The headlines yesterday announced that Israel plans to build 700 new housing units in united Jerusalem, and the Palestinian Arabs and Americans are already crying “foul,” bleating again about how Israeli building is an obstacle to peace.
This is no surprise, however, given the received wisdom that Jews building in land to which they bear a four thousand year connection, and which they conquered fair and square in a defensive war (i.e. not of their making) is an obstacle to peace. Not the smuggling of arms through tunnels, or lobbing of mortars onto civilian homes and kindergartens, or detention of a soldier seized in a cross-border kidnapping three and a half years ago, or funneling of oil money from Iran into the coffers of terrorists sworn to destroy the Jewish State and its people. The building of apartments.
Anyone who follows this thread in the news has heard this before. The one thing that is making itself clearer to me every day I read about it is that the 10-month pledge to freeze building in the West Bank was doomed to failure before it was made. (Many of you know this already; just bear with me as I break it down, as much for myself as for my readers.)
First of all, it was made under duress, under pressure from an America that doesn’t necessarily concern itself with the state of things on the ground here. Neither the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip is ready to be made into a state, or given international recognition as a state (unless Sweden would like to take on the paternal role of supporting such a state from its own coffers). Those areas are still dependent on Israel (by their own refusal to build an economy) and neither is prepared yet to live peaceably side-by-side with a Jewish State.
Secondly, it is a unilateral gesture made by the Israelis to the Palestinians to try to lure them to the negotiating table. The fact that the Arabs said even before Netanyahu officially made the pledge that they would not be so easily swayed, and that any freeze would have to include Jerusalem, which they one day hope to re-divide and establish as the capital of their apartheid state, should have been a red flag. (When, may I ask, will the Arab leadership be called upon to make unilateral gestures, like filling in the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, ceasing their illegal arms smuggling, abandoning terrorism, releasing Gilad Shalit—you know, things that actually mean something? Just asking.) Unilateral gestures have been made in the past to try to further the cause of peace, and none of them has worked. Israel left south Lebanon and got Lebanon II in the summer of 2006. Israel expelled its own citizens from Gaza in 2005 to allow the Arabs a nice judenrein piece of land to call their own, and we got thousands of missiles fired on our farms and cities. We have dismantled checkpoints, and just last week a father of seven was riddled with bullets and killed on a road whose checkpoint had recently been removed. We have halted building housing in the West Bank, and before the words were even out of our mouths, our “peace partners” declared “shan’t play.”
Thirdly, why should Israel have to woo the Arabs? We’re holding all the cards. We have a state and they don’t—it’s we who should be the ones being offered incentives to sit down and talk.
But wooed or not wooed, we have no business sitting down and talking with people still sworn to our destruction, who still show no interest in statecraft or state-building, who are still thick as thieves with the planet’s most unsavory characters. We have no business capitulating to and appeasing our sworn enemies in the hope that one day they’ll say it’s enough and leave us alone. We have no business flouting the rule of law and desecrating the memories of the soldiers and police who risked their lives or died bringing terrorists like Marwan Bargouti (yimach shemo) to justice by releasing those terrorists in exchange for one Israeli soldier. We have no business pretending that deporting those terrorists will make Israelis any safer than if we released them onto Ben Yehudah Street in the center of Jerusalem; with the Internet and sophisticated communications available to anyone and everyone, wherever they are, they will be back in the office of Terror, Inc. first thing Monday morning.
I know the pressure Bibi must have been under to make this absurd gesture. I know the self-delusion most Westerners operate under that makes them think that if Israel just gives up enough of its own aspirations, Arabs will come around and embrace peace. But this outcome was totally predictable from the outset: Israel’s aspirations are to live, and the Arabs’ aspirations are to destroy Israel. How can those aspirations live side by side? How can anyone even talk about peace until those aspirations are brought into line with one another? And how can anyone claim to be a competent peace broker by forcing the side that is trying to live to give up its aspirations (usually in the form of its safety or natural growth) to make all the concessions to the side whose aspirations are to bomb, shoot, crush, and negotiate the other side out of existence?
Just asking, that’s all.