January 9, 2011
Israel and the Palestinians: Irreconcilable DifferencesBy Jerrold L. Sobel
There are still many matters that mankind just can't get a grip on. For instance: When exactly did the universe begin? When will it end? What's the last digit in pi? Why can't there be peace between Israel and the Palestinians? All mysteries, all irreconcilable questions, the last one seemingly as difficult as the first three.
What separates the degree of difficulty between the Middle East conflict and the three other questions posed is that the option of acquiescence to the demands of the Palestinian/Islamists always remains available to Israel. Bowing to the pressures of the of the Islamic world, the international community, and leftist persuasions both within Israel and the United States always remains an option. In actuality, to some, the relinquishment of the Jewish character of Israel and the sovereignty attained after two thousand years is the answer. To those of this inducement, throwing in the towel and living at the whim of the Palestinians in what in effect would be a Palestinian state is the correct resolution of the crisis. The Road Map, the Arab Initiative, the Saudi Peace Plan -- all recipes containing the same ingredients. Israel should give up territory and receive two hypotheticals: peace and recognition (maybe).
For others wishing to fulfill the dream of an independent and sovereign Jewish State, there is a more realistic understanding. This age-old conflict is irreconcilable due to the fact of its religious nature. Islam, by foundational decree, cannot surrender land it considers dar al-Islam, land belonging to its uncompromising, politico/religious movement. That's the rub. There cannot be a long-term peace with people who practice the Islamic deception known as taquia, an Islamic provision which allows for advancing Allah's cause by lying to one's enemies.
This practice of compromise by convenience has been employed by Islamic regimes since the betrayal of the Banu Quraysh tribe in 629 and the abrogation of the Hudabiya treaty. Yasser Arafat, mentor and co-founder of the PLO with Mahmoud Abbas, admitted as much in 1994 subsequent to his signing of the "Declaration of Principles" at the conclusion of Oslo II. In a 1994 speech rendered in a Johannesburg mosque, Arafat proclaimed, "[T]he agreement was nothing to worry about." More directly, he uttered this in 1998 to a Fatah youth group: "The Peace of Oslo is the Peace of Hudabiya." Echoing the thoughts of the deceased terrorist, Abed Rabbo, an early Arafat disciple recently stated that "we can't remain committed to the agreements that were signed with Israel forever." With this in mind, it's not difficult to understand the capricious ways in which the Palestinians renege upon their agreements. The main proviso of the Oslo II treaty states, "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations" (Jewish Press, December 24, 2010, Joseph Farah, "Continuing in Arafat's Footsteps"). Yet today, the Palestinians threaten to seek U.N. recognition, thus unilaterally abrogating the Oslo Accords.
For those still not convinced of the duplicitous manner in which the Palestinians have conducted and still conduct so-called peace negotiations, let's take a trip down memory lane back to 1947 and seek more proof.
Although the religious roots of this conflict can be traced back for centuries, up to and including the Arab pogroms of the '20s and '30s, for the sake of brevity, let us begin with the post-Mandate period: U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, passed on Nov. 29, 1947 -- the Partition Plan for Palestine.
The plan called for an end of the British Mandate and a recognition of the nationalistic aspirations of both the Jews and the Arabs by dividing Palestine into two states, with the Jerusalem and the Bethlehem area to be administered by a special international regime to safeguard access to the holy sites of the three great religions. With reservations, particularly concerning Jerusalem, David Ben Gurion, on behalf of the Jewish Agency, nonetheless accepted the plan. The Arabs, represented by the Palestine Arab Higher Committee, would have received 43% of Mandatory Palestine, but they rejected the plan out of hand and chose war instead.
On May 14, 1948, based upon the Partition Plan, Israel declared independence. Soon after marginalizing the Palestinians in a brief civil war, five armies from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria attacked the nascent Jewish State. Hostilities ended the following year with the 1949 Armistice Agreement. But keep in mind that the war did not end -- only the hostilities. The boundaries created subsequent to the fighting were not internationally recognized borders. They merely represented a demarcation line indicating where opposing armies stood when the guns went silent, an area which became known as the "green line," a pseudo-border of contention which has lasted over two additional wars to this very day.
By agreeing to a ceasefire and allowing the Jordanians control of Judea/Samaria, henceforth referred to as the West Bank, Israel for nineteen years was left with ostensibly indefensible borders -- borders which today she is once again being pressured to return to. East Jerusalem, with its rich past of Jewish habitation and culture, fell under Jordanian ascendancy and was ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population, and access to its most holy sites was revoked. In retrospect, the ceasefire did not lead to peace; it merely set the stage for the Six-Day War two decades later.
