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The Real Reasons Israel Can’t Play the Violin

"Doctor, when my arm heals will I be able to play the violin?" "Sure – I don’t see why not." "Great! I could never play it before!" – A bad joke with an important point. Israel is afflicted with diplomatic … Read More

By / February 11, 2009

"Doctor, when my arm heals will I be able to play the violin?" "Sure – I don’t see why not." "Great! I could never play it before!" – A bad joke with an important point.

Israel is afflicted with diplomatic "doctors" like the one in that joke. They identify one reason why Israel has not achieved peace – sometimes a true and important reason – and then jump to the groundless conclusion that solving that issue will therefore bring peace. But like the patient who won’t be able to play the violin even after his arm heals, Israel will not have peace even after the alleged cure, because the state of war is due to fundamental conditions it fails to address. If you never learn to play the violin, it doesn’t matter how healthy your arm is. So we read, time and again, self-proclaimed analysts explaining that "the settlements make a peace deal impossible." That may be true, I admit. But it does not imply that removing them would make a deal possible. Just as evacuating Gaza (or Lebanon) did not bring peace any closer there. The state of war was not a result of Israel’s presence in Gaza, but if anything a cause of it. Eliminating the effect cannot remove the cause. "Israel will not have peace without dividing Jerusalem." Again, that may be. But neither will we have peace if we do divide Jerusalem, God forbid. "There is no military solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict." Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean there is a potential diplomatic solution. "Syria won’t agree to peace without the entire Golan." Probably not. But all indications are that even forfeiting the entire Golan would not bring peace with Syria. "The Palestinians can’t strike a deal as long as they’re divided between Fatah and Hamas, West Bank and Gaza." True again. But there’s no evidence that they could strike a deal were they undivided either. The worst culprits tend to be those Western liberal academics who tell us that "the terms of a final-status peace agreement are known; what’s missing is the political will on both sides to implement it." As if there’s a well-defined set of legalistic, logistical and structural arrangements which could yield peace were they only implemented. If both sides were comprised of Western liberal academics, that may be the case. But we’re not, on either side. Israelis and Arabs have fundamental differences in our attitudes to this land and our rights to it. That’s what the so-called experts dismiss as "political will." But all the tunnels, bridges and international forces in the world can’t bridge those gaps in attitudes and goals. Peace is not being blocked by the lack of logistics, but by essential and apparently unbridgeable differences of outlook. Ultimately, Israel will not have peace until its Arab neighbors come to accept that we have the right to sovereignty here as a Jewish state – or at least that we’re not going anywhere in the foreseeable future, and so they have more important things to do than continue fighting us in vain. Without one of those changes in Arab mindset, all the arm-healing in the world won’t teach them to play the violin. None of the other alleged obstacles to peace is relevant so long as the core grievance remains.    

Cross-posted at Biur Chametz. 

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