Denial, lies and peace-making

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The Article

There are two ways to sin: by commission, and by omission. And there are two ways to lie. The more brazen may tell big whoppers, or tell more efficient, subtle ones. But for the timid, who only want an easy life, the best thing is to tell no lie at all, and only live one. This involves ignoring great truths that are staring us in the face.

Let me give an example, from this week’s launch of the latest “peace talks,” on the infinite Israeli-Palestinian “roadmap to peace.”

I have already read several articles, in the usual media, suggesting that Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating in bad faith. Ha! Of course he is. Anyone who is negotiating under compulsion can be said to be doing so in bad faith. But so was everyone else near the White House, this week, except, just possibly, Barack Obama.

For I’m beginning to believe that Obama is thick enough to believe the nonsense he speaks. Those who accuse him of being secretly a Muslim, and the “birthers” who think he was born in those parts, have got everything almost precisely backwards. Obama has no idea how Muslim Arabs think, or he wouldn’t have said half the things he has said about the Middle East, during and since his ludicrous speech in Cairo. No one in his right mind walks into that tent, showing all his cards.

Yes, the Americans would love to have “peace,” and so would most Western onlookers, who think they have nothing to lose by a fraudulent simulacrum. Even some Israelis enjoy the occasional “peace agreement,” for the few weeks it lasts. Only a tiny proportion of them, however, believe in such things any more, or have the slightest expectation of a “breakthrough.”

Now consider Mahmoud Abbas. He is the head of the Palestinian Authority, successor to the leadership of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Does my gentle reader believe he wants Israeli soldiers to leave the West Bank? Those who say “yes” have been seriously misinformed. Think, for a moment, and you will understand why Abbas would want the Israeli soldiers out, even less than Netanyahu would want to withdraw them, or to withdraw the Jewish settlements they defend.

This is because, if they do withdraw, Hamas will come to power, and slaughter the colleagues of Mahmoud Abbas—plus the man himself, should he not get out in time.

We can know this for fact. We actually saw what happened when the Israeli soldiers withdrew from Gaza, after uprooting all 21 Jewish settlements there. It took Hamas less than two years to physically eliminate their Fatah rivals, and they would have done it faster had the Israelis not launched the occasional airstrike against a significant Hamas target (in response to gratuitous rocket attacks into Israeli territory). But in the end, Fatah’s Gaza generals and administrators bloodily “disappeared,” usually with their families.

Abbas maintains his figurehead status, as the official Palestinian “moderate,” thanks to Israeli arms; and he’s a smart enough man to know that. Meanwhile he has to compete with Hamas for anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rhetoric, in Arabic only. (Hamas is willing to say it in English, too.)

While Abbas was smiling in his grandfatherly way in Washington this week, his ambassador in Tehran, Salah Zawawi, was declaring that, “the relentless struggle (jihad) against the Zionist occupier will continue until the liberation of Holy Quds.” That would be Jerusalem in your English-language atlas.

So much for the “moderates.” Hamas is not even a party to the negotiations. And we haven’t mentioned Hezbollah yet; nor the Syrians and Iranians behind both of those murderous forces. Nor the hypocrite Egyptians and Jordanians, who washed their hands of their own respective Palestinian problems, in Gaza and the West Bank, after 1967.

All of those parties, and more (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Libya), must not only sign on, but deliver hard things, to make any “final status” peace agreement, or “two-state solution,” plausible. Whatever Israel’s final borders, all would have to accept them, unambiguously. Any agreement short of that is doomed.

But we don’t want to know, because if we acknowledge the truth, we must stop playing this fatuous game in Washington, hosted by a U.S. president who has himself lost all credibility and clout. (Bush, after the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, was at least taken seriously.)

So what is the solution?

There is none in sight: that is the truth. Pretending won’t make it so. And announcing, as Obama did this week, that he expects a resolution “within one year” compounds the foolishness, by piling on dangerous expectations.

Truth requires an acknowledgement of all the hard facts. It requires us to grasp that if the parties to these negotiations had a motive to settle their differences, they could have an agreement within two weeks.

David Warren
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