The Wall Street Journal editorialized yesterday on the West’s “near religious pursuit of the peace process.” At the New Republic, Martin Peretz writes that we are “now being sermonized, mostly by journalistic oracles, to believe that these last months are a Prague Spring for Muslims” (Peretz is “not a believer”). At Tablet Magazine, Lee Smith describes the “moral rot” that has been “at the core of Western thinking about the Arab-Israeli conflict” for decades.
The “peace process” has long been a faith-based enterprise. Its articles of faith include the assertion that “everyone knows” the shape of the peace agreement (although “everyone” does not include the Palestinians); the Palestinians just want a state (although they keep refusing one); turning over land will produce peace (although the last two times—in Lebanon and Gaza—it produced war); and a Palestinian state would live “side by side in peace and security” (although it will not recognize a Jewish state, nor defensible borders, nor an end-of-claims agreement).
If peace processors really had faith, they would respond to the Fatah-Hamas agreement, which promises elections “next year,” and tell Fatah and Hamas to go ahead and hold them—and see if they are actually held; see if they produce Palestinian leaders with a mandate to make the concessions necessary to create a Palestinian state; and then draw the necessary conclusions. But peace processors are understandably reluctant to propose something that would risk losing their religion.