Spinning our wheels

Declaring that Bush is responsible for moving the process forward is a declaration that the Arab states are not.

Amr Moussa 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Amr Moussa 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Sunday: "We will be waiting to see what the US offers during the upcoming visit of President Bush, who bears the responsibility of moving the process forward as the one who called the Annapolis meeting." Once again Israelis who oppose territorial concessions can rest quiet in the knowledge that Arab leaders look set to doom the peace process to failure by waiting for someone else to move it forward. Declaring that Bush is responsible for moving the process forward is a declaration that the Arab states are not. In the Arab leadership's unfortunately abiding conception of peacemaking, it is someone else's responsibility, and failure is always someone else's fault. We are not focusing on Moussa's words out of a notion that Moussa or the Arab League are politically important to this process; they are not. But Moussa's words are an echo of the universal opinion among Arab leaders, a mindset that is already responsible for decades of failed Middle East "peace processing," and will likely doom the latest initiative as well. To make peace, both sides in a conflict must understand that they are recognizing that some justice lies on the other side. As the Israeli people has spent the 1990s coming to terms with the justice of Palestinian self-determination, so must the Arabs and the Palestinians undertake the same cultural and intellectual challenge. If the Arab world continues to demonize Israel and delegitimize the organic and successful Jewish desire for self-determination in its historic homeland, it is in effect announcing that its own peace overtures are a participation in Zionist evil. In this sense, Fatah and Arab League discourse reinforces rather than challenges Hamas rejectionism and violence. It is a self-made trap, and will destroy every peace initiative that doesn't first include Arab recognition of Jewish national rights in Israel. It is not George Bush who is responsible for making peace between Jews and Arabs. It is the Jews and the Arabs, including Amr Moussa and all other Arab leaders and the peoples they lead. In Israel we now once again see a prime minister preparing the Israeli people for major concessions, rightly or wrongly. Last week, he spoke to this very newspaper about concessions in Jerusalem, and such talk has sent shock waves and controversy through the whole Jewish world. Yet, on the other side we see Arab leaders, without exception, preaching that the Arabs don't need to rethink anything, that Israeli concessions come from Israeli iniquity and that there is no justice on the Israeli side, but merely power. We say to Moussa, Mahmoud Abbas and all their colleagues: resist falling once more into the trap that has doomed this process for almost a generation. As things stand, in terms of recognizing that there is some justice in Zionism, and that therefore your own peace initiatives are not a compromise with evil, there is no difference between your "moderate" leadership and the most radical genocidal jihadists of Hamas. You all agree that Israel is irredeemably in the wrong, but merely disagree on the response. How can you then justify to your own people making peace with us? To President George Bush and Secretary Condoleezza Rice, we say this is the error of American diplomacy, the invisible wrench in the cogs of your initiatives that has foiled them from the start, and foiled all American initiatives since the two-state paradigm began to take form. This is not a battle over lines on the map. Rather, it takes place primarily in hearts and minds. If the American administration, and the rest of the international community, wish to undertake a serious peace process, they should begin by taking some of the $7.8 billion allocated to the Palestinian proto-state and channel it to teaching Palestinians about the truth of the Jewish connection to this land; that a real organic national will lies behind the Jewish state; and that it is not strange that Israelis, who cannot always meet the challenge of philosophically defining and defending their Jewish national identity, will die for it. The refusal to recognize our legitimacy, the Arab and Palestinian attempt to define us outside the realm of legitimate nationhood, is also an end-run around the very notion of self-determination the Palestinians are proclaiming in demanding a Palestinian state. The world must demand an end to Arab incitement against the Jewish national project - the prerequisite to any true and lasting recognition of Israel's legitimacy and existence. If the Arab leadership does not embark on such a cultural project, we are at best - as they say in the American heartland - just spinning our wheels, and the most Bush can hope to achieve is a pause before the next war.