I have just returned from one of five days of intense focus on the Middle East and the US-Israel Relations meeting with government officials, pundits, experts and just plain folks who are supporters of Israel.
Regardless of what anyone may say, with the advent of the Arab Spring, the Hamas/Fatah coalition government, a revolutionary regime change in Egypt, violence in the streets of Syria, the looming confrontation of the vote in the UN General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state, the ever-present threats posed by Iran, the President’s speeches from the State Department and to AIPAC and Netanyahu’s Speech to the US Congress, this is a time of great uncertainty where posturing is the only show in town and little progress is being made towards any kind of a peace apparently. Despite “candor among friends” as claimed by the President and Prime Minister and despite proclamations of Israel and America, better together, the Palestinians are trumping all of this with one continual, consistent response with clarity and certainty…non-recognition of Israel and it’s right to exist as a democratic Jewish state.
Regardless of any feel-good outcomes to clarify relations and positions, there is a dark cloud hanging over Israel as once again, forces that would drive her into the sea have started to amass on her borders so that Israel can once again be condemned for having to defend herself from attack. This is certain as the flotillas begin to build through the summer and the September marches by Palestinians are planned into Israel in September.
Whether you are pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Religious, Secular, Liberal, Conservative, and regardless of your racial or ethnic identity, this is certain, the Palestinians continue, as they have consistently for over 63 years, to reject Israel’s right to exist and that any accords are simply temporary accords until the “final solution” of the dissolution of Israel is complete.
Unfortunately, this is not a polemic or my opinion, it has consistently come from those who lead the Palestinians and came once again last week from Palestinian President Abbas who continues to refuse to negotiate with the Israelis and who continues to incite the Palestinians to join the Hamas agenda.
While US and Israeli officials are trying to put a good face on the outcomes of this week’s meetings, everyone knows that until the Palestinians show some willingness to negotiate, Israel will continue to be scape-goated as the displaced target of aggression from the extremist Arab world which is going through an uncertain transformation with many naively hoping for Western style, pro-Western democracies to emerge, but knowing full well that there is a strong extremist anti-US, anti-Israel force looming to take over, even those countries which have had marginally good relations with western nations.
It has never been clearer that the obstacle for peace is not building in the disputed territories, but the desire of the Palestinians and their allies to rid the neighborhood of Israel and the Jewish homeland.
No borders for Israel are acceptable to the Islamists now apparently in charge and gaining favor in much of the Arab world. It’s an all or nothing proposition for them and that simply is unacceptable by any standards. There is no uncertainly in Israel’s position, that it must continue to exist within safe and secure borders, at peace with her neighbors and hopefully able to recognize their peaceful and legitimate aspirations as a prosperous and peaceful neighbor.
Given the uncertainty of regional events and Palestinian intransigence in coming to the negotiating table one other possibility may evolve into a certainty, and which all persons of good will and intentions should be so keenly aware. It takes one wild person with one wild act of murderous intention to trigger catastrophic word event and as the prospects for peace negotiations dwindle, prospects for unforeseen events to disrupt any possibilities for peaceful resolution of the conflicts increase which could lead to a war where even a winner will be a catastrophic loser. Each day the Palestinians refuse to negotiate and continue to incite their citizens and allies to rid the neighborhood of Israel draws an armed conflict closer to an inevitability from which any winner will have to rise from the ashes…perhaps.
Yet in the times of great uncertainty, pundits try to speak with great clarity and wisdom as if their words had any effect on an outcome. The fact is that the more certainty these pundits try to clarify, the more uncertainty is manifested with perceptual distortions based on individual perspectives permeating the entire spectrum of possibilities, thus adding to the confusion and the possibility of volatility. We are in a battle for perspective and perception as well as a conflict for the resolution of two peoples for a claim to a land in the Middle East. Yet until both parties recognize the other’s right to exist peacefully as a neighbor at the end of the day, there cannot and will not be peace.
Edward S. Beck is Co-Founder and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and Contributing Faculty Member at Walden University. SPME is a faculty organization with nearly 60,000 faculty members worldwide.