It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Esti Ginzburg in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.
Current events dictate that we return to the women if the Israel Defense Force, but if some of today’s pictures show Israeli combat soldiers smiling, the recent news is no laughing matter, no cause for smiles.Your Editor has read a lot of history, and he cannot recall a single similar case, a case in which a people (supposedly) seeking independence could win their war by laying down their arms, but that is what the Palestinians could do.
The Israelis are tired, just plain tired, of having to pay higher taxes, of almost universal conscription, of alerts and the nagging danger of random fire from Gaza and the potential of suicide bombings anywhere, at any time. If the Palestinians would just stop shooting at Israel, the Israeli public would demand that their government give the Palestinians the West Bank and Gaza for their own nation, just to get the occupation and the shooting over. If the government did not comply with the public’s wishes, the people would change the government, something very easy to do under a parliamentary system in which leading party always seems to have to form coalitions with minor parties to form a government.
The problem is what it has always been: what we in the civilized West think are the Palestinians’ goals is simply wrong. We think, somehow, that the goals of the Palestinians is to have an independent nation based on the pre-June 1967 borders. That we think would be a perfectly reasonable, split-the-differences solution, because we all know that:
- The Palestinians cannot drive the Israelis out of the Holy Land; and
- The Israeli dream of a “Greater Israel,” ארץ ישראל השלמה, Eretz Yisrael Hashlemah is a pipe dream, one which they cannot now achieve.
But, while the vast majority in Israel realize that Eretz Yisrael will never be achieved, is just empty talk, enough Palestinians, primarily those in leadership positions and those with guns, apparently believe that yes, if they just keep fighting, they can drive the Jews back into the sea.
Well, that’s nuts, but enough of the Palestinians don’t see it as nuts to keep them from fighting on. And if a majority of the Palestinian people would be willing to accept a nation roughly along the lines of the pre-1967 borders, they still support the Hamas fighters, which means that they are still supporting the people who make such a peace impossible. Hamas are guerrilla fighters, not an army, and guerrillas require the support of the larger people for food, clothing, shelter and concealment; these Hamas receives, and has received, from the population in Gaza.
The Palestinians could have had that peace, along the pre-1967 borders, with some minor adjustments, had Yassir Arafat not been an idiot and a coward. President Clinton had already negotiated such an agreement, with Mr Arafat and then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak, an agreement which Mr Barak accepted. It was, as Mr Clinton wrote in his memoirs, the best deal the Palestinians could ever hope to get, but Mr Arafat simply rejected it. Your Editor’s opinion is that he rejected it for three reasons:
- He was so wedded to the idea of expelling all of the Jews, something for which he had been fighting for years, that he couldn’t let it go;
- He was always a fighter and always a guerrilla leader, but like so many of that kind of person, was incapable of being a peacetime leader; and
- He believed that if he had signed the agreement, he would be killed by Hamas or similar groups when he returned to Palestine.
In that last one, your Editor believes Mr Arafat would have been exactly right; that was what happened to Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat after he signed a peace treaty with Israel.And so we are left with what we always had: a situation in which Westerners think that there is a relatively simple negotiated solution available, but one in which the sides will still have to fight it out, because they don’t see it that way. We might as well be mentally prepared for that.