(Revised and Expanded Sunday Feb. 15, 2004)
Europeans and American left-wingers swoon for Palestine. This love often reflects uncomplicated anti-Americanism. Israel and America have long-standing and strong political and military ties; Bush and Sharon both reject passivity, "colonial guilt" and anguished self-examination. Only America and Israel challenge terrorism at its source. And Europe and the American left divorced Israel and started wooing Palestine only after Israel emerged as the dominant military power in the region, analogous to America's global might.
So, ire at Israel and ardor for Arafat actually is aimed at Washington. Ok, fine. It's pointless to argue with someone who wants America to fail.
Another bunch claims the Palestinian conflict would vanish if Israel withdrew from the West Bank and Gaza. Those guys really bug me. For the most part, they're a less offensive incarnation of the species. They'll even concede, in a pinch, that America is a land of plenty and a fountain of opportunity. But they're impractical dreamers, huggy-bear types who actually believe that "all you need is love" and war would vanish if only "[e]verybody [got] together" and tried "to love one another, right now."
This notion is dangerous and ignorant. Dangerous because it appeals to the noble Western preference for peace rather than war--without considering whether this assumption is shared by radical Islam. Ignorant because it's been tried--and has failed. Peace will not blossom in the desert even were Palestinians granted 1) an independent 2) sovereign nation 3) with the 1967 borders. I'll prove it--without citing either the Bible or any wartime "right of conquest."
Answer 1: The 1947-48 U.N. partition created a Palestine larger than the 1967 version. Did that bring peace? No--the Palestinians and five neighboring Arab states declared war two days later and invaded Israel. The Palestinians had a state, with boundaries approved by two thirds of UN members--and they preferred conflict to compromise.
Answer 2: Israel won that war, and the 1949 armistice boundary was the border until 1967. Thus, by definition, the Palestinians had the state they claim to seek. Was the Middle East peaceful then? No. The Arab states refused to negotiate and remained formally at war with Israel. And Palestinians expanded terrorism inside Israel: Between 1951 and 1956, fedayeen attacks killed over 400 Israelis and wounded 900 more. In 1956, Egypt escalated the conflict by blockading the Straits of Tiran (Israel's only access to the Red Sea) and nationalizing the Suez Canal. This provoked another war (Israel drove through the Sinai and occupied the canal), settled only when Eisenhower forced Egypt to end their blockade and re-open the canal (including for Israel) and Israel to withdraw from Sinai. Thus, before the Suez crisis, Israel occupied neither the West Bank or Gaza--but that didn't satisfy the Arabs.
Answer 3: How interested are Palestinians in "independence?" Who knows? In 1950, Jordan annexed the West Bank (but not Gaza). In other words, Arabs themselves carved up Palestine without regard to Palestinian sovereignty. Most countries refused to recognize the annexation. But neither the Palestinians nor any Arab country protested. And terrorist attacks on Israel were undiminished. So the Palestinians had, then lost, their independence--without diminishing their hatred of Israel. (Also remember that Syria invaded Lebanon a generation ago and remains as puppeteer--without Syria condemned an "aggressor" or Lebanon called "occupied.")
Answer 4: Recent experience confirms that Israeli withdrawal doesn't induce peace. In the early 1980s, Israel invaded Lebanon to create a buffer zone between Lebanese-based terrorists and Israelis. Four years ago, Israel unilaterally pulled all troops from South Lebanon. But that wasn't enough for Hezbollah, which still attacks northern Israel via terrorism and occasional shellings. Lebanon got what it wanted--and it wasn't enough. When even surrender fails, peace is impossible.
Reasons for Answers 1-4: Simple. Contrary to peacenick claims, Arabs won't settle for "Israeli withdraw" and a two state solution. Instead, Palestinians want to eliminate Israel and annihilate all Middle-East Jews. They don't hide this ambition. Look at PA maps, created by the State Information Service. "Palestine" includes all of Israel. The PA websites incorporate Israel as well. FrontPageMagazine posted a chilling slide presentation with more maps, including school texts and the map on Arafat's own uniform.
If you don't believe maps, listen to Palestinian Imans. According to the indispensable Little Green Footballs, they're all "on the payroll of the Palestinian Authority;" one or more appear Friday on PA-owned and -operated television. Start with Mufti Sheikh Ikrimeh Sabri in 2000 and 2001:
The land of Palestine is not only Jerusalem; this land stretches from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. . . . From an Islamic point of view, [Palestine] stretches from the Mediterranean to the Jordan [River]. It is Palestine in its entirety . . ..And here's Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya speaking in 2000:
We shall not forget Haifa, and Acre, and the Galilee, and Jaffa, and the Triangle and the Negev, and the rest of our cities and villages. It is only a matter of time. ? Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them? We will not give up a single grain of soil of Palestine, from Haifa, and Jaffa, and Acre, and Mulabbas [Petah Tikva] and Salamah, and Majdal [Ashkelon], and all the land, and Gaza, and the West Bank.There's plenty more. Yet, the aging hippies never acknowledge these uncompromising and genocidal ambitions; they also scoff when shown the data. The PA's probably tickled by leftist gullibility--and grateful for their support.
Why are so many Westerners fooled? That's also easy to explain. The problem is foreign policy "mirror-imaging:"
[P]rojecting your thought process or value system onto someone else . . . is one of the greatest threats to objective intelligence analysis. Not everyone is alike, and cultural, ethnic, religious, and political differences do matter. Just because something seems like the logical conclusion or course of action to you does not mean that the person or group you are analyzing will see it that way, particularly when differences in values and thought processes come into play.During the Cold War, this error prompted leftists to restrain U.S. power (so as not to "threaten" the Soviets). It fooled Nixon (and others) into concentrating on arms-control treaties, all of which mistakenly assumed that the Soviets--like us--preferred peace to hegemony and would--like any gentleman--keep its word. But that wasn't true. Instead, a CIA critic concluded, "[t]he threat of civilian and city destruction is no deterrent in Soviet thinking; they think in terms of the destruction of military, industrial, and administrative targets rather than worrying about how much of the population will die." The same error may have influenced CIA assessments of Saddam Hussein's Iraq--after all, Hussein and every senior military commander claimed they had chemical weapons and were developing nukes. Whoops, the enemy lied; didn't see that coming.
So Europeans (liberal and conservative) and U.S. lefties assume radical Muslims reason like Westerners, prefer peace to war like Westerners and would be content with self-rule and sovereignty in accordance with the Peace of Westphalia (the dawn of the modern nation-state). They pre-suppose Palestinians are rational and seek only "justice"--like they do. Pro-Palestinians claim the "two-state solution" is appropriate, reasonable and acceptable--because it is to them.
This is folly. We should learn from our mistakes. Victor Davis Hanson, in National Review Online, is dismayed by those who naively "Imagine" dreams are real:
After listening to a variety of American, Middle Eastern, and European pundits, I wish that their understanding of the way the world works were true--or at least even that they believed it to be true. If so, just imagine . . . [t]hat when all the Israelis vacate the Gaza Strip and, like most of the Arab world elsewhere it is free of Jews, indigenous Palestinian consensual government will at last quickly bring peace and tranquility there to its own delighted native citizenry.Euros and American lefties still seem cuckoo for the cause. But passionate affairs often end abruptly; love can evaporate by morning, triggering lingering regret.
Israel can't settle the Middle-East conflict by itself. Nor should it be expected to commit suicide. A sovereign Palestine with the pre-1967 borders won't end the war--Arabs want the whole pie. Why should it be different this time? And, even if it might, would you risk your life, the lives of your friends and neighbors, plus the future of your entire nation?