Sitting on the edge of the highway waiting to catch speeders, a state police officer saw a car driving along at 22 mph. He thinks to himself, that car is just as dangerous as a speeder. So, he turns his lights on and pulls the car over. Approaching the car, he notices there are 5 old ladies, two in the front and 3 in the back, wide eyed and looking like ghosts.
The driver, obviously confused, said, “Officer, I don’t understand, I wasn’t going over the speed limit! What did you pull me over for?” “Ma’am,” the officer said, “You should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be dangerous”.
“Slower than the speed limit? No sir! I was doing exactly 22 miles an hour”, the old woman said proudly.
The officer, trying not to laugh, explains that 22 is the route number, not the speed limit. A little embarrassed, the woman smiled and thanked the officer for pointing out her error.
“Before I go Ma’am, I have to ask, is everyone ok? These women seem badly shaken and haven’t said a word since I pulled you over.”
“Oh! they’ll be all right in a minute, officer. We just got off Route 142”.
What can be done with these Americans and Europeans? They always seem pining for a dialogue between the Israelis and the Palestinians that would end in a peace agreement, yet oddly all of them seem aware that the Palestinians have not, in all honestly, met Israel’s most minimal demands: the cessation of incitement (agreed to even under the Oslo accords — and requiring no funding!) and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. Many throughout the world still view Israel as potentially the next — and 22nd — Arab state.
As hard as it is to say it, the Jews have a point. There is a legitimate concern that without such a stipulation, there will be two Palestinian States: the West Bank and Israel – actually three if you count Gaza.
The Americans and Europeans seem not to realize that, for the Jewish people, the request for a state has to be a precondition for any discussion of Jerusalem, as well, based on its history. Before 1967, when half of Jerusalem was in the hands of Jordan — what the international community says it wants Israel to go back to — around 38,000 ancient Jewish headstones were taken from the Mount of Olives cemetery by Arab residents and used to pave latrines.
These good-hearted Americans and other Westerners nevertheless pressure Israel to act as the “responsible adult” and make unilateral gestures of goodwill. They ask the Israelis to withdraw from the occupied territories and to take Jewish residents of the West Bank settlements with them. They seem already to have forgotten what happened just over ten years ago, in the Gaza Strip, when the Israelis did offer a unilateral gesture of good will. The Israelis unilaterally evacuated every meter of Gaza in 2005, so the Palestinians could build a Singapore — no conditions attached! In return, they were met by Hamas and a nine-year war of rockets. If anyone thinks the Israelis are about to try that again, they have a surprise coming.
As a Palestinian, I welcome the humanistic approach that calls on the strong to cede to the weak; but an honest examination of the issues makes me wonder if Westerners even understand the Middle East. In trying to find a just solution, they keep making every possible mistake. First, they keep demanding from the Israelis concessions that would undermine the country’s security — and they do not demand from the Israelis concessions that would undermine the country’s security — and they do not demand from the Palestinians so much as a statement, such as “Israel has the right to exist.”