As we remember the 23rd anniversary of the White House lawn handshake between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the recidivist Palestinian arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, the recently-installed head of a once-great Jewish institution has illustrated anew how the Oslo Accords have warped our ability to see things as they are.
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video on Facebook correctly labeling as “ethnic cleansing” the Palestinian Authority policy of requiring their future state to be Judenrein. Merriam-Webster’s defines ethnic cleansing as “the practice of removing or killing people who belong to an ethnic group that is different from the ruling group in a country or region.” And it is a perfectly reasonable, not-even-sure-why-it’s-controversial, term to apply to the PA’s stated policy.
John Kerry’s State Department, which can always be counted on to flamboyantly screw up, responded that the Prime Minister’s remarks were “inappropriate and unhelpful” and accused him of saying that “those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing.” Really. The Prime Minister didn’t say anything of the sort, of course, but if the State Department doesn’t let the NGOs and human rights activism crowd know to be offended, they might miss the opportunity. Can’t have a Bibi pile-on unless somebody starts the pile, right?
Not content to let the State Department soil itself alone, Jonathan Greenblatt, former Obama Administration official and the new head of the Anti-Defamation League, last week smeared the Prime Minister of the world’s only Jewish state in an article in Foreign Policy. Calling the accusation of ethnic cleansing an “inappropriate straw man” (thus, one assumes, distinguishing it from all the appropriate straw men out there), Greenblatt concluded:
Like the term “genocide,” the term “ethnic cleansing” should be restricted to actually describing the atrocity it suggests — rather than distorted to suit political ends.
Agreed! Which is why it’s important to remember that a Palestinian state with no Jews is the stated position of multiple Palestinian leaders over multiple years. They’re usually (but not always) smart enough to say that Jews can stay, but “settlers” have to go. That’s one of those meaningless niceties that appeals to the useful idiocy of the pro-Palestinian Western left. In reality, of course, since the Jews living on the West Bank all live in communities the Palestinians would call “settlements” — which, for them, includes the Old City of Jerusalem and suburbs of the Israeli capital — the practical implication is a Jew-free “Palestine.”
Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian society in general are uncontestably awash in Jew-hatred. Greenblatt says as much in his article. Newspapers, television, music, and other engines of culture pump out the worst imaginable slanders about Jews. Polling indicates that this officially sanctioned, conscious attempt to mass-inculcate Jew-hatred has worked spectacularly well. If Jews wanted to remain in, say, Hebron (the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs and a city in which Jews have lived for thousands of years), how does the Anti-Defamation League’s leadership envision that happening if not in a “settlement”? So if there’s no realistic way that a Jew could live in a future Palestinian state without the security of a “settlement,” and no “settlers” are allowed, what’s the difference between that reality and ethnic cleansing?
As it always seems to be, the real problem here is that Mr. Greenblatt — like the US State Department — cannot let go of the Oslo Accords fantasy. The Oslo Accords, you may remember, are the agreements from the Norway-based negotiation process that led to that famous and ill-fated White House lawn ceremony 23 years ago this week. We were so tantalizingly close, the fantasists claim, that pushing ahead is the only recourse.
But we weren’t close. We know now that Arafat never intended to accept Palestinian statehood side-by-side with Jewish Israel. After turning down generous offers from successive Israeli governments (don’t take my word for it, ask noted right-wingers like Bill Clinton), Arafat launched a terror war against Israeli civilians. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, is too interested in staying alive to agree to sit down with Netanyahu, let alone arrive at any agreements. And, if he agreed to anything, he is too weak to implement it. Israelis watched as all Jewish residents were forced by their own soldiers out of Gaza only to have the coastal enclave conquered by Hamas and turned into a terror base.
The net results of Oslo are a weakened bargaining position for Israel, an ascendant international anti-Israel movement that includes too many on the fringes of the Jewish community, and drastically increased tensions between the Israeli and American Jewish communities. Even if Oslo was worth a try 23 years ago, that time has passed. The empty promise of an imminent peace deferred by undiplomatic leaders calling things what they are only maintains its poetry for the ignorant and the willfully blind.
One expects this nonsense from the State Department, especially this one. How disappointing to come to expect it from the Anti-Defamation League, as well. It’s time to stop the bleeding, give up on the Oslo fantasy, and start calling Palestinian aspirations for a Jew-free state what they are: attempted ethnic cleansing.