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Friday, March 27, 2009

Mistaking "peace process" for "peace"

The New York Times encapsulates the problem that much of the world has in its utter inability to distinguish between real peace and the illusory "peace process."

In a hugely condescending editorial today, the august NYT states:As he prepares to take office as Israel’s next prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is offering what sounds like a tantalizing commitment. He said that his government will be a “partner for peace.”

“I will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority for peace,” he said.

We would like very much to take Mr. Netanyahu’s words at face value, and it would be a lot easier to do that if he had not worked so assiduously to build his reputation as a hard-liner with deep misgivings about the very peace process he now claims to be willing to embrace. In this year’s election campaign, he disparaged talks on a peace treaty with the Palestinians. Even now, he has not spelled out exactly what terms he is offering as a “peace partner.” He still cannot bring himself to endorse a two-state solution — which we believe must be part of any serious regional peace effort.The logical fallacies here are staggering, and completely opaque to the NYT and similarly-thinking entities.

Even more egregiously, the Times proclaims:
If Mr. Netanyahu is serious about being a partner for peace, he will not get in the way of the militant group Hamas entering a Palestinian unity government with the rival Fatah faction — as long as that government is committed to preventing terrorism and accepts past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. He will recognize that the United States has its own interests in diplomacy with Syria, Iran and the Palestinians — and allow the Obama administration the freedom to pursue them. He also will not start a preventive war with Iran.
In other words, Israel must sacrifice its own peace and security for what the New York Times considers to be "peace." It is only a short distance from these self-righteous prescriptions to saying "Israel must allow itself to be destroyed in order to avoid any aggressive moves that might hurt our definition of peace."

Guess what? Syria and Israel have barely exchanged any bullets for decades. Even when Israel bombed Syria's nuclear reactor, a war didn't break out. And yet, somehow, there is no "peace treaty" between the two states! Things haven't been ideal, to be sure, but the clandestine Syrian support for Hezbollah would not be abated by a peace treaty, Syria will not suddenly love Israel because of a peace treaty, Israeli tourists will not flock to Syria after a peace treaty. All a "peace treaty" would accomplish is giving Syria a much greater tactical advantage for any future war(by owning the high ground of the Golan Heights and threatening Israel's water supply in the Kinneret) - a war that has not occured yet because Syria lacks that very advantage.

Why would anyone with two brain cells not see that this cold peace between Israel and Syria is the optimal solution?

This cold peace is the optimal model for "peace." It is ugly, it doesn't come close to the desired end state of Israel being treated like a normal country by its neighbors - but that end state will never occur. Ever. No matter what concessions Israel gives. Period.

Palestinian Arabs were offered a state multiple times. They refused, because the state they want will be by definition an existential threat to Israel. Therefore, such a state is not at all conducive to real "peace." Autonomy, economic reforms, gradual confidence building, a possible confederation with other Arab countries, allowing Palestinian Arabs "refugees" to become citizens in the nations they were born in - these and other moves would provide a type of "peace" that might not be ideal - but the constant insistence on the ideal is exactly what is preventing the optimal.

A Jewish state will never be accepted wholeheartedly by her neighbors, but it will be accepted grudgingly if Israel does not give in to stupid "peaceful" suggestions by idiots at the New York Times who consider a process more important than human lives.

(h/t Soccer Dad)