Who was it that said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Israel has been in a “peace process” with the Palestinians for the past 17 years. Neither side can now say that there has been great progress, and many might say even the opposite.
In order to conduct this process, the State of Israel surprised the world and reversed its longtime policy of not negotiating with the PLO terrorist group. This unheard-of path facilitated the rebirth of a bankrupt band of terrorists and brought their leadership out of unemployment on the shores of Tunis into the seats of government in the Palestinian Authority in the main cities of the “West Bank.”
Over the past 17 years America, Israel and the international community have funneled many billions of dollars into the PLO to establish the Palestinian Authority and assist it in becoming an independent country in Gaza and the West Bank. The results have been disappointing at best.
The PLO has proven to be a corrupt bunch of thugs who terrorize their own people on a regular basis, and their leadership has been systematically embezzling international aid money. This conduct has been the basis for the current boost in Islamic Hamas popularity on the Palestinian street. As a result, Hamas leadership won the last Palestinian elections.
This is not to say that the PLO is better for Israel. The PLO is regularly considered the Palestinians’ moderate leadership because of their willingness to negotiate with Israel. This is a misconception; in fact they are not moderate at all. What they are is pragmatic. They understand that there is much for them to gain through “diplomatic” channels, but their goal has remained the same: the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.
While they demand that “Palestine” in Gaza and the West Bank be cleansed of all Jewish residents, they continue to refuse to recognize Israel as Jewish and demand that it be an inclusive state that offers citizenship to all descendants of Arabs who voluntarily left the land as Israel was established. They understand that the influx of fix or six million children and grandchildren of the so-called “Palestinian refugees” into Israel's society would bring an end to Israel as a Jewish State.
So, with the Oslo process bringing us nowhere, the ongoing disappointment with the PLO leadership and the growing support for the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot Hamas (whose official charter openly calls for genocide of the Jews,) what is the answer? Can there be peace in Israel? Will we see normalization of civil behavior between Israel and its neighbors? I believe that peace and normalization are attainable, but will only come about when we acknowledge the environment we live in and stop trying to force a Western mindset on Middle Eastern peoples.
Israel a regional superpower
The Jewish people are a Middle Eastern people who have returned and reestablished their country, language and society in their historic homeland - in the midst of many other Middle Eastern peoples. One of the claims the Arab world makes against Israel and Zionism is that the Jews are reaching out an arm of Western imperialism to build colonies in Arab lands. This claim is unfounded in reality. Israel can be an ally to America and the West and maintain common interests without being regarded as a foreign infiltration into the area.
What does all this mean? Israel needs to speak to its neighbors in local terms. Let’s not forget that the Arab and Muslim states have conflicts among themselves and between the diverse Shiite, Sunni, Alawite, Druze and other factions as well. These complex love-hate relationships are a cultural norm for them. From an objective viewpoint, it seems that at times Israel is less threatened than other countries in the region.
Thank G-d, Israel is the regional superpower. Arab culture respects strength, and Israel should not try to hide or play down its very capable military ability and intelligence networks. Face the facts: strong totalitarian leaders of the Middle East have always been respected (feared) by the region in general. I am not saying that Israel should be a totalitarian state; but surely it should not be concerned that projecting a tough image is undesirable.
The truth is that the image still exists, even though Israel has done very little to promote it since the Six-Day War and Entebbe. The Arabs do have a lingering fear and respect for Israel, but that diminishes with every weak decision made by our leaders, like demonstrating readiness to give over land to the PLO and kindness to terrorists through wholesale pardons from Israeli prisons.
“Peace through superior firepower” is not just a fun slogan to print on T-shirts. In the Middle East, this is reality. Israel needs to make a clear statement to its neighbors: “We are here to stay, and we can protect our borders and interests. Those who try to hurt us will pay a very dear price. But, on the other hand, those who live with us in peace will prosper with us.”
We do have the means for the second part as well as the first. Israel is a world power in technology as well as security and defense. Those who understand the advantages of living with us in peace can learn from Israel how to produce food and jobs for their people. There are Arabs that have learned to enjoy these fruits, but still have not built up the courage to openly embrace the Jewish State.
The Oslo Accords, Camp David, Wye Plantation and all of the other steps in this ongoing effort have not advanced normalization in the Middle East mainly because they are based in foreign locations and more importantly on foreign concepts. Normalization for Israel in the Middle East will come about by bringing the process home physically and culturally. Israel must take a clear stand and draw the lines and framework by advancing our strong position. That will ultimately be accepted and respected by our neighbors and the internal Arab population.
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