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"OH NO!" "DON'T SAY IT!" But ... "BRAVO!"

Reader comment on item: My Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

Submitted by Sofa Sogood (United States), Feb 21, 2007 at 16:53

February 21, 2007

Dear Mr. Pipes,

The tape of the February 14th hearing of the Subcommittee was very intense and dramatic to watch.

Although I've read many of your articles and heard you speak before, and although I see the logic of what you're saying, I'm always shocked to hear it. As you began to read your paper, I couldn't help but keep saying, "Oh no! No! You're going too fast! Explain much more -- in detail! Please pull your punches or they'll never listen to or consider a word you're saying!" ... "Winners and Losers!" "Convince them to Give Up!" "Defeat!" Oh, no! Don't say it, no, don't ... oh, you did, "Crush their Will" (which I knew would be heard as "Crush Them!) Then you were done, and it was too late. They were in shock. So was I. I was so disappointed.

But shortly, an amazing thing started to happen. They were so fascinated the sheer audacity of your words -- the sharpness and clarity of your ideas -- and your confidence, that after they regained their composure, and as the hearing went on, it was apparent that they had listened to you -- that they were affected by your ideas, and were actually trying to absorb and consider them.

Bravo to you! I'm glad you didn't listen to me!

Of course, there isn't any way to tell, alas, if your ideas will ultimately be of influence in their decisions. I tend to think not. Not yet. I hope I'm wrong. There's too much investment in the idea of negotiation -- holding on to the irrational belief that rationality and logic will win out. Clearly, it hasn't worked. As you say, the situation is worse now. One of the panel went for the quote, but waffled it -- "The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over, but expect different results." He was referring to Sharon's "deterrence." But the same thing can be said about "negotiations." What he meant is , "We just have to keep trying different formulas till we get it right." Or will we ever, and what will be lost in the meantime?

(It's very, very hard for ordinary people in Western countries to give up the idea of peace (without resort to war) in the world -- no matter what reality shows us. Unless we've been directly attacked -- and sometimes even then -- we hold on to the belief that all conflicts can be resolved by talk, compromise and reason. It's our dream and hope. We want to believe we've evolved past the stage of killing each other to resolve differences or to gain power. We hold ourselves to higher standards than our ancestors did -- we're better, above that. It's such a cliche, but I'll say it anyway -- we can go into outer space, have the Internet, but are unable to civilize those of us who are not civilized. They are "of us." We are all human and it's ultimately a failure of the human race.)

If deterrence was doing some good in the past, it may work again. But so much has changed. The offspring of Oslo are here and now. It isn't the same world. The opposition is much stronger. Europe has gone totally bonkers and the Media is twisted and warped. It's very "feel good" to side with the underdog, and especially against the despised perceived giants. Racist pre-dispositions have been revived and well-exploited. Mindless emotionality is so cathartic and infectious. Though, on the other hand, after years and years of having been fed disinformation, mangled and revised history, and a constant parade on TV screens of one-sided slaughter and murder, especially of children, by the evil, monster Jews, how much can they be blamed, if at all? The Media has done its damage well. (And Israel has not taken this media campaign seriously enough to overcome it -- or, it seems, has not even attempted to).

Is Israel even capable of "Crushing their Will?" If only. Is it capable of much more than repeatedly defending its borders from the attacks which are sure to increase from all sides against their tiny country? Does Israel have the Will? This generation did not experience pogroms and the holocaust -- it's not the same and they are tired. The "good life" their parents built for them in a free and just nation is at their fingertips, and they want the struggle to be over. It's been 60 years. They don't want to be considered morally reprehensible any longer -- the falsity of this characterization notwithstanding.

Maybe some of the "negotiators" see the endless negotiations themselves as the way to avoid all out war -- and harbor the hope that, placated or not, the Palestinians will eventually tire of all this. They won't. They see victory at hand. They've made great political gains, and with the help of the EU, the US and Israel itself, there's a whole new generation being brought up -- has the world ever seen the likes of this before -- child suicide bombers? Can those poor souls ever approach normality in their lifetimes? They'll be grown up in 10 years, if they live that long.

As I listened to Mr. Indyk, who has hopes for Mr. Abbas, I wondered ...

Suppose Abbas and the PLO are elected next time -- and he has a change of heart -- borders are decided -- Jerusalem decided -- the Palestinian state fully armed as any nation -- and all agreements signed and sealed. How on earth could he ever control Hamas? They will not stop. What could make them stop and change their minds? (And let's not forget Hezbollah).

Then Israel would be back to the military defeat option again -- if it were possible -- "defendable" borders or not.

And if Israel were to win this military option -- they would probably have to kill so many Palestinians one way or another. No matter how much harm the Palestinians do --- and no matter how much they enjoy killing Israelis -- I don't believe Israelis themselves would ever get over the carnage. They can better bear the loss of life of their own than massive loss of life that they have caused to others -- whether the others were at fault or not -- (refer to Lebanon last summer) -- it would become morally ambiguous to them. It would destroy them spiritually -- which would lead to totally. Their status as a pariah nation, if it can be imagined, would become increasingly worse.

(I thought I heard Sharon say (or was it a report of what he said?) that the reason he wanted to unilaterally pull out of Gaza and the West Bank was because (a) Israel no longer had a partner in negotiations as to borders, and (b) the high birth rate of the Palestinians would, in some years cause a much smaller population of Israelis to be virtually ruling over a much higher population of Palestinians, and that this situation would be unsustainable and ultimately harmful to Israel.)

What is the way to go? I keep searching for a sign of light in the universe, but ..... no sign yet.

In my fantasy, Israel finds a beautiful uninhabited island, far away from any continents, slowly dismantles all its laboratories, universities, factories, museums, libraries, archives, takes its art and one stone from the West Wall, ships them there one load at a time -- then gets all it's talented people, and 5 million citizens out, and thumbs its nose at Europe and the Middle East as they say "so long." They'd rebuild and flourish in no time. Maybe they could come back to their country in another 2,000 years when the world might be sane. Might it be by then?

In the faces of the members of the committee, there was a glimmer of recognition -- of truth spoken -- courageous and honest -- a glimpse of something they weren't used to experiencing -- what at first sounded inhumane turned out to be the most humane possible at this time.

Once again, thank you for the inspiration you give so generously, and please, please keep speaking.


Sofa Sogood


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

I am grateful for your reactions and thoughts. Yes, you are right, my approach amounts to something of a revolution in approaching the Arab-Israeli conflict. I fear that every other approach will have to be tried to the maximum before winning the war will be adopted as a policy goal.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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