A phony peace process
by Dr. Richard L Benkin
If we were to demand honesty from our political leaders, media, and international groups, we would have long ago banned the phrase "the peace process" from all discussions of what has happened with regard to the Israel-Arab conflict to date. There is no Middle East peace process; never has been. The reason for that is not Israeli "settlements," not Hamas per se, not President Obama. The problem predates all of them. And there is no sillier notion with currency in the world today than that of the solution being an end to the so-called "occupation"; that is, Israeli hegemony over lands re-captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.
The idea of the occupation is perhaps the most damaging of them all because it has focused world attention on a goal that has nothing to do with peace between Israel and the Arabs. First of all, the lands in question were determined merely by troop positions at the end of Israel's 1948 War of Independence--where Israeli, Jordanian, Egyptian, and Syrian troops were at the moment an armistice was announced. That's it; there was no natural mandate, no historical consciousness, no nothing, just troops. Second, expecting peace from an end to that so-called occupation presumes that there was peace before 1967 when it came into existence. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The Arabs were trying to "drive the Jews into the sea," as they put it since before the State of Israel came into existence. Their collective militaries invaded the new Jewish State at the moment of its birth with that goal in mind. The 1967 War itself was a defensive war, in which Israel struck Egypt only after the latter committed an act of war, according to international law, with a blockade and by massing troops on its border. Syria and Jordan went to war before being attacked--and Israeli leaders had frantically tried to convince Jordan to stay out of the war, but the latter invaded nonetheless.
Let's also remember that before 1967, the "West Bank," Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem was occupied continuously by Muslim powers: from 1948 by Jordan and Egypt and before then by Turkey. Yet, there was no cry for them to allow a "Palestinian State" to take shape on those lands. Never! In 1964--three years before Israel gained control of those lands, the Palestinian Liberation Organization was born and made no mention of an end to that Arab occupation; not a word for Jordan and Egypt to give up those lands. But it did call for Israel's destruction--all of Israel!
So if we really want peace, we need to give up the notion of a return to 1967. There was no peace then, so why would we want to return to it? The concept of "land for peace" was always an idiotic idea. The real issue in the Israel-Arab conflict is and always was the latter's refusal to accept a viable Jewish State of Israel in the Middle East. Until that is addressed head-on as the key, peace will remain elusive.
What, then, does peace require?
* That every Arab and Muslim leader commits themselves to defending the existence of a Jewish State of Israel among their people. Not every policy or action, but that State's legitimacy and very existence.
* That probably means cooperating with Israel--militarily if necessary--to defeat terror groups that refuse the peace.
* It means that all parties must defend equal Jewish and Muslim access and legitimacy to all holy sites, including Jerusalem's Temple Mount, Hebron's Cave of Machpelah, and so forth; regardless of which party has political hegemony.
* It means that the Arabs have to reform their educational system to eliminate all the negative and hate-filled lessons about Jews and their State.
* Arabs must give up the notion of flooding Israel with millions of Arabs under their so-called right of return; because it is just a disingenuous way of appearing to accept a Jewish State while working to destroy it. Let's stop pretending it is anything else.
* And it means that the rest of the world--which really has no skin in the game--has to commit to support this genuine peace process, no matter how many of their assumptions have to die.
Does that solve all the problems; does it provide the parties with mutual trust? No, but without them, peace will never come, and with them, there is no chance that it will not.
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