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Friday, January 11, 2008

Two Arabs write that it is up to the Arabs to make peace

MEMRI offers a tiny spark of hope, as it translates essays by two liberal Arabs who have the extraordinarily rare ability to think in terms of peace. Excerpts:

Mamoun Fandy: 99% of the Cards are In the Arabs' Hand

"And perhaps the time has come for the Arabs, and the Palestinians in particular, to seriously consider Israel's strategic apprehensions. The Israeli question on the nature of the Palestinian state is a logical and legitimate question. Will this state add stability to the region, or add instability? The Gaza model says that it [will be] a state that in no way participates in regional stability, whereas the West Bank model indicates that the newborn state will move the region towards stability...

"As I said earlier, visits by heads of state do not produce immediate results. But George Bush is a practical man, and he managed to impose the Annapolis document on the Palestinians and the Israelis - even though the two sides announced, before the conference, that they had not reached agreement.

"The Arabs can make Bush's visit into an historic visit by focusing on working with the pragmatic side of the president's personality, in place of the old Arab way, which wastes the time allotted for the meetings by entering into the labyrinthine history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and by grumbling about a 'double standard.'

"The Arabs hold the playing cards today. The question is: Will they play them well?"

Kamal Gabriel: The Cultural Elites Have an Allergy to 'Normalization with the Zionist Enemy'

"Many are the allergic diseases from which our audacious cultural elites suffer... but the greatest and harshest allergic symptom among the heroes of the microphone, the satellite channel, the car bomb, and the explosives belt is the allergy to 'normalization with the Zionist enemy'...

"The [purported] traitors to the 'unchanging national principles,' and the [so-called] agents of colonialism, think that 'normalization' is a goal for which all peoples should strive, and that wars and conflicts among all the nations of the earth must necessarily come to an end - and this end is always a return to peace and the reign of normal conditions - i.e. the reign of 'normalization.'

"As for the heroes and mujahideen of pan-Arabism and political Islamism, they don't reject peace and normalization in essence or in principle; they just make it conditional upon the preservation of 'our nation's unchanging principles.'

"While [the expression] 'our nation's unchanging principles' is fine and elegant, these principles are nothing more than the demand for 'destroying the rapacious Zionist entity' and turning Israel, through the return of all of the refugees, into one great democratic Islamic Palestinian mass republic...

"[According to these pan-Arabists and Islamists,] if the Zionist enemy and its supporters want peace, there is no need for negotiations and conferences... They need to accept 'our nation's unchanging principles' in a state of subjection, and let them return to us the land occupied since 1967, and allow the entry of 5 million Palestinian refugees into the land occupied in 1948. Only then can we consider the issue of normalization with them, and especially with the noble promises conferred by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, [i.e.] that it would allow Jews who immigrated [to Israel] to return whence they came without slaughtering them like sheep - despite the fact that they are basically the descendants of apes and pigs. And the Jews who were originally from Palestine will enjoy the excellent humane treatment that minorities enjoy in the other Arab regions!"

"How can he prove that the Arab regimes are capable of implementing peace and popular normalization when, with the president of the Palestinian Authority hardly controlling his own living quarters, the Palestinian street is contested by radical organizations of every kind... And this is the case also with the fighting masses in many Arab capitals...

"How can our negotiators give guarantees that normalization will continue, given that this is contingent on a culture of peace that doesn't exist. It is not absent just between the Arabs and the perfidious Zionist enemy; it is fundamentally absent among the internal components of the Arab countries. These countries have proven, throughout the years, their abject failure to normalize relations with their own minorities...So who will take seriously their promises of peace and normalization with the Jews, the enemies of Allah?

"The promise of normalization is like a promise of operations by armed forces whose arms have not yet been purchased, and who have not been mobilized or trained for combat...

"But in fact it is worse than that. The mission of preparing the capability and the readiness for peace does not just depend on a campaign of spreading the culture of peace; it demands first uprooting the culture of hostility and hatred that we have had an unparalleled success in planting in the region, and which has produced for us the blessed yield of internecine fighting in more than one Arab country.

"The problem with the normalization card is that it is like a check that doesn't have the funds to cover it. In order for it to be accepted, funds need to be put behind it, and it needs to be stamped with an 'acceptable for payment' stamp.

"[This stamp is] the spreading of the culture of peace, first of all among our peoples. We need to start practically putting it into practice long before we reap the fruits, as that is the nature of cultural transformations. [We need to do this] in order to convince the Israeli people that we have truly decided to accept it among us, and that the only thing standing between it and final peace is just the politicians sitting down together and signing peace agreements. The Israeli people could then force its government to submit to the requisites for peace. I say 'could,' since it is also possible that we will offer peace without receiving the minimum of our legitimate demands, in which case our governments would refrain from signing a final peace, and we would retreat from the path of normalization..."


This link came from Marty Peretz at TNR, whose article is worth reading:
Yet no one will promise -- let alone assure -- that when (and if) Israel withdraws from 90% or 96% of the West Bank the land it has left will not be turned into platforms from which rockets and missiles are launched against the population centers of the Jewish state...and against strategic positions like Ben Gurion International Airport. What then will the next American president or the one after counsel the Israelis to give up?

The fact is that the great impediment to peace with Israel is the fanatic obstinacy of the Palestinians. Does anyone have a strategy for negotiating with that?