Slain Israeli Prime Minister Rabin with former US President Bill Clinton and former PLO President Yasser Arafat after signing the Oslo Accords at the White House on September 13, 1993. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former American president Ronald Reagan once famously quipped: “Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.”
While this quote may be familiar to many, few will know its context. These words were uttered at the Moscow Summit in 1988, where topics such as nuclear nonproliferation, bilateral issues, human rights and even the successful canceling of the blatantly false history syllabus in Soviet secondary schools were discussed.
As we now know, the USSR only lasted a few more years.
The Iron Curtain fell, the Berlin Wall was destroyed, and Russia was reformed through the policies of glasnost and perestroika.
Though decidedly imperfect, democracy, liberty and freedom were brought to hundreds of millions of people, simply because one side won the war while the other lost.
If one applies this concept to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, perhaps one can begin to discern the root cause of its seeming intractability.
This conflict – some argue it is over 100 years old – has its origins in the complete Arab rejection of the extraordinary and unprecedented return of the indigenous Jewish people to the Land of Israel.
This abject rejectionism was perhaps most infamously, and prominently, pushed by Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler confidant and Nazi party applicant, who called on his supporters to not only reject accommodation and peace with his Jewish neighbors, but publicly incited their slaughter.
While strategies have changed, since Husseini’s time, no Palestinian leader has accepted the right of the Jewish people to exist in its homeland.
This is not an argument over land, borders, refugees, Jerusalem or any of the other multitude of issues that negotiations have never stalled on, this is about basic acceptance, an end of claims and an end of conflict.
While successive Israeli governments have accepted almost every one of the Palestinians’ ostensible demands, they have never accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.
Thus the conflict endures.
In fact, when one studies the Oslo negotiated process, it becomes apparent that none of the reasonable offers to the Palestinians was rejected on any issue other than the national legitimacy and history of the Jewish people in Israel.
Whether it was Yasser Arafat’s denial that there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem – not only negating Jewish history but also basic Christian tenets – or Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to merely say the words “two states for two peoples,” it is clear that this is the heart of the matter.
Unfortunately, this means that the two peoples remain in conflict until one side wins and one loses.
This is something not just Israelis need to accept, but American administrations, which continue, with good intentions, to believe that the conflict can be ended around the negotiating table without Palestinian acceptance of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people as a prerequisite – and not an outcome – of bilateral talks.
Historically, peace and progress are only possible in a region after a conflict has ended and one side has emerged as a victor and its opponent has conceded defeat.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict will not end until the Palestinians recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people, and thus concede defeat in their century of rejectionism and continued attempted destruction of Israel – whether militarily, through terrorism, economically through boycotts, or diplomatically exploiting the international system for their agenda.
Not only will this Palestinian concession promote peace in the Near East, it will also enable the Palestinians’ leadership to build their own institutions and create a better future for its people.
Just as in the Soviet example, Palestinians would have to change their school syllabi from a curriculum of hate and rejectionism to one that recognizes the Jewish people’s historical claims to this land. The Palestinian leadership would have to enunciate clearly, not just in English or Hebrew, but in Arabic, that the conflict is over and Israel’s national character is recognized.
Conflicts end when one side concedes that it either will not or cannot continue. Historically, this concession has yielded peace, progress and economic development – for both sides.
In fact, one could argue that a Palestinian defeat is a “win-win” for the region.MK Oded Forer is chairman of the Knesset Israel Victory Caucus.
Rep. Bill Johnson is chairman of the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus.