Another Autumn, Another Pretend Peace


The first hint of fall is in the air, and with it, the predictable announcement: mideast peace talks will begin.

In a demonstration of familiar American hubris, President Barack Obama has declared his intention to make peace in the region by creating a Palestinian state on the West Bank within a year.

Not sure where to begin in this analysis. Bottom line is, unless our President is planning to organize a coalition to do something about Iran, or is by some unlikely chance working behind-the-scenes with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to help Israel to do something about it, this strong-arming of a Palestinian state within a year is a bad idea, and could come at no worse time for Israel and for the free world.

Absent a massive action to contain militant Islamist fundamentalism in the middle east and to re-educate and de-brainwash populations, this Palestinian state, should it be established, will be a terror state. It will, to borrow a phrase from George Will’s column this week, constitute a third Islamic Republic (in addition to Iran and Gaza) –  this one contiguous to Israel.

It is a shame that this is the case, but it is. As Will points out, one need look no further than recent history to see the writing on the (Western?) wall. Israel withdrew from Gaza, uprooting thousands of residents in a traumatic move extending even to digging up the graves of Jewish residents and re-burying these people in other territory. What was the result? Instead of becoming less militant in response to Israel’s withdrawal from “occupied” Gaza, Hamas took power in a coup, replacing a comparatively less militant leadership with one entirely devoted to Israel’s destruction.

Then there is Israel’s other recent withdrawal – from Lebanon. Following a 2006 war provoked by Hezbollah, Israel occupied land in southern Lebanon and tried to rout out the Shiite terrorist group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah. After the international community protested, due to concern about civilian casualties to the Lebanese (among whom Hezbollah terrorists had intentionally ensconced themselves to cause those casualties), Israel withdrew, leaving a power vacuum into which Hezbollah ensconced itself more firmly than ever. Since then, Iran’s terrorist henchmen have taken to importing rockets and Scud missiles from Iran via Syria. They now have Scuds that can easily reach the hearts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Hate to say it, but the most telling cautionary tale for what the world can expect if Israel relinquishes the West Bank so a Palestinian state can be formed in the near future is the story of the Gaza greenhouses.

In August 2005, Israel undertook the Gaza withdrawal. The Israel Defense Forces, at the request of the the Palestinian Authority, destroyed the settlers’ homes.  They left behind the synagogues in hopes the Palestinians would respect them (mistake). They also left behind, intact, $14 million worth of elaborate, high-tech greenhouses that Israelis had constructed for food production. Miracles of modern electronics and irrigation, these greenhouses might have provided a vital source of food and employment for Gaza’s Palestinian residents. In fact, philanthropists including Bill Gates and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn bought the greenhouses for the Gazan Palestinians, so that they would have a fresh start and work opportunities.

Within hours of the end of Israeli “occupation” of Gaza, Gazan residents had looted the greenhouses. Within weeks they had trashed them, and by September (two months following withdrawal) they were destroyed, their infrastructure converted for use as arms smuggling tunnels. 

It is tragic and painful to acknowledge these facts, but failure to acknowledge them (and most mainstream media ignored the fate of the greenhouses) is foolish hubris. Having been to the West Bank firsthand, I can say I have met Palestinians who I believe would be ready to accept a two-state solution. But until the United States takes on a leadership role in defeating militant Islam in the region, and supporting the genuine moderates, any independent Palestinian state is likely to be seized and governed by radicals. That is the reality of what has happened in Gaza; that is what has happened in Lebanon. And it will be what happens in Palestine so long as radical Islam carries the day in the region.

That said, I am dubious this state will be shoehorned into existence in the next year, because I find it difficult to believe President Obama and others in the U.S. government truly fail to grasp these realities. Then again, American hubris is legendary for good reason. And when a U.S. President wants to add “mideast peace broker” to his resume, the default move is to put the screws to Israel. (After all, as any attorney worth his salt will admit, it’s easier to get movement in a dispute by  pressing the more reasonable party). In the case of the middle east, however, the dysfunction is so deep on the side of the less reasonable party that pressing Israel will only worsen the problem. Reform is desperately needed in the Muslim world. But the world will not get there by appeasing forces of intolerance and calling it peace.

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