Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Tantric Mantra of Middle East Peace

Aluf Benn, writing in Haaretz, thinks that Bin Laden's liquidation blows wind in Obama's sails with respect to pushing forward the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But of course, when a butterfly flaps its wings in the Pacific, Israel must seize the opportunity to make "peace" by surrendering territory to the Arabs. This notion, that any and every regional and international development - from Wikileaks to the Arab revolts, from Palestinian "reconciliation" to Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapon - demonstrates the urgent necessity for "progress" in Middle East peace, progress which can only be achieved by Israeli concessions to Arab demands, has long ago passed from cliche into tantric mantra and epic mythology.

It should be remembered that "peace" and "progress", in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, is necessarily characterized by unilateral Israeli strategic retreat, and Arab scribbles on bleached wood pulp vowing to maintain a state of open hostility short of war, until they no longer feel bound to their commitments, to which no one will seriously hold them.

To demonstrate the sheer absurdity of the prevalent narrative, let's rotate this notion on its head. Is there any conceivable scenario under which Israel should not immediately pursue a peace initiative, or be forced to do so? If Palestinians murder Israeli civilians, this demonstrates the absolute necessity for immediate peace negotiations. If Palestinians temporarily do not murder Israeli civilians, it demonstrates that nothing should prevent immediate peace negotiations. If the Palestinians are split into two armed camps, Israel simply must take advantage of the opportunity to make peace. If the Palestinians are united, then Israel has a golden opportunity to make peace. If Arab countries are ruled by pro-Western, secular autocrats, Israel must make peace to bolster the stability of those regimes. If Arab tyrants are overthrown and the reigns of power shift to a messy conglomerate of Islamists, sectarian tribalists and secular fascists, then Israel must make peace to help the West ingratiate itself with the new regimes. If Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, this demonstrates the necessity of Israel making peace in order to strengthen the regional anti-Iranian coalition. If Iran is stopped from pursuing nuclear weapons, then Israel has run out of excuses to make peace.

The Palestinians know well what they must do to make peace and achieve their state, and have been given multiple opportunities to do so. By estimation of all the experts, peace should have been achieved in 2000, or 2008, but it wasn't, on Palestinian insistence. How much longer must we entertain the frantic ravings of those who continue to cling, in good faith, with the best of intentions, to a collapsed analytical framework?

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