Opinion: Speech won’t forward peace process

March 30, 2013


— “I honestly believe that if any Israeli parent sat down with those (Palestinian) kids, they’d say I want these kids to succeed.”

     — Barack Obama, in Jerusalem, March 21

Very true. But how does the other side feel about Israeli kids?

Consider that the most revered parent in Palestinian society is Mariam Farhat of Gaza. Her distinction? Three of her sons died in various stages of trying to kill Israelis — one in a suicide attack, shooting up and hurling grenades in a room full of Jewish students.

She gloried in her “martyr” sons, wishing only that she had 100 boys like her schoolroom suicide attacker to “sacrifice ... for the sake of God.” And for that she was venerated as “mother of the struggle,” elected to parliament and widely mourned upon her recent passing.

So much for reciprocity. In the Palestinian territories, streets, public squares, summer camps, high schools, even a kindergarten are named after suicide bombers and other mass murderers. So much for the notion that if only Israelis would care about Arab kids, peace would be possible.

Israelis have forever wanted nothing more than peace and security for all the children. That’s why they accepted the 1947 U.N. partition of British Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Unfortunately — another asymmetry — the Arabs said no. To this day, the Palestinians have rejected every peace offer that leaves a Jewish state standing.

This is not ancient history. Yasser Arafat said no at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001. And in 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a Palestinian state on all of the West Bank (with territorial swaps) with its capital in a shared Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas walked away.

In that same speech, Obama blithely called these “missed historic opportunities” that should not prevent peace-seeking now. But these “missed historic opportunities” are not random events. They present an unbroken, unrelenting pattern over seven decades of rejecting any final peace with Israel.

So what was the point of Obama’s Jerusalem speech encouraging young Israelis to make peace, a speech the media drooled over? It was mere rhetoric, a sideshow meant to soften the impact on the Arab side of the really important event of Obama’s trip: the major recalibration of his position on the peace process.

Obama knows that peace talks are going nowhere. First, because there is no way that Israel can sanely make concessions while its neighborhood is roiling and unstable — the Muslim Brotherhood taking over Egypt, rockets being fired from Gaza, Hezbollah brandishing 50,000 missiles aimed at Israel, civil war raging in Syria with its chemical weapons and rising jihadists, and Iran threatening openly to raze Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Second, peace is going nowhere because Abbas has shown Obama over the last four years that he has no interest in negotiating. Obama’s message to Abbas was blunt: Come to the table without preconditions, i.e., without the excuse of demanding a settlement freeze first.

Obama himself had contributed to this impasse when he imposed that precondition — for the first time ever in the history of Arab-Israeli negotiations — four years ago. And when Israel responded with an equally unprecedented 10-month settlement freeze, Abbas didn’t show up to talk until more than nine months in — then walked out, never to return.

In Ramallah, Obama didn’t just address this perennial Palestinian dodge. He demolished the very claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace. Palestinian sovereignty and Israeli security are “the core issue,” he told Abbas. “If we solve those two problems, the settlement problem will be solved.”

Finally. Presidential validation of the screamingly obvious truism: Any peace agreement will produce a Palestinian state with not a single Israeli settlement remaining on its territory. Any settlement on the Palestinian side of whatever border is agreed upon will be demolished. Thus, any peace that reconciles Palestinian statehood with Israeli security automatically resolves the settlement issue. It disappears.

Yes, Obama offered the ritual incantations about settlements being unhelpful. Nothing new here. He could have called them illegal or illegitimate. It wouldn’t have mattered — because Obama officially declared them irrelevant.

Exposing settlements as a mere excuse for the Palestinian refusal to negotiate — that was the news, widely overlooked, coming out of Obama’s trip. It was a breakthrough.

Will it endure? Who knows. But when an American president so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause tells Abbas to stop obstructing peace with that phony settlement excuse, something important has happened. Abbas, unmasked and unhappy, knows this better than anyone.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Paul R Getto 4 years ago

Both sides are at fault and have commited acts of terror over the years. "My god can beat up your god?"

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Only one side fires terror rockets at civilians, has blown up buses full of civilians, has blown up pizza parlors and discoteques, shot at civilians randomly, throws rocks and cinder blocks at cars consistently, and has consistently rejected every single settlement offer out of hand since 1948.

And, on the other hand, only one side has consistently given the other side all of the medical care needed that is not available in the rather poor hospitals at their disposal.

And, only one side is a high tech nation with a very high standard of living with innovations in many fields, especially medical research, while the other side is a beggar nation dependent upon the handouts of others.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

It would be very unfortunate if Fatah and Hamas were able to realize their goal of eliminating Israel, because then the world would be cursed with the existence of a much bigger beggar nation.

