met with more attacks and more terrorism. Such concessions, most recently the withdrawal from Gaza, have been seen as signs of weakness, evidence that the long-term strategy of Israel’s destruction by “phases” is bearing fruit. Such “agreements” simply buy time that allows the terrorists to consolidate their organization and rearm, as Hezbollah did in southern Lebanon after Israel withdrew.

The idea that “diplomacy” is the silver bullet that will slay the monster of Middle-Eastern dysfunction is founded on false assumptions. Diplomacy works when both sides sincerely want an agreement and pledge in good faith to adhere to the terms of the agreement, when they have what contract lawyers call a “meeting of the minds.” And diplomacy works when there is a credible, serious deterrent to violations of the agreements. None of these requirements have been met by the major players in the Muslim Middle East. Indeed, for decades the Palestinians have continued to receive billions in aid from the West even as it has failed to live up to the core requirements of the various agreements: dismantling the terrorist networks and sincerely endorsing, in deeds rather than words, Israel’s right to exist.

The false assumption in the West has been that the Palestinians accept the “two-state” framework and have negotiated in good faith to that end. Yet precious few deeds exist that provide evidence that a critical mass of Palestinians want their own state rather than the destruction of Israel. In fact, most of the evidence, such as the recent election of Hamas, suggest otherwise. There may be Palestinians and other Muslims who sincerely accept Israel’s existence and want to live in peace, but those few voices have been drowned out by those who cheer Al Qaeda, who begged for Hussein to rain SCUDS on Israel, who put up posters of the “martyrs” who go out to murder Israelis, who dress their toddlers in toy suicide belts and AK-47’s, and who voted into power an organization whose reason for being is the destruction of Israel.

Meanwhile the West and most of the Western media continue to peddle the melodrama of Palestinian suffering and Israeli oppression. They chant “diplomacy” and bumper-sticker bromides like “force solves nothing” when in fact force has done plenty for Israel for the last sixty years: allowed it to exist. And force will continue to insure Israel’s survival until a critical mass of Palestinian Arabs and other Middle Eastern Muslims sincerely accept Israel’s existence, and demonstrate that acceptance with concrete actions rather than with the sly rhetoric that dupes gullible Westerners.

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