Dear Friend of Israel:
Have you seen any of the reports coming from Israel over the last week? Missiles fired from Gaza aimed at Israeli civilian centers, Palestinian rock
throwers attacking Jewish cars and buses (and killing one driver on Rosh Hashanah), a spate of riots on the Temple Mount for no apparent reason.
Now that quashing Iran's nuclear ambitions has moved into its long phase—of fortifying violation detection and subsequent punishment regimes—the
Palestinian Arabs see their opportunity to seize the Middle East spotlight. Given the catastrophic military and humanitarian situations in Syria,
Iraq and Yemen this will be difficult.
But raising hell—against Israel, of course—has become the primary Palestinian enterprise. When you have no cultural, economic or political vision for your people other than defeating an "enemy" that is decisively more powerful than you and that has
offered peace numerous times, what else is there to do with your time and energy but to flail futilely?
Given the bruising battle the Obama Administration fought to win its Iran Deal—including alienating our strongest ally Israel—and the harsh criticism this
has received from every Republican Presidential candidate, it seems unlikely that Mr. Obama will waste any remaining political capital trying to force
another Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Smart thinking—especially since the Palestinian political structure is in shambles (even more than usual,
and that's saying a lot).
For starters, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (now in the eleventh year of a four-year term) has resigned from the Executive Committee of the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), along with 10 other members. Apparently he hoped he would be begged to stay or that the Committee would call for
new elections, which he would win. Neither has happened.
Abbas' Fatah Party, which rules the West Bank (kind of) and Hamas, which rules Gaza (absolutely) remain arch enemies. Due to political dysfunction, Gazans
have made virtually no progress in repairing the massive damage caused by their war against Israel last summer.
But the heart of the Palestinian tragedy remains impaled and bleeding on one self-defeating notion: A recent poll confirms that more than 80 percent of Palestinians still believe the main Palestinian
goal for the next five years should be "reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea"—in other words, defeating Israel and throwing the Jews out.
This week's FLAME Hotline featured article, by veteran commentator Evelyn Gordon, below, notes that the crux of this opinion lies in the Palestinian
argument that Jews have no right to a homeland in Palestine—a point they propagate in the UN, on U.S. campuses and other forums worldwide. Above
all, Gordon argues that we must correct this lie.
I hope you'll take a few minutes to review this piece, then pass it on to your friends and colleagues who may benefit from it. For more background on
the right of Jews to self-determination and a state in the Holy Land, please see the P.S. immediately below.
Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)
New Poll Shows Why Palestinians Have No Interest in Peace
By Evelyn Gordon, Commentary, September 7, 2015
The Fikra Forum published a fascinating poll last week that asked Palestinians for their preferred
solution to the conflict with Israel over three different time frames. Queried about the next five years, a plurality chose "reclaiming all of historic
Palestine from the river to the sea" as the "main Palestinian national goal"; the two-state solution placed second and the one-state solution third.
Moreover, while Palestinians don't expect this goal to be achieved within five years, they do consider it achievable in the medium to long term: In 30 to
40 years, only a quarter of respondents expect Israel to "continue to exist as a Jewish state," and in 100 years, only 12 percent of West Bankers and 15
percent of Gazans believe the Jewish state will still exist.
That Palestinians aren't keen on the two-state solution isn't exactly news; a poll commissioned by The Israel Project four years
ago found that a hefty 66 percent viewed two states as a mere stepping-stone to a single Palestinian state encompassing all of Israel, the West Bank and
Gaza. Nor is this attitude surprising, given another enlightening nugget from the Fikra poll: Fully 81 percent of West Bankers and 88 percent of Gazans
asserted that all this territory "is Palestinian land and Jews have no rights to the land."
If Palestinians truly believe Jews have no rights anywhere
in the land where a Jewish commonwealth existed for more than a millennium, their aspiration to eradicate the Jewish state and replace it with their own is
natural: Who would agree to permanently cede half his house to a squatter? The logical response in that situation is to play for time, perhaps even by
signing agreements you don't intend to keep, while seeking a way to evict the squatter completely. And that's precisely what Palestinians have done, and
still are doing.
This, however, has serious implications for how Israel should be handling the Palestinian issue. And on this score, the conclusion reached by Fikra Forum
director David Pollock falls far short.
"Given these attitudes about the long-term future, there is good reason to wonder if any 'final status' agreement will ever truly be final," Pollock wrote.
Therefore, "in applying the widely accepted principle of 'land for peace,' responsible policymakers should pay at least as much attention to practical ways
of keeping the peace."
But that prescription ignores three crucial problems. First, experience shows that once you've ceded strategic territory, there are no "practical ways of
keeping the peace" if the other side doesn't want to do so. The peace with Egypt held because Egypt chose to keep it. In contrast, Israeli withdrawals over
the last 20 years from Gaza, parts of the West Bank and south Lebanon have produced serial wars, because neither Hezbollah nor the Palestinians had any
desire to keep the peace.
This experience leads directly to issue number two:
Land-for-peace deals shouldn't be made at all unless your enemy genuinely wants to make peace, because ceding strategic territory simply makes it easier
for the enemy to attack you, and territorial concessions are usually irreversible. So the fact that most Palestinians still aspire to Israel's ultimate
eradication actually makes "the widely accepted principle of 'land for peace'" completely inapplicable.
Third, however, there's no reason to think Palestinians would even agree to a final-status deal under these circumstances. After all, there's no
final-status deal now, yet the poll shows an overwhelming majority of Palestinians think they're on track to achieve their goal of eradicating Israel
within a few decades. In other words, they think their current strategy of refusing to sign a permanent peace deal is working, so why would they want to
Indeed, that's precisely why Palestinians have rejected repeated Israeli offers of a state on most of the West Bank and Gaza: Not only isn't this their
ultimate goal, but they don't even think it's conducive to their ultimate goal. The only way they would sign such a deal is if they change their minds and
conclude that it would actually further their goal of destroying Israel—in which case Israel clearly shouldn't be signing it.
All this means that there will not and cannot be a final resolution of the conflict in the foreseeable future. Consequently, Israel urgently needs a
long-term strategy for coping with a conflict that has no end in sight.
In an essay in Mosaic earlier
this month, I described in detail what such a strategy might look like in four different areas: negotiations, public diplomacy, military action and the
home front. But one element of that strategy is particularly relevant to the Fikra poll's findings: the crucial importance of tirelessly explaining
Israel's legal and historical rights to this land.
As the poll shows, the crux of the conflict is the Palestinian belief
that "Jews have no rights to the land." Palestinians also believe they are succeeding in converting the rest of the world to this view, which merely fuels
their conviction that they will ultimately succeed in destroying Israel.
Until both these beliefs change, no solution to the conflict will be possible. And only Israel can make the case for its own rights; nobody else will do so
in its stead.