The Obama administration left the Middle East in tatters. Today, war rages in Iraq with ISIS, Syria is in chaos, Putin has reasserted Russian power, and Iran’s influence is rising. Conflict is ongoing in hotspots like Yemen and Libya. A weakened American foreign policy, has destabilized the entire Middle East.
Obama and Kerry’s parting obsession was with Jews living in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It’s a strange hypocrisy, Jews have the right to live in Beverly Hills, London and Melbourne. The only place where they should not live, is in the historical core of ancient Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Neither protested the Palestinian law that stipulates the death sentence for selling land to a Jew.
Jews in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a “barrier to peace.” This mantra gets repeated with a religious type of zealotry as part of the dream “two states for two peoples.” This failed formula has been tried in one form or another for almost a century. The Arabs rejected the British Peel Commission in 1937. Their answer to the 1948 UN partition was an invasion. After the 1967 Six Day War, the Arabs made their stand at Khartoum saying no negotiations and no peace. In 1993, Prime Minister Rabin signed the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat with hopes of ending the conflict. Offer after offer has been rejected. In 2,000 Arafat walked away from peace talks to the anguish of President Clinton. His successor Mohammad Abbas carries on his legacy, rejecting invitations by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Talking with the Palestinians did not yield fruit, so Israel tried unilateral withdrawal. First in southern Lebanon and later in Gaza, uprooting thousands of Jews. In Lebanon, Hezbollah rose to power, in Gaza a Hamas regime was installed. Both share the goal as outlined in their charters, the destruction of Israel. Israel tried “two states” and neither have been a “solution,” instead they have caused recurring war.
What if, after decades of saying no the Palestinians decide to end the conflict? What’s the big deal with some Jews living in the West Bank? For thousands of years Jews lived in Arab counties. Today a million Arabs live in the State of Israel enjoying full civil rights. If there were two states, why couldn’t Jews be a minority in a Palestinian State as part of a peace accord?
The idea that this seems unworkable points to the real cause of the conflict. Palestinians have not given up the dream of one state for one people, Palestinians. Abbas refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Conflict, and not compromise and peace, is his intention. Contrast a Palestinian classroom, where dreams of Israel’s destruction and glorification of terror are instilled, to an Israeli school where aspirations for peace and coexistence are taught.
It’s time to come to grips with reality. Two states are no solution. For almost a century the answer from the Palestinians is always the same. Sometimes it’s done as blunt sword, other times is couched in diplomatic double speak in the hallways of the UN. Palestinians are unwilling to acknowledge the core issue of the conflict: Israel exists and is flourishing.
Most Israelis recognize reality, and understand there is no one to talk to. The only path now is the status quo, it’s like a patient on dialysis. It’s not the best way to live, but there is no other choice.
Rabbi David Eliezrie is President of the Rabbinical Council of Orange County.