No matter how many times the think-tank “experts” are proven wrong in their predictions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, they keep promoting the same old myths.
They must think that the public has a very short memory.
The Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) last week unveiled its recommendations for Israeli policy in 2020. The men and women who make up its roster have impressive credentials in their fields.
Yet remarkably, they keep promoting policy positions that have been discredited again and again and again.
Myth #1: Palestinian Arab Terrorism is caused by poverty.
In 2020, “Palestinian disgruntlement will be mainly channeled into international diplomatic moves against Israel, not to violent unrest—unless the economic situation in the territories worsens,” according to the JISS.
Call it the “Barack Obama Theory of the Causes of Terrorism.” In an interview on CBS-TV’s “This Morning” on Dec. 4, 2015, then-President Obama explained his view of what causes terrorism: Climate change is straining natural resources around the world, and “when people are not able to make a living or take care of their families,” they become “desperate,” and “as human beings are placed under strain, then bad things happen.”
Many of the modern-day Zionist pioneers involved in rebuilding the Land of Israel in the late 1800s and early 1900s likewise believed that the Palestinian Arabs would drop their opposition to the Jews once they saw how much they would benefit from Jewish immigration.
Jobs. Running water. Electricity. Trains. They were followed by refrigerators, telephones, mail service and automobiles. Arabs from Syria, Egypt and across the Jordan River poured into the country and enjoyed better jobs, better homes and better food. But it didn’t stop them from hating Jews. In 1920, 1921, 1929, and continuously from 1936 to 1939, Palestinian Arabs shot, stabbed and bombed Jews throughout the country, even when it undermined their own economic well-being.
Myth #2: ‘Moderate’ Hamas and ‘extremist’ Islamic Jihad.
Hamas will “move toward medium-term ‘understandings’ with Israel,” JISS asserts. “However, the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad will try to continue to derail such understandings.”
Before Hamas was created, we were told that Yasser Arafat was “moderate,” while other PLO leaders were the “rejectionists.” After Hamas came along, we were told that the Palestinian Authority was moderate, while Hamas were the rejectionists. Now in this latest version Good Terrorist/Bad Terrorist, we are supposed to believe that the suddenly reasonable, flexible, rational Hamas is ready to make an agreement with Israel, and Islamic Jihad are the extremists.
The truth is that Arafat was just as extreme as the other PLO leaders. The P.A. was just as extreme as Hamas. And Hamas is just as extreme as Islamic Jihad. The differences between the different factions are minor, temporary and strictly tactical. They are all committed to murdering Jews and destroying Israel.
Myth #3: You can buy peace with Gaza.
JISS recommends: “In Gaza, Israel must be prepared both for tougher-than-ever military action to deter Hamas and for more-generous-than-ever economic arrangements that might secure calm with Hamas.”
The phrase “economic arrangements” is vague. It could mean aid for Gaza from the United States, Europe or Arab regimes; or it could involve Israel making various kinds of economic concessions to Gazans. But whichever mechanism the JISS has in mind, all options are rooted in the same discredited notion that pumping more funds into Gaza will lead to “calm with Hamas.”
This is the same nonsense that State Department officials have been promoting since time immemorial. Dennis Ross pressured Israel to allow Hamas to import concrete. Such “more-generous-than-ever economic arrangements” surely would lead to “calm,” he assured them. After all, Gazans needed concrete to build homes. Ross later admitted that he was wrong when the concrete was used to build terror tunnels.
David Makovsky pushed for Israel to admit 100,000 Gazans daily. Such “more-generous-than-ever economic arrangements” would surely lead to “calm,” he insisted. And then Gazans who were admitted for work or medical care or other reasons were caught engaging in terrorism. Big surprise.
For more than a century, people have been trying to pay the Palestinian Arabs to make peace with the Jews and pretend that some terrorist gangs were more “moderate” than other ones. Perpetuating such myths has never led to peace before, and there’s no reason to think it will work now, no matter what the “experts” claim.
Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism,” now available on Kindle.