In his much anticipated speech on the Middle East, President Barack Obama reiterated America’s commitment to democracy and human rights, but also managed to remind the world that Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the disputed territories remains an obstacle to any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Dan Friedman wrote the following satirical analogy in which tables were turned and Netanyahu was the one advising Obama to stop the settlement activities in occupied Mexico:
“Aboard Air Force Aleph (Reuters) – Speaking to reporters accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his long flight to the United States tonight, Netanyahu spoke of the injustice and hardship Mexicans have endured since American forces annexed Texas in 1845. “Tens of thousands of ordinary Mexicans were driven out of their homes – the only homes they had known for centuries - and forced to live in poverty and squalor south of the border imposed by American aggression,” Netanyahu said. “The Israeli and Mexican people agree on this: This festering wound will never heal until America takes bold steps to return to the internationally accepted lines of 1845. Clearly the settlement activity that’s taken place occupied Mexico since then is illegal. When I meet the President tomorrow I will tell him to halt all building activity in Texas immediately. Two lands for two peoples, yes, but not on land taken by force from Mexico,” the Prime Minister said. Asked if his hard-line stance could hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship, Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to America’s security and the unshakeable friendship shared by the two countries, then added, “But who was it who said, part of friendship is being able to tell your friend the truth. The ball is now in Obama’s court.”
As amusing as Friedman’s jab is, it simply reminds us that we live in an upside down world. The Palestinians and their many Western supporters seem to have manufactured a reality where truth has become irrelevant. Obama and most Western leaders have happily embraced this narrative. Palestinians are given a free pass on hatred that has become one of the main tenets of the forming of a Palestinian national identity.
The economy in the West Bank has produced unprecedented wealth in the territories, but little has changed in terms of ideas. The PA-run media is airing programs depicting Jews as apes and pigs and recently, the moderate technocrat Saeb Erekat proclaimed that Palestinians will never accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.
The Obama administration, I argue, would do well to demand that the seemingly eternally oppressed Palestinians would take responsibility for their actions and would therefore be in a place to define their own destiny, irrespective of the actions or inactions of Israel.
Accepting the notion that the existence of settlements in the West Bank is the main obstacle to peace is indeed patronizing and a dangerous disservice to the Palestinians and their cause. Succumbing to a false narrative will not free Palestinians of their plight, but gives tacit consent to anti-Semitism. By constantly drumming up the necessity of continuing the settlement freeze, the peace-enthusiasts are doing no favors to the Palestinians. The only approach to the conflict must be cultural, because it is the only approach which treats people as capable of change. The Itamar massacre was a timely reminder that the hatred of Israel runs deep and has very little to do with territorial demands. However, the Palestinian society has the potential to embrace liberal democratic ideas, just like any other nation on earth. The notion that some amongst the Palestinians will stop stabbing babies when Jews leave the West Bank should offend every liberal in the Palestinian society. Obama and other world leaders should assist Palestinian liberals by shunning the lie - promulgated by the European left and much of the Arab world - of linkage between Israel''s housing policies and the vile anti-Semitism emanating from the Palestinian territories.
Pressuring Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders will not, in my opinion, change Palestinian attitudes, but will simply encourage those who want to see the end of Israel.