Victory process, not peace process, needed in Middle East

Michael Medved
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Posted: Jul 12, 2006 12:00 AM
What lapse of logic (or ancient prejudice) can explain the stubborn, utterly unshakable, and nearly universal insistence that Israel must pursue a “peace process” with its terrorist adversaries?

Regarding the United States, not even the most unhinged leftist would dare suggest that negotiations, compromises and a peace agreement would protect us from further depredations by al Qaeda.

How, then, can Americans of good will honestly believe that some elaborate, solemn, UN-approved treaty would make Israel magically safe from continued assault by the murderous gangs of Hamas, Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade (directly affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas), and Islamic Jihad? Over the last six years, these killers have taken the lives of far more Israelis (as a percentage of population) than all the assaults on American civilians by Bin Laden and his followers. On what sane basis would the Hamas-dominated government in the Palestinian Authority (openly pledged to Israel’s ultimate destruction) represent a more suitable, more trustworthy negotiating partner than the high-command of Al Qaeda, or the fanatics of the Taliban, who are openly committed to the final destruction of the United States?

Recent events in the Middle East demonstrate that the continued Western emphasis on “road maps” and “peace processes” represents a delusional obsession, not a policy preference. What possible value might a negotiated settlement hold when the Palestinian leaders who make such an agreement remain utterly unable (or unwilling) to enforce its terms? Both Palestinian President Abbas and his rivals in Hamas insist that they already disapprove of the daily rocket attacks on their Israeli neighbors—as well they should, given the inevitable, punishing responses from the Jewish state to this outrageous provocation. But the Palestinians can’t stop those attacks now, so how would a signed agreement pledging them to halt the violence suddenly confer upon them some new, altogether unprecedented ability to do so?Either the PA authorities remain totally impotent to curb the anarchic and deadly behavior of the terrorist thugs in their midst, in which case they can’t be trusted to do so in the future—or else they cynically choose to do nothing to curb that behavior, in which case they also can’t be trusted to do so in the future. In either case, an agreement with such people (indisputably characterized as impotent, dishonest, or both) remains a meaningless gesture.

Consider the vaunted Oslo Accords of 1993, which earned Nobel Peace Prizes for the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, and the late Palestinian dictator Yasser Arafat. The pretty promises of Oslo facilitated the establishment of a governmental entity responsible for administration of more than 90% of the Palestinian population in the so-called “occupied territories”, and provoked a tidal wave of billions of dollars of Western aid to bolster the authority of the supposedly reformed terrorists.

Arafat and his cronies officially and solemnly renounced violence as an instrument of policy, but that didn’t prevent the death of more than 1,000 Israeli civilians in post-Oslo terror attacks, or impassioned speeches by Arafat himself asking “a million martyrs” to march with him on Jerusalem. At no point did the widely-acclaimed peace process actually deliver peace, or compel the Palestinians to keep their promises to eliminate their poisonously anti-Semitic brainwashing of their own population, or to make any serious attempt to disarm the various terror factions running rampant in the West Bank and Gaza. President Abbas (affectionately known as Abu Mazen), with his avuncular moustache, spectacles and western dress, may look more respectable than his grubby, kafiyeh-clad mentor, Arafat, but with far less popular support in the infamous “Arab Street” there’s no reason to believe that he’d even try, let alone succeed, at establishing rule of law where his predecessor so conspicuously failed. The abject failure to prevent, or even reduce, hundreds OF rocket attacks from territory he theoretically governs, highlights the meaningless nature of any commitment from such a feckless official.

Among Israelis, no illusions persist concerning the ongoing utility of the peace process. The bloody, painful, pointless collapse of the Oslo Accords proved to the public that the Palestinians could hardly count as a viable “peace partner,” and this disillusionment led to widespread (but short-lived) popularity for the policy of disengagement, long promoted by the current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. According to his logic, any agreement with the Palestinian Authority would remain as worthless as Oslo, so Israel should make its own arrangements and define its own borders, with no attempt to take responsibility for the three million angry Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank. By leaving them to their own devices in the land from which Israel withdrew, disengagement hoped that the Palestinians might make progress in self-government and ultimately build up the functioning state of their long-expressed yearnings.

