Ex-President Bill Clinton identified a major stage in the intentional, fully conscious, 135-year-old Palestinian, anti-peace strategy
Speaking at a campaign event for his wife’s candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, ex-President Bill Clinton said:
“I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state.
“I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza,” Bill Clinton said, May 13.
Commentary magazine recently identified three stages, three strategies, in the Palestinian anti-peace campaign since 1948. Actually, there are four stages, and it began in 1881 — 135 years ago.
Anti-peace campaign? Is that fair? Is the failure of Jews and Palestinian to come to a political agreement really to be placed at the feet of one side?
Stage one: From 1881 to 1948, the Palestinian attitude toward the Jews in the Land of Israel was this: Stop Jewish immigration to Palestine.
This strategy was embellished in many ways: Stop Jewish immigration to Palestine because the land cannot economically support more people. Stop Jewish immigration to Palestine because the Jews have no right to be here. Stop Jewish immigration to Palestine because the Jews have no right to political power here, even over small segments of the territory (for how small, see the UN partition map of 1947).
Stage two: From 1947 to 1973, the Palestinian attitude toward the Jews in the Land of Israel was this: Destroy them. Wage war against them. “Drive them into the sea.”
The strategy was carried out in Israel’s War of Independence, which actually was begun not by the Jews in the Land of Israel but by the armies of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. The goal was genocide. Some of the local Arab population, whom we now call the Palestinians, welcomed the invasion of their country by the Arab armies; some fled; and some would just as well have preferred peaceful coexistence with the Jews. The latter segment of the Palestinians, however, did not set Palestinian policy, which was war.
And war again in 1967 (the “Six Day War”) — also a genocidal effort (“drive them into the sea”). And again in 1973 (the “Yom Kippur War”) — this time an invasion by the armies of Egypt and Syria.
Stage three: From 1973-2005, the Palestinian attitude toward the Jews in the Land of Israel was this: Demoralize them. Make them quit the land due to Palestinian terrorism. Blow up airplanes, blow up buses, blow up cafes, anywhere Israelis are to be found.
Stage four: From 2005-present, the Palestinian attitude toward the Jews in the Land of Israel has been this: Delegitimize them. Cast them as occupiers, interlopers, colonizers, deniers of Palestinian rights. Soil their name amidst the nations of the world. Cut them off economically. Starve them out of the land. Boycott, divest from and sanction them.
Of course, all of these stages overlapped. For example, the anti-Jewish terrorism of Stage Three began back in 1920 at the time of Stage One; and the anti-immigration of Stage One is another form of the delegitimization of Stage Four.
But the four stages remain important markers, not mainly for the purposes of neat historical classification, but for their common, underlying theme: There is to be no permanent accommodation — no permanent peace — no acceptance in principle of the right of Jews to the Land of Israel, anywhere in the land, on the part of the Palestinian leadership.
Which brings us back to Bill Clinton. The reason he needed to “kill himself” to give the Palestinians a state, and even then failed to do so, is because the head of the Palestinians in 2000 who was empowered to make policy (at Clinton’s exhaustive Camp David negotiations) refused to accept a peace agreement, no matter how much land it gave the Palestinians, if it contained a clause that declared the Palestinian-Israel conflict finished. Over. Done. History.
This, Yasir Arafat could not do. This unwillingness is precisely what has undergirded all of the other stages of the Palestinian opposition to a Jewish polity in the Land of Israel.
The Intermountain Jewish News does not endorse political candidates. The way Bill Clinton slanted his remarks on behalf of his wife’s candidacy is not included here. Our focus is what Bill Clinton did when he was president and what he said about himself when he was president. Among those additional remarks of his at the time of his “I killed myself” statement were these:
“Not to agree with the Israeli government on everything, not to pretend that innocents don’t die, not to pretend that more Palestinian children don’t die than Israeli children. But that we can’t get anything done unless they [the Israelis] believe, when the chips are down, if somebody comes for them we will not let them be wiped out and become part of the dustbin of history.”
Bill Clinton has it exactly right: The basic conflict — its basic nature without which all else could be resolved — is over Israel’s right not to be wiped out; the basic conflict is not over territory, nor over this or the other Israeli policy.
Bill Clinton had more to say that is worth quoting for its clarity — a diminishing quality amidst the anti-Semitic, mean-spirited character of Stage Four, the attempt to delegitimize Israel:
“Hamas is really smart. When they decide to rocket Israel, they insinuate themselves in the hospitals, in the schools, in the highly populous areas, and they are smart. They said they try to put the Israelis in a position of either not defending themselves or killing innocents. They’re good at it. They’re smart. They’ve been doing this a long time.”
Thank you, Bill Clinton.
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