Former President Bill Clinton’s said last week in Israel in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, that peace is up to Israel.
As the Associated Press reported:
“He refused to give up his dream of peace in the face of violence,” Clinton, who formed a close bond with Rabin when both were in office, said to roars of applause. “The next step will be determined by whether you decide that Yitzhak Rabin was right, that you have to share the future with your neighbors … that the risks for peace are not as severe as the risk of walking away from it. Those of us who loved him and love your country are praying that you will make the right decision.”
Even last year, Clinton indicated that he didn’t believe that Netanyahu could make peace. But this is false history, as Jonathan Tobin at Commentary pointed out, “if there is anything that the last 22 years have taught us it is that it clearly not up to the Israeli people.”
I think back to another comment made by Clinton, directly to Yasser Arafat, as Clinton’s term in office was coming to an end:
Nearly a year after he failed to achieve a deal at Camp David, former president Bill Clinton gave vent to his frustrations this week over the collapse of peace in the Mideast. And Clinton directed his ire at one man: Yasir Arafat. On Tuesday night, Clinton told guests at a party at the Manhattan apartment of former U.N. ambassador Richard Holbrooke and his wife, writer Kati Marton, that Arafat called to bid him farewell three days before he left office. “You are a great man,” Arafat said. “The hell I am,” Clinton said he responded. “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one.”
There is a tendency among some to portray Rabin’s assassination as the end of the peace process – and I believe it’s some this mistaken nostalgia that Clinton was trying to channel – but it wasn’t the end of the peace process.
Nearly 20 years ago, at the end of 1995, The Los Angeles Times reported that Israel had withdrawn from Ramallah:
One day ahead of schedule, Israeli troops ended their 28-year occupation of the West Bank town of Ramallah.
In the last seven weeks Israel has handed over six West Bank towns and more than 400 villages to the Palestinian Authority. The authority now controls about 90% of the West Bank’s more than 1 million Arabs, and about one-third of the land in the Delaware-size territory.
Since May of last year the Gaza Strip has been under the authority’s administrative rule. Next March most Israeli forces will leave the West Bank town of Hebron. For nearly all of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza, self-rule is about to become a reality.
(Those seven weeks, were the seven weeks following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.) Three months and a series of suicide bombings later, Israelis soured on the peace process.
If after twenty years there is no peace it is because of the terror of the tunnel riots in 1996, the Oslo War starting in 2000, the war waged by Hezbollah in 2006 (6 years after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon) and the three wars instigated by Hamas in 2008, 2012 and 2014 (after Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005). And this doesn’t include occasional outbursts of violence like we’re seeing now usually fueled by official incitement.
Two offers, one in 2000 and one in 2008, Israel made to end the conflict were not accepted by Palestinian leadership. Last year Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas torpedoed the American-sponsored peace talks.
Put a different way, if Arafat had clamped down on Hamas after getting control of the major population centers in the Middle East Netanyahu would not have been elected in 1996. If Arafat had accepted Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s peace offer in 2000 and started a terror war against Israel, Ariel Sharon would not have been elected in 2001. If Hezbollah hadn’t built an infrastructure of terror against Israel’s north after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 there would have been no war in 2006. If the Palestinian Authority had taken control of Gaza and built a functioning society there after Israel withdrew in 2005, there would have been no wars with Hamas. If Abbas had accepted Olmert’s 2008 offer he might well have a state now. If Abbas had accepted an American-sponsored framework last year, there might still be ongoing negotiations.
Any fair reading of the events of the past 20 years (or 22 years if you want to back to Oslo) shows that the failures of the peace process can be attributed to what the Palestinians have done or failed to do.
Over that time Israel has made numerous concrete concessions at great risk and unfortunately also entailing great loss. Worse, instead of showing appreciation for Israel’s sacrifices the world simply demands more from Israel.
Consequently, a mendacious map, supposedly showing how much land Israel has taken from the Palestinians had become so accepted as fact, it was broadcast on a news show a few weeks ago. However, the truth, as Shany Mor wrote in an article that rebutted the map is:
In fact, if we zoomed in a bit more, we would see how the peace process of the 1990s resulted in the first time a Palestinian Arab regime ruled over any piece of land. This occurred in 1994 with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Jericho. That control steadily expanded over more and more land during the years leading up to the failed final status talks. Much of it was then lost during the second intifada, but eventually regained as violence died down, and the Gaza disengagement even expanded it slightly. All of these Palestinian land gains have taken place in the last 20 years and every square meter of it came not from Turkey or Britain or Jordan or Egypt, but from Israel alone; and nearly all of it through peace negotiations.
It is true that this is a smaller amount of land than that controlled by Israel—which is nonetheless an extremely small country by global standards. More importantly, however, it is small compared to what could have been ruled by a Palestinian state had the Palestinians not rejected partition and peace in 1947 and again in 2000. That is, had the Palestinians been motivated by the interests of their own people rather than the wish to destroy another people.
To continue blaming settlements for the lack of peace is to deny that the Palestinians have any responsibility for their fate.
One thing that sees to have changed in recent weeks is that more people are waking up to this.
