by Steven Plaut
For most of the past 16 years or so, a seemingly benign specter has been haunting the world — namely, the notion that there exists a New Middle East, one that plays by rules very different from those in the Bad Old Middle East.
Beginning with the first of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s,
Oslo was based on the assumption that what was needed to resolve the conflict was a sincere willingness on Israel's part to reach an accommodation with the Arab world through unilateral concessions and especially through Israel's acknowledging the legitimacy of Palestinian demands for statehood.
But as we enter the year 2009, the conclusion is unavoidable that there is no such thing as a New Middle East. The Bad Old Middle East keeps reasserting itself — with a vengeance.
It is crucial at this point in history for all to abandon the campaign of peace through make-believe that has governed efforts at resolving the conflict since late 1992. No progress can be made until the world renews its acquaintance with
I. Arab terrorism and military aggression are not caused by Israeli occupation but rather by the removal of Israeli occupation.
The Israeli Left and its amen chorus in the international media have been repeating for so many years that the ultimate cause of Palestinian terrorism and Arab grievances is the "occupation" of "Palestinian lands" by Israel that few are capable any longer of thinking about that assertion critically. It is wrong. The main cause of anti-Israel terrorism today is the removal of Israeli occupation from Palestinian Arabs.
This is so obvious that it is a major intellectual challenge to explain why so few people understand it.
The Israeli occupation of southern
The worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by the early
The only possible exception to the rule that removal of Israeli occupation causes terrorism has been the
There can be no doubt that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a return to pre-1967 borders would trigger a massive rocket and terror assault against the remaining rump areas of Israel, launched from the "liberated" lands in the West Bank. The same thing would result from relinquishing the Golan Heights to
There are worse things in the world than occupation, and the experiences of the past few years have demonstrated how much worse are the consequences that follow the removal of Israeli occupation. The inevitable consequence of a complete withdrawal by
Academics can debate about whether animosity to
II. Israeli goodwill concessions do not trigger goodwill among Arabs, they trigger Arab aggression and violence.
The Arabs interpret such goodwill measures as admission of weakness on
Attempts at buying Arab moderation through demonstrations of Jewish self-restraint and niceness go back decades and predate
Niceness means never prosecuting Arab political leaders for treason and espionage or for endorsing terror, no matter how openly they do so. It means exempting Israeli Arabs from military conscription and even from civilian national service. It has even meant that families of Arabs killed while perpetrating terror atrocities against Jews were allowed to draw "survivor benefits" from
Outside the Green Line, niceness often consists of endless offers of cease-fires with the terrorists — cease-fires that consist of Palestinians shooting and Israelis not shooting back. It means delivering funds and sometimes weapons to the very groups engaged in terrorism, in an attempt to maintain the fa.ade of an ongoing peace process.
None of these measures can assuage Arab bellicosity toward
III. The Arab-Israeli war is not about land, and it cannot be resolved by
The Arab world already controls territory nearly twice that of the
The Arab-Israeli conflict is not about
This misrepresentation of the conflict serves to prolong it, precisely because it misleads. The Arab world insists that
IV. Education and economic progress do not produce political moderation or a desire for peace in the Arab world.
To the contrary, there is reason to believe that wealth and education are negatively correlated with moderation, meaning that wealthier and better-educated Arabs are more likely to support terrorism and extremist political ideas. Arab students in European and American universities have been regular recruits for terrorist groups, and most of the al Qaeda terrorists who carried out the 9/11 atrocities had been students.
Suicide bombers in
More generally, in the
Terrorism escalated with each concession by
V. "Talks" cannot produce peace in the
There is a Western obsession with the idea that all world problems can be resolved through talking. But how many international conflicts can be said to have been resolved strictly through talking? Especially in the
The Arab-Israeli war is not a marital spat where bringing together the parties to sit around a table and socialize reduces anger, misunderstanding and tension. The conflict is not about hurt feelings but about the refusal of the Arab world to come to terms with
VI. There is no "two-state solution" or "one-state solution" to the Arab Israeli conflict.
The latter solution is particularly popular on the left. Under that scenario,
More important, there is no "two-state solution" to the
That such a solution will not end the conflict but only signal the commencement of its next stage has long been the quasi-official position of virtually all Palestinian groups, which have long insisted that any two-state solution is but a stage in a plan of stages, after which will come additional steps ultimately ending Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
The original partition plan of the United Nations had proposed that an Arab Palestinian state arise alongside
The two-state solution is no more realistic an option today than it was in 1948. It is ultimately as much of an existential threat to Jewish survival in the
VII. Israeli Arabs form a potential fifth column, displaying massive animosity and disloyalty to the state in which they have lived for 60 years and openly identifying with the enemies of that state.
Sixty years of living under the only democratic government in the
Their animosity toward
When the opportunity presents itself — for example, during the riots in the fall of 2000 or earlier this year on Yom Kippur in
Education and prosperity offer little hope of changing this reality. One proof is the behavior of Arab college students in
Israeli Arabs have long played a Sudeten-like role in the conflict. In any new outbreak of hostilities with neighboring Arab countries, there is a clear and present danger that they will take to the streets in attempts to cripple the country from within. The Arab lynch mobs of the
For too long the world, led by
It has been a sham, of course, and any short-lived lulls in the fighting have served only to weaken the resolve of Israelis, whose leaders have repeatedly presented them with a Potemkin peace based on the substitution of wish-making for statecraft.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.