Never has George Santayana's oft-quoted warning had greater significance than when it comes to Middle East "peace talks," including the latest round scheduled to begin Sept. 2 in Washington, D.C. In constantly pressuring Israel to go far beyond the multiple and unreciprocated concessions it has already made, the United States ensures repetition of past mistakes, which will produce the same outcome.
Some history and the results for those who would learn:
The Balfour Declaration (1917) and the Palestinian Mandate (1922). These called for the formation of a Jewish homeland while recognizing "nothing shall be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." The Arab response: A series of riots, largely instigated by Mufti Mohammad Amin al-Husayni.
The Peel Commission (1936) was formed to investigate the cause of the Arab Revolt (1936-1939). The commission recommended the partition of Jews and Arabs. The Zionist Congress accepts the proposal as the basis of negotiation. The Arab response: Outright rejection and a continuation of the revolt.
UN Partition Plan for Palestine (1947) proposed a two-state solution and a divided Jerusalem supervised by the United Nations. The Arab response: Outright rejection, followed by violence. When Israel declared its independence, May 15, 1948, armies of the neighboring Arab states invaded. According to the secretary general of the Arab League at the time, Azzam Pasha, the goal was "a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades."
Oslo Accords (1993). Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians lead to a Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements. The response, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The killing continues. By one estimate, nearly 300 people were killed by Palestinian terrorism between 1993 and 2000.
The Camp David Offer (2000). Prime Minister Ehud Barak offers PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat most of what he asks for. The response: rejection and the second intifada, which according to Israel's Foreign Ministry, killed more than 500 and injured more than 8,000.
There were other "peace talks" and initiatives, among them the Madrid Peace Conference (1991), the Wye River Memorandum (1995), Oslo II (1995), Taba (2001), Road Map for Peace (2003), and the Geneva Accord (2003). Some of these led to Israeli withdrawal from land it had occupied for security purposes, amid continued threats and terrorism, following the 1967 War. These withdrawals predictably led to more terror attacks from Arab regions.