Saturday, February 24, 2007

Israeli Concessions + Peace = Rejectionism

Saul Singer has written a thought-provoking new opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post called Peace = Capitulation, which seems to turn the usual Middle East rationale upside down (emphasis added):

As hard as it is for us to comprehend, we must accept that in the Arab mind, peace with Israel - far from success - still represents capitulation, humiliation and defeat.


In Western eyes, peace is so obviously desirable that the idea that it could be seen negatively is rarely considered. But try, for a moment, to look at the situation through Arab eyes. Peace would be the ultimate ratification of Israel's existence. It would be seen as an abject surrender to the West's bid to dominate the Arabs.


It may be counterintuitive, but the Palestinians' many allies who think they are promoting peace by vilifying Israel are doing the opposite. The same goes for Western governments who assume that "evenhandedness" advances peace.

The most pro-peace policy is the one that most convinces the Arabs of Israel's permanence. Even the US is far from such a policy, since it will not routinely reject the currently favored back-door means to Israel's destruction, the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" to Israel.

This thinking resonates with that of Daniel Pipes, who at a debate three years ago, said the following with regards to the Oslo process (emphasis added):

... as the Israelis made concessions, gave autonomy, turned over tax revenues, permitted various developments in the Palestinian Authority to take place, Palestinian ambitions against Israel, rather than being tamped down by finding their own satisfaction in their own autonomy and economy and culture and politics, in fact what happened is the Palestinians became more displeased with the continuing existence of Israel. So there was this terrible logic, in that the more that Israel gave the more anger it found directed against it. If there was a cycle of violence, this was it. Israeli concessions led to more rejectionism on the Palestinian part.

I think we need to rethink our understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The general assumption is that this is a conventional conflict, it's about borders, religious sanctities, who lives where, armaments, water, and the like. I would argue to you in reality that this is not a conventional conflict, it is a conflict in which today, as in 1948, the existence of Israel is at stake. The goal therefore of the United States must be to win Palestinian acceptance of Israel.

Putting the two together, for the US to win Palestinian acceptance of Israel requires all parties - the US, the EU, the UN, Israel and the Palestinians - to acknowledge the Palestinians have been defeated.

Who would find this acknowledgement more difficult to stomach: the EU and the UN or the Palestinians?

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