Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta seems to have come up with the solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian impasse:
“Just get to the damn table,” he said in response to a question the other day on what Israel should do next, following his address to the Brookings Institute in Washington.
How foolish of the rest of us not to have thought of that sage advice all those years ago and saved so many lives, so much pain and hardship.
Of course it should be noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asserted on numerous occasions that he is ready to sit down and negotiate directly with the Palestinians at any time. It’s the Palestinian Authority that is holding out.
It’s disturbing, but not surprising, that administration after administration in Washington since the Oslo agreement of 1993 has ignored the essential stumbling block to real peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. That’s the refusal of the Palestinian leadership, including the “moderate” Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.
Just this week an important new book arrived that details in exhaustive fashion the duplicity of the PA, under President Mahmoud Abbas, in speaking to the West of its recognition of Israel while at the same time spreading hate speech and glorifying terrorists at home.
The book, “Deception: Betraying the Peace Process,” by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik of the Palestinian Media Watch, chronicles the statements and actions of the PA during the renewed peace talks of 2010 and through this year.
Citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pledge to Congress in 2009 that the U.S. would only work with the PA after it commits to non-violence, recognition of Israel and ending incitement against Israel, the authors catalogue how none of those criteria has been met. And further, that violent acts against Israel are on hold only for tactical reasons. The book offers extensive proof that the Palestinian leadership endorses and promotes the belief that there is no room for a Jewish state in the region and that Jews, not just Israelis, are evil and must be eliminated.
This disturbing reality largely goes unreported in the mainstream press and is ignored by Western nations, including the U.S.
Why doesn’t Israel speak out more aggressively? “That’s a political question,” Marcus told The Jewish Week at a book launch and press conference here Tuesday. He said his organization, which has been monitoring and reporting on the Palestinian media for 14 years, shares its information with the government in Jerusalem, which in turn sends the material to Washington. And there things seem to end.
We hope it’s not too naïve to believe that if the facts about the PA’s behavior were known more widely, Western funding, starting with the U.S., would be leveraged far more effectively, with the threat of a complete cutoff if the situation persists.
This is not about political ideology, right or left, but about facts on the ground where on a daily basis children are indoctrinated to hate Jews. As Human Rights Watch founder Robert Bernstein said on Tuesday, “Government-sponsored hate speech is incompatible with peace.”
That’s why an authentic agreement is less about getting to “the damn table” than preparing Palestinian children to accept rather than seek to destroy a Jewish state.