The events of “Naqba Day” are just one, very small proof that real peace is impossible.
Not “difficult.” Not “painful.” Truly, 100% impossible.
What were the thousands of protesters from Syria, Lebanon and Gaza demanding? Their demands are simple: the “right to return.” They want Israel to allow millions of Arabs of Palestinian descent to flood the country and turn it into another Arab state.
This demand has been absolute and unyielding for 63 years. Never has any Arab leader publicly renounced this demand. Never have the Palestinian Arabs accepted any compromise on the matter. Today, right now, the PLO demands this so-called” right” in unambiguous terms.
There is no need here to mention that there is no such right enshrined in international law, or how easy it is to prove that Arab leaders have used this “demand” as a smokescreen to their real desire to destroy Israel, or the hypocrisy of Palestinian Arab leaders, today, who do not want even those who used to live on land they now control to “return.” All those points are true and can be proven at another time.
The point here is that this demand is completely at odds with Israel’s continued existence. One cannot have it both ways: either the Arabs come and destroy Israel, or Israel is allowed to exist and they never “return.” There is no possible compromise.
If Israel would allow, say, 200,000 Arabs to immigrate to the country, it would not pacify the rest of them, and the demand in the rest of the Arab world would not subside. On the contrary, it would intensify.
For 63 years, the Arab world has held its Palestinian brethren hostage to the idea that they would one day “return.” It has been their ace in the hole–they have purposefully kept millions of people in stateless misery just to score political pressure against Israel. Even with Hamas controlling Gaza, not a finger has been lifted to dismantle the “refugee” camps there. The entire “refugee” issue is kept alive artificially by a combination of Arab scheming, UN condonation and Western fear to tell the truth to the millions of people who are being treated cruelly by those who pretend to champion their cause.
In the framework of Arab-Israeli peace, there is no solution to the problem.
The West has assumed for decades that the solution will ultimately take the form of partial Israeli acquiescence, monetary compensation, and Arab nations stepping up to naturalize most of their Palestinian Arab prisoners. The only problem is that there has been zero indication that any of that would be accepted by the Arab world. On the contrary: when speaking amongst themselves, the issue is framed as something that can never be compromised on.
Even today, the Lebanese political party that is most admired in the West for its part in the Cedar Revolution has reiterated that it will never accept naturalization for the Arabs of Palestinian descent who have lived in Lebanon for generations. If there is anything that unites the Arab world, and which would cause a firestorm of hate if it was challenged by the West, it is the so-called “right of return.” The Arab League “peace plan” that some hopeful Westerners interpreted as being flexible on the topic was not flexible at all, as it invoked UNGA resolution 194 as the basis for solving the problem–and the Arab world has been unanimous in how it interprets that resolution.
The mythical “return” is not compatible with Israel existing as anything other than another Arab-majority state.
Which means that one side wants Israel to be destroyed demographically, as a demand, as long as Palestinian Arabs continue to demand that they “return.” The fake keys you see waved at demonstrations show how generations of brainwashing has made turned that demand non-negotiable.
The West fervently believes that a compromise is not only possible, but necessary–and that it must be imposed if the parties cannot agree. But a unilateral solution is no solution at all, and it would not pacify those that demand return as long as it is not 100%. Which means that a unilateral peace is not peace.
The West also believes that the Arab world acts in a Western way; that if an impartial arbitrator decides on a compromise then both parties would accept it and move on. This is also a dangerous myth–one side will not stop until they win and the other side loses, completely.
There is no solution. The conflict will go on for generations, as long as Israel continues to exist. Compromise on Israel’s part does not strengthen her political posture for more than a few years, but the Arab side is in this game for centuries, if needed. If the West is really, truly committed to the idea that Israel is a just cause and deserves to exist in peace and security, it must realize that this peace will not come about by forcing Israel to do things that will never pacify her enemies.
Right now, Israel exists in relative peace and security. This is because Israel has not been fooled into accepting a comprehensive solution that it knows does not exist. Instead of solving the conflict, Israel is managing the conflict. This has been not only successful for Israel but also for the Arab groups that have cooperated–willingly or not.
Because Israel has engaged in conflict management rather than conflict resolution, the West Bank Arabs are more prosperous–and have more autonomy–than they have in their history. Even the residents of Gaza reap the benefit of Hamas being forced to limit terror attacks. The Syrian border, up until this week, has been calm, and so has the Lebanese border. Conflict management has created a better peace than anyone can ever hope for with a “comprehensive solution.”
The solution, then, is not a solution in the Western sense of everybody being happy (or equally unhappy) and moving on. The only solution is the perpetual management of the conflict. Sometimes one side will break the unwritten rules and the equilibrium will be knocked out of whack, and sometimes circumstances will change forcing the methods of conflict management to be changed as well. But it is critical for well-meaning Americans and Europeans to understand that, short of one side utterly destroying the other, there will never be a “peace” in the sense that everyone yearns for. In this case, more than ever, the perfect is the enemy of the good.
And pushing a illusory peace will have far worse results than the status quo. For everyone.