According to every liberal editorial page in America (and virtually every editorial page abroad), according to President Obama, the United Nations and every other liberal institution, and according to Jews on the left, the major impediment to peace in the Middle East is Israel’s continuing construction of settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
You have to say at least one thing on behalf of those on the left: They are consistent. In conflicts between a decent society and an indecent society, you can almost always count on the left to blame the decent society. The U.S. was wrong in overthrowing the mass murderer Saddam Hussein. The U.S. was wrong in fighting North Vietnam’s Stalinist tyrant, Ho Chi Minh. The U.S. was wrong in backing the Nicaraguan opposition to the Communist Sandinistas. Israel was wrong in its war against the murderous, Israel-denying, Jew-hating, Islamist totalitarian Hamas. And Israel is wrong today in its conflict with the Palestinians.
Actually, you can say one more thing: The left regularly confuses wishful thinking with reality. You see, I, too, wish that Israeli settlement construction — usually no more than apartment construction within existing Jewish communities within or right outside of Jerusalem — were the obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But not being on the left, I am cursed with not assuming that what I would like to believe is reality.
If only these apartments were the problem. What a great day it would be for all of us who yearn to see the Jewish state accepted by its Palestinian and other Arab neighbors.
But, alas, this is make-believe. As Charles Krauthammer asked in a column he wrote a year ago, “Is the peace process moribund because a teacher in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem is making an addition to her house to accommodate new grandchildren?”
Not quite. As Krauthammer noted, “Blaming Israel and picking a fight over ‘natural growth’ may curry favor with the Muslim ‘street.’ But it will only induce the Arab states to do like Abbas: sit and wait for America to deliver Israel on a platter.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, one of Israel’s most right-wing politicians, lives in a settlement. He has said that, to achieve peace he and his family would abandon their home. And for real peace, if necessary, Israel would force religious and secular settlers to abandon their homes as well.
If the conflict isn’t due to settlement buildings, then, why is there no peace between Israel and the Palestinians?
For the same reason the Jewish state was invaded by six Arab armies when it was born.
For the same reason Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian dictator, declared his intention to destroy Israel and, in partnership with Syria and Jordan, tried to do so in May-June 1967.
For the same reason that, in September 1967, the Arab nations gathered in Khartoum, Sudan, and declared their “Three No’s”: no peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.
For the same reason the Palestinians sent human bombs into Israeli schools, weddings, pizza parlors and buses to maim and murder as many Jews as possible.
For the same reason Yasser Arafat unleashed more terror on Israelis in 2001 right after he rejected the offer of a Palestinian state made by Israel’s left-wing Prime Minister Ehud Barak and by President Bill Clinton.
For the same reason Iran’s dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel’s annihilation.
For the same reason Egyptian, Palestinian, Syrian and other Arab and Muslim countries’ media regularly broadcast the most anti-Semitic propaganda since the Nazis.
And that reason is that most Palestinians and most other Muslims in the Middle East, and many Muslims elsewhere, do not believe that a Jewish state should be allowed to exist, period, in an area once dominated by Islam. That — not Israeli apartment-building — is the problem.
Postscript: I just released the latest video course in my Internet project known as Prager University: prageru.com. It is, like the other courses, five minutes long. With the aid of maps and other illustrations, it explains what I have written here: The Middle East issue revolves around Arab/Muslim rejection of a Jewish state. According to YouTube, it has been viewed by 300,000 visitors in its first two weeks. I note this, first, to inform readers of this column about the video; second, to note how hungry people are for a clear explanation of the real reason for the lack of peace between Israel and the Palestinians; and third, because I have been moved by how many Israelis have written to me to thank me for the video. With nearly all the world — including many Jews — blaming Israel, they had forgotten why they don’t deserve to be.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, columnist, author and public speaker. He can be heard in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) weekdays 9 a.m. to noon. His Web site is dennisprager.com.