But today, Jews, forty-four years following the recapture of this precious land, still cannot safely visit the ancient cities of their homeland such as Nablus, Jenin, or Hebron, the cradle of Judaism where their Matriarchs and Patriarchs have been interred for millennia. What's the connection between then and now? King Hussein of Jordan tried as best as he could to eradicate every vestige of Jewish heritage in East Jerusalem following the Armistice, which left Jordan in control of Judea and Samaria. In addition to ethnic cleansing, he violated the 1949 Agreement by illegally annexing the West Bank and denying Israelis access to the Western Wall, desecrating the ancient Mount Olives cemetery and using the headstones to build latrines, ravaging no fewer than 58 ancient synagogues, and building slum dwellings adjacent to the Western Wall.
Fast-forward sixty two years: Mahmoud Abbas, with the support of the Arab world and a great deal of the international community, is attempting to carry this effort much farther by extirpating Israel not only from Judaea and Samaria, but also even from the land currently recognized by the U.N.
Talk about unmitigated chutzpah. Last February, Israel's partner for peace warned of a holy war over Rachel's tomb in Bethlehem. Abbas claims it to be a thousand-year-old mosque, irrespective of the fact that Islam itself has existed for only 1,300 years, and the Palestinians just began making these bogus claims 44 years ago. Why these threats of holy war? Netanyahu had the nerve to announce a refurbishment of all the Jewish heritage sites south of Jerusalem. Needless to say, every anti-Semitic country within the United Nations immediately fell in line and expressed "concerns" over what Abbas and his buddies in Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and even Jordan and Egypt deemed a "provocation."
This so-called provocation is just another ploy within a grand scheme by the Islamic world to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish State. Unfortunately, it's an effort which has taken on greater traction in recent months. Presently, delegitimization is the holy grail of this conflict and is recognized as such by both the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is no less than an effort to accomplish through soft jihad what anti-Semitic entities have failed to do militarily and through terrorism: cast Israel as a pariah state. Boycotts, divestments, false ancestral claims, filing criminal suits at the Hague, attempting to have Israeli governmental and military personnel arrested in foreign countries -- all part of an increasingly successful effort. What's most disturbing and potentially most harmful is the acceptance of these charges by a segment of Diaspora Jewish groups such as J Street and other organizations within Israel -- organizations which for a myriad of reasons fail to close ranks and dispute these scurrilous accusations and instead, in many instances, find common cause with them.
Just this past month, on the sixth anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death -- you remember him: Israel's other partner for peace -- Abbas proclaimed that he will "never recognize Israel as a Jewish State." He then went on to say that he plans "to continue in Arafat's footsteps." One can only surmise that like his predecessor, Abbas plans to abrogate all agreements with Israel while absconding with billions of dollars in foreign aid earmarked for the Palestinians.
Fiction: two states -- one Jewish, one Palestinian, living side by side in peace -- will happen under present circumstances. Fact: pollyanna thinking notwithstanding, an independent Palestinian state with contiguous borders among Judea, Samaria, and Gaza would be suicide for Israel. It would cut Israel in half and allow hostile armies to further encroach upon the lifeblood of the Jewish State. The Palestinians would never allow Jews to live within its borders and certainly would never submit to a military presence safeguarding the essential Jordan Valley.
The right of return? Does any rational person believe that Israel could absorb seven million displaced Arabs, most of which are the progeny of those who left during the War of Independence, and still maintain her Jewish character? Isn't it strange that in any discussion of repatriation, no mention is ever made of Jewish compensation for the estimated 800,000-1,000,000 Jews who were unceremoniously evicted from their homes throughout the Arab world subsequent to 1949?
Yet even in the remotest possibility that the recalcitrant PLO -- remember, they are now the good guys -- were truly to be placated, could the spigot of endemic bitterness be turned off in their population following generations of professed hatred of Jews? Throughout every strata of Palestinian society, particularly the young, peopel have been brainwashed on a daily basis: there is no Israel, only Palestine; the Jews are apes and pigs which stole the land from the Palestinians; Jews ritualistically drink the blood of Palestinians; and so on, ad infinitum. Does anyone old enough not to believe in Santa Claus think an exchange of land will stem this abhorrence?
Without expanding the parameters of this essay and factoring in Hamas, Hezb'allah, Syria, and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran, one can safely conclude that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just the business end of a larger struggle between the enlightened West and Islamofascism. From the standpoint of a just, equitable peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for the foreseeable future, it is indeed an irreconcilable situation.