Just try to imagine what would have happened had Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu stood before some Jewish forum and exclaimed that “from now on we
won’t allow the presence of one Arab in our independent Israel with Jerusalem as
The cacophony of condemnation from abroad, we can safely
assume, would instantly surge into hysterical pandemonium. Livid
politicos, their press and the public opinion they mold would seethe and fume as
if nothing more racist were utterable. Inside Israel, the righteous ruckus would
be no less frenzied and deafening.
But we can heave a sigh of relief.
Luckily these words could never conceivably cross Netanyahu’s lips. This unkind
sentiment, however, isn’t unfamiliar in our neighborhood. The Palestinian
Authority’s head honcho and self-styled moderate keeps serially mouthing it –
though in reverse.
Addressing a recent emergency session of Arab League
foreign ministers in Doha, Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas unabashedly declared that “when
an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established,
we won’t allow the presence of one Israeli in it.”
Not to put too fine a
point on it, this is the Arabic version of the German-minted Judenrein – “clean
of Jews.” Yet no Arab diplomat was discomfited or shocked. Abbas consistently
accentuates the same sentence with only trivial verbal variations. In December
2010, for instance, he put us on notice that “I will never allow a single
Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.”
He was most specific on
July 28, 2010, when, in an uber-compromising mood, he intoned: “I’m willing to
agree to a third party that would supervise the [possible future
Israeli-Palestinian] agreement, such as NATO forces, but I would not agree to
having Jews among the NATO forces, or that there will live among us even a
single Israeli on Palestinian land.”
Presumably, in the spirit of liberal
pluralism, Abbas would subject all prospective peacekeepers to the toughest of
scrutinies to make sure that not even a camouflaged part-Jew manages to sneak in
and contaminate Palestine’s legitimately Judenrein jurisdiction. Such
understandable precautions would plausibly comprise the sort of progressivism
which the Western world countenances.
Clearly the international community
relishes reviling ultra-tolerant Israel while it ignores and even justifies
crude Arab racism. But there’s more here than glaring hypocrisy.
that Abbas never neglects to emphasize that Israelis (which really means Jews)
would be strictly banned from his state should signify how impossible it is to
reach any workable and sincere peace. Abbas, the world’s pampered, petulant
child, harbors no qualms about denying Israel any quid pro quo for what he
demands of it.
Thus Abbas upbraids Netanyahu for “demanding recognition
of Israel as a Jewish state. We have rejected, and will reject, this demand. We
know what his intention is. He wants to undermine the Palestinian-Arab presence
inside Israel and prevent the return of refugees.” In other words, rather than
be accepted as rightfully a Jewish state, Israel is in fact regarded at most as
a multinational temporary entity and a candidate for impending Arabization. It
wouldn’t be left in peace unless it submitted meekly to said Arabization and the
eradication of its Jewishness.
It’s fair and proper for Israel to contain
a large Arab minority, and to be further overrun by millions of hostile Arabs,
but it’s entirely out of the question for any Jews to remain living in
That such racist stipulations are fine and dandy with the
dysfunctional family of nations constitutes the single most gigantic obstacle on
the path of peace. There’s nothing for which Abbas may agitate – no
matter how inequitable or unreasonable – that is likely to get shot down. Not
unexpectedly, outright impunity and invulnerability whet his appetite and
embolden him to press for ever more and more besides. The sky is the limit.
Overseas onlookers are sure to indulge his every whim.
SUCH LICENSE for
limitless Palestinian mischief renders any peace agreement unlikely. No Israeli
government, no matter how conciliatory and forthcoming, can contract an accord
with the PA. Peace is foiled because the Palestinians aren’t restrained.
The very amenable Ehuds – Barak and Olmert – got nowhere despite having made
egregiously generous offers. In the end, everything hinged on whether or not
Israel would commit suicide. Even the appeasement-minded Ehuds couldn’t quite
bring themselves to slit our collective throat.
There’s no getting away
from the fact that whatever pipe dreams are promoted in our midst, they entail
the most complex of arrangements because this land is so tiny and the
communities so intricately intertwined. No clear divisions are
possible. Therefore, the indispensable prerequisites for any sort of
compromise are goodwill, mutual respect and plain honesty.
minutiae of hypothetical understandings – all technically cumbersome – would be
impossibly difficult even were the best of intentions prevalent. As is,
only terminally naïve wishful thinkers can take for granted that the cooperative
spirit would descend upon us from cloud nine and color our existence a blissful
Infantile credulity in vague idyllic future harmony is hardly a
reliable policy guideline. In this context, past experience is far more
instructive. We have already attempted to implement deals that called for
coordination and teamwork. These were hardly as complex as would be
mandated, say, in Jerusalem streets. Yet even these relatively straightforward
arrangements ended up highlighting the palpable paucity of honorable
The Oslo concoction created an infrastructure of joint
patrols. One such covered the slender strip between Arab Kalkilya and Israeli
Kfar Saba. Things seemed to proceed without a hitch on September 29, 2000 –
until, out of the blue, Israeli Border Police officer Supt. Yosef Tabaja, 27,
was murdered by the Arab partners with whom he had just shared a midmorning
snack. After they ate, bantered and had a laugh together, the Palestinian
patrolmen knelt to pray. Then they rose, approached the Israelis with drawn
weapons and fired, screaming, “Allahu akhbar!”
Tabaja was shot in the head at
close range. Another Israeli, Shalom Malul, was wounded but managed to drive
off. Official Israel expressed surprise because the joint patrols were
regarded as a feather in the cap of peace. “Things were going so well until
now,” quipped thenprime minister Barak in disbelief. The second intifada was
about to erupt.
Can greater goodwill be dependably predicted for future
joint patrols? Can mutual respect be rationally anticipated when the PA
unremittingly repeats that no Jew may reside east of the Green Line but that
everything west of the Green Line is envisioned as space to be inundated with
By no objective criteria can this credibly augur well for
coexistence – particularly given the conspicuous absence of a cacophony of
condemnation abroad for Abbas’s blatant racism. No change is likely until
censure for Arab hate surges globally into hysterical pandemonium; until livid
foreign politicos, their press and the public opinion they mold, seethe and
fume; until a frenzied and deafening righteous ruckus arises from within
But we better not hold our
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