There is a profound difference between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In 1947, the population of the latter was miniscule. By 1948, it was considerable. Something on the order of 80% of those now living in the Gaza Strip are descended from refugees who fled from territory now Israeli as the Egyptian army approached.
The same is not true of the West Bank. There are refugees camps in that region, to be sure. But most of its inhabitants live in homes occupied by their parents or grandparents in 1948.
If Gaza now belongs to Hamas, it is because it is largely populated by Palestinians unwilling to settle for anything short of the destruction of the state of Israel. If the West Bank still tolerates Fatah and the PLO, it is because the majority of those who live there are less bitter than their counterparts in Gaza.
The battle now going on is the third such struggle since Ariel Sharon ordered Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. If the current battle does not end with the wholesale destruction of Hamas’ rockets, there is apt to be another round. If Hamas ever does the Israeli core any great damage with these rockets, Israel will be forced to reoccupy Gaza. As things stand, were it not for the effectiveness of the Iron Dome, that day would be at hand.
“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie; deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth; persistent, persuasive and unrealistic,” John F. Kennedy said. The mythology of the peace process is the enemy of the truth. Its “reassuring repetition of stale phrases” prevents what Kennedy called, “the difficult, but essential confrontation with reality.”
“Mythology distracts us everywhere,” John F. Kennedy said. “In government as in business, in politics as in economics, in foreign affairs as in domestic affairs.”
The mythology of the peace process is a giant distraction. It allows for the same worthless commodity to be sold and resold, again and again. And that commodity is hope. The Israelis have been compelled to trade territory and lives for hope. Now the trade is beginning all over again, this time with a peace plan put forward by a country that is behind much of the terrorism around the world.
LONDON — Actress Scarlett Johansson has quit her role with the charity Oxfam after it criticized herpromotion of drinks company SodaStream, which has a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
Israel-based drinks company SodaStream has its largest factory in Maale Adumim, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, and Oxfam has a policy of opposing trade with those areas.
The West Bank factory employs both Palestinians and Israelis. SodaStream cites it as an example of the two peoples working side-by-side. “Approximately 500 Palestinians work at our Mishor Adumim facility, supporting several thousand people and their families,” Yonah Lloyd, chief corporate development and communications officer for SodaStream, said in a statement to NBC News.
So Oxfam pretends to boycott Israel by taking a stand against a company that hires 500 Palestinians. How stupid is this? More posing- actions without results, and preaching without helping anyone.
In terms of realpolitik, anti-Israeli authoritarians are fighting to the death against anti-Israeli insurgents and terrorists. Each is doing more damage to the other than Israel ever could — and in an unprecedented, grotesque fashion. Who now is gassing Arab innocents? Shooting Arab civilians in the streets? Rounding up and executing Arab civilians? Blowing up Arab houses? Answer: either Arab dictators or radical Islamists.
Secretary of State John Kerry is still beating last century’s dead horse of a “comprehensive Middle East peace.” But does Kerry’s calcified diplomacy really assume that a peace agreement involving Israel would stop the ethnic cleansing of Egypt’s Coptic Christians? Does Israel have anything to do with Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people?
In comparison with the ruined economies of the Arab Spring — tourism shattered, exports nonexistent, and billions of dollars in infrastructure lost through unending violence — Israel is an atoll of prosperity and stability. Factor in its recent huge gas and oil finds in the eastern Mediterranean, and it may soon become another Kuwait or Qatar, but with a real economy beyond its booming petroleum exports.
Israel had nothing to do with either the Arab Spring or its failure. The irony is that surviving embarrassed Arab regimes now share the same concerns with the Israelis. In short, the more violent and chaotic the Middle East becomes, the more secure and exceptional Israel appears.
Imagine this outcome being planned. Why involve our forces in a conflict where two of our enemies are killing each other? Just arm whoever is the underdog long enough to sustain the carnage as long as possible. Imagine if we could have planned for the Iranians to be at war with Al Qaeda. While terribly unfortunate for the civilians it is these two parties that have carried their hatred beyond military guidelines. The more they exhaust their resources on each other the less they have to threaten those outside of the region.
No one knows how to break the cycle of Middle East violence, much less how to address the tribalism, statism, lack of transparency and freedom, gender apartheid, religious fundamentalism, and intolerance so ubiquitous in the Arab world and so much at the heart of its wide-scale poverty and violence. To attempt any such discussion would be caricatured as neo-colonialist, imperialist, racist, naïve, or culturally ignorant.
Iraq and Afghanistan have been too costly to serve as models; Libya is now a hushed-up embarrassment; our positions have changed so much on Syria that there now are no positions; and Mohamed Morsi’s achievement in Egypt will have been to create nostalgia for the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak. No need to touch on the events in Algeria. The French, alone, are leading from the front in trying to save Mali from Islamists. Who would wish to wade into these morasses, or even talk about them with any degree of honesty?
It is far easier to focus on the Israelis: They are few. They have not until recently had oil or gas; the world hates them; and their government is lawful and Western. The result is that demonizing Mr. Netanyahu as the nexus of Middle East violence carries no risks, and offers no solutions, and therefore is preferable to the dangers of candidly crafting a policy to attempt to deal with the pathologies of the modern Arab world. If it is a question of attempting to deal fairly with Netanyahu or declaring jihad a personal spiritual journey, the latter wins every time.