Written by Alan Dershowitz post 911, Why Terrorism Works, gives a simple answer: because we reward it.
Terrorism has earned the Palestinians recognition and legitimization. Our response to terrorism has centered on fallacies that perpetuate the problem. We have believed that the diplomatic and civilized approach to terrorism is not to respond with overwhelming force, but to address the underlying root causes, which we think are poverty and oppression. Yet many other parts of the world suffer greater poverty and oppression than the Palestinians without resorting to terror. In fact no other “oppressed” group has been showered with as much attention and money as the Palestinians. We have spent more money on the Palestinians than was spent to rebuild Europe after World War II, yet their attacks on Israel and their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Israel has only strengthened.
The foreign aid to the Palestinians has been a reward for their anti-Semitism and terroristic activity, thus both have continued. We have accepted their argument for the moral equivalency of their terrorist activities; the academic ruse that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. We have refused to establish moral boundaries.
In their fight for independence from British rule the Israelis had several splinter groups that committed acts of violence against the British, the most notable was the bombing of a wing of the King David Hotel housing British officers. That act and other acts of violence were condemned by the main Israeli authorities and the new Israeli government insisted on the surrender of the militia groups like the Irgun to the Haganah which became the Israel Defense Forces.
But even the Irgun did not generally target civilians, did not advocate genocide and did not deny the British a homeland. (Though the more extreme radical groups such as the Stern Gang did target Arab civilians in retaliatory raids.)
The claim for some version of the 1967 borders has been on the table for decades. There could be an agreement on 90% of the land quickly- if land was the issue. But it clearly is not. The road block has never been Israel’s refusal to sacrifice land for peace; it has always been the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to accept Israeli legitimacy. Witness the result of the Israeli’s abandonment of Gaza. It served only to strengthen and radicalize those who wish to destroy Israel.
To maintain the promise of 1967 borders in the face of continued terroristic activity is to continue to reward terrorism. What may be a casual reference in the security of Washington, DC means murdered civilians in the streets and territories in Israel.
There are three requirements that must exist before any talk can begin. The right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state must be accepted and recognized, without conditions or qualification. Terrorism must be renounced, without any moral equivalency obfuscation. And the bitter anti-Semitism, a strain that would make the Hitler youth blush, must be removed from the pulpits and schools of the Arab world.
The roadblock to peace is not the refusal to give up land. It is not poverty or oppression. It is a culture of a people that have come to define themselves by a hatred so sinister that mothers encourage their own children to commit suicide in expression of their hatred. This hatred is the toxic glue that holds the Palestinian people together. Without it the Palestinians would devolve into civil chaos.
Any appeasement or concessions without the change in their culture will only encourage more terrorism, anti-Semitism, and war.
Netanyahu understands this clearly. We still need to learn it.