Israel's wealth is not due to the natural resources there to any significant degree, it is due to the diligence of the citizens who live and work there. If they no longer live there, or lose the motivation to work, it will become just an extension of Gaza and the West Bank, an economic backwater of the world.

It must be depressing to be a citizen of the PA and compare your per capita GDP of $2,900 with Israel's per capita GDP of $31,467. That's why PA citizens ride buses into Israel to work - their economy cannot produce any jobs, since foreign relations for trade, education, and skills are lacking.

And don't blame Israel for that - if it were not for the terror attacks, the security measures would never have been put into place. The PA citizens are victims of their own leadership. The moderates among them have not been powerful enough to effect any changes.

Abdu Omar 4 years ago

Are you serious, Ron, putting all the blame on the Pals? Get a grip of reality.

When the "Jewish State" was announced and Truman recognized it, the beginning af apartheid began. If a Palestinian wanted his land back, Israel declared him a terrorist and killed him, bulldozed his home, even if there were people inside. Then killed the family. If Israel really wants peace, then get rid of the illegal settlements and let the Palestinians live their own lives. Why all the check points and constant harrassment of them?

I watch with horror a few years back of a man and his son being shot at by Israeli troops until the son was killed. There were photos of this in progression and they had done nothing illegal or against these poor Israelis.

Israelis are not the victims, the Palestinians are. They did nothing to deserves the wrath of the Jews in the area as the two lived side by side for hundreds of years, contrary to the propaganda that they have been at war all these years.

I believe that if the Israelis began to think in terms of the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", it would be a different world. The Palestinians did that at first until they started bulldozing homes and trashing the neighborhoods.

Israelis are the reason for the worldwide terrorism whether or not they are doing it themselves. They captured land because they became a state in an underhanded way. The whole of Israel is a sham, taking land that was never theirs. They say that it is in the Bible that God promises them this land. IF he promised it, he didn't promise it to today's Jews who are in no way related to, affiliated with, or even have the same religion as the Children of Israel. They were true believers and had their trust in God.

And lastly, we are tired of the continuous Israeli talking points and propaganda that you spew on this forum. I want the truth and so do others here, not the disgraceful comments by one who is highly prejudiced.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Not highly prejudiced, instead well read.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

I just got a Facebook message from my Muslim friend in Turkey! I messaged her this:

It's in the Jewish scriptures that peace will not come until the Mashiach arrives.
It's in the Christian scriptures that peace will not come until Jesus returns.
It's an Islamic belief that peace will not come until the 12th Imam returns.

What if He arrives, and it turns out that He was really the same person all along? He would be so angry with all of us!

To which she replied:

thanks for sharing.

Actually 12th Imam - Mahdi is the same person with King Mashiach

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

That must be her personal opinion, because if that's official Islamic doctrine, I don't see how any Muslims could have any problems with Jews, other than issues with individuals.

Abdu Omar 4 years ago

No, only Shia believe in the 12th Imam, it is Jesus who comes at the end of time to tell the world that he is a Prophet of God, not His son, and that he will bring peace to all mankind.

What is largely misunderstood is that the three great religions have the same basis but it has been changed by their adherents. For example, All of the scripture given to mankind from Adam to Muhammad have admonished the oneness of God. God is one, He hath no partner nor is there anyone who is worthy of worship except Him.

But Paul in his desire to glorify Jesus and to make him appear as important as the greek Gods and Godesses, began to tell people that God has three parts and Jesus, who he never met on earth, was one of the great parts of God (read; "Jesus, a prophet of Islam".

There is much evidence that Jesus was a man, even Pope Francis said in an interview about Jesus that he was just a man.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Maybe a laissez faire approach would be best - if the Palestinians had to live on what they earn, that is, $2,900 per year per person, maybe they would make more of an effort to reach an agreement that would improve their lives. As it is, there is a plethora of handouts for them to take care of all their needs. And they're all assured that everything is Israel's fault.

And when they get seriously sick, they go to Israel for treatment.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

"Any peace agreement will produce a Palestinian state with not a single Israeli settlement remaining on its territory. Any settlement on the Palestinian side of whatever border is agreed upon will be demolished."

Wow, talk about apartheid. Jews won't be able to become citizens, they will have to leave. I hope they get to take their money with them. Even in the apartheid days of South Africa, Blacks were allowed to stay in the country.

But, many Arab nations have kicked all the Jews out and seized all their property, that's nothing new. In fact, almost 50% of Israelis are refugees or their descendants from Arab nations. It's a bit strange that you hear all about the pitiful Palestinian refugees, while the Jewish refugees have been refugees just as long, but that's never mentioned.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Yes, Chuck, we know, Israelis are just good humanitarians forced to murder Palestinian men, women and children purely to defend themselves, while Palestinians are nothing but bloodthirsty mudpeople.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

This is Jewish, one of the Ten Commandments which you may have heard of:
Exodus Chapter 20, verse 13:

"You shall not kill."

