By Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
Reviewed by Norvell DeAtkine
There should be an entry in the medical journals for a chronic disease that seems to afflict every American administration but has been particularly pronounced in the present one. The disease is called Palestinitis. The symptoms are basically two. The first is an embedded belief that the solution to the Palestinian problem equates to peace in the Middle East. The second is the strange impact on politicians who become diplomats. They somehow feel that they can, by strength of their earnestness and charisma, solve the insolvable and heal decades of hatred and mistrust with their sincere honest intentions.
Clifford May in this article basically rehashes the latest failure of “peace negotiations.” As he wrote, they never got out of the starting blocks. There was never the slightest intention on the part of the Palestinians, whether the Gaza or West Bank variety, to come to terms with the “entity” called Israel. It would, in fact, destroy their reason for being. Palestine is defined by the existence of Israel.
May indicated that the real “stunner” was that the president of the rump state known as the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, does not accept Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. He seems not to understand why the Arabs have not accepted the existence of Israel. To the author, the loss of several wars against the Israeli state should have convinced the Arabs that the destruction of Israel is an impossibility and they should accept coexistence of two states side by side.
As May wrote, however, the acceptance of Israel on those terms would doom any Palestinian leader who suggested doing so. The political figures of both the West Bank and Gaza would always seize the opportunity to declare the peacemaker an “Arab Zionist,” and he would be lucky to survive politically or literally.
May does not mention it but to be fair there is little doubt that the intransigence of the Palestinians was politically useful to Prime Minister Netanyahu Otherwise, he would have had some very difficult days trying to assuage skeptical public and political opponents. As has been written many times, the Palestinian leaders never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.