by Eli E. Hertz
The weight of the evidence of so many scholars, observers, pollsters and monitors make it almost impossible to mitigate, not to mention ignore the enormity of finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict [or better described as Arab-Israeli war].
When one grasps the duration of the conflict and its roots, when one fully faces the depth of animosity towards Israel and the anti-Semitism that permeates the Arab world from the political, religious and intellectual elites down to the grass roots, the sheer magnitude of the challenge for peacemakers becomes painfully apparent.
When one admits the implications of Palestinian society’s behavior – the repetitive pattern of nearly 100 years of rejectionism on the diplomatic front and a penchant for terrorism against civilians, the “readiness” of Arabs for co-existence and the chances of a breakthrough assume their true proportions.
The unwillingness to accept Israel as a legitimate non-Muslim political entity is epitomized by the Palestinians asymmetrical demands for the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees to the Jewish state coupled with a demand that the 'West Bank' and Gaza be cleansed of all Jews.
One cannot artificially narrow the scope of the conflict. One cannot duck the tough issues – whether in the Palestinian camp or the Arab world as a whole. Western leadership that is “Staying above the conflict” out of fear that demanding Arabs to ‘walk the talk’ will jeopardize one’s status as an honest broker has not and will not bring peace.
There has never been “a cycle of violence.” Resorting to such neutral terminology requires the U.S. and Europe to acquiesce to, and perpetuate a gross misrepresentation of reality.
Putting Israel and its neighbors on the same footing totally ignores the asymmetry of the history of the conflict and something as fundamental as “cause and effect.”
The truth is – one side has been the aggressor time-after-time. The Arabs have been the initiators of more than five major wars resulting in the death of more than 22,000 Israeli soldiers and civilians. Arabs continuously call for political and economic boycotts and unbridled incitement. The Palestinian Arabs have launched wave-after-wave of terrorism against Israelis and other Jews and made hate the fuel that directs and runs their society.
All this began before there was a State of Israel, before there was an “occupation” and it continues unabated to this day.
In response to these onslaughts, Israel has not demanded reparations for the horrific causalities it has sustained in its fight for survival against repeated Arab aggression.
It did not ask the Arab countries forrestitution on behalf of 899,000 Jews that fled “All Moslem Lands” [NY Times , May 16, 1948]. It has only asked that it be allowed to live in peace with recognized and defendable borders as suggested in UN Security Council Resolution 242, and to develop according to its own Jewish ethos, and this is hardly an excessive demand.
Eli E. Hertz
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