Since its inception in the late 1970s, the Israeli peace movement has been based on one thing: Hope.
Members of the peace movement hoped the PLO’s war with Israel could be resolved through compromise. Proponents of peace with the PLO hoped that Yasser Arafat and his terrorist minions weren’t truly committed to Israel’s destruction.
The two-state formula was based on the hope that Israel could reach an accommodation with the PLO. To wit, in exchange for parts of Judea and Samaria and Gaza (no one was talking about Jerusalem), Israeli peaceniks, who over time came to encompass all factions of the Left in Israel, hoped the PLO would bury the hatchet, build a state, or federate with Jordan, and that would be that.
In 1992, the peace camp took over the government. Under the leadership of then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres, hope became the basis for Israel’s national security strategy. That strategy was followed by every Israeli government since. The basic idea was clear enough. In exchange for land and guns and legitimacy, Arafat and his goons would be domesticated.
The peace camp’s hope was never based on evidence. Indeed, it flew in the face of the PLO’s track record. By the time the Israeli peaceniks began negotiating with Arafat and his deputies in the late 1980s, the PLO had already controlled two autonomous areas. In both Jordan and Lebanon, Arafat and his terrorists transformed peaceful areas into bases for global terrorism and launching points for massacres of Israelis and of victims from Africa to Europe to the Americas.
The secret of the PLO’s success was that it didn’t simply kill people. It combined murder with political warfare. The PLO’s political war had two goals. First, it aimed to make killing Jews politically acceptable a mere generation after the Holocaust.
Second, the PLO devoted great resources to wooing the Israeli and Western Left. It sought to convince a sufficient core of leftists that the PLO wasn’t really committed to its goal of eradicating Israel. It actually was a peace movement in terrorist disguise.
Arafat and his deputies whispered in the ears of their gullible Israeli “partners” that they weren’t an implacable foe. They were partners for peace just waiting to be convinced that they could make a deal.
The success of both political warfare strategies has been on prominent display of late. On December 23, the ambassadors of state members of the UN Security Council broke out in spontaneous applause after they unanimously passed Resolution 2334, which declares Israel an outlaw state populated by criminals and bereft of all rights to its capital and its historic heartland.
A week later, the PLO’s largest terrorist faction Fatah celebrated its founding day. The largest celebration this year reportedly took place in Bethlehem.
Fatah was actually founded in 1958. But Arafat chose December 31, 1964 as its founding day because that was the day his terrorists carried out their first terrorist attack against Israel.
In Bethlehem Saturday, thousands of Palestinian youths – starting at the age of four or five – marked the day with a march through town.
This was no ticker tape parade.
In classic PLO fashion, the young people – including the preschoolers – were clad in military uniforms and had their faces covered with sheets. They marched through the streets behind banners sporting the images of Fatah terrorists like mass murderer Dalal Mughrabi and pledged to complete their heroes’ mission.
The message of the spectacle was straightforward enough. Fatah remains utterly committed to eradicating Israel through terrorism and war.
Covering the march for the Israeli media was Channel 2’s far-left correspondent Ohad Hemo. In a manner comprehensible only to true believers, Hemo stared at the march and saw a reason for restored hope for peace.
Speaking to masked grand masters, without a tinge of embarrassment, Hemo asked if they supported the two-state solution.
Lo and behold, as they marched behind banners of Mughrabi, who led the PLO terrorist cell that massacred 38 Israelis including 13 children in 1978, Hemo’s minders told him that indeed, they support a two-state solution!
Hemo was exultant.
Even with its chokehold on the media and its control of the judicial system and state prosecution, the Israeli Left would have never been successful in maintaining this murderous joke without outside help.
And that’s where the American Jewish establishment came in.
For more than 20 years, led by AIPAC, the American Jewish establishment has insisted that the two-state solution is the only option. That is, empty faith in a terrorist organization fully committed to Israel’s destruction is the only acceptable policy for Republicans and Democrats alike to follow in respect to Israel.
For 23 years, despite the ever increasing dubiousness of Republican leaders and a few Democratic lawmakers, the consensus view was maintained.
The Jewish community’s slavish devotion to the PLO stemmed from two sources. First, by insisting that the PLO is a credible force, the American Jewish community has been able to keep peace in its ranks, which are populated overwhelmingly by leftists.
Second, by promoting a policy at odds with reality, communal leaders have been able to pretend that there is no qualitative distinction between Democratic and Republican support for Israel. This claim, which has become downright implausible during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House, is vital for enabling American Jews to pretend that Israel is a voting issue for them and that they aren’t simply motivated by their leftist world views.
It would appear that the jig is up on this position.
Obama’s lame-duck war against Israel and the rise of anti-Jewish forces in the Democratic Party led by Rep. Keith Ellison make it practically impossible to continue to claim that the Democratic Party is a home for pro-Israel forces in America.
On the other hand, President-elect Donald Trump’s full-throated support for Israel and promotion of advisers who openly oppose a PLO state has opened the door for Republican lawmakers to abandon their half-hearted support for the PLO. Beginning this month, they may very well begin ending US recognition of the PLO and cut off taxpayer funds to its terrorism-cultivating autonomy in Judea and Samaria.
In this state of affairs, American Jewish groups will either support Trump and the Republicans or lose their ability to influence events. In either case, for at least the next two years, they have lost their capacity to support the Israeli Left in a significant way.
This is important for Israel to understand because the clock is ticking. Obama’s onslaught has made clear that the Democratic Party no longer supports Israel. Like the PLO, Obama and his advisers view the PLO’s conflict with Israel as a zero-sum game and they have cast their lots with the terrorists against the Jewish state.
It is to be expected that under the leadership of former president Obama and Ellison the Democrats will expand the openness of their hostility to Israel.
Under these circumstance, Israel has but two years – until the mid-term congressional elections when the Democrats may be empowered in Congress – to decide what it wants to do with Judea and Samaria.
Last week the government signaled that its first step will be to apply Israeli law to Ma’ale Adumim. A bill to this effect is expected to be brought before the government shortly after Obama leaves office.
While a good first move, our leaders must recognize that it needs to be quickly followed up by additional administrative changes. The goal of those additional steps is to dismantle the military government which administers Area C – 60% of Judea and Samaria – by 2019 and transfer full administrative responsibility for the area, which includes Israel’s border with Jordan and all the Israeli communities of Judea and Samaria, to the government.
The time has come for the government to move ahead boldly. In their post-Obama, post-2334 state, the Israeli Left and its American Jewish supporters are in no position to stop the government from doing what needs to be done. But, if the government fails to act now, when the Democrats return in two or four years, the opportunity now upon us may be lost forever as the PLO comes back to win its zero-sum game against Israel.