Just try to imagine what would have happened had Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stood before some Jewish forum and exclaimed that “from now on we won’t allow the presence of one Arab in our independent Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.”
The cacophony of condemnation from abroad, we can safely assume, would instantly surge into hysterical pandemonium. Livid politicos, their press and the public opinion they mold would seethe and fume as if nothing more racist were utterable. Inside Israel, the righteous ruckus would be no less frenzied and deafening.
But we can heave a sigh of relief. Luckily these words could never conceivably cross Netanyahu’s lips. This unkind sentiment, however, isn’t unfamiliar in our neighborhood. The Palestinian Authority’s head honcho and self-styled moderate keeps serially mouthing it – though in reverse.
Addressing a recent emergency session of Arab League foreign ministers in Doha, Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas unabashedly declared that “when an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is established, we won’t allow the presence of one Israeli in it.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, this is the Arabic version of the German-minted Judenrein – “clean of Jews.” Yet no Arab diplomat was discomfited or shocked. Abbas consistently accentuates the same sentence with only trivial verbal variations. In December 2010, for instance, he put us on notice that “I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land.”
He was most specific on July 28, 2010, when, in an uber-compromising mood, he intoned: “I’m willing to agree to a third party that would supervise the [possible future Israeli-Palestinian] agreement, such as NATO forces, but I would not agree to having Jews among the NATO forces, or that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land.”
Presumably, in the spirit of liberal pluralism, Abbas would subject all prospective peacekeepers to the toughest of scrutinies to make sure that not even a camouflaged part-Jew manages to sneak in and contaminate Palestine’s legitimately Judenrein jurisdiction. Such understandable precautions would plausibly comprise the sort of progressivism which the Western world countenances.
Clearly the international community relishes reviling ultra-tolerant Israel while it ignores and even justifies crude Arab racism. But there’s more here than glaring hypocrisy.
The fact that Abbas never neglects to emphasize that Israelis (which really means Jews) would be strictly banned from his state should signify how impossible it is to reach any workable and sincere peace. Abbas, the world’s pampered, petulant child, harbors no qualms about denying Israel any quid pro quo for what he demands of it.
Thus Abbas upbraids Netanyahu for “demanding recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. We have rejected, and will reject, this demand. We know what his intention is. He wants to undermine the Palestinian-Arab presence inside Israel and prevent the return of refugees.” In other words, rather than be accepted as rightfully a Jewish state, Israel is in fact regarded at most as a multinational temporary entity and a candidate for impending Arabization. It wouldn’t be left in peace unless it submitted meekly to said Arabization and the eradication of its Jewishness.
It’s fair and proper for Israel to contain a large Arab minority, and to be further overrun by millions of hostile Arabs, but it’s entirely out of the question for any Jews to remain living in Judea.
That such racist stipulations are fine and dandy with the dysfunctional family of nations constitutes the single most gigantic obstacle on the path of peace. There’s nothing for which Abbas may agitate – no matter how inequitable or unreasonable – that is likely to get shot down. Not unexpectedly, outright impunity and invulnerability whet his appetite and embolden him to press for ever more and more besides. The sky is the limit. Overseas onlookers are sure to indulge his every whim.
Such license for limitless Palestinian mischief renders any peace agreement unlikely. No Israeli government, no matter how conciliatory and forthcoming, can contract an accord with the PA. Peace is foiled because the Palestinians aren’t restrained. The very amenable Ehuds – Barak and Olmert – got nowhere despite having made egregiously generous offers. In the end, everything hinged on whether or not Israel would commit suicide. Even the appeasement-minded Ehuds couldn’t quite bring themselves to slit our collective throat.
There’s no getting away from the fact that whatever pipe-dreams are promoted in our midst, they entail the most complex of arrangements because this land is so tiny and the communities so intricately intertwined. No clear divisions are possible. Therefore, the indispensable prerequisites for any sort of compromise are goodwill, mutual respect and plain honesty.
The practical minutiae of hypothetical understandings – all technically cumbersome – would be impossibly difficult even were the best of intentions prevalent. As is, only terminally naïve wishful thinkers can take for granted that the cooperative spirit would descend upon us from cloud nine and color our existence a blissful pink.
Infantile credulity in vague idyllic future harmony is hardly a reliable policy guideline. In this context, past experience is far more instructive. We have already attempted to implement deals that called for coordination and teamwork. These were hardly as complex as would be mandated, say, in Jerusalem streets. Yet even these relatively straightforward arrangements ended up highlighting the palpable paucity of honorable intentions.
The Oslo concoction created an infrastructure of joint patrols. One such covered the slender strip between Arab Kalkilya and Israeli Kfar Saba. Things seemed to proceed without a hitch on September 29, 2000 – until, out of the blue, Israeli Border Police officer Supt. Yosef Tabaja, 27, was murdered by the Arab partners with whom he had just shared a midmorning snack. After they ate, bantered and had a laugh together, the Palestinian patrolmen knelt to pray. Then they rose, approached the Israelis with drawn weapons and fired, screaming, “Allahu akhbar (God is Great)!”
Tabaja was shot in the head at close range. Another Israeli, Shalom Malul, was wounded but managed to drive off. Official Israel expressed surprise because the joint patrols were regarded as a feather in the cap of peace. “Things were going so well until now,” quipped then-prime minister Barak in disbelief. The second intifada was about to erupt.
Can greater goodwill be dependably predicted for future joint patrols? Can mutual respect be rationally anticipated when the PA unremittingly repeats that no Jew may reside east of the Green Line but that everything west of the Green Line is envisioned as space to be inundated with vengeful Arabs?
By no objective criteria can this credibly augur well for coexistence – particularly given the conspicuous absence of a cacophony of condemnation abroad for Abbas’s blatant racism. No change is likely until censure for Arab hate surges globally into hysterical pandemonium; until livid foreign politicos, their press and the public opinion they mold, seethe and fume; until a frenzied and deafening righteous ruckus arises from within Palestinian society.
But we better not hold our breath.