March 20, 2013
New Approach Please
“I hope that he [President Obama - A.B.] will see our life here, and will want to do something about it,” said an anonymous Jerusalem teenager to Israeli radio in anticipation to President Obama’s visit to the country. There’s no doubt that the President had seen and heard a lot during his short visit. In his press conference with Netanyahu, Obama spoke unusually about that complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli issue; Hopefully he’d left the region with some new, first-hand insights into why this conflict is so damn unsolvable.
On the eve of the historic visit NPR chose to bring us more of the same: Sheera Frenkel’s redundant account about Israeli settlers and Palestinian drivers. Listening to Frenkel’s report one may think that if only Israel had stopped building a house, a road - something, all will be well.
But the fact of the matter is that generations of international peacemakers, who had largely adopted that very narrow and historically implausible vantage point, failed - the conflict still rages. And when the such a large portion of the discourse is occupied by Palestinian victimhood - a symptom, not a cause - you know that something is amiss.
Something is amiss. Peace is made with sanity. It works pretty well with the sane nation of Jordan: King Abdullah told Jeffrey Goldberg on Monday’s Atlantic that his relationship with Netanyahu, at the center of Israel and Jordan’s joint action to keep the Syrian conflict from spilling over, is “very strong”. King Abdullah clearly understands where stability is maintained in this neighborhood. He sees Israel as an ally in contrasting the “Iranian-led Shia crescent” to his East as well as the “Muslim Brotherhood crescent developing in Egypt and Turkey”. As his father Hussein before him, King Abdullah chooses progress over destruction for sectarian, religious or nationalistic reasons.
Remember this: Over 50% of Jordanians are of Palestinian origins; Jordan occupied the West Bank prior to 1967, and was part of that same British Mandate that controlled today’s Israel and West Bank. Save the Israelis and Palestinians themselves, no other country is as immersed in the conflict as Jordan. All odds are for Jordan being yet another scene of violence and chaos, but --
Sanity. It works.
The Palestinians are far from having made a similar choice. To get there they will have to divorce Hamas as an ideology and a choice - not only an organization. And there’s more:
In the past 2 months Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch brought his piles of evidence of Palestinian attitude-problem to shocked British and Norwegian Parliaments. On a March 17th session of the British Parliament, MP Gordon Henderson described the findings: “It is clear that a culture of hate has wormed its way into the very fibre of Palestinian society. Incitement to hate is pervasive in Palestinian school textbooks, on television programs and at cultural and sporting events.” He concluded: “No peace agreement will be able to guarantee ... peace, if a generation of Palestinians is growing up indoctrinated to hate Israel, Jews and the West."
Norwegian MPs were disturbed by their aid Euros being used towards salaries for convicted terrorists. “It almost seems to be an aid program to terror-convicted prisoners” said MP Peter Gitmark on February 28th, and Morten Høglund, Foreign policy spokesman for the Progress Party said “You have to send a clear political signal that we, as a donor country, also want to reinforce the peace process. I think anyone who sees this realizes that this contributes to the opposite ... We must fight fire with fire and say that we will stop the aid unless the PA takes immediate action to stop this type of hate message."
A paradigm shift strong enough to replace failure with success and peace has to include the replacement of Palestinian victimization and hate with clear decision and dramatic shift into the language of peace. It seems to me that Obama understands it, I just hope he doesn’t pay too much attention to Sheera Frenkel’s reports.
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