A CiF reader’s spot-on analysis of the situation in the Middle East

In “Israel needs a coherent opposition“, CiF, Jan. 19, Naomi Shepherd displays the very worst intellectual ticks of the hard left – those stubborn few who seem to have learned absolutely nothing from the failures of Oslo and, despite all evidence, still believe that withdrawing from land will inevitably bring peace.

For one, Shepherd completely fails to assign moral agency to the Palestinians.

Reading Shepherd’s piece, you would think that Palestinians only exist as some sort of abstraction, and aren’t living, breathing political actors who have a role to play in creating an atmosphere hospitable to peace – a narrative of the conflict that perfectly embodies what’s been aptly termed the “racism of the anti-racists”.

Also, her analysis of Syria and Hamas is so naive that it would be almost comical if the consequences of such facile thinking weren’t so serious:

Of the totalitarian Ba’athist regime in Syria, Shepherd says casually that “they want to negotiate.”

And, about Hamas – whose leaders never tire of stating (both in Arabic and English) their desire to wipe Israel off the map, and whose founding charter cites the Protocols of the Elder of Zion as “proof” that Jews indeed want to take over the world – she actually claims that they are “prepared for an indefinite truce, if not for formal recognition.”

The mind spins at the thought of a seemingly intelligent adult capable of holding such views.

While the potential calamitous results of a peace deal which is not informed by a sober analysis of the situation in the Middle East – and the intransigence of the political actors at play – has been noted on these pages before, I was heartened to read a comment below the line which lays it all out very clearly.

A CiF commenter with the moniker “MancAgainstTheTanks replied to Shepherd’s puerile logic by stating the following:

Having lived in the Arab world, mainly in Israel’s neighbours, I have become more sympathetic to Israel’s ‘security’ argument. In every Arab capital of the Levant, from Beirut to Cairo, I have found copies of Mein Kampf and Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Arabic translation. Support for Hamas and Hezbollah is popular and unrelenting, as is the hatred towards ‘al-yahud’, not just Israelis. This hatred comes not just from the descendants of Palestinian refugees of 48 and 67, but from all sections of society, rich and poor, educated or not. It is truly terrifying

The Palestinians now pose no military threat to Israel – the most they can achieve is fear and occasional death through rockets from Gaza and suicide bombings (which have mostly been curtailed due to the wall and the continuing presence of the IDF in the WB). There is no existential threat to Israel from the Palestinians in Gaza and the WB as things stand.

However, should the Palestinians gain a state of their own, contiguous to Jordan, and Israel loses control of the Jordan valley, what is to stop thousands of radicalised Arabs from various militant factions from descending into this new Palestinian state to use as a base from which to attack Israel? Yes, there is a huge difference between rhetoric and action, and it could be said that the statements told to me by a number of Arabs was just bluster and fighting talk, but is Israel going to risk its own security? I think not.

This is not to say that I do not support an independent and viable Palestinian state – I really, truly do. But I fail to comprehend how Israel can guarantee its own security (both military and human) without her also continuing to control the Jordan-Palestine border. Should Israel remain in control of the Allenby bridge and Wadi ‘Araba crossing, then Palestine would not be a sovereign entity.

At the end of the day, the only way that Palestinians could obtain a state of their own is through peace accords with al-Assad in Damascus and Hezbollah in Lebanon. As the former demands the return of the Golan Heights, and the latter is ideologically Islamist, then I don’t see this happening any time soon.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the Palestinians will remain pawns in Middle East power politics. For both sides decrying the other, please try to remember this – the Palestinians are, quite frankly, nothing in this conflict; at best their plight is used by neighbouring regimes to distract the masses from their own political oppression, at worst they are ignored, denied basic human rights by their fellow Arabs, and are as hated as Israelis are.

For all the whataboutery and blame gaming going on, as it will, on this thread, of the pro-Israel vs the pro-Palestinians, it is pointless, a waste of time. The only game is between nation-states – Palestinians are excluded and politically expedient. Sad, but true.

I don’t know the identity of MancAgainstTheTanks, but his/her analysis is honest, thoughtful, realistic, and refreshingly uncompromised by ideological conditioning.

In other words, we can never expect to see such commentary on the pages of the Guardian.

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