Zichron Yaakov, Israel
The Middle East conflict is unique in that every journalist, foreign newspaper columnist, rabbi, politician, political scientist, and Church leader is an armchair expert on Israel’s political problem with the Arab world. It doesn’t matter how many thousands of kilometers away from the region one lives, it can be half way around the world, an “expert opinion” is always at hand by someone who thinks they know more about the Arab-Israeli conflict than the people who are indigenous to the region. These unqualified, completely unsupported standard responses leads to a mountain of myths about the Middle East conflict.

The most common myths:

1) “A Palestinian state is the only way to solve the Middle East conflict.”

What if the “Palestinian state solution” doesn’t work? Is there a plan B? What if the Palestinians fail in their attempt to build a stable political arena and a prosperous economy? What if the radicals take over? If anyone has an alternative plan this is one Israeli citizen that would like to hear what it is short of “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Those who live thousands of miles away from the region should stop being so arrogant and think they know much about how to solve our conflict than we do. When is the last time an Israeli sounded off about how America isn’t doing enough to solve her problems with the blacks? Beyond this, who is to say that for sure, the creation of a Palestinian state is the way to go to solve this conflict. The last thing this world needs is yet another unstable, poor Arab state. Nothing will change for the Palestinian- with a state or without one.

2) “If Israel doesn’t ‘choose’ peace an all-out war in the Middle East will break out.”

Based on history, there are other conflicts in the region. An all-out war might soon break-out in the region which will have nothing to do with Israel.

This statement is nothing but an opinion. Who says “if Israel doesn’t choose peace” a war will occur? Why is Israel’s commitment to peace being challenged? When in the past was it ever assumed that Israel would “chose” war over peace? Israel has always been a peace loving nation. When was Israel’s desire for peace ever questioned?

How dare people who live on the other side of the world feel they have a right to “criticize” Israel on “moral grounds” Israel does so much more for peace than the PLO. At least Israel looks like they are trying. The PLO couldn’t care less if their people had one minute of peace or not.

It isn’t about Israel “choosing” peace or not choosing peace. The problem in the Middle East isn’t derived from Israel’s so-called “intransigence.” That notion, that Israel is morally bankrupt due to its treatment of the Palestinians, didn’t exist 20 years ago. Today it is a given in the media. How did this change so fast and why is what serious researchers should be looking into?

3) “If Israel doesn’t leave the territories the Arabs will become so frustrated they will be forced to go to war.”

Does this logic work in both directions? What would the world say if Foreign Minister David Levy announced that Israel might be forced to attack Syria because of Assad’s refusal to sign a peace treaty? What if Israel announced: “Iraq and potential threats to the security of the state of Israel. We are going to have to eliminate them.”

Can a people really be so “frustrated” as a result of the “political treatment” they are subjected to, that they are justified in starting wars? Why are the Arabs not condemned for announcing to the worth that “if Israel doesn’t do what we say, we are going to declare war on her?”

4) Yasser Arafat is a moderate and has now recognized Israel’s right to exist.

Did Arafat wake up one morning, slap himself on the forehead and say: “Damn it, Israel exists, they exist, why didn’t I recognize that? Have I ever been silly For 24 years I mistakenly believed that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth, but, suddenly, now, I realize I was wrong all along. I should have made peace with Israel long ago.”

Is it really possible that Arafat goes from being hatred Arab terrorist leader to “sort of an okay guy you can invite to state functions”?

5) “Arafat is so desperate for peace, he’ll take anything. Unless Israel negotiates with the PLO now, Arafat may get cold feet and back off from his recent moderation and renunciation of terror which will strengthen the Islamic Fundamentalist fanatics.”

Why does Arafat have a choice? Isn’t he supposed to support “peaceful endeavors?” Who gave him the moral right to exercise the ‘return to the extremist camp’ option? This notion of “take Arafat or get the extremists” argument is crap. If that is the choice there is not choice. Until the Palestinians can put up some decent folk as their leaders they get no independent state. Period.

6) “The present situation cannot go on indefinitely. Time is not on the side of the Israelis. Delays will only weaken Israel’s position and result in a situation being imposed on her.”

This conflict, being what it is and far away a real settlement is, could very well go on for a few more decades. It wasn’t meant to be solved. Even outright annexation of Judea and Samaria will not lead to “national suicide” because Israel will always have the option of withdrawing from the territories if the burden of ruling over the Palestinians becomes too onerous. The world has never forced Israel to do anything. Whatever strategic or military mistakes she made she made them on her own mistaken assumptions. Oslo was not forced on Israel. The Rabin government wanted it.

7) “Peace is the ultimate form of security.”

Such simplicities don’t work in the Middle East. Peace is the time between the last and the next war. Hopeful optimism won’t alter the basic facts on the ground. Israelis only want to strike a deal they can live with. What they have today stinks for most Israelis. Oslo didn’t help Israel. It only weakened her security and the average Israeli’s positive sense of security. For Israelis peace and security are not to be found in the same sentence.

