Israel gave peace a chance; now it will try realism

On January 22, two days after President Obama’s second inauguaration, Israel effectively will reelect Obama’s nemesis Benjamin Netanyahu. Unlike in Obama’s case, the Netanyahu electoral victory will be overwhelming. And it will reflect a much more significant mandate than raising taxes on the “the wealthy.”

David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel, accurately describes the impending Israeli mandate as the rejection of a Palestinian state, a rejection “prompted by a combination of the Palestinians’ intransigence, doubletalk, hostility, and terrorism, and of Israeli Jews’ security fears, historic connection, and sense of religious obligation.” Ironically, rejectionism was not Netanyahu’s policy; he announced his support for a “two state solution.” As Horovitz says, Netayahu is “a discordant relative moderate” within his coalition.

Horovitz calls this outcome a “dramatic imminent shift,” and he attributes it not to the Israeli electorate moving right, but to the popularity of a right that has become “far-right.” However, Rick Richman offers a persuasive refutation:

The Israeli left has also moved right, and its own shift has been even more dramatic. In “We Gave Peace a Chance,” Daniel Gordis notes that what destroyed the Israeli left was four years of the “Palestinian Terror War (mistakenly called the second intifada),” which disabused Israelis of the idea that the Palestinian leadership wanted a deal, and the fact that Arabs have become ever more candid about their ultimate goal, with Mahmoud Abbas telling Egyptian TV “he would never, in a thousand years, recognize a Jewish state.” Gordis writes that “Israelis across the spectrum are acknowledging what they used to only whisper: the old paradigm is dying”

Accordingly, says Richman, the “dramatic imminent shift” is not a shift, but a realization; not imminent, but rather what happened over many years; and not dramatic, but rather the slow accumulation of many events:

(1) the barbaric terror war against Israeli civilians, commenced after the first Israeli offer of a state; (2) the Palestinian rejection of the Clinton Parameters, after Israel formally accepted them; (3) the Palestinian failure to carry out even Phase I of the three-phase Roadmap; (4) the transformation of Gaza into Hamastan after Israel withdrew every settler and soldier; (5) the election of Hamas in 2006 and the Hamas coup in 2007; (6) two rocket wars from Judenrein Gaza, and the continuing prospect of more; (7) the year-long negotiation in the Annapolis Process that produced still another offer of a state, from which Abbas walked away; (8) Abbas’s announcement in 2009 that he would do nothing without a construction freeze, followed by his doing nothing after he got one; (9) the continual “reconciliation” attempts by Abbas with the terrorist group he promised to dismantle; (10) his failure to give a Bir Zeit speech to match Netanyahu’s Bar-Ilan one; (11) the inability of the Palestinians to hold an election, much less build the institutions of a peaceful democratic state; (12) the violation of their express Oslo commitments with repeated end-runs at the UN; (13) a Palestinian society, media and educational system steeped in anti-Semitism. . . .

Given all of this, Richman credits the Israeli democracy for reacting not with a “dramatic imminent shift” but with repeated efforts, over more than a decade, to give the Palestinians a state if they would recognize a Jewish one with defensible borders. He notes that “four prime ministers from three different parties (representing the left, center, and right) tried, and each met the same response.”

Now, Israel will opt for realism and finally take “no” for an answer from the Palestinians.

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