Oliver Kamm on the state of Israel:
At the same time as the parties of the Left have had to acknowledge the heroic failure of Oslo, the parties of the Right have been won to the cause of direct negotiation with the Palestinians. When I hear people such as Gaffney draw, from the unquestionable fact of Yassir Arafat's duplicity and brutality, the inference that Israel must abandon the search for a serious negotiating partner, I wonder why very few Israelis have taken that view despite the demonstrable failure of the Palestinian Authority to discharge its treaty obligations over the past dozen years to crack down on terrorist groups.
I get the impression that, with a successful security policy that I have strongly supported in the press and elsewhere, Israel has done what it is within her power to do unilaterally. She has created - in the dreadful cliche of 1970s arms control - a window of opportunity, with a firm indication of good and peaceful intent. Now that the Palestinians have lost a corrupt and destructive leader, I am hopeful that for the first time for years a genuine political dialogue can take place that involves give-and-take, and not merely one side giving and the other taking. The proper course for diplomats and politicians outside the region is to cease attacking Israel for not being able to create peace by fiat, and to allow the parties to negotiate directly without benefit of meddling outsiders.
It is often assumed among western liberal democrats that the responsibility of creating peace is de facto on the shoulders of the states without which the world would by now have devolved into chaos and global anarchy.
Democracies do have a special responsibility. However, that responsibility is to hold the contra party accountable to its people and its rhetoric. Too often in the past we liberals have given the enemies of freedom a pass while holding our own leaders and governments to unattainable levels of purity all in the interest of "peace."
I was a vocal member of the peace and nuclear-freeze movement throughout the seventies and eighties and I can remember that peace was frequently spoken of as something that could be done unilaterally, that if we'd just study war no more, that the other side would take a deep breath and say something like, "Well why didn't you say so before? We've been waiting to make friends." As if the US and its allies were the only obstacles to peace.
My point: Never, never did I or any of my fellow peaceniks hold the Soviet Union accountable for any part of the Cold War. It was all our fault. To our collective shame, it took a conservative to tell it like it was and fight the war that lead to peace. That's the history, folks, whether we like it our not.
This is is much how the modern "peace" movement views Israel and the Palestinians;the idea is that it is solely Israel's responsibility to establish peace because it is Israel's sole ability, as if Palestinians are just plain incapable of acting in a peaceful manner and in their best interests. This is ludicrous, patronizing and slightly racist.
Just as we liberals failed to acknowledge that the Soviet Union was not the moral equivalent of the United States, modern liberals are making the same mistake vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. With the death of Yasser Arafat now, the Israeli right and left have an opportunity to establish peace so long as the Palestinians are held to the same criteria. Will we assist the establishment of peace in the Middle East or will we once again fail to recognize the unique power of western liberal democracy to uplift and unburden those who labor under the crushing weight of totalitarianism?