8) “Israel must learn not to be afraid of peace. Why is Israel missing this historic opportunity for peace?”

If the political culture of the Palestinians is left out of the equation, a critical chunk of the Arab-Israeli conflict is neglected. Radical Palestinian leaders shouldn’t be so easily let off the hook. If a Palestinian state never comes into existence it will be their fault. Not ever having a state of their own might be the price the Palestinian people will have to pay for having not chosen more moderate and realistic leaders. Arafat has not served the Palestinians well. Any Palestinian who thinks he has is deluded as to the true nature of Yasser Arafat and the PLO.

9) “A Palestinian state will not be a threat to Israel.”

Stupid argument. An unstable Palestinian state would be a threat to the Palestinians. For some reason, only people like Sharon and Shamir believe in the this boogeyman concept of a Palestinian state and how it is supposed to rise up out of the dust and take on and defeat the Israeli army. Nonsense.

10) “Israel has a right to exist and a right to safe and secure borders.”

This is essentially a qualifying statement and is usually followed with: “but the Palestinians too have a right to a homeland.”

Why is Israel’s right to safe and secure borders subject for debate? Why does no other country’s right to safe and secure borders need to be reiterated or reassured? What if the Finish representative in the UN stood up one day and announced that due to a conflict over coastal fishing rights, it would no longer acknowledge Sweden’s right to exist? What other country’s existence can be used as a bargaining chip in a political conflict? Even in the height of the Cold War Russia and the U.S. never refused to recognize each others’ existence.

Should Israel really care one way or the other if the Arabs “recognize” her existence? She existed for 50 years without and hasn’t done too bad for herself. Look at living conditions in the Arab world. The Arabs have about a million other socio-economic problems to deal with before they need to worry about whether to “acknowledge Israel” or not.

11) “The Palestinians and the Israelis are destined to live together. The most important step at this point is to get Israel and the Palestinians talking to each other. Eventually the “dynamics of negotiations” will take over and lead to a political settlement.”

Why are participants in other conflicts around the world never told “its inevitable they will have to live together”? Do Palestinians who work as garage mechanics in Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem or refugee camp dwellers considers the “dynamics of negotiations” when they look at the their conflict with Israel? What do people who live on the other side of the world know about “dynamics of peace”

12) “Israel has lost its moral soul.”

Running shoes have soles. Nations have interests. Have the Syrians or the Algerians “retained their soul”? Even if the majority of Israelis believe that their security interests are best served by maintaining dominion over the disputed territories, their “souls will remain in intact.” Those who proclaim such notions should not be judging which people have “lost their moral soul” and which have not.

13) “The Palestinians are the Jews of the Arab world.”

Palestinians truly believe this and feel themselves to be a notch above other Arabs. Yet few of them understand or admit why this is so. It is because they were the only Arab people to actually LIVE with the Jews. This is why they are LIKE the Jews. If the Palestinans took an honest poll and asked themselves who have done them better, the Israelis or their Arab breathe, what would the answer be?

14) A typical Palestinian intellectual speaking: “One day we will have our state. It must be. In may take ten years, but it will come. We have waited 40 years, and we can wait another 40 years. When Israel withdraws from the territories Arafat will announce a state,, the Palestinians will create a democracy, and all the factions of the PLO will become political parties. We won’t need borders or armies because we will have peace.”

One world describes the national mindset of the Palestinians: UNREALISM. The Palestinians were turned into “unrealists” by their Arab breathren who have manipulated them for most of the past century by fooling them with the “don’t worry, we’ll throw the Jews into the sea” line and they fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Just about everything Palestinians leaders and intellectuals say or purport is unrealistic or unlikely to happen. It is part and parcel of dream-thinking. Theodore Herzl said: “If you will it, then it is no dream.” With the Palestinians, it is: “If you dream it, it will be.”

15) “Israel can’t afford to miss the opportunity for peace

Can the Arabs “afford to miss the opportunity for peace”? Won’t they also suffer if they “miss the opportunity for peace?”

16) “Israel must pay a high price for peace. The fruits of peace are too dear.”

Shimon Peres loves this line. If there is a such high price to be paid for peace (in terrorist act) perhaps peace is not worth the price? With peace with the Palestinians, wasn’t threats of terrorism supposed to decline. How come it has grown so much since Oslo was signed?

No Israeli or any other academic has researched the subject of how much Israel has or has not to gain by peace- economically or strategically. For 50 years Israel has performed economic miracles in her short period as an independent state. She has become a leader in developing and commercializing new technologies. Her standard of living is the envy of the developing world.

How much better can “the fruits of peace” make something that is already pretty good?

Joel Bainerman
The Israel Technology Letter
P.O. Box 387
Zichron Yaacov, Israel, 30900
Voice: (+ 972-6) 639-6673
Fax: (+ 972-6) 639-8880
Email: isratech@netvision.net.il