(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the reality of the Palestine-Israel conflict, the field where peace is played
is the United States. That “stadium,” if you look at this like a sport,
is the home field for the Israelis.
They have many advantages, including
the support of the mainstream American media and an American public that still
views the Leon Uris book Exodus as the bible of Middle East history.
don’t want to burn that bible, but I think it is important to weigh both sides
and what they are really saying, to look past the rhetoric and analyze what is
really being sought.
Both sides want peace. Even the fanatics want
peace. They just want it at the end of a war with their opponents
Real peace means balance, and balance has never been a major
component of the ongoing negotiations that began in 1993 in – to use a sports
analogy again – the White House Stadium.
LET’S LOOK at some key
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is making his case
that Israel needs to end settlement expansion and address the core issues. Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is responding with the assertion that settlement
expansion is not the key issue here.
Rather it’s Palestinian violence
(Israel’s security) and the acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state – a new
precondition that has risen from the stalemate of years of failed
According to Netanyahu, equilibrium does not exist between
Palestinian demands on settlements and Israeli demands on security and defined
But that equilibrium does exist and Netanyahu can’t simply
brush it aside.
To the Palestinians, the issue has never been rejecting
Israel’s right to exist but rather Israel’s imposed right to grab any land it
To Israel, the issue is security and being recognized as a “Jewish
The fact is Palestinians have recognized Israel’s right to exist.
That is not only inherent in their repeated declarations but also in the fact
that Palestinians are sitting down and negotiating two states.
that, though, Netanyahu has asserted that the Palestinians have not compromised
and they do not recognize Israel’s right to exist, with the new caveat of being
a “Jewish state,” and he has insisted that Israel, and he personally, have
recognized the rights of Palestinians.
What rights are those Mr.
Netanyahu? If Israelis can’t recognize that Palestinians have land rights, then
what rights are they offering in exchange for a cessation of violence to
reinforce security for Israel? What is Israel going to give the Palestinians in
exchange for bringing this conflict to a final resolution? Ironically, the
extremist movements of both the Israelis and Palestinians are being fed by
Israel’s rightwing rhetoric. Many Israelis do not recognize the West Bank as the
West Bank at all and in fact refer to the area as “Judea and Samaria.” It is an
offensive term that is the equivalent to “Zionist state” used by many
Palestinians who refer to the 1948 lands that were occupied by
Additionally, the right-wing Israeli sentiment is clear. They
argue that the Palestinians, and Arabs, lost repeated wars and therefore also
lost their right to claim ownership of the lands taken in those
That is exactly the fuel that feeds the growing extremist movement.
Because what Israelis are really saying to Palestinians is: “You only will get
what we want to give you, and if you don’t like it tough luck.”
Israelis really want peace, they need to drop the car dealership hustle and
start speaking openly, candidly and compassionately about peace. Israel has the
upper hand in this relationship. For now.
IF PEACE talks collapse, the
Palestinian secular movement will eventually disappear and Israel will not only
face the Hamas religious movement but the unbendable and uncompromising Islamic
world, which increasingly is building its power and strength and would shift the
balance in favor of a one-state solution.The writer is an award winning
columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com