Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The hidden divide between the Israeli Left and the Palestinian "moderates"

Nothing illustrates  Palestinian Arab intransigence more than their rejection of the concept of "two states for two peoples."

Especially when one remembers that this idea was originally floated by the Israeli Far Left - and it was at one point considered political heresy in mainstream Israeli politics.

One early example of this formulation can be seen in the 1974 book "Land of the Hart" by Israeli pioneer - and super-dove - Arie Eliav, as can be seen in these two snippets:

(Eliav quit the Labor Party over its settlement policy at the time and participated in a series of far-left parties.)

Similarly, a 1989 demonstration organized by Peace Now in Jerusalem used the slogan prominently. That demonstration, which only attracted a few hundred, was overshadowed 13 years later by the famous Peace Now rally of some of 50,000 Israelis in 2002 - featuring that same slogan.

In other words, the concept of "two states for two peoples" has been the mantra of the Israeli "peace camp" for decades.

In what can only be considered a triumph by the leftists, this idea, which was was considered anathema to Israeli governments of both the right and the left, became mainstream Israeli policy. Even Ariel Sharon used that exact phrase in May, 2004 when unveiling the disengagement plan from Gaza (placing him far to the left of Yitzchak Rabin, who never accepted the idea of a "Palestinian state.")

Similarly, that phrase has been highlighted by both George Bush and Barack Obama.

Yet the mainstream, supposedly moderate Palestinian Arab leadership has never accepted this key concept, and has been consistently and adamantly against it. To them, the idea of even accepting the existence of a Jewish people cannot be countenanced - even in private.

Any reasonable observer can see that this is a dealbreaker. The PLO's insistence on trampling the idea of a Jewish people and a Jewish homeland means that real peace can never be achieved. They are the ones who are the true obstacle to peace, far more than anything the Israeli government has ever done. The majority of Israelis have steadily moved to the stated positions of the "peace" movement in the past two decades, while the majority of Palestinian Arabs have remained as obstinate as ever.

However, the Israeli Left, the vanguard of "two states for two peoples," willfully ignores, and even hides, this huge divide between their concept of peace and the red lines drawn in no uncertain terms with their purported "peace partners." They will not publicly castigate Mahmoud Abbas for his repeated insistence on this point, nor on his insistence on "return."

The extremism of the PA and the PLO gets a free pass.

Rather than exposing the PLO for ruining any chance for peace, the Israeli Left instead keeps on blaming the Israeli Right for the lack of progress in the "peace process." They simply cannot admit to themselves that their "two states for two peoples" formulation has no takers on the other side.

So they choose to ignore it. They paper over their differences with their "moderate" counterparts on the Arab side. Perhaps it is out of embarrassment, perhaps it is from a refusal to admit that there is no peace partner.

This has far reaching implications. The world media takes its cue from the Israeli Left, symbolized by Ha'aretz. The Western world has largely subscribed to the ideas of the Israeli Left. As a result, for years, journalists have also failed to highlight the inflexible and obdurate position of the Palestinian Arabs and their leaders.

This is one reason that stunts like the unilateral declaration of independence gain any traction to begin with. If the Israeli Left was as ferocious in denouncing Palestinian Arab inflexibility and intransigence as they are of the Israeli Right, then world leaders would be a lot more skeptical about accepting and facilitating these anti-peace stunts. 

Instead, the Israeli "peace camp" has dropped the ball in its quest for peace. Its voice could have been a powerful ingredient in pressuring the PLO for accepting compromise and coexistence. Instead, Israeli leftists  chose to play political one-upsmanship with the Right and to hide their differences with their supposed Arab counterparts.

This emboldens the Palestinian Arabs to continue to refuse compromise and say no to negotiations and peace, as they are given political cover by the Israeli Left and the journalists who admire them.

And the entire world will pay the price.