Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

“If Only Israel” syndrome

AJC Executive Director David Harris has a great article at his blog In the Trenches: What’s the IOI – “If Only Israel” – syndrome? I quote the beginning and the ending, but recommend the whole thing.

It’s the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s best interests by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with its neighbors would be at hand. But since it doesn’t, then Israel constitutes the principal, perhaps only, real obstacle to a new day in the Middle East.

Striking, isn’t it?

Poor Israel. If only it had the visual acuity of these “enlightened” souls, then all would be hunky-dory. After all, according to them, Israel holds all the cards, yet refuses to play them.

The thinking goes: Why can’t those shortsighted Israelis figure out what needs to be done – it’s so obvious to us, isn’t it? – so the conflict can be brought to a screeching halt?

Thus, if only Israel froze settlements. If only Israel removed checkpoints. If only Israel recognized the Hamas government in Gaza. If only Israel stopped assuming the worst about Iran’s “pragmatic” leadership, which just wants a nuclear weapon for defensive purposes. If only Israel got beyond its Holocaust trauma. If only Israel ______ well, you can fill in the blank.

The point is that, for sufferers of IOI, it essentially all comes down to Israel.

And the IOI syndrome has only been strengthened by the advent of the new Israeli government, of course.

But unless and until Israel’s neighbors recognize its inherent legitimacy, and stop viewing it as a temporary interloper that can be defeated militarily or swamped by Palestinian “refugees,” then whatever the IOI crowd insists upon will be a secondary issue in the real world.

Unless and until this recognition is reflected in Palestinian and other Arab textbooks, where children have been taught for generations that Israelis are modern-day Crusaders to be driven out, then what hope is there for the future?

Unless and until the Palestinian Authority succeeds in building a serious governing structure, including an enhanced capacity and political will to combat Palestinian terrorism, then Israel will have no choice but to operate in the West Bank to prevent attacks against its civilians.

And unless and until the forces seeking Israel’s annihilation – from Iran’s current regime to Hamas to Hizbullah – are marginalized or replaced by those committed to coexistence, then there will always be a long shadow cast over the road to peace. Some would argue that this view gives the spoilers too much power over the process. I believe it simply acknowledges the inescapable and ominous reality that Israel faces.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu makes his first visit to Washington since his election earlier this year, and as the IOI chorus once again raises the decibel level, let’s hope that cooler heads prevail.

Israel doesn’t need sanctimonious lectures on peace. It needs genuine partners for peace. Without them, peace remains elusive. With them, peace becomes inevitable.


May 14, 2009 - Posted by | Arab-Israeli Conflict | ,

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