Sunday, November 27, 2011

No Road Leads to Peace between Israel and the Palestinians

by Neil Snyder

There are many reasons why a Palestinian state of any sort cannot work. Chief among them is that Palestinians lack the prerequisites for a nation: common purpose; the desire to live in peace so the nation's citizens could carry on normal lives and build for a better future; concern about the well-being of their children and posterity; and a commitment to law and order and to building an economic infrastructure capable of supporting a thriving economy. These are the basics that any nation must have, and all of them are missing.

Common purpose

Only one thing unites the people we call "Palestinians" today -- the desire to annihilate Israel. If you read the Palestinian and Hamas charters, you can't help but notice that the central tenet in both of them is the animus the Palestinian people have for Israel. The elimination of Israel is the overarching theme in both charters, and the creation of a Pan-Arab nation comes in second. Neither of these guiding principles bodes well for peace with Israel or for building a prosperous Palestinian state.

The desire to live in peace so the nation's citizens can carry on normal lives and build for a better future.

Judging by what the Palestinians say they want to achieve, peace with Israel is totally out of the question. In fact, based on what they say, war is inevitable. Both charters call upon Palestinians to dedicate their lives and their wealth to destroying Israel. The Western concept of a "normal life" isn't even hinted at, and a better future by their definition is nothing more than a Middle East with no Israel. If you take them at their word, and there is no reason not to, they have no other vision for a brighter future.

Concern about the well-being of their children and posterity

Palestinians raise their children to become martyrs -- walking bombs that they can explode among crowds of innocent Israelis. That's not what I say -- it's what they say, and it's spelled out clearly in their charters as though it's the only reason Palestinians have children. That's a version of love for children and posterity that Western minds can't fathom, and it's certainly not conducive to building a prosperous and peaceful nation.

A commitment to law and order

The Palestinian government, be it Hamas or Fatah, is notorious for corruption and the whims of despotic rulers. The rule of law isn't even part of their vocabulary. Peaceful and prosperous nations that survive over the long-term must have law and order, and there is no evidence that Palestinians want either.

Building an economic infrastructure capable of supporting a thriving economy

The economic model in place today in the Palestinian community is one of providing labor for a bustling Israeli economy and seeking donations from useful idiots around the world who support the Palestinian cause, which is to destroy Israel. These two economic characteristics are antithetical to building a flourishing national economy. By definition, Palestinians can't seek to eliminate Israel and at the same time expect to thrive as Israel grows and prospers. Similarly, Palestinians can't hope to achieve economic independence if they position themselves as global beggars. Delusory thinking and hatred are not substitutes for sound economic principles, and they don't lead toward prosperity or peace.

Absent sweeping changes in Palestinians' thinking, there is no way a Palestinian state will work, and no amount of wishing and hoping for peace and prosperity will compensate for the abiding hatred the Palestinian people have for Israel.

The "Right of Return" is a Deal-Breaker

Most people don't have any idea what the "right of return" means. In a nutshell, it means that descendants of so-called "Palestinians" who left their homes when Israel's War of Independence began in 1948 have the right to return to their homes. But this issue is murkier than you can imagine. For instance, consider these facts:

  • In 1948, when Israel's War of Independence began, everyone living in the land we call Israel today was referred to as a Palestinian -- Jew and Arab alike.

  • Yasser Arafat commandeered the name "Palestinian" for Arabs in 1964 when he founded the PLO as the "sole legitimate representative of thePalestinian people."

  • When the British Mandate ended, the land was divided into two parts: Israel and Transjordan. Transjordan was supposed to be the Arab state, and Israel was supposed to be the Jewish state. Later, the name "Transjordan" was changed to Jordan. For a more complete explanation, see "A Brief History of Israel and Palestine."

  • Jews in Palestine at the time of the War of Independence invited their Arab neighbors to stay and help them build a country. Arab leaders told them to flee immediately because they intended to crush the fledgling Jewish state and, as they put it, "to drive the Jews into the sea." Most of the Arabs departed, thinking that they would return in a few days at most and reclaim their homes along with spoils left behind by the defeated Jews, but Israel defeated the combined Arab armies, and Arabs who left their homes became refugees.

  • Most Arab political leaders decided not to offer citizenship to Arabs who fled Israel. Instead, they built refugee camps for them in hopes of winning global sympathy for their plight. King Hussein of Jordan, King Abdullah's father, made it clear that Arab leaders alone were responsible for the plight of the refugees, but his was a voice in the wilderness. Israel gladly accepted Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

  • There were more Jewish refugees from Arab countries during Israel's War of Independence than there were Arab refugees from Israel.

  • The value of assets left behind by Jewish refugees from Arab countries far exceeds the value of assets left behind by Arabs who fled Israel.

  • Many, if not most, of the so-called "Palestinian refugees" today have no connection whatsoever to people who fled Israel at the time of the War of Independence. For decades, Arab leaders have routinely ousted rabble-rousers from their countries and forced them to join their Arab brothers in "Palestinian" refugee camps. It was a form of exile -- like being sent to Siberia in Stalin's Soviet Union.

Every year, Arabs remember Nakba Day. In English it means "the Day of Catastrophe." It refers to Israel's defeat of the combined Arab armies during the War of Independence. In a literal sense, they aren't just remembering the "catastrophe," as they put it. They are hoping and waiting for the day when they can reverse their fortunes and return to the land of Israel, or Eretz Yisrael.

On Nakba Day 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying, "The right of return will remain sacred for every Palestinian who was forced by the Zionist war machine to leave his or her home and land in Palestine. The Palestinians won't succumb to extortion; either we get the home and land peacefully, or we will make sacrifices until we return." As the facts above indicate, that statement is a bald-faced lie, but it sells well in the Arab world and among the liberal, left-wing Western intelligentsia who have bought into the Palestinian cause hook, line, and sinker.

In practical terms, Abbas was saying that the "right of return" is non-negotiable. Even more, he was saying that Arabs will fight until the bitter end for the "right of return." In absolute terms, the "right of return" is the ultimate deal-breaker, because Israel will never accept it, and for good reasons. In other words, for Palestinian leaders, the "right of return" is a convenient way out of any compromise that may lead to peace with Israel.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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