There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true. – Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher (1813-1855)
Not since the time of Dr. Goebbels has there ever been a case in which continual repetition of a lie has borne such great fruits… Of all the Palestinian lies there is no lie greater or more crushing than that which calls for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank… – Amnon Rubinstein, former education minister, far-left Meretz party, “Palestinian Lies,” Haaretz, July 30, 1976
I am sure you have noticed how it is with “two-staters” – a.k.a. adherents of the dogma of political appeasement and territorial concessions as an effective measure for assuaging despots.
For them, the prevailing conditions – no matter what they are – are always favorable for implementing the land-for-peace doctrine and establishing a Palestinian state, and in fact comprise a compelling imperative, indeed, a veritable “historic opportunity” for doing so, which cannot, must not be missed, lest it be regretted for generations to come.
Come rain, come shine – ‘Palestine’…
If it rains, we are told we need a Palestinian state – because it is raining. When it is dry, we must have a Palestinian state – because dry weather is ideal for setting up such a state. When it is freezing cold – only the establishment of a Palestinian state can bring any warmth. When it is sizzling hot, it’s time for a Palestinian state – for only it can bring relief from the wilting heat…
So, whatever the existing conditions, they are seized upon as the irrefutable and urgent rationale for the establishment of a Palestinian state – even if they constitute the utter negation of the previous conditions, which formerly had been invoked as the exigent and incontestable rationale for such a state.
If this sounds flippant, just look back at the history of the last three decades and any misgivings will be dispelled.
Thus when in the months following the 1992 election, the Rabin government found that – in contradiction to its declarations during the campaign – no agreement on autonomy with Palestinian Arabs in Judea-Samaria was forthcoming, it adopted precisely what it had always rejected: the notion of negotiating with Yasser Arafat’s terrorist organization, the PLO, with which all contacts had hitherto been punishable by law. So when negotiations with local leaders, which were undertaken to avoid engaging Arafat and the PLO, produced no progress, Arafat/ PLO were engaged – despite the fact that previously such engagement was dismissed as an unacceptable and futile anathema.
Rather than admit error, what was once to be stringently avoided was now enthusiastically embraced.
More was yet to come.
Any excuse – or the opposite – will do
The rationale for engaging Arafat was the diametric reversal of that invoked for eschewing such engagement previously. Whereas his murderous past was originally invoked as the reason for avoiding him, the implied “authority” his legacy of brutality allegedly bestowed upon him was cited as the reason for believing he could induce the Palestinians to accept compromise and end the bloodshed.
However, when contacts with Arafat soon degenerated into a bloody spiral of terrorism, culminating in the second intifada, two-staters began to despair of efficacy of his “authority.”
So they embraced Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), on the rationale that he was not Arafat, portraying him as everything that his predecessor wasn’t – devoid of Arafat’s grisly authority but with a genuine desire for nonviolent reconciliation with the Jewish state.
Soon, however, it became evident that Abbas had neither the will nor ability to deliver what Arafat could or would not deliver.
Then came the 2006 Palestinian Authority elections, in which Hamas swept to victory, trouncing Abbas’s Fatah in a stinging rejection of his leadership. Yet, even though Hamas vehemently rejected any acceptance of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews, some two-staters were perversely buoyed by this development. Indeed, I remember participating in a morning TV program with an indefatigable two-state supporter, who expressed optimism that now, finally, there were folk with the requisite authority in place that Israel could deal with and forge binding peace – all this despite the fact that the rejection of peace comprised the raison d’etre of Hamas and, in large measure, the basis for its electoral success.
Recalling the record
Of course, when it comes to advancing their political “philosophy” (for want of a better word), two-staters have always been adept at invoking some or other argument, and when that proved totally unfounded, invoking precisely the opposite argument for endorsing the very same policy.
Thus, for those old enough to remember, prior to the start of the Oslowian “peace process,” the two-state proponents insisted that the terrorist attacks, then perpetrated mainly with axes and knives, were the “acts of extremists,” precipitated by the frustration at the “lack of a peace process.” However, after the initiation of the Oslowian “process,” when terrorist attacks not only continued unabated, but – now that the Palestinians had access to military grade explosives – escalated to unprecedented levels, two-staters adamantly resisted admitting error. Instead, they still maintained that the “process” must continue. Terrorist attacks were still dubbed the “acts of extremists,” but now allegedly precipitated by a desire to halt the “peace process” – whose prior absence was invoked to “explain” the previous acts of terrorism.
So, first it was the “extremist anger” at the lack of a “peace process,” and then “extremist anger” at its existence, that two-staters presented as the “rationale” for endorsing a policy of concessions and withdrawal to facilitate Palestinian statehood.
The record (cont.)
With the initiation of the Oslo process, two-staters argued that Israel should withdraw from the “territories” on the basis of a negotiated agreement because “there was someone to talk to” on the Palestinian side. However, when the horrors of the second intifada proved this to be unfounded, rather than concede error, two-staters endorsed the idea that Israel should withdraw unilaterally, without negotiation, “because there was no one to talk.”