It is reasonable to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu overreached in his claim about the complicity of the Mufti in the extermination of the Jews of Europe. But that was only part of his argument, as Prof. Jacobson wrote a few weeks ago, Netanyahu “did us all a favor by focusing so much on the historical sources of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism.”
Abbas, or Arafat before him, could have had a state if he wanted one, but Palestinian nationalism has always been more about destroying an existing state than creating a new one. And as I wrote before, some people are noticing.
For example last week veteran peace processor Dennis Ross told The Times of Israel:
Yeah, one of the problems is that the president has been very good when it comes to security issues, but because he looks at the Palestinians as being weak, there is this reluctance to criticize them. “They’re too weak to criticize” is what I say in the Obama chapter. And if they are too weak to criticize, they are too weak to be held accountable, too weak to be responsible. They’re too weak to have a state. Well, if you want the Palestinians to have the responsibility of a state, you have to hold them responsible.
Specific to the anti-Israel violence left-wing peace activist, Gershon Baskin, wrote on Facebook in response to a Palestinian leader who “praised the Palestinian youth who take their knives to the enemy” last month:
“I cannot understand how trying to kill a 70 year old woman, or a 13 year old boy, or a religious couple coming home from praying is heroism worthy of praise. In my mind, no violence is worthy of praise, especially against civilians. No, they are not heroes and they are not shuhada. It is time to stop dying for Palestine and instead to live for Palestine. Someone who praises this is not a good leader of his people. I thought you were better than that”.
I add to everyone, those young people who have “died for Palestine” have died in vain. They did not help Palestine. They did not go to heaven and they are not martyrs. They died as fools for nothing. They achieved nothing. They only added more suffering to their families and to us all.
It is time for Palestinian leaders to understand that this culture of death is the death of their own dreams and their own society.
David Horovitz, the editor of The Times of Israel, and no fan of Netanyahu, wrote on Sunday:
For all your despicable false accusations against us, your advanced years, and your weakness, you, President Abbas, still have more power than most anybody else to help advance the gradual process of moderation that is crucial to realizing your own people’s aspiration for statehood. You are best placed to tell your people that the Jews have legitimacy here too. That the disputed land must be shared. That Jerusalem is holy to all monotheistic religions. That despite your rhetorical attempted land grab, the Old City — where Al-Aqsa sits, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher sits, and the Temple Mount and Western Wall sit — is not yours and yours alone.
They won’t like to hear it. Fed a relentless diet of lies for generations, they won’t easily believe it. They won’t like you for telling them. But that’s sometimes what leadership is about — taking your constituents, even against their will, in a better direction for their own best interests.
You should tell your people the inconvenient truth about the Jews and their history in these parts. Far from encouraging them to stab us, you should tell them that the sooner they stop, the sooner we can start the long process of building trust — the necessary prerequisite to compromise and Palestinian independence.
Last week in a conference call hosted by The Israel Project, Micah Avni, the son of Richard Lakin, an educator who promoted peace and coexistence, who died two weeks after being brutally shot and stabbed on a bus in Jerusalem, blasted Facebook for allowing Palestinians to promote hatred said:
To be able to put up on Facebook or to be able to put on Twitter specific instructions on how to slice somebody’s chest straight open and cut their intestines just like was done to my father, or incitement suggesting that one should get up out of the chair and run across the street in Jerusalem and do that to somebody like my father, is just completely and utterly unacceptable. [One] of the men who shot my father put up his philosophy and his will on his Facebook page before he went out and brutalized my father. And that was already out on hundreds of tweets before the event even happened.
And the major social media companies, and I said this to the Secretary-General, Facebook, Twitter, [which] have become more powerful today, perhaps than the Secretary-General, the Prime Minister of Israel, or the President of the United States, have a social responsibility to stop this rampant incitement, and beyond incitement, instruction manuals how to brutalize people, how to cut their intestines open, how to shoot them in the head. These are things that are not acceptable anywhere in the world and if they were printed on the front pages of The New York Times or The Washington Post, those papers would be closed down. But when they’re thrown out on Facebook by children in east Jerusalem it becomes acceptable. And this has incited a terrible war that’s going on here. And my father, who was the biggest peace-loving person I ever knew, was equally opposed to the spreading of hatred. …
But if you want to put up an instruction map of how to effectively stab an elementary school principal so that he bleeds to death you should not be able to do that. And a company like Facebook, or YouTube allowing that to happen, they have to take responsibility and stop it.
The time has come to stop making more demands on Israel and denying Israel’s concrete contributions to peace. The time has come to start demanding peace-building from the Palestinians. The time has come to realize that a people whose ethos promotes the killing of innocents isn’t ready for statehood. As long as the Palestinians know that there is no price to waging political and terror wars against Israel, they will keep doing so.
Those who make demands of Israel without making demands of the Palestinians are perpetuating violence not promoting peace.
Peace won’t come until Bill Clinton goes to Ramallah and lectures tens of thousands Palestinians that peace won’t come until their leaders agree to negotiate in good faith with Israel and that the goal of creating a state becomes more important that destroying a state. Israel does not need his lectures.
[Photo: euronews (in English) / YouTube ]DONATE
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