March 20, 2008
The Palestinians Have no Interest in PeaceBy Richard Baehr
The latest survey on Palestinian attitudes should throw a glass of very cold water on the large class of Middle East peace processors, both here and in the region, assuming that they are conscious. As reported by the New York Times no less, it turns out that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank support violence against Israel and want an end to any talks with Israel. The kind of violence the Palestinians support includes the cold-blooded slaughter of 8 children in Jerusalem , when a gunman fired hundreds of rounds at yeshiva students in a study hall, and the firing of rockets from Gaza at Israeli cities.
Of course, Israel left Gaza in August 2005, so there has been no occupation or settlements for Palestinians to complain about since then, to use as justification for the firing of over 5000 rockets at Israel since the disengagement. While PA President Mahmoud Abbas initially condemned the Jerusalem attack, he has subsequently elevated the killer to martyr status, and the killer is now glorified in the Palestinian media as another hero of the resistance.
When a gunman enters a school and aims to murder as many children as possible and the killer is treated as a national hero, we are dealing with a society that has no equal on the planet in terms of its abandonment of morality and basic human decency. The Palestinian national ethos is very sick indeed, and is broadcast constantly by Hamas -- that Israelis worship life, but we (the Palestinians ) worship death, and so are destined in the end to win.
The respected Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki admits he was surprised by the poll results, which show the highest level of support for armed struggle with Israel ever seen in 15 years of polling. However, it did not take long for Shikaki to pivot and provide an explanation for the Palestinian grievance and anger-- Israel's recent incursion into Gaza, and the Israeli government's announcement of plans to construct a few hundred homes near the green line. The justifications offered are a bad joke, not the least of which is because they will be bought hook line and sinker by the peace processors, whether in our State Department or among our "moderate" Arab allies.
Even among the American Jewish community there are what amount to pro-surrender groups, including Americans for Peace Now, the Israel Policy Forum, Ameinu and Brit Tzedek. These are groups which never fail to see a once-in-a decade opportunity to bring peace to the parties. Such peace, they claim, can only be achieved if the US engages more in the peace process -- meaning leaning on Israel to make more concessions, and if Western nations provide more money to the "moderate" pro-two state solution "peacemakers" in the Palestinian Authority.
The reality of course is that the Palestinians have no more interest in a two state solution today than at any other time in the 60 years since the modern state of Israel was created. The Arabs did not accept a Jewish mini-state alongside a much larger Palestinian state in the late 1930s when it was offered by the British in the Peel Plan, or when two equal-sized states were supported by the UN in 1947, or when it was offered by Israel and the United States at Camp David in 2000 and again at Taba in 2001. (In these last two cases, the offer was all of Gaza and virtually all of the West Bank).
The real myth, however is that the Palestinians have any interest in peace. Peace has always been the Israeli goal: end the conflict, compromise on all the major issues, and finally put an end to the claims and grievances hurled against Israel in the region and in international organizations. At the end of the process comes the normalcy of a state that is permanent.
For the Palestinians, peace is not a goal. It may be a stage in movement toward a goal (a short term tactic), but peace itself has no meaning to the Palestinians. It is not a prized achievement. The Palestinian goal is the end of Israel. In other words, one side of this conflict wants its permanence assured and confirmed. The other side's goal is for that never to happen.
The Palestinians believe their goal may be achieved through political capitulation by Israel, or through force at some point (an Iranian bomb or bombs), but Palestinian terror and violence are always a part of the mix, designed to ensure that Israelis can never feel secure or comfortable that their state is normal, or that their existence as a free people is accepted.
The Palestinians have also discovered that many in Israel and the West (including many Jews in America) never learn a thing from the history of this conflict. They refuse to acknowledge the deep hatred against Jews, Israel, America and the West that has been inculcated in every Palestinian generation via the media, schools, mosques and by the Palestinian leadership itself. This, for lack of a better word, is an irreconcilable conflict as a result of the Palestinians' objectives.
Palestinians have sacrificed the lives of three or four generations of their people, left in horrible conditions in refugee camps run by the UNWRA and funded in large part by this country, that serve only (and by design) to keep the anger and loathing of Israel alive. Why is there always an impasse when the two sides meet? Because the Palestinians can only, in the end, agree to a final deal that is on their terms. And so far, Israel has not agreed to sign such a suicide pact.
In the days ahead, the results of this poll will be cited as evidence that Israel and America need to do more. That of course is exactly what not to do. Try to imagine if 5000 rockets had been fired in the last two and a half years from Mexico or Canada at the United States. I suspect that our country would not have had to count to 5,000 before a response occurred which cut off the firing.
Would any other nation except Israel be condemned for responding to these attacks? What exactly is disproportionate about Israel's response to the firing of 5,000 rockets, each of which is designed to kill Jews in Israel. Should Israel fire 5,000 rockets back to achieve proportionality?
At some point, sensible people in the key countries in the region, in the US, and in Europe, will open their eyes to the situation that exists and realize that Palestinians do not just want a new state of their own. Such a state will be another step towards undermining the existence of Israel, and destabilizing Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. The Palestinians will never agree to an end to the conflict, or to give up any of their demands.
The last two years in Gaza have shown exactly what Palestinian self government is capable of achieving, when they have territory that is exclusively theirs. Such behavior is not a recommendation for giving them more land for a terror state. Establishing a Palestinian state is at this point tantamount to creating a new Al Qaeda nation.
There are vast lands in the Arab world on which Palestinians might get on with their lives, if they started over with international funding. The Gulf States have a few trillion to play with. Or there could be some sort of autonomy for some Palestinians within a confederation with Jordan. In any case, the marriage of Palestinians to guns and explosives, the romance story of Palestinian history, needs to be ended. Mahmoud Abbas can not be propped up so that the moderates can win and then defeat Hamas.
Hamas needs to be defeated in Gaza, not allowed to rebuild their force strength after the recent Israeli incursion and perfect their rocket delivery systems. At some point, the start-and-stop Israeli responses to the attacks from Gaza will be judged insufficient, and the difficult task of reversing the Hamas coup of 2007 will begin. In the interim, stronger steps short of that approach can be tried.
There is no grand bargain among Israel, the PA and Hamas to be had. That will not happen. Hamas will never cede authority in Gaza, whatever the Palestinian election results might be. This is the reality of the current conflict. The peace processors scurry about, but there is no peace to be had. Creative solutions need to be formulated, or the world, in essence, will be acquiescing to more child murders and rewarding those who celebrate these "achievements" .
Richard Baehr is political director of American Thinker and a visiting fellow of the Jewish Policy Center.