Thursday, May 30, 2013

  • Thursday, May 30, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
Time reported at the World Economic Forum a few days ago:
If politicians remain in their corners, business leaders are stepping up — both to pressure elected leaders to re-engage in talks and to help invigorate a West Bank economy currently overwhelmingly dependent on foreign aid, perhaps in hopes of buying time for the political process.

A group of 300 Israeli and Palestinian business leaders announced a “Breaking the impasse” public-relations campaign intended to assure reluctant political leaders that a constituency exists for taking risks for peace. “We want to provide the politicians with the feeling that the biggest part of Israel is supporting negotiations,” said Yossi Vardi, an Israeli businessman who made a fortune in hi-tech. “The biggest risk is we begin to treat the conflict like a chronic disease, that it’s something that cannot be solved.”

Vardi was joined on the podium by Munib al-Masri, a West Bank tycoon whose published net worth is $1.6 billion. “From 1999 til now we haven’t moved,” al-Masri said. “We want to move.”

Kerry added American business leaders to the mix. Without naming names or venturing into detail, the diplomat described the broad outlines of an economic project that he said has been taking shape over the past six weeks on the West Bank, “a groundbreaking plan for the Palestinian economy” that he called “bigger, bolder and more ambitious than anything since Oslo 20 years ago.” 
Kerry called the economic plan “more transformative than incremental, and different than anything we have tried before.” Kerry said the hope is “to mobilize $4 billion of investment” in the West Bank, in tourism, construction, light manufacturing, building materials and information technology, among other fields. “The preliminary results,” he said, “are stunning.” Without elaborating on the makeup of the expert “teams” he said were assembling the plans, Kerry said they estimate the GDP of the West Bank could be increased by 50% in three years and unemployment cut by two-thirds. Tourism could triple, he said, and construction could add 100,000 jobs.
Who could possibly be against such an initiative?

Oh, right - the beneficiaries.

Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad blasted the plan and the Palestinian Arab businessmen who support it, saying that it is simply a version of Netanyahu's "economic peace" plan and therefore should be rejected, as it would "have a negative impact on the Palestinian reality."

Another group of prominent Palestinian Arabs issued a statement calling for the "Palestinian people to reject this new attempt to deny our inalienable rights, first and foremost [the rights of] return and self-determination, against the billions of promised dollars. The biggest beneficiary would be the Occupying Power, which controls our economy and our trade. In the second place it will benefit a small handful of Palestinian capitalists who put profits above all that is ethical and nationalist, [instead they] accept the extension of the Zionist economy."

Of course, nowhere was this initiative linked to any other. But many Arabs believe fervently that if Israel benefits from anything, Arabs must be the losers - the zero-sum mentality that underlies so much thinking and that Westerners simply cannot understand.

However, the underlying theme that is absolutely consistent through decades of Jewish-Arab interaction is that the ultimate goal is to uproot the Jewish state from the Middle East, whether through war, through "peace agreements" where the Arab side gives up nothing concrete, through lawfare or through fake appeals to Western values like human rights that are utterly ignored in the Arab world. Any plan that results in Israel being perceived as more permanent will always be rejected by the Arabs, no matter how "moderate."

The West simply doesn't get it, because such a mindset is so alien to us. But for any real progress to be made, anyone who truly wants peace needs to acknowledge and work with how the other side really thinks, not how we all wish they think.

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