Monday, February 26, 2007

Does Peace with Israel Represent Capitulation in Predominant Arab WorldView?

Saul Singer presents an interesting thesis that certainly deserves to be taken seriously. What we in the West take as a given, that a peaceful two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict-which has continued for a over a century now-may not be seen through quite the same lens in much of the Arab world. If he is correct, and peace with Israel represents shame and capitulation to many, if not most in the Arab world, then our best efforts at conciliation and rapprochement may be for naught if they are not accompanied with equally vigorous efforts at establishing once and for all the absolute legitimacy and permanence of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.
Ironically, those who believe that their efforts at demonizing and delegitmizing Israel are furthering a 'peace process' may in fact be doing the exact opposite. This includes Palestinian sympathists from NGO's to western governments and their diplomats. Anne Bayefsky's piece on a newly released United Nations report shows John Dugard, the UN's "Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967," announcing that Jews seeks racial domination. How Bad Is the UN?
Seen from this vantage point, it is easy to agree with Singer that "The most pro-peace policy is the one that most convinces the Arabs of Israel's permanence."

In the Arab Mind, Peace Equals Capitulation
Saul Singer
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.
The Arab-Israeli peace that is a shining prize in Western eyes would be a source of shame and mourning for much of the Muslim world.
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.
The most pro-peace policy is the one that most convinces the Arabs of Israel's permanence. When it comes to a "political horizon," the problem is not that the Arabs cannot see a Palestinian state, but that they can see a Jewish one. The Arab world will settle for a Palestinian state only when it is convinced of the permanence of Israel.
Today, Hamas leaders openly say that their dreams of Israel's destruction are closer to fruition than any time since 1967. They see the struggle as not only, or even primarily, one of military strength, but of legitimacy. And if it is suddenly and increasingly more legitimate to speak of a world without Israel, why should the Arabs, at this very moment, throw in the towel?
In this context, what we think of as a "political horizon" designed to tempt Arabs has the opposite effect. How does dressing up defeat make it more tempting?
Unfortunately, there is no direct way to change the fact that, to the bulk of Arab opinion, peace equals capitulation. All that can be done is to tip the scales of inevitability: from a world where it seems that Israel can be waited out, to one in which Israel is not only growing in strength but in legitimacy.
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.

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