By Ted Belman
I recently emailed my article There is no duty to accept peace on Arab terms. and received this reply
it must be hard being the only virgin left standing — a true believer who is certain that he has found the right truth and would you believe it, it’s on his right side. In your selective parsing of the Salon article you do exactly the same thing you accuse the left of doing of being blind to reality. Your so sure statement that “right wingers do not reject peace…they just reject faux peace on Arab terms” …ignores the fact that regardless of the “absolutist voices”…of which your, I believe, is a Jewish echo, people of good will, however strained that good will is, on the right and on the left, have to continue thinking of peace and struggling with each other for peace, finding the compromises out of “each others terms” so that at some time, children, on both sides, can grow up at peace.” I am reminded of the Yiddish expression “as beyde bale-dinim zaynen gerekht iz shlekht–When both litigants are right its a sorry sight.” It’s time to get beyond the the sorry sight of the two litigants howling their stories of absolute right. Maybe, then Justice will be served — for the Israeli’s for the Palestinians. Maybe.
Here is my response.
You start by making the point that there are Jews and Arabs alike who have absolutist voices. I have no quarrel with this. My article complained that only the Jews are singled out for opprobrium.
Then you offer this platitude, “people of good will, however strained that good will is, on the right and on the left, have to continue thinking of peace and struggling with each other for peace, finding the compromises out of “each others terms””. I have difficulty with this, not because I am not prepared to compromise but because I think it is a futile exercise.
I do not believe that the Arabs are prepared for peace or that they are offering peace. Nothing in their words or actions support a different conclusion.
Please read Why I hate the peace process. The first thing pursuers of peace should do is to provide a better, fairer process. How can Israel proceed in confidence when the deck is stacked against it.
Leaving that aside, let us analogize the process to one where there is an intended sale. The Arabs offer $25 for something that the Jews want $100 for. The Jews then say to the Arabs, “Make me a better offer”. And the Arabs say “go f**k your self”. How long do we continue negotiations when no one will budge. So the pursuers of peace say let’s us moderate the solution and still no one budges. So now the pursuers of peace say let us arbitrate and decide for you. But no one wants to give up their independence to decide the price. So the Arabs say to the international community if you guarantee me my price (ie the Saudi Plan) then I will empower you to force the Jews to accept it. Is that what you are advocating?
Now with all this haggling going on, the pursuers of peace try to make a judgement call on what the price should be. But how can anyone decide on this. Each side has a different valuation. There is no market value. Each side values what it is worth to them to make a deal. There is no compromise solution. Its one or the other. Let us assume the international community takes upon itself to pick either $25 or $100. How can they do this impartially? Nations have interests, not values. Yet they are forcing Israel to accept $25. Let us assume that this community decides that the proper price is $50. Even this would be politically tainted. Why not at the half way mark. It won’t happen because everyone knows, the Arabs won’t budge.
What is the commodity that Jews have for sale? Is it the land between the greenline and the Jordan or is it Israel itself as a Jewish state? The world refers to the occupied land as the former whereas the Arabs refer to it as the later. We know for a fact that it is the latter the Arabs want but let us assume its the former. Now my interlocutor speaks of “compromises”. The Saudi Plan wants 100% of the land with exchanges. Until such time as there is a sign of compromise, there can be no confidence that the Arabs want peace. When you demand 100% you want victory. If the Arabs were to say they will settle for 80% of the land then we have something to talk about even though Jews will then be giving up 80% of their biblical heartland. Jews want peace that much.
Or perhaps the world supports the Saudi Plan as the just solution. Perhaps the world couldn’t care less if it is just but just wants to end the conflict on the only terms possible.
So long as the people of good will are forcing the Jews to accept the Arab terms, they are not people of good will.
So how do we go beyond the “sorry sight of the two litigants howling their stories of absolute right” as you put it. I’ll tell you what. Get the Arabs to offer $50 and we’ll consider it.
Oh, you want an offer from the Jews? How about the Arabs agree to defensible borders as promised by Res 242?