So again, first the existence, and then the nonexistence, of a Palestinian negotiating partner was invoked to justify the two-state compliant policy of concession.
Originally the two-staters claimed that Israel could afford to relinquish territory for a Palestinian state, because it was strong enough to contend with the risks involved in forgoing it. Later, however, when it was clear that conceding territory did not produce the desired results, rather than admit error, two-staters insisted that Israel should continue to relinquish territory because it was not strong enough to contend with the risks involved in retaining it.
So yet again, first Israel’s strength, and then its lack of strength, were invoked as the rationale for their two-state-compliant policy of withdrawal.
Almost a quarter-century has come and gone since the days of heady optimism when the Oslo process was launched on the White House lawn. Every argument – and its subsequent converse – for the two-state paradigm has been dashed on the unforgiving rocks of reality.
Every time land has been relinquished in the hope of advancing peace, the opposite has occurred, and that land has – either immediately or eventually – become a platform for attacks against the Jewish state.
None of this has induced the slightest doubt, much less regret, on the part of two-staters. Immune to both prudent reason and proven results, they plow on regardless, in a desperate search for some new contention, no matter how far-fetched, to justify their efforts to preserve the alleged validity of the failed and fatally flawed formula on which the personal prestige and professional standing of so many depend.
Of late, this process has begun a descent into the depths of such absurdity that it approaches intellectual depravity.
For today, there is an increasing chorus of two-stater voices that, in all seriousness, suggest that now that the Mideast has proved to be totally different from the suppositions the Oslo process was founded on, Israel should adopt exactly the same policy they prescribed before those suppositions were disproved.
Positively perverse prescription
For now, with Islamist fundamentalism sweeping the region, Israel is being urged by obsessive two-staters to make precisely the same concessions (arguably even more radical ones) that they urged beforehand.
Now, we are told, since radical extremists are threatening a number of “moderate” Arab regimes, there is a “convergence of interests” between these states and Israel. Consequently, we are told, with a straight face, that in order for these regimes to allow Israel to assist in pursuit of their interests (of self-preservation), Israel must not only undertake the very policy they prescribed prior to that alleged convergence, but relinquish territory that, in all likelihood, will fall to the control of precisely the forces the “moderates” are threatened by.
This, of course, is a positively perverse prescription – at once gravely flawed in the logical foundations it is based on, and seriously counterproductive in outcomes it is likely to produce.
For if there is a genuine confluence of interests between the regimes in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and several Gulf states, trenchant questions arise: • Why should Israel have to make any concessions to help these regimes (I use the word “regime” rather than “state” or “country” deliberately) pursue or preserve their own vital interests? • Why would it be in the interests of those regimes for Israel to relinquish any territory for the establishment of a Palestinian state? After all, both precedent and prudent projections strongly indicate that such territory would soon be taken over by the very elements which imperil the vital interests of both Israel and the allegedly allied regimes, considerably empowering the forces that jeopardize those purported common interests.
Eclipse of common sense
When it comes to the Palestinian issue, the eclipse of common sense – even self-interest – is the rule.
For as the Gaza precedent, and a large body of expert evaluation, clearly indicate, the best, arguably the only, way to ensure that the territory designated for a prospective Palestinian state, well-funded by Iran, Qatar and the burgeoning ill-gotten coffers of Islamic State, will not become a mortal threat to both Israel and its professed potential Arab allies, is for Israel to retain control of it.
After all, who would protect the nascent state from external threats or a compliant incumbent regime from domestic ones? The IDF? Some Arab army, deployed east of the Jordan River – something every Israeli government since the late 1960s has refused to consider? But even more troubling questions arise: What if Israel makes the perilous concessions twostaters prescribe, and all, or some, of purportedly allied Arabs regimes (among the most decadent on the face of the planet today) succumb to their Islamist adversaries? What will become of the “convergence of interests” then? What would, indeed, could, Israel do to redress the situation? This is particularly pertinent in the case of Jordan, which if it fell to, or even fell under the influence, of Islamic State/al-Qaida affiliates, would create a huge Islamic expanse, from Islamic State-controlled central Iraq to the eastern approaches to the sedate sidewalks of Ra’anana and Kfar Saba, and to the runways of Ben-Gurion Airport.
And if the presumed Arab allies did vanquish the Islamist threat to their survival, with the common threat gone, what would there be to sustain the convergence of interests and prevent a reversion to the inimical status quo ante – after Israel has made the prescribed two-state compliant concessions?
All these – and other unmentioned – deadly dangers, which with a high degree of probability, could arise from the implementation of the two-state prescription in an Islamic ascendant Middle East, are so starkly discernible, predictable and plausible, it is difficult not to question the motivation of anyone blatantly unmindful of them.
The following is the legal definition of “depraved indifference” in US law: “To constitute depraved indifference, [one’s] conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime.”
I leave the readers to judge whether this adequately characterizes the conduct of today’s two-staters.
In any event, when Islamic State becomes the excuse du jour for their policy, Israel and Israelis have much to worry about.
Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic-israel.org)