Although the Hebrew word is much more correctly translated as "murder". It's in the Torah, so it's of great importance. In fact, it's of such great importance that out of the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah, it was selected as one of only 10 that the Christians selected as the "Ten Commandments", since 613 were far too much to bear.

That's why the IDF is ever mindful to avoid civilian casualties to the greatest extent possible. In contrast to Hamas especially (note I didn't say Palestinians, because they are not all that way, at least I hope), who target civilians intentionally.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"That's why the IDF is ever mindful to avoid civilian casualties to the greatest extent possible. "

Actually, they're not very mindful at all, or there wouldn't be so many civilian casualties, would there? As a matter of fact, whenever there's been a Palestinian/Arab attack, it's been de facto if not official IDF doctrine to inflict considerably greater damage in retribution. If you're unaware of that, perhaps you should take the blinders off.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

You need to do some more reading.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"You need to do some more reading."

No, you need to read something besides IDF press releases.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

If there was "considerably greater damage in retribution" every time there was "a Palestinian/Arab attack", the Gaza Strip would have been reduced to rubble years ago.

Retaliate to 13,000 rockets? And that's just the rockets, there were many other attacks besides that.

But, if what you said was true, the attacks would have subsided a long time ago, and some sort of peace agreement would have been reached. Very much like how Japan surrendered very quickly after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Although the analogy with Japan might not be a very good one. Japan had a very centralized leadership which was able to sign a surrender document that would be adhered to by the entire population under the direction of the emperor, and the leadership in the Gaza Strip is fragmented, and is cemented by coalitions that could fall apart at any time. So, there is no central authority in the Gaza Strip that would be able to sign a peace agreement that the entire population would hold to long term.

Minor skirmishes would be likely to go on for many years, much like the situation in Belfast, Northern Ireland, known as "The Troubles". Even after the Belfast Agreement was signed in 1998, there have been occasional problems, although few injuries. But, these may have been pranksters, because it seems that someone is watching the passers by to be sure no one is nearby before the car bombs are set off. So, there have been few to no injuries in recent years, and it's been a very long time since anyone has been killed. As with any peace agreement, there will be some that are disgruntled with it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"Gaza Strip would have been reduced to rubble years ago."

It pretty much is rubble.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but the civilian casualties tend to happen in proximate location to where the hostilities commence.

BTW - If Hamas had spent all the money they received on peaceful purposes, and if those sending aid only sent materials for peaceful purposes, Gaza would be a wonderful place to live. Unfortunately, other choices were made.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

"Gaza would be a wonderful place to live."

That's for sure! It's in the fertile crescent, on the eastern Mediterranean, and has some of the most fabulous beaches in the world. If it were politically stable, it would be like Miami, covered with expensive hotels that would support the population that lives there in a grand style.

That's the way it is in Israel just north of the Gaza Strip. Well, just far north of it to be safe from most of the rockets.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"but the civilian casualties tend to happen in proximate location to where the hostilities commence. "

Maybe that's because when you launch a no-holds-barred military assault on one of the most densely populated areas (aka gulags) on the planet, civilians will die (and intentionally so.)

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Parts of Gaza are densely populated and some parts are not. Of course, if the fighters fired their missiles from the less populated areas, there would be no skirts to hind behind, no children to use as shields and no press when the retaliation comes. So the missiles come from school yards and apartment roofs. And unfortunately, that's where the retaliation goes.

Of course, they know that's exactly what is going to happen. They're counting on it. They want it to happen. Dead women and children makes for good publicity for their cause.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"If Hamas had spent all the money they received on peaceful purposes,"

And I suppose you'll make the same suggestion for the $billions (most of them US tax dollars) that Israel spends on murderous purposes.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

You have obviously not seen photographs of it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

I'm sure you have some wonderful photoshops you could share.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

I will, below. But, they're not photoshopped.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

It's in the Jewish scriptures that peace will not come until the Mashiach arrives.
It's in the Christian scriptures that peace will not come until Jesus returns.
It's an Islamic belief that peace will not come until the 12th Imam returns.

What if He arrives, and it turns out that He was really the same person all along?
He would be so angry with all of us!

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Some speeches have made a great difference in the world in a progression towards peace, for example, the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew Chapter 5. However, it probably was not delivered all at once as a speech, it is more likely a condensation of a few different speeches.

But, there is a great deal of difference between President Obama and Jesus Christ.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Matthew Chapter 5, verse 9:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of G-d."

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

Actually, I don't either. It's one of the greatest, if not the greatest, conflicts of our time. And, it's not just Israel that's involved, there's starting to be a lot of trouble in Europe also.

