John Kerry is seeking to top up his several efforts to deal with the Middle East by joining the Israeli and international left in warning that Israel will have to accommodate itself to a single country, with a Palestinian majority, if it doesn't make peace with a Palestinian state.
As my late mother used to say when pressed, "Horse shit."
We are used to Mahmoud Abbas' threats, more or less weekly, that if he doesn't get what he wants he will have no choice but to dismantle the Palestinian Authority and present to Israel responsibility for governing another million or so Arabs.
What he doesn't say is that he most likely won't do anything to cause his son to lose his cell phone concession, and numerous other people close to the Palestinian table lose their licenses to import branded consumer goods, and to dip their hands into the aid funds received from governments anxious to help the Palestinian people.
To be fair to Kerry, he also said that the Palestinians must desist from their incitement and their violence. However, the burden he threatened was mostly on Israel: either find a way to deal with the Palestinians, or Israel will lose its status as a Jewish democracy.
What Kerry and others of his ilk overlook is that Israel has enough power to refuse the option of one state with citizenship and voting power for the Palestinians of the West Bank and/or Gaza.
If the Palestinians cannot accommodate themselves to a Palestinian Authority with limited autonomy, and if their leadership cannot reach an agreement with Israel, then more likely than being absorbed into a single state is living in a stateless condition, with whatever social services they or others manage to provide for them.
Should the need exist, Israel will complete the security barriers between its citizens and Palestinians. It will monitor the entry of Palestinians to Israel for work or other purposes.
We can't predict the details, but assume that Israel will do what is necessary to keep Israelis safe.
The world will squawk, but Israel has the economic, military, and political capacity to help it withstand whatever comes.
The task will be easier should Islamic terror continue, and provide more pressing concerns to bother those in charge of the countries with significant military or economic weight.
An optimist can find indications for hope in the general absence of Israeli Arabs from the present wave of violence, as well as the lack of contribution from what had been a source of violence during the Second Intifada in the West Bank city of Jenin. Arab individuals and their political leadership seem to recognize what they have to lose if they break the fuzzy rules about getting along. Those of the West Bank lose access to a labor market, and those of Israel also risk what they get from health and other social services.
Efforts to link Israel's problem with the rise of Islamic terror are appropriate to nothing more than another dose of my dear mother's favorite epithet. Best to recognize the Palestinian problem for what it is: a continuing blip on the world's concern, but not the cause of Islamic extremism.
The French, British, Belgians, and Americans have recent examples to arouse their concerns, and the Swedes, Germans, Austrians, as well as politicians and activists from other European countries are probing alternatives to open borders and welcome stations for Muslims on the move.
Parsing the language of American authorities, it appears that the California incident has been defined as an act of terror linked to "foreign terrorist organizations." In some communications those organizations are identified as Islamic, but the label "Islamic terror" is too hot to handle.
We can quarrel about the significance of labels. We must also be careful not to accuse Muslims of collective responsibility for a wave of violence that is at the center of policy considerations in much of the world.
It's also the case that Americans have something to worry about from terror that is not associated with Islam. Mass killings (i.e., the term used for more than four deaths) have been occurring at a rate approaching one a day. Except for the one in California, recent events may have nothing to do with Islam, but they touch anyone who is--or whose family members, friends, or acquaintances are--at the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, it's also shortsighted to pass over the Islamic element in what is troubling Europeans, Americans, as well as those of us living alongside Muslim countries..
Already established among some Muslims is a sense of their own responsibility for assuring their integration into a world that is mostly not Muslim.
Positive signs are op-eds in Arab media that describe the quality of life in Israel, and the benefits to be derived from accommodation with the Jewish State. Also apparent are efforts of major Arab governments to mobilize against terror, which they appear to be more ready than the Obama White House to identify with Islam.
The picture is far from clear. It is muddied by support for Sunni extremism that comes from Saudi Arabia, both that provided by individual Saudis and the financing for mosques of extremist preachers by the Saudi government. Also boiling is the millennia-old strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, which is behind the warfare between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen, and adding to the chaos in Syria and Iraq.
Little ole us will have to keep coping domestically between Jews to the right and left, with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs not willing to admit the good life they have acquired along with us or next to us, and with American friends who are senseless in projecting what they see as the future in a region for which they have demonstrated little understanding.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)Department of Political ScienceHebrew University of Jerusalem