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|Propping Up the Peace Process
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 12/22/07
Eager, in the twilight of his administration, to add positive accomplishments to his legacy, President George W. Bush is brokering another installment of what is wishfully referred to as the peace process. To kick it off, there were the familiar photo opportunities that preceded the numerous failed conferences of the past aimed at securing lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Mr. Bush hosted a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Washington before a one-day international Mid-East peace conference in Annapolis which he wisely did not attend.
Some Israelis demonstrated in the streets against the conference, fearing that an unpopular and weak Olmert would concede too much in order to gain a breakthrough. Hamas, meanwhile, protested in its usual manner by intensifying rocket attacks on Israeli towns from Gaza, which it controls, in a manner of speaking.
J.F. Kelly, Jr.
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive
who writes on current events and military subjects.
He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
So here we go again. Another conference, initiated by America, to satisfy world opinion that there must be an American-brokered, two-state solution now to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because the lack of a Palestinian homeland and American support of Israel are at the heart of Mid-East turmoil and terrorism. But world opinion doesn’t always get things right which is perhaps why the UN so often makes a mess of things. In this case, world opinion is influenced by a fuzzy understanding of some of the issues, some ignorance of history, an alarming amount of anti-Semitism and understandable sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel-Arab wars initiated by the Arabs themselves. No Arab state, by the way, has lifted a hand to help these refugees for whom they profess to care about greatly.
There is little reason to believe that any negotiations which follow the Annapolis conference will produce any more success than did previous efforts at Oslo, Camp David, Madrid, Sharm el-Sheik and elsewhere. While it is true that Abbas and Olmert, both perceived as relatively weak and lacking in support at home, are desperate for some sort of accord to claim credit for, some basic obstacles, nevertheless, remain. The greatest of these is the widespread, unrelenting hatred of the Jews on the part of Arab populations that have never accepted the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East. That hatred is passed on to their children in Arab schools where they are taught that Israel is illegitimate and that an independent Palestine should extend to the shores of the Mediterranean. It may take generations to erase this hatred which permeates Arab cultures in the region.
Most of the surrounding Arab states are still in a virtual state of war with Israel. Many Arab diplomats attending the conference still refuse to shake hands with Israeli diplomats. Sixty years after its creation by the UN, Israel is still referred to by many Palestinians, not as a nation, but as a “Zionist entity”.
Much as the United States and the world may desire it, Israel has little to gain at present from a two-state solution, at least while this hatred poisons the environment and threatens Israel’s very existence. Smaller than New Jersey in area, it is extremely vulnerable, not only to missile attack, but to mortar fire and rockets such as those fired into Israeli towns from Gaza on a daily basis. An independent Palestinian state occupying most of the West Bank would create another potentially hostile state on its border, a mere nine miles from its heavily populated Mediterranean coast at the country’s narrowest width.
In spite of these realities and in spite of repeated attacks by Arab armies since its independence, Israel magnanimously offered land for peace at Camp David. Yasser Arafat’s response was to launch an intifada and years of bloody suicide bombings and terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. In 2005, acting on its own and without any conditions, Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza. The result was chaos. Hamas claimed a great victory and seized control from Fatah, the party of Mahmoud Abbas. Mr. Abbas today clings to power only tenuously in the West Bank. There are no assurances that Hamas, which favors the destruction of Israel, will not gain control there, also.
So what in the world is the basis for the optimism of Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that anything better will come out of Annapolis? And why do we persist in referring to these futile, periodic efforts collectively as “the peace process?” There is no “process” any more than there was a “roadmap to peace.” And there will be none until Arab hearts soften to the Jews and accept the reality of Israel’s right to exist. CRO
2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.