By Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom—
Political correctness suggests that the resolution of the Palestinian issue is predicated on a dramatic Israeli land concession and the establishment of a Palestinian state: the two-state solution.
Moreover, political correctness has subordinated Middle East reality and long-term national security to the achievement of the holy grail of peaceful coexistence between Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan River. In the process, the “holy grailers” have oversimplified the highly complex, unpredictable, violent, intolerant, fragmented Middle East. This is the same school of thought that misperceived the Arab tsunami, in 2011, as an Arab Spring, a youth revolution and a transition toward democracy.
Political correctness has preferred talk and assessment-based “hope” over centuries-old, well-documented realism.
While political correctness has failed to advance peaceful coexistence, it has forced the Arabs to outflank Western pressure on Israel from the maximalist side, radicalizing their demands, and further intensifying the obstacles to peace.
Political correctness resembles a surgeon who focuses on the spot of the surgery while ignoring the medical history of the entire body and its bearing upon the surgery.
For instance, the sustained Arab war against the Jewish state has taken place in the Middle East, which has featured a systematic, regional state of war, terrorism, subversion, provisional one-bullet regimes, tenuous agreements, limited cease-fires and the lack of civil liberties since the seventh-century appearance of Islam. These have been almost entirely intra-Islamic, intra-Arab wars, reflecting the (so far) unbridgeable ethnic, tribal, cultural, religious, historical, ideological battles that have dominated the region, totally unrelated to Israel.
The Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue are not “the Middle East conflict” or the top priorities for Arab policymakers.
Contrary to political correctness, the Palestinian issue has never been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a crown jewel of Arab policymakers, nor a core cause of regional turbulence.
Political correctness has assumed that everyone wishes for peace, prosperity and civil liberties, ignoring the fact that the dictatorial Arab regimes have systematically denied their people such prospects. While most Arabs may hope for regional peace, and are not preoccupied with Israel, the concept of majority rule has never asserted itself as a Middle Eastern political reality.
Political correctness has considered Islam to be another religion of peace, overlooking its fundamental tenets. For example, the constant battle between the “abode of Islam” and the eventual subservience of the “abode of the infidel”; the determination to spread Islam, preferably peacefully, but via war if necessary; the duty to dedicate one’s life to jihad on behalf of Islam; and the option to conclude provisional agreements — and to employ double-speak (taqiyya), when negotiating — with the infidel.
Arab attitudes toward Israel derive from the 14-century-old Islamic intolerance of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist and other “infidels,” who claim sovereignty in “the abode of Islam.” The key issue has never been the size, but the existence of the “infidel” Jewish state on land that is supposedly divinely ordained to be ruled by Islamic believers.
Political correctness has ignored or downplayed a chief obstacle to peace: the Palestinian track record from the wave of terrorism of the 1920s; their alliance with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Bloc, Iran’s ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, North Korea and Venezuela; their training of international terrorists in Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen, and their current hate-education, incitement and terrorism. Such a track record attests to the anti-U.S. impact of the proposed Palestinian state.
Would it be reasonable to assume that Israel’s withdrawal from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (which would drastically erode its posture of deterrence, unlike Israel’s substantial land concession to Egypt — the Sinai Peninsula) would cause the Arabs to grant to “the infidel Jewish state” peaceful-coexistence, which they have denied fellow “believers” since the seventh century?!
Would it be reasonable to assume that the Arab Middle East, which has been merciless towards weak, vulnerable fellow-Arabs, would display compassion towards a highly vulnerable “infidel” Jewish state, if it is reduced to a 9-to-15-mile wide sliver along the Mediterranean, over-towered by a mountainous Palestinian state?!
The unfathomed gap between Middle East reality and the two-state-solution was demonstrated in 1993 when Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres promoted the two-state-solution and his vision of peace in “The New Middle East.” Attempting to rationalize Israel’s dramatic concession of its most strategic mountain ridge to the PLO, Peres asserted: ” Arafat is a national symbol, a legend in his own time . … The international political setting is no longer conducive to war . … We must focus on this new Middle East reality … wars that will never be fought again . … We must strive for fewer weapons and more faith. … You could almost hear the heavy tread of boots leaving the stage after a hundred years of hostility. You could have listened to the gentle tiptoeing of new steps making a debut in the awaiting world of peace .”
In 1994, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Arafat, Peres and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ”for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East.” The Nobel Foundation and the political, academic and media establishments chose to ignore Arafat’s track record, highlighted by his 1959 and 1964 founding of Fatah and the PLO terror organizations, calling for “the liberation of Palestine” eight years and three years before the 1967 war, respectively.
In other words, the Palestinian focus has been the delegitimization and destruction of pre-1967 Israel, as underlined in the Palestinian Authority school curriculum, Friday sermons in Palestinian mosques and Palestinian media.
The “two-state solution” gospel is a miniaturized replica of the 1938 Anglo-German “peace-for-our-time” initiative of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who sacrificed national security clarity on the altar of an elusive peace. He appeased a rogue regime, yielded the most strategic Czechoslovakian land to Germany, reflected feebleness and whetted Hitler’s appetite; thus producing a robust tailwind for World War II.
Will policymakers avoid — or repeat — severe blunders?
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.