Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has an op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times responding to the Time magazine article last week on whether Israelis care about peace with the Palestinians or not. He uses the occasion to pretty much just repeat every Israeli cliche on the peace process we’ve heard for the past several years:
Yes, many Israelis are skeptical about peace, and who wouldn’t be? We withdrew our troops from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip in order to generate peace, and instead received thousands of missiles crashing into our homes. We negotiated with the Palestinians for 17 years and twice offered them an independent state, only to have those offers rejected. Over the last decade, we saw more than 1,000 Israelis — proportionally the equivalent of about 43,000 Americans — killed by suicide bombers, and tens of thousands maimed. We watched bereaved mothers on Israeli television urging our leaders to persist in their peace efforts, while Palestinian mothers praised their martyred children and wished to sacrifice others for jihad.
Matt Duss responds in the Think Progress Wonk Room:
I understand that it’s Oren’s job as ambassador to offer the Israeli point of view, but framing the issue as “Israeli mothers want peace/Palestinian mothers want death for their children” is pretty disgusting. Is there a deeply objectionable culture of martyrdom rooted in Palestinian society? Yes, there is. It’s amazing what decades of being treated like cattle can do to a people. Oren asks us to sympathize with the Israeli experience of living under terrorist threat, and I completely agree that we should, but so should we try to understand the Palestinian experience of having their daily lives prescribed by a brutal and byzantine system of military law designed specifically to divest them of their land and prevent them securing their national rights.
As for the idea that Israel withdraw from Gaza “in order to generate peace,” this claim has been so conclusively discredited that I’m actually stunned that Oren thinks he can get away with it. Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza explicitly in order to forestall peace. Or, as his senior adviser Dov Weisglass put it to Haaretz, “The significance of the [Gaza] disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process”:
“And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” [...]
“The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” he said. “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”
So, either Weisglass was lying then, and the Gaza withdrawal was actually a clever triple-bank shot attempt by Ariel Sharon, a lifelong opponent of the peace process, to move the peace process forward. Or Oren isn’t being straight now.