Here’s the latest version of Fake News: President Trump ruined the mid-east peace process.
The assertion is a world-wide headline, but for it to have a shred of truth, there would have to be a peace process to ruin. But since there isn’t one, and hasn’t been one for years, the anti-Trump media is exposed again.
But hold on, Trump is more than just innocent of a false and foolish charge. By acknowledging what everybody in Israel already knows, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state, and by putting in motion the process of moving the American embassy here, the president is making history and calling the bluff of the Palestinians.
For 25 years, they’ve played a game with the world and previous American presidents. They endlessly demand a state, but will do nothing to build one. They won’t accept the various boundaries Israel offered, can’t or won’t hold free elections and won’t even negotiate in good faith.
Instead, they can be counted on to do what they’ve always done. Make threats of violence, throw rocks and burn rubber tires in the streets.
“It’s just another excuse to riot,” a veteran of the Israeli government told me, expressing exhaustion over the predictable cycle sparked by Arab leaders calling for three days of outrage.
Said another: “Talk of the peace process is the language of the 1990’s. Israelis don’t show much interest in the Palestinian conflict these days.”
Israel has indeed changed and moved on since I last visited nearly eight years ago. It is become an even mightier power, both militarily and economically, and is brimming with confidence as its entrepreneurial spirit and renowned innovations are the envy of the world.
One result is that it now has better relations with more Arab and Muslim countries than at any time in its young history. They recognize that Israel is strong, and they share its hostility toward Iran.
By a coincidence of timing, I’m traveling with a group of educators the American Jewish Committee invited to witness both the complexity and generosity of Israeli society.
We’ve visited the nation’s top colleges, including the sensational Technion, and are hop-scotching around the tiny country to meet numerous people, including students and Israeli Arabs.
Most moving was our visit to the Galilee Medical Center, near the Lebanon border. It has treated more than 2,000 injured Syrians caught up in that nation’s endless civil war.
Ferried to Galilee and other hospitals in northern Israel by the Israeli military after making it to the border, the wounded, including hundreds of children, are given whatever treatment they require, all paid for by Israeli taxpayers, no questions asked.
The hospital says the average stay is about 22 days, and most have had about three surgeries each. At least six Syrian babies have been born there.
Before the Syrians are sent home, any tags or markings that would identify their clothing or bandages as Israeli are removed, lest they be killed as collaborators with the Jewish devil.
Meanwhile, most of the Arab leaders thundering about the rights of the Palestinians being violated by Israel have not lifted a finger to help Syrian Arabs caught in a human slaughterhouse. So much for their compassion.
And not incidentally, our planned visit to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government in the West Bank, was cancelled because of almost certain violence in response to Trump’s decision.
None of this is to suggest that Israel is under the illusion that the problem that has bedeviled it since its conception 70 years ago will vanish. It’s just that the refusal of the Palestinians to take yes for an answer has left most Israelis cynical to the point of boredom. Even most of those on the left no longer demand their government make more and more concessions.
Israelis have better things to do with their lives and bigger problems to solve as a nation, including confronting terrorist regimes on three borders.
Whether it’s Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon or Iran operating near the Syrian border, Israel faces true existential threats. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said, it will not withdraw its security forces from the West Bank, as Palestinians demand, and face more rockets and more terrorist tunnels on another flank.
So it’s the Palestinians who now face a stark choice. They can take Trump’s offer that his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not mean a separate section of the Holy City cannot be their capital, too.
But to seize the president’s opening, the Palestinians will need the courage to accept Israel’s right to exist as the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. They also should act with some urgency because once the American embassy moves to Jerusalem, other nations are likely to follow.
If they do decide to negotiate in earnest, the Palestinians will find in Trump a broker who wants to help them make a deal. If nothing else, success would be vindication that his bold move to end the stalemate was the right one.
If they don’t seize the opportunity, the Palestinians can go on making demands and threats. History has proven that to be a losing hand, and it’s getting weaker by the day.