The Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, December 29, 2008.
Dedicated to Tsafir Ronen (z”l).
Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to elevate the economic well-being of the Palestinians to facilitate the “peace process” coincides with a policy paper written by former Chief of General Staff Moshe Yaalon, now with the Likud Party. The paper is entitled “Israel and the Palestinians: A New Strategy.”
Yaalon’s paper begins by analyzing the reasons why the Oslo accords failed to bring peace. “Fifteen years ago,” he says, “the signing of the Oslo accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) raised hopes that Israel had boarded the ‘peace train.’ Over the years, however, it became clear that the train was not headed for the promised destination.” Nevertheless, Israel’s leadership has foolishly remained on the same train.
However, Yaalon obscures the covert objective of Oslo’s architects, which was the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha) as the only means of achieving peace. He fails to see or say that only the “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could induce Yasser Arafat to sign a deal with Israel—as Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin surely knew and concealed. Only a sovereign Palestinian state could be legally bound by any peace agreement.
Yaalon does not really oppose a Palestinian state. He simply criticizes the decision of Israel’s leaders to withdraw from Yesha before the Palestinians had achieved the economic, political, and judicial infrastructure required to become a responsible state.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is a kleptocracy. Hence it must undergo a democratic metamorphosis to become a legitimate state, one that respects human rights and international law. Needed, first, was the economic well-being of the Palestinians, the precondition of developing a middle class society whose natural tendency is moderation, the rule of law, and peace. Then only could Israelis and the Palestinians arrive at a peaceful settlement of their conflict.
Yaalon admits, “such a settlement will invariably involve painful concessions.” Of course, he does not specify these concessions, but they obviously include Israel’s abandonment of most of Judea and Samaria. However, “two conditions,” he says, “must be met: first, unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state; and second, the establishment of Palestinian self-rule on a solid economic, political, and security basis.”
“Self-rule” is Yaalon’s euphemism for a Palestinian state. He knows the Palestinians will accept nothing less than a sovereign state, if only because the entire international community as well as the Israeli Left advocates a “two-state” solution. He admits the road to peace “is still very long. But sometimes the longer road is in truth the shorter one.” This approach, he would have us believe, is realistic.
In a recent Jerusalem Post article, Caroline Glick endorsed Yaalon’s “longer-but-shorter” road to peace scenario, which implies she supports a Palestinian state.* Glick portrays Yaalon’s plan as “realistic.” She disparages Moshe Feiglin for not being “realistic”—obviously, because he uncompromisingly opposes a Palestinian state.
With transparent sophistry, Glick links Feiglin with the Left because the Left is also unrealistic, since it dogmatically supports a Palestinian state before the Palestinians develop the wherewithal to become a reliable peace partner.
Glick’s sophistry aside—which makes Arieh Eldad and Baruch Marzel “Leftists”—I ask: Is it realistic to expect the Palestinians to forsake Islam’s 1,400-year tradition whose modus operandi vis-à-vis the infidel world is Jihad? The Palestinian Authority does not dare act independently of Islamdom, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose arms and money very much sustain that consortium of terrorists.
Genuine realism requires a theological understanding of Islam, the history of Islamic imperialism, and the short-lived nature of Muslim agreements with infidels. Genuine realists know that territorial compromise with Muslims whets their appetite for further aggression. Serious study of Islamic texts and Arab behavior since Muhammad shows there are no realistic grounds to expect the Palestinians to become bourgeois democrats, unless you so devastate them as to eradicate their desire to wage war for a hundred years—as the Allied powers did to Germany.
Perhaps unknown to its advocates, the economic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is based on a Marxist mode of thought: the primacy of economics over religion. For Marx, human conflict is not the result of the vices of human nature, such as the lust for power or glory. No, conflict results from economic scarcity. Eliminate scarcity or poverty and you eliminate the basic cause of conflict.
