I have lived in Israel for the past 42 years–through three wars, two intifadas and repeated cycles of terror. The notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can soon be resolved by negotiation (“Mission Impossible?” Fall 2005) is a naive and hopeless dream.
First, negotiation presupposes two responsible opposing entities. The Palestinians lack both entity and responsibility. There [has been] no dominant central authority–only a weak facsimile whose power base [was] shared by a conglomeration of independent armed gangs accountable to nobody.
Second, negotiation contemplates give-and-take on both sides. Realistically, Israeli-Palestinian negotiation would simply be a matter of how much Israel will continue to give and concede. Cessation of terror and murder is not a legitimate bargaining chip.
Third, if past experience is an indication, any resulting agreement will in any event not be worth the paper it is written on.
A prerequisite for successful negotiation is the reformation of the Palestinian psyche. This is the product of decades of indoctrination with a view toward one goal–the elimination of the Jewish state and the concomitant justification of the deliberate and indiscriminate slaughter of innocent men, women and children.
If such indoctrination can somehow be reversed and the present and intense level of hatred replaced by a measure of understanding and compassion, perhaps in a generation or two the Palestinians will be ready for negotiation.