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The Orwellian Peace Process

We are indebted to George Orwell for the observation that the corruption of public life begins with the corruption of language, and nowhere has that been more evident than in the “peace process” — whose very name has proved Orwellian.

The “peace process” has so far produced three wars. The first occurred in 2000, after Israel offered the Palestinians a state on all of Gaza and virtually all of the West Bank. Yasir Arafat rejected the offer, returned home to a hero’s welcome, and commenced a barbaric terror war, quaintly named an “intifada,” waged in Israeli restaurants, discos, hotels, schools, and buses. In 2005, Israel removed every soldier and settler from Gaza to enable the Palestinians to demonstrate their willingness to live “side by side in peace and security”; the result was a rocket war against Israel from new forward positions. In 2008, Israel offered a state on 100 percent of the West Bank and Gaza (after land swaps) with a shared Jerusalem; the “peace partner” rejected the offer. A month later, a new war in Gaza became necessary to bring the rockets to a halt.

In 2003, the Palestinians agreed to a three-phase “Performance-Based Road Map” and then failed to perform Phase One — dismantling terrorist groups and infrastructure — much less Phase Two. The result was that their “performance” was waived and the U.S. pushed immediate Phase Three final-status negotiations. The failure to abide by the Road Map was called “accelerating” it.

“Peace process,” “peace partner,” “intifada,” “side by side in peace and security,” “accelerating” — these are all Orwellian terms designed to mask the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected a state in order to pursue the Orwellian “right of return” — an alleged “right” not given to the millions of other 20th century refugees (including the 820,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands), much less to those whose refugee status resulted from their decision to reject a two-state solution in 1948 and start a war instead.

Even the term “refugee” is Orwellian, since it has been deemed to mean not only the 700,000 people who left the area in 1948 (a large proportion of whom moved out to make way for the invading Arab armies) but also three generations of descendants who have never lived in Israel. It is a definition not applied in the case of any other refugees. The rest of the world’s refugees decrease each year as they are resettled in other countries; only in the case of the Palestinians does the number of “refugees” increase every year — by definition.

The Obama administration has not been in office long but has already made its own Orwellian contribution. Six weeks after he took office, Benjamin Netanyahu met with Barack Obama and offered immediate negotiations with the Palestinians without preconditions; Mahmoud Abbas rejected the offer. The administration is now trying to get Abbas to agree to “proximity talks” — the Orwellian description of a non-talk process in which the Palestinians employ George Mitchell to convey their demands for pre-negotiation concessions to the nearby State of Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu, reflecting a national consensus, has said a two-state solution will require that one of the two states be recognized as Jewish (which means no “right of return”) and that the other be demilitarized (to avoid a “peace agreement” that simply repositions the parties for a new war). Those are the minimal requirements for a true peace process rather than an Orwellian one, but they have been rejected by the “peace partner” Palestinians.


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