A variation of this doctrine appears in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, the classic text of capitalism. Capitalism, in opposition to religion, purveys the doctrine that human misery and conflict can be overcome by economic laissez-faire. Smith said war could be replaced by economic competition. Hence, universal avarice, fostered by a free market economy, can trump religion. Indeed, homo economicus, unlike homo religiosis, is amenable to compromise.
This materialistic mode of thought trumps religious considerations among secularists like Netanyahu and Yaalon. They do not regard Judea and Samaria in religious terms. But common sense alone suggests that a and non-compromising approach to dealing with non-compromising Muslims is the only genuine realism.
On the other hand, suppose Yaalon’s strategy is merely a ploy to postpone indefinitely Israel’s withdrawal from Judea and Samaria!
Two things should still be emphasized. First, unlike secularists, Muslims live under the aspect of eternity. Second, during Yaalon’s longer-but-shorter strategy, what should Israel do to prevent recurring terrorist attacks? Yaalon does not say. Has he plumbed the unrelenting nature of Islam? Does he understand that Muslims cannot rest content until they possess Jerusalem, from which Muhammad ascended to heaven?
What policy-makers and opinion-makers deem a “realistic” approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict obscures the religious core of the conflict. Ignorance aside, perhaps their secular approach has been influenced by “political correctness,” if not by political ambition? Perhaps prominent Israelis who speak at various conferences, think tanks, or travel the lecture circuit in the USA, feel they must be less than candid? How many dare say in public that Israel is confronted by a foe with whom peace is impossible?
After all, if Israel and Muslims are indeed engaged in a “clash of civilizations”—which Netanyahu denied before a joint session of the American Congress—is it not unrealistic to expect the conflict to be resolved by economics, trade, and democratic diplomacy? Besides, can Mahmoud Abbas act independently of Islamdom? Can he abandon Islam for economic prosperity?
I wonder if Yaalon is aware of the Peel Commission Report of 1937, which concluded that the Jewish contribution to Arab prosperity in Palestine only increased Arab hatred? I wonder if he is aware that France and Germany were the greatest trading partners before the Franco-Prussian War—and by the way, they shared the same European heritage? There are motives stronger than economics and even cultural affinities.
So why do Israel’s ruling elites trivialize the religious core of the PA’s hostility toward Israel? Surely, it must be related to their education at Israel’s universities. Indeed, the higher the level of an Israeli’s education, the more likely will he believe in the “peace process.” For proof, contrast the attitude of ordinary Israelis as indicated in public opinion polls. Despite incessant peace propaganda by Israel’s leftwing dominated media, an Independent Media Review Analysis reported on May 18, 2007 that clear majorities of Israeli Jews reject land-for-peace deals with the Palestinians and believe these Arabs want to destroy Israel!
If you ask any religious Jew whether genuine peace is possible between Israel and the Palestinians, I dare say nine out of ten will say no, and he will add that those who think otherwise are not realistic. On this issue, contrary to Glick’s assessment, Moshe Feiglin is quite realistic, and one can cite many non-Jewish scholars and even former Muslims who would agree with him.
To clinch the argument, an increasing majority of Israel’s own Arab citizens, who enjoy a relatively high standard of living and possess educational and professional opportunities unequalled in the Islamic world, identify with Israel’s enemies and are therefore committed to Israel’s demise—contrary to their own economic interests.
By the way, Yaalon cites Middle East expert Daniel Pipes, who, he says, “has correctly noted that it is not despair [meaning poverty] that encourages extremism among the Palestinians, but rather the hope and belief that the Zionist state can be defeated.” This admission actually contradicts Yaalon’s economic peace plan.
Pipes also declared it would take at least two generations to pacify the Palestinians, if only because they have educated their children to hate Jews and emulate suicide bombers. This is probably why Pipes has said he is bored with peace plans.
I asked Caroline Glick whether she supports a Palestinian state.
I am happy to report her prompt reply:
“I don’t support the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Accordingly, I am happy to retract—with apologies—the inference I drew to the contrary in my Monday report on Arutz-7: “Yaalon’s ‘Longer-But-Shorter’ Road to Peace.”—P.E.