SAN DIEGO, May 22, 2017 — President Trump is in Israel today, making history as the first American president to pray at the Western Wall. But the real news is his intention to broker (in his own words) the “ultimate deal” between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Certainly, Trump could never have become a successful businessman had he not learned to make fantastic deals. He may be, as he claims, the greatest deal maker in history. But if he believes he’s going to bring about a peaceful solution to the Middle East situation, he’s in for a rude awakening.
It’s possible that a deal can be struck, even signed. This has happened before. But the deal will not be kept by the Palestinians. This is something our well-intentioned president does not seem to understand. And he’s not alone.
People usually approach conflicts by assuming that both sides are partially right and partially wrong, expecting to find the truth and justice somewhere in the middle. They see no other explanation for conflicts. Conflicts, even the war or terrorism, are supposedly a matter of perspective.
“One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
Peaceful societies tend to think that everyone else in the world looks at life exactly as they do, wanting more or less the same qualities of life, especially the desire to live in peace. Hence the need for more talk and better understanding.
If people or nations aren’t getting along, we should presume that there are two sides to the story. That is even a frequent theme on Star Trek. How many times did Captains Kirk and Picard arbitrate between warring planets or planetary factions?
We can hear William Shatner right now: “If you could each listen to one another …”
Yes, listening with empathy is ideal, but it leaves an obvious question: Suppose one side doesn’t wish to listen? What if one side simply wants the other dead?
Isn’t it just possible that sometimes one side is completely in the wrong? You yourself believe in right and wrong.
Are there two sides to the story when a parent beats a small child to death? As a society, we condemn the adult, not the child. We accept no justification for that behavior.
There were two sides in the argument over slavery: pro and con. Justice didn’t lie somewhere in the middle. There was no justification for a nation built on the principles of the Declaration of Independence to accept an institution as loathsome as slavery.
Supposing somebody wanted to defend rape? Supposing somebody wanted to defend racism? Were the Nazis justified in their ideologies and practices? Were there two sides to the story; the side of the Allies and the side of the Axis?
When Hitler promised Chamberlain peace if he ceded the Sudetenland to Germany, he intended to deliver war. No other course of action crossed his mind. He intended to conquer the world for the Aryan race, annihilate the Jews, eradicate homosexuals, and sterilize or kill Slavs and the mentally challenged.
Yes, sometimes there are two sides to the story. And sometimes there’s only one side. Sometimes one side is wholly wrong.
The Palestinian Authority has not demonstrated a belief in two legitimate sides. The Palestine National Covenant was adapted in 1964 prior to Israel’s “illegal” occupation of the West Bank. It was revised in 1968. It includes 33 articles which define the specific objectives of the PLO. Here are a few of them:
Article Two allows absolutely no arrangement for a Jewish state in the Middle East.
Article Fifteen calls for the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.
Article Twenty denies that the Jews have ever had any historical or religious claims to the area.
Article Twenty-One rejects all solutions which fall short of “the total liberation of Palestine.” That total liberation cannot take place until Israel ceases to exist.
The Oswald Accord called for the canceling of any clauses which did not recognize Israel’s right to exist, but those clauses were never removed.
In 1993, on the same day that he signed a peace agreement on the White House lawn, Yasser Arafat addressed Palestinian Arabs on Jordan TV:
“Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine and establish sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel” (Jordanian television, 1993)
Arafat is gone. The new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas says he wants peace. But he has also promised to reward any family whose children suffer “martyrdom’ at the hands of the Israelis after committing a terrorist attack.
“We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah … With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward” (The Washington Free Beacon, July 17, 2016).
He has also downplayed the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust and accused Zionists of collaborating with Nazis.
“It seems that the interest of the Zionist movement … is to inflate this figure so that their gains will be greater. This led them to emphasize this figure (six million) in order to gain the solidarity of international public opinion with Zionism. Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions-fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand” (The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas).
This is where we put our hopes for peace? It is aptly said, “Abbas is nothing but Arafat in a suit.”
Today Israel does not even show up on the maps in Palestinian schools.
When two nations make a peace treaty, there is supposed to be give and take on both sides. Israel’s deals, brokered by the U.S., always go like this: “You give the Palestinians back some land and they’ll promise to stop killing you.”
Give us what we want and we’ll let you live. That’s a deal you can’t refuse. But the killing goes on anyway.
Nothing Israel does, no gesture, no concession, no discussion, will make a difference. They can sign a peace treaty. They can jump on board for a two-state solution. It won’t matter.
Hezbollah wants Israel dead. Al-Qaeda wants Israel dead. ISIS wants Israel dead. Hamas wants Israel dead. And Palestine itself wants Israel dead, as do many Muslim nations.
The smart advice to Israel is, do what you have to do. Do what is right. The world will hate you no matter what action you take and the Arabs will try to kill you no matter how much flowery talk you participate in with our State Department, so you may as well just do what’s right.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and a columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net
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