A vital prerequisite for any meaningful and durable peace agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours is a sustained effort to eliminate hate and delegitimisation, refrain from revisionist versions of history and educate present and future generations to live in harmony and tolerance.
Sounds elementary and simple, doesn’t it? An eminently basic goal one would think and something which any normal country and group of people could easily aspire to and achieve if they really have the will to do so. This is how genuine peace was eventually brought to Europe after the horrors of the last world war. Bear in mind, however, that this only occurred after the German Nazi regime was unconditionally and completely crushed and most of its top leadership made to account for their crimes against humanity.
In order to accurately assess the chances of reaching a similar result between Israel and the Arab world we need to discover exactly what is happening on the ground and then make an informed decision as to whether we are chasing desert mirages and fake pots of gold at the end of a fantasy rainbow. So often in the distant and recent past, inconvenient truths and realities have been pushed under the carpet because they either do not conform to prevailing politically correct positions or they contradict an entrenched narrative which is out of touch with actual reality but which is clung to no matter what by those who refuse to believe facts on the ground.
The sad reality facing us today is that the Arab/Moslem media, schools, Mosques and official Government sources, promote, encourage and facilitate an unending stream of vilification against the Jewish State, Jews and Judaism. Not only is this ignored by the world media in fact certain sections of the media follow suit, as witnessed by the recent uproar over the UK Sunday Times cartoon. This is unfortunately not an isolated case but one which is becoming more common. It is an easy leap from the denial of any Jewish Temple and historical presence in Jerusalem to a denial of any legitimate Jewish entitlement to any part of the Land of Israel. Plain ignorance and ancient prejudices combine to produce an updated version of good old fashioned Jew bashing of past years. Those who have swallowed today’s lies have no logical answer when confronted with the basic question of exactly how we are supposed to negotiate with groups whose ideologies deny the right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland.
The next generation of Arab/Moslem children is being inculcated with this potent virus of hate which means that instead of there being a glimmer of hope in the future for peaceful relationships based on mutual trust and tolerance, we are faced instead with a sickening reality of more mayhem and bloodshed carried out by young adults whose minds have been poisoned. This poisoning moreover has been carried out also by the education system in the UNRWA refugee camps with money provided by the unwitting taxpayers of countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Government appointed Imams in Mosques throughout most of the Arab/Moslem world continue to preach against Jews and Judaism in the vilest manner. This latter day version of the hate sermons which used to be preached in Churches throughout Europe (and which still surface from time to time), have the same desired effect. They plant the seeds of future conflict and murder.
The latest manifestation of our “peace” partners’ inability to accept a Jewish presence was demonstrated the other day with an announcement by the Hamas Prime Minister of plans to establish a military academy in Gaza to train and educate schoolchildren. He stated that its object was to prepare children for the “phase of liberating Palestine.” Children in Grades 7 to 9 could join the school and graduate with a diploma or a BA in military affairs.He further went on to say that the new academy would educate and prepare children for the establishment of a Palestine State from the river to the sea.
Today’s gem came from Cairo. A senior figure close to President Morsi of Egypt claimed that the Holocaust was a hoax cooked up by US intelligence operatives and that the 6 million Jews claimed murdered actually moved to the USA. The myth of the Holocaust is an industry America invented he is reported as saying. This senior adviser to Morsi is also responsible for appointing editors of all State run newspapers. Need one say any more?
With this daily dose of poison by our intended peace partners, is it any wonder that level headed Israelis are increasingly skeptical and indeed antagonistic towards those who urge more gestures and reliance on worthless pieces of paper and meaningless promises of the Chamberlain Munich variety? The amazing thing, however, is that there are still trusting souls in Israel and the Diaspora who continue to fantasize and hallucinate about a peace mirage despite the clear evidence to the contrary. Obviously, our recent historical experiences should have alerted us to the fact that when Jew haters say they are going to murder us, they actually intend to do so. Our capacity for self delusion should have vanished after the Holocaust. The fact, that for many, it has not, is a challenge the rest of us must urgently tackle.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and works for The Israel Resource News Agency in Jerusalem.