As Israel’s troops withdraw from Gaza, the world should not be hopeful that the “peace” will be long-lasting. As long as “Nakba” -- the catastrophic 1948 War and Palestinian dislocation --continues to be the rallying cry that energizes the Arab street, there is little hope that the decades-long conflict will come to an end anytime soon. Worse, Hamas’ willingness to put its political goals ahead of its hapless constituents ensures that future conflicts will be at least as bloody as the current conflict between Hamas and Israel.
In every negotiation between the two parties, the Palestinian leadership has displayed a stubborn unwillingness for peace with Israel or even an accommodation that will allow the conflicting parties to coexist.
Indeed, it is no longer even clear that the Palestinian leadership really desires an independent state: after all, should peaceful coexistence, the so-called “two-state solution,” come to pass, the Palestinians would lose their trump card of victimhood.
When former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to cede 95 percent of the West Bank as a peace offering, PLO leader Yasser Arafat refused the concession. At the time, some joked that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, but the truth is that no Palestinian leader has a mandate to approve an independent state. This is a core geopolitical fact that has missed the attention of both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry -- with deadly results.
The war in the Middle East is a perpetual one because of the refusal of Arab leaders to accept the reality of Israel as a Jewish state. Indeed, the unity government comprised of Hamas and Fatah has declared publicly that its overarching goal is Israel’s destruction. Peaceful coexistence in the face of vehement hatred is impossible, and the failure of the Obama administration, the United Nations -- and even some in Israel -- to recognize this reality is a morbid commentary on their understanding of the region.
This war is far larger than Israel’s ongoing conflict with Hamas. It extends to those Arab states that provide the rockets which Hamas fires indiscriminately at Israeli citizens, and to Fatah, which cynically talks of peace but wages war with its Hamas brothers. The war extends, as well, to those who deliberately impede the development of Palestinian civil authority as a counterweight to the corrupt leadership that lines its pockets with proceeds from foreign governments.
As long as the Palestinians cling to their rejection of Israel’s very right to exist, they simply cannot take “yes” as an answer. Their leaders are on a suicide course of never-ending war against a better-equipped adversary, a war that is fought on the backs of long suffering civilians.
The rejectionist approach -- renouncing Israel’s very presence in the region -- gives lie to United Nations deliberations. There can be no serious negotiations with an adversary who has embraced a lie as its policy narrative.
As essayist Pierre Ryckmans (aka Simon Leys) reminds us that it was Saint Augustine who, 1,600 years ago, first observed, “People have such a love for truth that when they happen to love something else, they want it to be the truth; and because they do not wish to be proven wrong, they refuse to be shown their mistake. And so, they end up hating the truth for the sake of the object which they have come to love instead of the truth.”
In this instance, the truth, sadly, is that the Palestinian Authority is corrupt and so inattentive to its own people that it uses them as human shields in effort to convey a twisted message of victimization.
It is victimhood that is at the root of the Palestinian strategy, and it is victimization that the Palestinians assert in the United Nations General Assembly.
Palestinian victimization, the “great lie” of Middle Eastern politics, has emerged in some circles as the “truth” -- and it is what perpetuates bloodshed and grief without an apparent end.