Brace yourselves for a revolution in peacemaking. The riddle of Israeli-Palestinian peace has been solved, and anti-settler crusader Gershom Gorenberg would like to draw your attention to the solution, at long last, to the Arab-Israeli conflict: the recently released Israeli Peace Initiative, written and signed onto by former public officials.
This intensely creative, out-of-the-box idea is—drum roll please: borders based on the 1967 lines, a divided Jerusalem, giving the Golan Heights to Syria, and promises—scout’s honor, super-serious promises—of security and eventual normalization from Arab countries.
What’s that, you say? This all sounds suspiciously like the Saudi peace plan, matching Israeli concessions with empty promises from the Arab world? That these retread, recycled ideas have been rejected for a reason? That the Palestinians have never been able to show they are capable of holding up their end of a security arrangement? That the only way to achieve peace with Syria is for the Golan to be in Israeli possession, and that the residents of the Golan don’t want to be under the thumb of Syrian dictatorship? Then you’re simply not listening to how historic and important and awesome and historic this is. Let Gorenberg tell you:
The new initiative’s first target is the Israeli political debate. It’s meant to show that peace terms close to what Arab leaders have proposed are militarily safe and publicly legitimate. It also shows that Netanyahu is the obstacle, and that he must be replaced. Lipkin-Shahak, ex-Gen. and Mossad chief Danny Yatom, ex-Shin Bet chief Yaakov Perry, and other signatories speak the classic national-security language, very short on feelings, that has a strong influence in an anxious country. Their political allegiances, past or present, are not to the radical left, but to the center-left or center, precisely the part of the electorate that has seemingly lost interest in peace. Their endorsement for negotiating based on the June 4, 1967 borders — that is, for leaving the West Bank and Golan Heights — identifies that position as centrist and Netanyahu as the extremist.
Yes, for this surrender (I mean peace initiative!) to be enacted, Netanyahu must go. This peace initiative is so great, that its only obstacle is Netanyahu. We know that, because (at least on Planet Gorenberg) Netanyahu has been prime minister, uninterrupted, since the early 1980s, and that’s why there has been no peace. If Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, or even Ehud Barak had received a shot at leading the country since the beginning of the peace process, we would have had peace.
But of course outside Planet Gorenberg the leftist prime ministers have had ample opportunities for peace. In fact, for the first thirty years of Israel’s existence the Left had such a stranglehold on government that you couldn’t get a job as a mail carrier if you had any record of expressing even a passing admiration for Menachem Begin. After that, Likud at least had the occasional chance to run Israeli foreign policy. But their odds were daunting: in 1996, Bibi Netanyahu had to run not only against Shimon Peres, but against Bill Clinton’s vile and insulting meddling in Israeli politics. Netanyahu won anyway, signaling that perhaps the “peace camp” weren’t as popular with the Israeli public as Bill Clinton’s pollsters kept telling him they were. Clinton rectified this by sending his entire campaign team to Israel to get Ehud Barak elected in 1999. And then there was peace! Well, not really. The Arabs rejected the comprehensive peace plan Barak offered.
So the record goes something like this: Peres, Rabin, Barak, and Ehud Olmert all failed at attaining peace with the Palestinians. So what makes Gorenberg so sure that Netanyahu is the obstacle? Political extremism. Commentators like Gorenberg push the idea that Israeli concessions will bring peace with a sort of religious fanaticism. The settlers of Gorenberg’s fevered imagination could never match the extremism of Gorenberg himself.
Netanyahu is listening to his voters. Gorenberg shows the classic leftist disdain for democracy, which is why he doesn’t care that Netanyahu was elected specifically to stop this ridiculous circus of failure that the Israeli leftist “peace camp” has created. The fanatical, fundamentalist Left will continue to undermine Israeli democracy and security at every turn.
The Israeli electorate has for a decade now rejected this type of extremism at the polls. Gorenberg may not like being irrelevant, but the country is safer for it.