NO PEACE WHILE ANTI-SEMITIC HATRED ENDURES
Mortimer B. Zuckerman
U.S.NEWS WEEKLY www.usnews.com/ 8-15-14
If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. Too much of the commentary on the relations between the
Palestinians and the Israelis testifies to the validity of the late author Michael Crichton’s dictum. The ignoramus is
a leaf who doesn’t know he is part of a tree, and the hooligans parading in Paris, London, Seattle and Calgary with
“end the Nazi occupation of Palestine” and Hamas-Hezbollah banners are part of an odious history of anti-Semitism.
The greatest obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is quite simply a virulent jihadist hatred of
Jews and the Jewish state. It cannot be appeased.
How Hamas turned Gaza into a base for murder, how Fatah went along and has frustrated every peace move
for half a century, shows how both Palestinian factions have developed a theological and ideological justification
that precludes any negotiation with Israel that might lead to a lasting peace. By the prolonged indoctrination of
itic hatred in its schools and media, by its public celebrations of terrorists who have massacred Jewish
women and children, and by its contempt for every two-state initiative from Israel, the Palestinian leadership
has managed to convince Israelis and much of the international community that the goal of the Palestinians is
to delegitimize the Jewish state and not to live alongside it. This is captured in the Palestinian slogan Palestine
is free “from the river to the sea.” Since Israel is bordered to the east by the Jordan River and to the west by the
Mediterranean Sea, this is a demand that the Jewish state disappear.
Look at the history. In 1936, the British government, in the exercise of its mandate for Palestine, set up a
commission to look into the clashes between Arabs and Jews. It reported in July 1937 that the conflict was
insoluble within a single state and required a partition. Jews should be allowed a small Jewish state in “the
land from which the Jewish nation was born.” The demarcated area, an enclave along the coast from Tel Aviv
northward, accounted for about 20 percent of the mandate territory, leaving the remainder to the Palestinians.
The Zionists thought the division historically unfounded and unfair. They would have resisted, but they
were moved by the mortal threats Jews were facing in Germany at a time when the haven of the United States
was largely closed to them. Desperate for any program to save Jews, the Zionists reluctantly accepted the
commission’s partition plan. Not so the Palestinians, who rejected partition and instead initiated an armed revolt.
They vowed to drown the fledgling Jewish state in rivers of blood.
For the next 75 years, a Zionist willingness to compromise was met by Palestinian rejection embedded in a
deep-rooted hatred of Jews. So much so that Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the most powerful leader of the Palestinian
people in the 1930s, became a Nazi collaborator. He promised to aid the Nazis by stirring up the Arabs to fight the
British and overseeing Arabic language Nazi propaganda that spoke of the affinities between the hatred for Jews
of Islamic people and the Nazis.
Quite simply, the Palestinian view was “no” to partition, “no” to a Jewish state, “no” to a Jewish presence in what
they considered Arab land. The Jews must never be allowed to share the land or achieve political sovereignty.
In May 1948, shortly after the United Nations endorsed the creation of a small independent Jewish state with
a partition plan, elements of five regular Arab armies (those of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon) invaded
Israel. After a year of fighting, the new Jewish state won a decisive victory and the Palestinian Arabs were the
losers. The Arabs, however, not only resisted Israel’s creation but also refused to understand that the penalty for
starting a war is to lose land and sometimes sovereignty with it.
The story ever-after is heartbreaking for the people with most to gain from peace – that is for the Jew and Arab
alike. The world has long urged a settlement on both parties, but only one has been willing to listen.
The nihilism of the Palestinian leadership – and its betrayal of the best hope for Palestinians – was graphically
revealed when Israel voluntarily left the Gaza Strip. The Israelis didn’t merely walk out. They bequeathed
the Palestinians a thriving flower export industry in the form of 3,000 greenhouses. What was the Palestinian
response? They destroyed the greenhouses, spent the money sent by the West not on schools, homes, roads, and
hospitals but on missiles, tunnels and propaganda directed at killing Jews and fomenting hatred.
Three times in a decade, the Israeli prime ministers have offered Palestinians an independent state. The
Palestinians said no. Why? Because saying yes would have required them to sign a final peace agreement that
accepted a Jewish state. In the U.S.-sponsored summit at Camp David in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Barak agreed to the borders suggested by President Clinton that would have given the Palestinians a state on
the West Bank and Gaza. Astonishingly, it included the previously inconceivable division of Jerusalem, making
it possible for East Jerusalem to be the Palestinian capital. Again Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat refused and
made no counteroffer, making clear he was not serious about a deal. Then he walked out of the negotiations and
launched the second intifada that killed many Israelis. In December 2000 an even sweeter deal was offered, the
so-called Clinton parameters, and Arafat walked again.
Then in 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made “the ultimate capitulation to Palestinian demands,” said
Charles Krauthammer in a 2011 op-ed, offering close to 100 percent of the West Bank with land swaps, Palestinian
statehood and the division of Jerusalem with the Muslim parts becoming the capital of the new Palestine.
