The Peace Process War in Israel/Palestine

by | Oct 15, 2000 | Middle East & Israel, POLITICS

After seven years of tireless negotiations, we can finally see the hard-won result of the Middle Eastern “peace process”: war. Make no mistake about it. The current orgy of killing in Israel/Palestine is not due to a failure or breakdown in negotiations, or even a sabotage of the negotiations. This war is a product of […]

After seven years of tireless negotiations, we can finally see the hard-won result of the Middle Eastern “peace process”: war.

Make no mistake about it. The current orgy of killing in Israel/Palestine is not due to a failure or breakdown in negotiations, or even a sabotage of the negotiations. This war is a product of the “peace process” itself. It is an inevitable result of the attempt to achieve peace by rewarding terrorists.

The path to war began with the decision to negotiate with Yasser Arafat and accept him as a legitimate leader of the Palestinian people. Before the “peace process,” Arafat was a plain terrorist who sponsored a wave of bombings and kidnappings throughout the 1970s and 80s. He was responsible for the murders of hundreds of innocent Israeli citizens, including women and children. Arafat’s stated goal was not peace, but the destruction of Israel.

But then the “peace process” magically transformed Arafat into a statesman, his past crimes wiped off the slate by nothing more than a handshake and a promise to be nice.

To gauge how sincere that handshake was, consider how Arafat runs the Palestinian Authority, the quasi-government given to him by the United States and Israel. It is an authoritarian dictatorship, where dissenters are jailed and power is concentrated in Arafat’s hands. And while he promises peace to the rest of the world, Arafat continues to broadcast anti-Israel propaganda to his people. A news report from earlier this year, for example, described a “summer camp” run by a high-ranking Palestinian official, in which teenagers learned techniques for kidnapping Israeli politicians and staged mock attacks on Israeli police stations. In indoctrination sessions, they were taught that the main goal of their training is to be ready to “plant the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem.” The renunciation of force and terror as a means of achieving political ends somehow didn’t make it into the curriculum.

It should be no surprise, then, to see how Arafat has exploited the “peace process.” His basic approach has been to make enormous demands for land and authority, while promising little in return and delivering even less. Whenever negotiations stall, he allows more terrorist attacks against Israel. That, in turn, puts pressure on the Israelis to offer more concessions. After all, Arafat knows they can’t retaliate for the killings, or treat him as the murderer he is, because that would “endanger the peace process.”

And that is the vicious flaw underlying the whole concept of the “peace process.” The basic premise is that both sides are morally equal, and the only moral absolute is that negotiations must continue, no matter what. Peace, in this view, can be achieved only by an amoral “process” of compromise.

In practice, the commitment to negotiate at any price rewards and emboldens a thug like Arafat. It tells him that it is his place to make demands and issue threats, and it is the place of the Israelis to make concessions.

So why should anyone be surprised by the events of the past few weeks? Notice that the violence began after Ehud Barak responded to months of Palestinian threats by offering the most foolishly generous peace plan yet. Barak would have given Arafat half of Jerusalem, recognized his Palestinian Authority as a full-fledged state, and turned the contested Temple Mount — a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims — into an “international park” managed by the UN.

Arafat’s reaction was to whip his people into an anti-Israel frenzy. The sermon at a prominent mosque exhorted worshippers to “eradicate the Jews from Palestine”; Arafat-controlled television stations broadcast images of the “intifada” uprising of 10 years ago; Arafat declared a general strike, sending his people into the streets to riot. This Palestinian call to violence was the real provocation for the current conflict.

The meaning of these events is clear. After seven years of appeasement from the United States and Israel, Arafat has come to believe that he can achieve any goal, no matter how brazen, by the unresisted use of force. This is the real legacy of the “peace process.”

World War I was once called “the war to end all wars”; after a century of further wars, that phrase has come to have an ironic meaning. In the same spirit of irony, the brewing Arab-Israeli conflict should be called “the Peace Process War.”

And war seems to be the only “process” by which Israel can now hope to achieve, if not peace, at least survival.

Robert Tracinski was a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute from 2000 to 2004. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Mr. Tracinski is editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily, which offer daily news and analysis from a pro-reason, pro-individualist perspective. To receive a free 30-day trial of the TIA Daily and a FREE pdf issue of the Intellectual Activist please go to TIADaily.com and enter your email address.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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