Unless a moderate Muslim movement comes along, World War III is likely to somehow involve Islam, and it won't be centered much on Israel. There's a movement in France especially to deport all of the Muslim immigrants, which would require an amendment in the French constitution. England is starting to have problems also, but not quite to the same degree. The problem is that the new Muslim immigrants are trying to implement sharia law, starting in areas that they control, and the Europeans don't like that at all. And, the Muslims have made no secret that they plan to take over the government as soon as their numbers are large enough. They are a terrific drain on the public treasury, and their birth rate is very high, so a demographic time bomb is ticking.

But the moderate Muslims are fine. They realize that the interpretations from the year 700 are simply not relevant to our modern times. We have learned so much about the universe in which we live that we now know that not all the answers can be found in the Koran, and in our modern times, mutual respect is something to be valued. There are some moderate Muslims today, and if their numbers increase, everything will be fine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

To quote CSN, "Paranoia strikes deep."

You can attempt to moderate your blatant racism with some qualifying phrases, but it ain't working.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

I'm just quoting what I've read about. I read a great deal, and apparently if I'm racist, a whole lot of Europe is also.

But, I've had a couple dozen Muslim friends, and never disliked any of them. In fact, just a couple days ago I became Facebook friends with a Muslim woman in Turkey. But, she's very moderate, works in television, and has quite a few very interesting things to say. Do you think that just might be rather odd behavior for someone who's racist?

Besides, Muslims and Jews are not different races (except for converts), they share the same ancestry. Feuds between them are fights between brothers.

Liberty275 4 years ago

While I'm not a fan of the idea of race, I bet if you went through the DNA of Jews and Palestinians, the Jews would originate from the north,and obviously now because of Russian immigrants while the Palestinians would be shown to be from the south and mostly "Arabic".

I think they are different civilizations fighting over which version of anti-christian thought gets to rule that nice little chunk of land. I here the beaches are nice there.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

"Little" is right. It's about the size of New Jersey.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

This is the rubble of Gaza City, downloaded from the web.

Gaza City

Gaza City by Ron Holzwarth

The rubble.

The rubble. by Ron Holzwarth

As you can see, not much is left.

As you can see, not much is left. by Ron Holzwarth

The damage is terrible.

The damage is terrible. by Ron Holzwarth

Israel didn't leave much standing in Gaza City.

Israel didn't leave much standing in Gaza City. by Ron Holzwarth

Reality can be a tough thing to face, when you've been reading and believing propaganda all your life.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

But, it is also possible to find photographs of direct hits, that's what makes the news. The fact that almost all of the Gaza Strip was left undamaged is left out, because it doesn't make for good press.

It's exactly like the photographs of Germany and Japan that were published in the American press right after World War II. Only the damaged cities were shown, no one was interested in seeing what wasn't damaged.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"But, it is also possible to find photographs of direct hits"


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

And there's a whole different picture of Gaza that you'll never acknowledge.

Are you really that daft that you don't understand what life in Gaza is like?

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

It's true that I don't understand what it's like to go around hating people all the time. And I don't understand what it's like to go around screaming "Death!" to people. And I just can't imagine celebrating the destruction of the twin towers on 9/11. For me, that was sorrow. So, it's just not in my nature, I'll never understand what it must be like to live in Gaza.

Plus, I could never take a literalist interpretation of the Tanakh, the New Testament, or the Koran, and believe it to be infallible fact.

So I guess I'm out, I'll just never understand the world view of the people who live there.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"It's true that I don't understand what it's like to go around hating people all the time."

Nor do I. Nor do I understand what it's like to be so partisan on an issue as to be obliged to ignore the reality of it.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

And when you look in the mirror, do you see an objective person, willing to see both sides of this very complex situation?

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

You sometimes have to wonder where people get their firmly held opinions from. In some cases, it's certainly not from reading international news, or in fact, even national news. Maybe it could be Fox news. I don't watch television, so I don't know what's on Fox news.

For any situation involving only two sides, there are three points of view, one side's viewpoint, the other side's viewpoint, and the objective viewpoint.

But, when one side claims that the people on the other side are the descendants of apes and pigs, and they use the blood of Christian children for their Matzo balls for Passover, you have to doubt the rest of what they say. I did not make that up.

The bit about the blood of Christian children has since been removed from the official Arabic PA website (It wasn't in the English version.), but the claim about Jews being the descendants of apes and pigs is heard over and over.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years ago

"And thereafter We [Allah] said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land. And when the last warning will come to pass, we will gather you together in a mingled crowd'." - Qur'an 17:104

The world needs more pious Muslims that live by what the Qur'an says.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Your links describe sentiments that are to Judaism what the Reverend Phelps is to Christianity.

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