Myth: Palestinians Want a Peaceful State Alongside Israel

By Mort Klien and Daniel Mandel, ZOA

Discussion of the Arab/Israeli situation is often unilluminating because so much of it is based on groundless assumptions and stubborn fictions. Perhaps the most pervasive one today afflicting the international political class is the notion that Palestinian Arabs primarily desire a state of their own, living peacefully alongside Israel.

Some examples in recent years:

  • December 2016, then-Secretary of State John Kerry: “polls of Israelis and Palestinians show there is still strong support for the two-state solution.”

  • July 2016, the Middle East Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia): “the majority of people on both sides . . . express their support for the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security.”
  • December 2014, Vice-President Joe Biden: “a two-state solution … the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians, they think that it is the right way to go.”
  • May 2014, then-envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, Martin Indyk: “Consistently over the last decade, polling on both sides reveals majority support for the two-state solution.”

These are merely recent examples. Go back a decade, and one can easily produce essentially identical quotations from President George W. Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and so on.

However, the idea that Palestinians prioritize peace, statehood and prosperity flies in the face of reality. Consistent polling of Palestinians tells a diametrically opposite story.

For example, a June 2016 joint poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found that 58% of West Bank Palestinians oppose a Palestinian state involving mutual recognition between Israel and the envisaged Palestinian state and an end of claims.

For another, the June 2015 Palestine Center for Public Opinion poll found that, for the near term (the next five years), 49% of Palestinians support “reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea,” while only 22% favored “a two-state solution” as the “main Palestinian national goal.”

Indeed, Daniel Polisar of Jerusalem’s Shalem College, in a recent examination of literally hundreds of Palestinian surveys, established that majorities of Palestinians reject Palestinian statehood alongside Israel by an average of more than 3 to 1.

It takes only a moment’s checking of the Palestinian scene to see that the idea of peaceful statehood and acceptance of Israel that would be its prerequisite has yet to emerge.

In the past month, official Palestinian Authority (PA) TV joined the family of a jailed Palestinian terrorist, As’ad Zo’rob, who murdered an Israeli who had given him a ride, lauding him as a “heroic prisoner” and a source of “pride for …. all of Palestine.”

Also, Fatah Central Committee member and Commissioner of Treasury and Economy, Muhammad Shtayyeh, publicly reaffirmed that Fatah, Mahmoud Abbas’ party, which controls the PA, “does not recognize Israel. The topic of recognition of Israel has not been raised in any of Fatah’s conferences.”

The PA, after all, is a regime that names schools, streets, sports teams and youth camps in honor of suicide bombers, pay stipends to jailed terrorists and pensions to the families of dead ones. It also routinely denies that Jews have any connection with Jerusalem or the land. When, in February, UN Secretary-General António Guterres correctly stated that the Jewish biblical temples stood on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, PA officials and publicists publicly upbraided him.

How, then, does the myth of Palestinian desire for peaceful statehood and acceptance of Israel persist?

George Orwell, as so often, put his finger on the problem, as long ago as 1940, when he wrote, “Mr. Hitler has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all ‘progressive’ thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. Hitler knows… that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice [emphasis added].”

In contrast to Orwell’s acute analysis, just think of George W. Bush contending that “an independent, viable, democratic, and peaceful Palestinian state is … the dream of the Palestinians”; or of British Green Party pro-Palestinian activist Peter Tatchell, claiming that Palestinians “in their hearts, want exactly the same things as Israelis. They want peace, security, equality, jobs, housing, healthcare”; or President Obama’s CIA head, John O. Brennan, claiming “there are certain aspirations that we all share –– to get an education, to provide for our families, to practice our faith freely, to live in peace and security” and one senses the incomprehension and heedlessness, genuine or deliberate, that afflicts analysis of this problem at all levels.

Until the facts are faced, don’t expect edifying public discussion of the subject. President Trump broke new ground when he publicly pointed to the “tremendous hate” inculcated into Palestinian youth and non-acceptance of Israel that would have to change before peace becomes possible. In this he is correct. The “ultimate deal” that brings peace will have to await a change of heart and direction in Palestinian society.

Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’ s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (Routledge, London, 2004).

About the ZOA

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.- Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism. For more information contact Morton A. Klein 212-481-1500.

April 30, 2017 | Comments »

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  1. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    “…Once there was a king who sent his servant to buy a fish. The servant returned with a fish that stank. In fury the king gave the servant a choice of three punishments: “Eat the fish, get whipped for the fish, or pay for the fish.” In common with most people, the servant chose not to reach into his pocket and he decided to eat the stinking fish but after two bites the stench made him give up and he decided to get whipped for it. The pain of the lashes, however, made him stop that, too, and he cried out, “I will pay for the fish!”