Krauthammer added that Olmert even offered to turn over the city’s holy places – including some of Judaism’s
most sacred sites – to an international body that included Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Did Abbas accept? No. “If he
had, the conflict would have been over.”
The current prime minister is portrayed as stubborn. It is forgotten that it was Binyamin Netanyahu who
brought his Likud coalition to an open recognition of a Palestinian state, thus creating a first national consensus
for a two-state solution. And what was the response of the Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas? He boycotted the talks
for nine months.
Netanyahu went very far when they met. He agreed that some settlements would remain in sovereign
Palestinian territory. He was the first prime minister to agree to a settlement freeze that lasted 10 months,
something no Labor or Kadima government had ever done. He said yes to virtually every proposal, while Abbas
said no. Abbas walked out when the freeze expired, insisting on the so-called right of return of millions of Arabs
made refugees by war and the unwillingness of Arab states to receive them. The right of return is simply a device
to demographically destroy Israel by swamping it with millions of Arabs.
Abbas knew it too well. He’d heard Olmert explain that he’d yielded so much to peace but he could not
have Israel commit suicide. He made it clear that he could never allow some 5 million Palestinian refugees to
enter Israel because that would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. This had to be understood, otherwise
negotiations on the other issues could not be successful. Abbas had then promised to come back the next day for
further discussions, but he never returned, for he would have had to give up the fantasy of the right of return.
All this forgotten history underscores how dishonest is the claim that the Zionists came to Palestine with
dreams of conquest and disposition of the indigenous people.
So anything but a final deal. Anything but a final peace. Anything but a treaty that ends the conflict once
and for all by leaving the Jewish state still standing. Why is that? The Palestinians won’t accept any land-forpeace
deal. They want the land without the peace. They want sovereignty for themselves without a reciprocal
recognition of the sovereignty of the Jewish state. They want statehood without negotiation and an independent
Palestine that can continue its war with Israel.
You will know that Abbas is a serious partner for peace if he finally summons the courage to tell the refugees
they are not going back to their ancestral homes in Israel, and that the peace negotiations will reflect the
consequences of the 1967 war that they lost, not the 1948 war.
The Palestinian Authority cannot have an independent state on all of the West Bank, including East
Jerusalem, with no restrictions to prevent them from pursuing a second stage of wiping Israel off the map. They
believe the West will always offer more if they are intransigent, and so their leadership radicalizes public opinion.
The Palestinian leadership has never put forth comprehensive proposals aimed at reaching a compromise, but
instead has stated only impossible goals and never budged from them, remaining inflexible on its demands for
territory, Jerusalem, and refugees. When the dust settles, it always finds a way to blame Israel.
These days, Palestinians aligned with Hamas seek unilateral steps at the U.N. while they continue to refuse
to engage in direct negotiations. The barrier to peace is a Palestinian Authority that still dreams of annihilating
Israel, and Hamas, which is committed to its pledge to murder Jews. The refusal of the Palestinians to embrace
a two-state solution must surely be understood by President Obama. This refusal was revealed in the most recent
negotiations involving former special envoy Martin Indyk, who stated in a recent interview that the U.S. believed
it may have had sufficient flexibility and compromises from Israel to reach a breakthrough agreement with the
Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu was, he thought, “in the zone of a possible agreement.”
A flexible Israeli leader willing to make substantial compromises for a peace agreement is once again met by a
Palestinian leader who at a critical moment refuses to respond to the American proposal. Instead he approaches
the international community with requests for membership in their organizations and Hamas to form a unity
government. Earlier this year he refused to meet Secretary of State John Kerry in Ramallah, and rejected the
demand that Hamas must accept quartet principles renouncing terror, recognizing Israel, and the agreements
signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Instead, Abbas gave an entry ticket into the
PLO to Hamas and Islamic Jihad without these organizations changing their platforms and renouncing terror.
This diabolical deal makes it possible for Hamas ultimately to compete for control of the PLO institutions
through elections, echoing the 2006 parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza where Hamas won an
Today we have a hostile Palestinian entity in Gaza, ruled by Islamic terror organizations, with Hamas and
Islamic Jihad in the forefront, an entity that is a virtual colony of Iran. Remarkably, the Obama administration
decided to recognize the national unity government between Hamas and the PLO. No wonder the administration
has been criticized. Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida tweeted earlier this month, “The Obama Admin hasn’t just
let down our strongest ally Israel. It is emboldening Hamas and alienating others.”
Israel’s choices are not easy. It remains committed to a blockade that contains Hamas. It has won the
battle, and must now think about how it can return to the negotiating table with an attractive offer that would
underscore its commitment to a peaceful resolution.
Back in 2012, Israeli novelist Amos Oz put it as follows: “We cannot live like one happy family because we are
not one, because we are not happy, and because we are not family,” he said. “We are two unhappy families.” He
believes that what the Israelis and Palestinians need is a “fair if painful divorce.” The divorced parties will live
side-by-side and not one on top of the other.