I read shortly after President Obama took office that getting the Middle East peace process back on track was a top priority. I appreciate the concern he and other Western leaders feel about seeing that calm heads prevail in this part of the world, but I have some sad news. It ain’t gonna happen.
I’m not pessimistic by nature. In the early 1990s, when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands, I believed there was every reason to hope for a turnaround in the long-standing struggle for peaceful coexistence in Israel. The course history took through the rest of the 1990s and the first decade of this millennium changed my mind. The more I learned, the more hope faded.
And the final nail in the coffin has been the increasing legitimacy Hamas has gained over the past two years. Since their political coup in Gaza, Hamas has succeeded in running Fatah out of town on a rail (or, more accurately, in a coffin), and now Fatah is left with a tenuous hold on the West Bank, while Hamas makes its war on Israel unchecked in the Judenrein Gaza Strip.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t trust Fatah any further than I trust Hamas. They have exactly the same goal—the conquest of Israel for Muslims—but only adopt slightly subtler means to try to achieve it. Where Hamas lobs missiles and rockets on Israeli towns with increasing range, Fatah was responsible for roadside shootings, infiltrations and suicide bombings in Israeli cities in the early part of this decade. Mahmoud Abbas maintains that he can only corral legitimacy through generous donations of cash from the West, continued meetings with high-profile Western leaders, and the release of hundreds of Fatah terrorists from Israeli prisons. Following in the steps of his mentor Arafat, he will only accept a peace proposal that allows unlimited “right of return” to Arabs who fled what is now Israel in 1948, without guaranteeing anything reciprocal to the Jews who were forced to flee their homes in what would become the new Palestinian state. This would guarantee the Arabs a country and a half, at least until they could out-populate the Jewish State and make it an Arab one. With Abbas and Fatah’s hold on the West Bank weakening, especially in the wake of the street cred Hamas earned for itself in challenging the IDF and losing spectacularly, it is only a matter of time before he is forced to take refuge in exile (if he’s lucky enough to outrun Hamas). And then Israel will have Iranian sponsored terrorists to fight on three fronts.
Clinging to the old agreements made by leaders dead or gone, that have failed, and are honored by no one now is not the way to go. Legitimizing Hamas (as Jimmy Carter would have us do), which cannot be defined as other than a terrorist organization, is also not going to bring peace. Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan for building an economic peace to precede a political one sounds practical, but will not do anything to alter the Jew-hating, land-coveting indoctrination to which all Palestinians are subjected during the course of their “educations.” (See Andrea Levin’s January 17 Boston Globe editorial entitled, “The truth about Hamas’s mission.”)
Diplomacy is talk. I’m all for diplomacy, but for it to work, both sides have to be willing to talk, and solve their problems through talk. Hamas doesn’t talk much. They’d rather shoot. Israel and the West can expect to get about as far through talk with Hamas as one can talk one’s way past a rabid Doberman pinscher.
I don’t like to see states meddling in one another’s affairs. Successful peace brokers are welcome, of course, if invited. But no one will broker peace successfully in these parts until Iran’s economic influence over terror is completely eradicated, Hamas is delegitimized, Fatah forced to go straight or suffer similar delegitimization, and at least a full generation or two of Palestinian Arabs pass through a modern educational system that focuses on academic subjects and abandons its hatred of Jews.
Then, perhaps, we can talk peace.