There is far too much self-delusion, on all sides, when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and issues of peace in the Middle East. What follows is my unsolicited advice to the major players.
To the Government and leaders of Turkey: Stop deluding yourselves! No matter how sharp your attacks on Israel and how craven your embrace of Hamas, you will not—as a non-Arab state—ever be accepted as a true leader in the Arab world. And your outrageous criticism of Israel for “misusing” the Holocaust will not erase the memory of the Ottoman Empire’s role in the Armenian genocide—a role that your government shamefully continues to deny.
To the leaders of the Palestinian Authority: Stop deluding yourselves! You will not be taken seriously as proponents of a two-state solution if you fail to support the underlying principles that make such a solution possible. A two-state solution means that there is no “right of return” to Israel, and that once a treaty is signed, the conflict is over. Really over. If you cannot say this now, and if you talk about Palestine being occupied since 1948, you are not serious about two states—or about peace.
To the leaders of the settlement movement: Stop deluding yourselves! No one believes you when you claim that the thugs who burn mosques, uproot olive trees on Arab land, spout anti-Muslim slogans, and deface army bases exist only on the margins of your community. This violence has been going on for years, feeding on extremist views of Jewish law put forward by too many of your rabbinic leaders. And everyone knows that you could do far more about this hooliganism than you are now doing if you really wanted to.
To the leaders of the Israeli right: Stop deluding yourselves! You cannot support a two-state solution and oppose it at the same time. The Prime Minister asserts Israel’s position, but you offer tepid assent in public while whispering to everyone that you hold the opposite view. In your heart you know that the occupation cannot continue, but after all these years you have yet to explain how it might end—and how Israel will maintain its democratic character and its Jewish majority if it doesn’t. Do you believe, as the Prime Minister says, that Israel should negotiate without preconditions? Again, without exactly saying so, your words and actions suggest otherwise.
To the leaders of the Israeli left: Stop deluding yourselves! You say that the Palestinians want peace, and Israelis would like to believe that, but where, for heaven’s sake, is the evidence? Hints, and feints, and winks are not enough. Abbas at the UN should have said: “I welcome the Jewish state as my neighbor, and I welcome the Jews home;” but he had his chance, and he blew it. Please, no more making excuses for him.
Should we despair? Absolutely not. Now is the right time for Israel, with American agreement, to define provisional borders for the Jewish state—borders that might result should the Palestinians get serious about talks. What Israel needs now is tough-minded, unilateral steps to regain the initiative. But no more delusions—from anyone.