The Peace Process Industry's Going to Get You--And Your Little Country,Too!

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 22-May-09 | Author: Barry Rubin| Source: GLORIA Center

Barry Rubin

From ghoulies and And long-legged beasties, things that go bump in the night, And people with Middle East peace plans Plus those with degrees in Conflict Management Good Lord, deliver us!

--Middle East update of old Cornish prayer

Putting your hard-earned political capital into the peace process industry is like investing with Bernie Madoff. It may look like a good prospect on the surface but any serious examination shows it's a highway to bankruptcy. Of course, as with Madoff, many choose not to look too closely.

Among them is U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones who says:

"There are a lot of things that you can do to diminish that existential threat by working hard towards achieving a two-state solution."

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/090510/usa/mideast_us_israel_iran_diplomacy_nuclear_weapons_1

Yes it would be better to have peace, no question. But would that diminish the existential threat given the existing realities?

Let's look at the list:

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says Iran. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says Syria, even though it will pretend otherwise to fool the gullible. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says Hamas. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says Hizballah. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says al-Qaida. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says the Muslim Brotherhoods. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

We intend to destroy Israel and we are against peace, says Sudan, Libya, and assorted others. If Israel makes concessions, we will use them as a more effective means to wipe it off the map. And we will also take revenge on anyone who makes peace with Israel.

So far, it doesn't look like making peace will diminish that existential threat. Nor does it mean that a "two-state solution" will end the conflict either.

We'd like to make peace with Israel but if we do Iran, Syria, Hizballah, and some of our followers will kill us, say the Lebanese moderates. And any way we'll probably be out of power soon. We don't dare do anything.

We're really eager to make peace with Israel, says the Palestinian Authority. It just doesn't want to make peace with us. Our regime is too weak to make peace and any way much of the leadership is pretty hardline. The difference between Fatah and Hamas is not so much one of moderation versus radicalism (yes, there are differences on that point also) but rather whether Palestine will be nationalist or Islamist.

Of course, our idea of peace is not only the 1967 borders but also we won't end the conflict. In addition, we demand that any Palestinian who lived in what's now Israel before 1948 or has any ancestor who did can go live in Israel. What follows is:

Step 1: Massive internal violence.

Step 2: They either vote Israel out of existence and make it a binational state or destroy it from within in partnership with attackers from outside. This means either way we end up with:

Step 3: A one-state solution of Palestine, an Arab and Muslim state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean.

In other words, peace on the Palestinian Authority's terms or on those of Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, or the Muslim Brotherhood is an even bigger existential threat to Israel than Iran having nuclear weapons.

Iran might not use its nuclear weapons on Israel. But Iran and these other forces will use every weapon they have.

It shouldn't be that way, but it is. If you don't understand that, not big deal but please don't become a foreign policymaker, diplomat, journalist covering international affairs, think tank analyst, or have anything to do with the Middle East in political terms. Also don't get a degree in "conflict management," but that's a given.

If you want to understand what it is like to be Israel and hear people talk like this, imagine a pedestrian trying to cross a street facing dozens of people in big cars who think that it makes real good sense to drink about three bottles of bourbon before getting behind the wheel.

But, you might ask, don't Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, along with some other Arab states want peace? Yes they do but:

A. They don't pose existential threats.
B. They don't want to do much to make a comprehensive peace because:
--Having Israel as an enemy makes for good propaganda.

--Making peace with Israel or at least implementing that peace more fully exposes them to great risks from radical regimes and movements, at home and abroad.

--They don't need peace with Israel.

--They can just sit back and demand that the West do all the work and Israel makes all the concessions.

Finally, what is most amazing is that when I and other people explain these facts of Middle East life to people over and over again, they look rather startled as if they have never heard any of this before. They provide no serious rebuttals. And the next day they are back to the same mischief, having learned nothing and remembered even less.

There's no way better to put it than the great line from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby:

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made"

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).

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