State of Denial
Wall Street Journal
In the history of political clichés, has there ever been one
quite so misjudged as the line—some version of which is attributed either to
Israel’s martyred Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin or fabled Defense Minister
Moshe Dayan—that “you make peace with your enemies, not with your
OK, “give peace a chance” and “nation building at
home” are worse. But the Rabin-Dayan line is an expression of the higher
mindlessness that passes for wisdom among people who think they are smart. After
Monday’s make-nice session between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, it’s time for a reconsideration.
To wit: You do not make peace with enemies. You make peace
with former enemies—either because you have defeated them, as we defeated the
Axis Powers in World War II; or because they collapse, as the Soviet Union did
after the fall of the Berlin Wall; or because they have defeated you and
you’re able to come to terms with the outcome from a safe distance. Witness
On rare precious occasions, both sides realize their interests
are best served through a negotiated settlement they’re prepared to honor.
That was the miracle of 1977, when Egypt’s Anwar Sadat flew to Israel to show
he sincerely accepted the Jewish state’s right to exist. He paid for the
gesture with his life.
Enemies, however, do not make peace. They may desist from open
combat, as Pakistan and India have, even as Islamabad continues to support
anti-Indian terrorist proxies. They may arrange a long-term armistice of the
kind South Korea has with the North. But that’s a peace preserved by 700,000
active-duty South Korean and U.S. troops, plus a million land mines in the DMZ.
For the past 22 years—ever since Rabin signed the Oslo
Accord with the PLO’s Yasser Arafat—Israel has been trying to achieve
something historically unprecedented: To make peace with an enemy that shows no
interest in becoming an ex-enemy.
Daniel Polisar, an Israeli political scientist, recently
published a fascinating study in Mosaic
magazine of Palestinian public opinion based on 330 polls conducted over
many years. It makes for some bracing reading.
“When asked hypothetically if Israel’s use of chemical or
biological weapons against Palestinians would constitute terror, 93 percent said
yes,” notes Mr. Polisar. “But when the identical question was posed
regarding the use of such weapons of mass destruction by Palestinians against
Israelis, only 25 percent responded affirmatively.”
Other details: A 2011 poll found that 61% of Palestinians
thought it was morally right to name Palestinian streets after suicide bombers.
In December 2014, 78% of Palestinians expressed support for “attempts to stab
or run over Israelis” in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Only 20% were opposed.
Palestinians have also consistently supported terrorist attacks against Israelis
within Israel’s original borders, “often by as much as six to one.”
Palestinians routinely blame Israel for problems over which it
has no control, such as the bloody 2007 coup through which Hamas wrested power
from Fatah in the Gaza Strip. Ninety-four percent of Palestinians report a
“very unfavorable” opinion of Jews. A majority of Palestinians believe
Israel will “destroy the al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques and build a
synagogue in their place.”
As for the idea of sharing the land, only 12% of Palestinians
agreed that “both Jews and Palestinians have rights to the land.” More than
80% felt “this is Palestinian land and Jews have no rights to it.” Most
Palestinians also think Israel won’t be around in 30 or 40 years, either
“because Arab or Muslim resistance will destroy it” or on account of its
Where is the sense in agreeing to relinquish through
negotiations what is yours by right today and will be yours in deed tomorrow?
None of this is helped by Palestinian leaders who, when not
inciting violence or alleging Israeli conspiracies, are peddling
the lie that Israel is creating an apartheid state. The only person standing
in the way of Palestinian democracy is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who
hasn’t held an election in a decade. The only force standing in the way of a
Palestinian state are the Palestinian people, who think they can gain their
rights by stabbing their neighbors.
Which brings us back to Monday’s Oval Office meeting. Along
with the forced bonhomie, the administration has been sounding the usual
two-minutes-to-midnight warnings about the supposed end of the two-state
solution. “For Israel, the more there is settlement construction, the more it
undermines the ability to achieve peace,” says Ben Rhodes, the deputy national
security adviser, in an interview
How sweet it would be if all Israel had to do to make peace
was dismantle its settlements. How much sweeter if the American president would
find less to fault with an Israeli government’s housing policies than a
Palestinian political culture still so intent on killing Jews. If Mr. Obama
wants to know why he’s so disliked by Israelis, there’s the reason.