Accordingly, the parties with whom the Obama administration wants Israel to compromise are not strictly secular-nationalistic, and never have been. The various wars and claims against Israel have all had a religious element at their core. Terror attacks and massacres are not preceded by shouts of nationalistic slogans, but by cries of “Itbach al-Yehud” (“Slaughter the Jews”) and “Allahu-Akhbar” (“God is Great”). Palestinian organizations insist on a state, and that it be Judenrein. “Moderate” Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas cannot bring himself to accept Israel as a Jewish state. The Hamas charter views an Islamic state including all of Israel as an Islamic religious mandate, stating that “renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith.” So too, for Iran and Hezbollah, destruction of Israel is a religious imperative and historical inevitability.
Yet, this Administration’s peace-process approach (Israeli territorial withdrawal, including from Jerusalem; downplaying incitement and terror; ignoring muscular Islamic movements on Israel’s borders; engaging Syria and Iran) seems oblivious to broad Islamic rejectionism of Israel’s existence. What makes Obama believe that religious doctrine will be abandoned in exchange for a few acres of land and fleeting political prestige?
Whatever the shortcomings of Bush’s Middle East policy, he understood the Islamist religious factor, as well as the Obama-esque impulse to ignore it. As Bush said to the Knesset, “There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words….Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them that they have been wrong all along….We have an obligation to call this what it is—the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.” Bush added, “No nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.”
This is not meant to endorse any particular solution. But refusing to address the religious element of regional antagonism towards Israel while forcing Israeli concessions is hardly a plan for lasting peace.
Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Jerusalem. He is Counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.
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