Israel’s unconditional surrender

December 24, 2006

Palestinian game of good cop Abbas/bad cop Hamas has finally borne fruit. According to press reports, Israel agreed to Abbas’ request to “bolster” him. With the release of Israel’s kidnapped serviceman not even on the agenda, with Qassam fire continuing unabated, Israel mulls release of imprisoned terrorists, plans giving Abbas $100 million, and contemplates removing of checkpoints.

What’s going on here? Did the Israelis lose their minds? Did America, for her own foreign policy reasons, push Israelis into this bizarre deal? Or is there some far deeper reason for this?

The latter is clearly the case. The thinking of both the Israelis and the Americans is the hostage to the western mentality of pork barrel politics, and accordingly, to bolster the image of “good cop” Abbas, they see the need to lard the Palestinian opinion of him.

But this approach raises two questions, the minor and the major ones. The minor question is: will this work? If Israel opens a cash spigot to Abbas, would the cash-hungry Palestinians get the incentive to vote Hamas out? Of course not: the cash that they can’t get through the bad cop Hamas, they’ll get through the good cop Abbas – so why abandon the principle of “struggle” which gives meaning to their lives?

And the major question is: why does Israel have to make itself weaker to make Abbas stronger, why does it need to “bolster” him through concessions? Why can’t Abbas improve his standing among the Palestinians on his own, not at the expense of Israel?

How? He could do it by educating Palestinians in their own history and religion. Explaining to them that the question of land ownership is far less straightforward than the “Palestinian street” makes it sound, that the “Jewish occupation of Arab land” is only half of the story because it was preceded by the “Arab occupation of Jewish land” as part of Arab empire-building, would certainly help to clarify the background of the conflict, and to advance a compromise resolution of it. Secondly, explaining to the Palestinians that religious grounds for “holy war” which motivate Hamas and its likes are thoroughly idolatrous because it is impossible to know whether Koran is God’s word or not, would help him too by completely pulling the rug from under the Hamasers.

But Abbas does nothing to make the record straight and strengthen himself in the meaningful way, and Israel does not push him to; it rather counts that Abbas will look stronger by virtue of his ability to wheedle cash and perks out of Israel. But this is just one other round of the same meaningless action which we saw repeating over and over and over – action which does not address the fundamentals of the conflict, fundamentals which are lodged not in the pockets and stomachs of the Palestinians, but in their minds, that are corrupted by their idol-worship and misunderstanding of their history.

Israelis did not learn from their past experience; they are ever-ready to fall into the same trap of naïve hope of solving the conflict that is fuelled by Palestinian thinking through filling Palestinian pockets, rather than clearing their minds of the garbage of idol-worship and misread history. By giving in to the Palestinian game of “good cop/bad cop,” in which the blandishments of the “good cop” Abbas give Palestinians the perks denied them by the brutal tactics of the “bad cop” Hamas, Israel had lost its nerve and its grip on the situation. Hamas has won. This is Israel’s unconditional surrender to the Palestinian narrative.

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