On repeated occasions the European Union (1), the United States (2), and the United Nations (3) pressured Israel to make more concessions to the Arabs in an attempt to bring peace to the Middle East. The pressure on Israel was mainly to stop building more settlements in the West Bank.
The question is whether pressuring Israel to make more concessions to the Palestinians was correct. In other words, is the world pushing the wrong button in its attempts to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict? Additionally, should the pressure be on the Palestinians and Arabs, rather than the Israelis, to solve the problem?
Evidence from the past few decades clearly shows that Israeli concessions did not bring the desired peace. Rather, they brought more Arab animosity and aggression toward the Israelis.
Any honest observer of the Arab media and street can clearly notice that anti-Semitism has increased dramatically since Israel has made peace treaties with the Arabs. Many famous instances of anti-Semitism in the Arab world are available on www.memri.org. These include teaching anti-Semitism to Arab children, as well as top Islamic scholars cursing the Jews and calling them "pigs and monkeys" (4). The number of examples in the Arab media leaves no doubt for unbiased observers that anti-Semitism in the Arab world has actually increased since Israel started making concessions. In addition, the number of terrorist attacks against the Israelis was much lower when the West Bank and Gaza were completely under the control of Israel between 1967-1973; that is, before the peace treaties.
Another example is that rocket attacks against Israelis from Gaza have not decreased since Israel withdrew from there in September 2005 as part of the Israel Disengagement Plan. In fact, between April 2001 and the end of 2008, 4,246 rockets and 4,180 mortar shells were fired into Israel, killing 14 Israelis, wounding more than 400, and making life in southern Israel intolerable. During what was supposed to be a cease-fire in the last half of 2008, 362 rockets and shells landed.
After Israel retaliated in a strong manner in the Gaza war (December 2008-January 2009) there have been just over two dozen rockets and mortar strikes on Israel, fewer than on many single days before the war. Life in the Israeli town of Sderot and the area around it has returned almost to normal (5).
Based on statistics instead of emotions, it’s clear the Israelis have not attained true peace after making concessions to the Arabs. The main reason is that concessions in the Arab-Israeli conflict have almost always been made from the Israeli side without equivalent concessions from the Arab side.
Israel gave land, yet anti-Semitism has increased. This has created a situation where many Israelis feel that they do not have any incentive to make further concessions. It has become hard to convince many Israelis that stopping the settlements will bring any peace, as they have already made many more concessions to the Arabs, and the result has mainly been more hatred and aggression. If concessions to the Arabs did not work in the past, why would they work now?
The only solution is that the international community must push the correct button, which means more pressure on the Arabs and Palestinians, rather than the Israelis, to show a genuine interest in peace. In this case, the Israelis will feel that their previous concessions were fruitful, and they will be persuaded that concessions can work and bring true peace.
An internationally-monitored incitement-free period in the Arab media has to precede any further peace talks or negotiations. When the Israelis see evidence that the Arabs are genuine about living with them in peace, they will be encouraged to continue the peace process. It is now the Arabs' turn to reciprocate the Israeli concessions.
1. The EU World News
2. Obama (video): Times Online June 5
3. U.N. Security Council (UNSC 450)
4. See several examples of Arab anti-Semitism here
5. Washington Post, Sept. 21.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad". He was a former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida) and currently he is a reformer of Islam. To know more about Hamid please visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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