The myth of an Israeli-Arab peace, like the Loch Ness monster, is too good a moneymaker to give up.
Two extraordinary recent events seem entirely unrelated, but they are in actual fact no less than peas in the same proverbial pod. US President Barack Obama of “yes we can” fame confessed that he can’t (impose instant peace on us). A concurrent shock was delivered by reports of the possible (premature?) demise of lovable Nessie – the maybe monster that has made Loch Ness one of the UK’s top tourist attractions. Though ostensibly far-fetched, the connection between the two news bombshells is inexorable.
Obama owned up that his diktat (which he calls “peace” and which he superciliously supposed he could inflict upon us overnight) has so far failed to reinvent the Mideast. Obama, of course, blames Israelis and Arabs equally (for the sake of hallowed postmodernist evenhandedness).
It matters diddly that the most unlikely government in Israel offered concessions that likelier governments had earlier refused to contemplate. It equally matters diddly that the Palestinians under Mahmoud Abbas’s fictional leadership regressed to more intractable positions than they had ever held in all previous negotiation rounds with previous Israeli governments.
Staggeringly, the White House resident has handed out identical demerits regardless of Israel’s compromise of vital interests and Palestinian intransigence on what was beforehand never insisted upon. No differentiation between compliance and obstructionism.
But while Obama spent the past year discovering that “this is just really hard” (we told him so), he evinces remarkable never-say-die spirit. Ever-valiant Obama vows to press ahead with the apparently ever-viable (contrary to all empirical evidence) two-state solution. Despite all clinical indications, Obama maintains that his phantom peace yet lives.
JUST LIKE Nessie. Some fantasies are just hard to give up. Scotland’s Nessie captivated probably as many imaginations as the Himalayan Yeti, America’s elusive Bigfoot and those small-statured, big-eyed, silver-green visitors from galaxies far, far away. Photographers aplenty claim to have immortalized blurry outlines of spaceships and hazy silhouettes of the timid earthling cryptids.
Nessie-mania dates back to 1933, which means that she’s getting on in years. Of late her appearances are becoming comparatively rare. This has led some believers to conjecture that their Nessie may have gone the way of all flesh. That’s better than doubting that she ever existed and that their favorite fable is slowly losing its appeal. The very speculation that Nessie had surfaced her last intolerably distressed her more dedicated enthusiasts.
But hope mustn’t be lost. Members of the Official Loch Ness Fan Club now happily counter the doom-and-gloom of naysayers with what they deem “a credible” sighting. Nessie, they crow, exists and not as an out-of-sight decomposing corpse. Not only is she real, she is also immortal – for now at least and for very good practical reasons. Lots of folks make their living off her. They have a vested interest in keeping her alive. They can’t afford a drop in tourist numbers. Nessie is too good a moneymaker to let go of.
As our own region proves time and again, myths can be lucrative, self-perpetuating and more compelling than unpleasant truth. The myth of an Israeli-Arab peace, like Nessie, is too good a moneymaker to let go of. Lots of folks make their living off it. They have a vested interest in keeping it alive, the consequences be damned.
NGOs worldwide rake in profits from their tireless “peace efforts.” What would they do without that little awful Jewish state? They churn out position papers, formulate proposals, produce damning documentaries to expose Israeli villainy, mold de rigueur opinions, raise funds for Hamas saints, dispatch activists and demonstrators against us, attract attention with assorted boycotts and initiate arrest warrants against our defenders and elected representatives. It’s a veritable industry and its business is booming.
So are its local subsidiaries. Miscellaneous left-wing outfits within Israel mushroom and thrive on handouts from foreign self-professed do-gooders. The inflow of cash buys friends, influences people and facilitates the takeover of airtime and tabloid pages. By dominating the media they dominate public discourse. They change mind-sets.
Whereas once Israelis understood that Palestinian nationhood is an artificial tactical concoction, they now embrace it. Whereas once Israelis were intent on keeping essential swaths of land we were forced to return to in 1967, we now try to work out swaps that will leave our genocidal enemies with no less than 100 percent of what may – maybe – satisfy them.
The problem is that the international peace conglomerate concentrates its attentions on Israelis, who had already changed tack. No energy is expended to change Arab minds, perhaps because that’s a non-starter.
This in itself is key to understanding why Obama “misjudged” the situation and, in his own words, “raised expectations too high.”
The premise that guides him and the peace industry, in which he’s a high roller, always entailed browbeating Israel and sweet-talking the Arabs. Hence the brutal demands that Israel cease all settlement construction (as if peace here blossomed all over before said construction) and that it dismantle roadblocks (though they help block terrorist attacks and bolster security, presumably prerequisites for any deal). Hence also Obama’s fawning Cairo speech, geared to win over Muslim/Arab cooperation with saccharine-saturated honey.
That’s exactly the recipe for how not to succeed in making peace. Indeed the very impressive expansion of the world peace cartel’s big business predetermined its failure – because it was so hard on anyway-soft Israel and so soft on the immutably hard Arabs. It thereby brashly and foolishly violated the ancient bargaining traditions of the Levantine bazaar.
Leaning hard on Israel is the last thing that would dent the Arab hard line. Why should the Arabs cede a single nuance of a point, when they see Israel retreat from one “impassable” red line to the next one, scribbled posthaste right behind? The more peace pressure is applied on Israel, the more unattainable peace is bound to become.
The more Israelis, overwhelmed by peace offensives from home and abroad, make goodwill gestures and try to close the gap on existential “core issues,” the greater the gap is sure to grow. An Arab vendor doesn’t lower the price when he realizes you’re willing to fork out more. It’s elementary, Obama.
The more conciliatory Israel is, the more hectoring the global anti-Israel peace chorus. The more understanding Obama displays for Abbas, the less Arab incentive there is to reach accord. Right now Israelis want a Palestinian state more than the Arabs do. All Arabs are after is justifying their inflexibility and utterly delegitimizing our existence, state and self-preservation.
So even if the twin fabrications of Mideast peace and a Palestinian state temporarily seemed as irresistibly fetching as a faint reflection of a fuzzy Nessie, too many devotees cannot admit that their two-state chimera may be dead. Like diehard members of the Loch Ness Fan Club, so diehard peaceniks claim to still spot signs of life. Long live Nessie. Long live peace.