The instantaneous Gazan preference for rockets rather than responsibility, for suicide over statehood, seemed to catch the whole world by surprise, contradicting the automatic assumption that most people will act in their own obvious self-interest when given the opportunity to do so. Now the U.S. and the Europeans urge Israeli “restraint,” and plead with the Hamas government to renounce violence and recognize Israel—as if the previously elected Palestinian officials hadn’t already renounced violence and recognized Israel (and made many more “concessions”) in the Oslo Accords. Residents of the Jewish State begin to feel as if they’re living within some nightmarish, Middle Eastern version of “Groundhog Day” – in which the same bizarre patterns unfold endlessly, annoyingly repeated, day after day, year after year, with no long term significance. If peaceful promises meant nothing thirteen years ago, why should they be viewed as so significant today?

The repetitive mistakes and the ongoing, irrational faith in an ever elusive-peace process stem from a worldwide failure to embrace the obvious lessons of several thousand years of human history: only decisive, unambiguous victory for one side or the other can end a long, bitter conflict. No such struggle has ever been resolved by compromise, treaty, or split-the-difference negotiations. Yes, Egypt made peace (of a sort) with Israel in the Camp David Accords, but only after suffering three disastrous, devastating and hugely costly defeats in three different wars (1956, 1967 and 1973) and with the Egyptian Third Army finally surrounded by Israelis and subject to annihilation without Henry Kissinger’s intervention. France and Germany only learned to live as peaceful neighbors after four major struggles of their own (the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1870, World War I and World War II) but only the total destruction and humiliation of the German nation in 1945 made that sort of definitive resolution possible. America and Canada enjoy a long, tranquil border but only after the USA failed miserably (and at embarrassing cost) in two determined efforts to conquer the nation to our north in 1778 and 1812. On the southern border, lasting peace came between America and Mexico only after a crushing US victory in the 1846-1848 and the subsequent “occupation” (and annexation) of huge swaths of Mexican territory (including the future states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and more).

In this context, international determination to push the discredited peace process, to urge both Israelis and Palestinians to moderate their behavior and to compromise, prevents precisely the sort of unequivocal, undeniable, and decisive Israeli victory which alone could provide progress to real peace. When Israel reacts firmly to deadly provocation (like rocket attacks on a school in a major city, Ashkelon, or construction of a tunnel into internationally recognized Israeli territory for the purpose of killing and capturing soldiers), the demands for restraint and negotiation encourage Palestinians to believe that the fight for Israel’s survival – the only fight Hamas cares about – remains undecided and inconclusive. Nurtured by two generations of lunatic propaganda, THEY continue to believe that enough international criticism and, above all, enough violence, will cause the Jews to pack up and leave to establish their homeland somewhere else (in Europe, for instance, as the President of Iran repeatedly suggests). Never mind that since Palestinian terror attacks began in earnest in the 1920’s (long before there was a single Arab refugee to justify such attacks) the Jewish population has increased twenty fold, rather than declining.

Despite the forlorn (and fatuous) hopes of so called peace advocates, there is to way to compromise or negotiate for the resolution of an implacable conflict. One side or the other must clearly and completely reject its most cherished dream for its future. Either the Israelis most abandon their now-realized dream of maintaining a Jewish homeland in the Middle East, or else the Palestinians must altogether reject their own cherished dream of obliterating and eliminating the Jewish State. President Reagan changed the world with his clear, unequivocal (and repeatedly expressed) recognition regarding the Cold War: that ultimately one side was going to win, and the other side was going to lose. There was no other way to settle the struggle.

In this same spirit, those who honestly wish to see an end to the bloodshed and suffering in the Middle East must first give up their sick infatuation with negotiation, compromise and empty promises on paper. It’s not a peace process that the world needs when confronting relentless terrorist demands. Only a victory process can finally end the violence and the pain.