Friday, February 23, 2007

With One Hand Outstrectched For Peace--Yet the Imperative of Remaining Ever Vigilant

If given the real opportunity, are the Palestinians truly willing--if only begrudgingly--to live side by side with a Jewish state? On the face of it, we hear again that if only Israel would relinquish more territory, share Jerusalem more generously, and meet a host of other conditions, the Palestinians would back the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict. Yet time and again, words and deeds from supposedly moderate Palestinians (and other Arabs in the Middle East) belie this assumption.
In 2005, Judea Pearl, president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, an organization that promotes cross-cultural understanding named after his son, attended a high-level U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar. Richard Holbrooke, former American ambassador to the United Nations, reminded the audience that two and a half generations of Arabs have been brought up on text books that do not show Israel on any map, and that such continued denial, on a grass-roots level, remains a major hindrance to any peaceful settlements.
Later in the conference, in a conversation with an aide to Muhammed Dahlan (Palestinian Authority civil affairs minister and former security chief of Gaza), Pearl noted that the aide confessed "we Palestinians do not believe in a two-state solution, for we can't agree to the notion of a 'Jewish state.' " "Judaism is a religion," he added, "and religions do not have states." When Pearl pointed out that Israeli society is predominately secular, bound by history and its sense of peoplehood, his amiable interlocutor replied, "Still, Palestine is too small for two states."
Pearl went on to discuss his disappointment with this line of reasoning with an Egyptian scholar renowned for his liberalism. His response was blunter yet. "The Jews should build themselves a Vatican," he said, "a spiritual center somewhere near Jerusalem. But there is no place for a Jewish state in Palestine. The Jews were driven out 2,000 years ago, and that should be final."
Ze'ev Schiff, below, gives us more chilling examples from the present. If the 'moderates' espouse such beliefs, Israelis must be excused if they seem less than sanguine about the prospects for peace with their Palestinian neighbors at the moment. While we must always be open to even the slightest window of opportunity to move forward, it behooves us to also heed the words of Moshe Dayan, and remain ever vigilant. "This is our life's choice: to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword slip from our hand and our lives be cut down."

Lest the Sword Slip from Our Hand
Ze'ev Schiff
Jibril Rajoub, a former head of PA Preventive Security in the West Bank who is considered a "moderate" Palestinian, has now appeared on television and shocked his Israeli acquaintances with the remark that in the end, the Palestinians will recover every inch of land between the river and the sea.
With all due respect to my Palestinian friends, I can only conclude from these remarks that we must shut our ears when the Palestinians scatter promises about wanting to live alongside Israel. It is not words that matter, but deeds, and deeds alone.
There is only one conclusion, and Moshe Dayan already said it in his eulogy over the grave of Roi Rutenberg, who was murdered by Arabs from Gaza in the 1950s: "This is our life's choice: to be prepared and armed, strong and determined, lest the sword slip from our hand and our lives be cut down."
The key issue here, and our primary concern, is the continuation of terror; today manifested in the continued rocket fire, the refusal to release Gilad Shalit, the attempts to carry out suicide bombings, and the massive smuggling of arms. Bringing an end to these things constitutes part of the Quartet's demands.
Of course Israel must help Mahmoud Abbas, and through him, the suffering Palestinian people. But it cannot participate in a sneaky attempt by Hamas to use a moderate and positive-thinking man like Salam Fayad, who would be finance minister in a unity government, to put aid money into the hands of Hamas ministers, including those heading the movement's military wing.
Having a moderating force in Gaza and within the PA is in Israel's interest, but it is not enough. Israel must also insist that the Palestinians pass the critical test of reining in terror and fully abide by all agreements.

1 comment:

Lao Qiao said...

In August of 1967, the Arab nations meeting in Sudan issued the Three Noes of Khartoum: no peace with Israel, no negotiation with Israel, no recognition of Israel.

That is why there are settlements on the West Bank. They began as a form of pressure and then took on a life of their own.