Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Real Threat to Peace is Western Support of Palestinian Rejectionism

As Jonathan correctly noted yesterday, it’s ridiculous to assert that Israeli-Palestinian peace is threatened by plans to build 40 new homes inside a settlement that everyone knows will remain Israeli under any agreement. But if UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would like to see a genuine obstacle to peace, I suggest he study what happened at a conference of Mediterranean writers in Marseille last week: An Israeli author was kicked off a panel discussion because a Palestinian writer refused to sit at the same table with him.

Organizer Pierre Assouline told Haaretz that in the previous two years, Palestinian writers refused to attend the conference at all because Israelis were present. This year, poet Najwan Darwish agreed to show up, but only if he didn’t have to participate on the same panels as any Israeli authors. When he discovered that he was in fact listed as speaking on one panel together with Israeli Moshe Sakal, he told Assouline he would boycott the discussion unless Sakal was ousted. And Assouline, deciding that Sakal in any case wasn’t important to the issue at hand (the Arab Spring), acquiesced.

It is, of course, problematic that Palestinian authors refuse to even sit in the same room with Israeli authors, who as a group (and Sakal is no exception) are overwhelmingly critical of Israeli government policy and consistently advocate greater concessions to the Palestinians. If Palestinian intellectuals won’t deign to talk even with the Israelis most supportive of their cause, it’s hard to see how a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace could ever emerge.

Far more problematic, however, was the response of Darwish’s Western enablers: Instead of telling him that such boycotts won’t be tolerated, the conference organizers cravenly capitulated to his demands. Moreover, this decision was supported by many of the conference-goers: While half the audience was angry, Assouline related, “the other half was thrilled.”

This is the problem of the entire peace process in a nutshell: Much of the Western political, cultural, and intellectual elite cravenly acquiesces in Palestinian rejectionism, and thereby encourages its continuance. What Assouline did was essentially no different from what Ban Ki-moon does when he condemns plans to build 40 houses in Efrat but never utters a peep about the real obstacles to peace – like Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s refusal to recognize a Jewish state in any borders, or his refusal to negotiate with Israel’s prime minister even during the 10 months when Israel acceded to his demand for a freeze on settlement construction. Just as Assouline and his colleagues effectively agreed that Sakal’s presence, rather than Darwish’s boycott, was the problem, Western leaders who routinely condemn construction in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem or major settlement blocs while remaining silent on such issues as Palestinian refusal to recognize a Jewish state are effectively agreeing that the problem is Israel’s very existence – even in areas that everyone knows will be part of Israel under any deal – rather than Palestinian opposition to this existence.

And as long as such Palestinian rejectionism continues to receive Western support, Palestinians will have no incentive whatsoever to abandon it.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.