    And so the fool ate the fish, got whipped for the fish and, in the end, had to pay for it, anyhow. Those in Israel and without, who refuse to understand that nothing will deter America from demanding that Israel make the maximum concessions, play the same fool. Those who do not understand that there is nothing that Israel can possible do, that there are no compromises it can make, that there is nothing short of full retreat to the 1967 borders that will satisfy the United States-are the same fools as the servant who ate, got whipped and in the end had to pay anyhow,

    Their refusal to make the difficult choice of telling the Americans “no”, now, at this moment, will see them making the retreats they hope will avert American anger; it will see this effort fail even as the frontier moves from its present lines within the Arab heartland to new ones close to the Jewish cities; and most important, the Americans will make the same demands they always have envisioned since the days of the Roger Plan-total Israeli withdrawal. And since this is a thing that not even the most dovish of Israelis will agree to, the result will be an ultimate Israeli firm “no”, an ultimate American anger of the kind all men of “new initiative” propose to avert today by compromise, and exactly the same conditions of confrontation that would come anyhow if the Israelis said their “no” today. There would be one great difference, however, a “no” today will bring the crisis while Israel stands poised near the Arab capitols. A “no” tomorrow, after all the hapless and confused compromises and “initiatives,” will bring the same crisis near Tel Aviv, Beersheva and Netanya…. – “Israel, US and the Stinking Fish by Rabbi Meir Kahane (1976)”

  2. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    She documented this a really, really, really long time ago. Even talks about Sderot under siege. Though she clearly doesn’t care about us or about Jewish children — whom she never mentions*. She talks about going to Sderot, which she mispronounces. She’s actually worried about “prospects for peace” and “child abuse” of the pal children who are being indoctrinated. That’s it. Nothing else. Incredible. But, she did document it for the record.

    Long past time to do something. No more excuses.


  3. Articel: “Until the facts are faced, don’t expect edifying public discussion of the subject. President Trump broke new ground when he publicly pointed to the “tremendous hate” inculcated into Palestinian youth and non-acceptance of Israel that would have to change before peace becomes possible.”

    “US Assistant Secretary of State gives incorrect testimony about PA salaries to terrorists
    palwatch ”

    “Published on May 29, 2014

    Enough talk, already. Act!
    Excerpts from: House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Hearing: The Administration’s FY 2015 MENA Budget Request: Priorities, Objectives and Challenges Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa Witness: The Honorable Anne W. Patterson Assistant Secretary Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs U.S. Department of State”

    “Hillary Clinton introduces PMW report on Palestinian Schoolbooks

    Uploaded on May 31, 2010
    Sen. Hillary Clinton introduces PMW’s report on Palestinian schoolbooks. She states that the findings indicate a clear example of ‘child abuse’ where ‘children were encouraged to see martyrdom, armed struggle, and the murder of innocent people as ideals to strive for’. She states that the new Palestinian schoolbooks deny Israel’s existence and the Holocaust and that the texts give Palestinian children an ‘indoctrination’ not an ‘education’.
    News & Politics
    Standard YouTube License”

  4. “Israeli Memorial Day begins”
    “60 IDF soldiers killed since last Memorial Day. 3177 Jews murdered in terror attacks since Israel’s establishment, 11 over the past year.”

    They’ve never lied in Arabic. In their own words. Send to everyone you know:

    Palestinian Media Watch

    Extensive documentation of Western Funding in 5 sections, as well. Select “Western Funding” on side bar at left.

  5. Sebastien Zorn Said:

    EVERYBODY has been complaining about for over 15 years.

    for at least 17, actually. I discovered PMW in early 2000, a few months before the Oslo terror war. Completely flipped My world around, lemme tell ya. I wonder when it started and when it was first pointed out*. [That’s more than long enough to raise yet another generation of eliminationist anti-semites, another generaton of terrorists, terrorist enablers, and terrorists waiting to happen. Gosh, I hope my metaphors didn’t fall on deaf ears. No sweet sixteen tonight, charlie!

    *[In the ’80s, I was a pro-Pal activist and independent Communist who organized demonstrations and teach-ins in coalitions, nobody got paid for it back then, nobody I knew anyway, we all had day jobs though I met Conservatives who said we were paid to demonstrate, I guess somebody decided that might not be such a bad idea. Our numbers were tiny, as a rule, except on issues like Apartheid, and getting rid of Nukes, not only disarmament, anybody remember Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl?. We helped out on each other’s issues. Intersectionality was the bastard child of compensating for lack of popularity. “Money for Housing Not for War.” You can pair any two or more issues like that, opportunistically piggybacking unpopular issues on top of popular bread and butter issues (though we really did believe them to be connected). That’s what the “Popular Front” was all about in the 30s and 40s. “One struggle, many fronts.” “Communism is 20th Century Americanism” and portraits of Washington and Lincoln along with Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. TSS was considered radical.]

    “The World Turned Upside Down” Goes farther back then you think.

    I think the otherwise inexplicable popularity of Leftist Israeli politicians like Lapid can best be explained by their focus on bread and butter issues. That’ s what I read about him. May apply to others, as well.

  6. New Ground, eh? Lying Hillary exactly 10 years ago, referring to then and to 17 years ago*.

    “Senator Hillary Clinton and PMW in joint press conference introducing report on Palestinian schoolbooks”
    Feb. 8, 2007

    “…I have been speaking out against the incitement of hate and violence in Palestinian textbooks for years. In 2000 I joined Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel in New York to denounce the lessons of hatred and violence that are part of the curricula in Palestinian schools. I wrote, with my colleague Senator Schumer, a letter to President Bush, urging his Administration to do everything in its power to persuade the Palestinians to reverse their hateful rhetoric and embrace the opportunity to move toward a strong and lasting peace in the region.

    I joined with Itamar at a Senate hearing, where I reiterated the importance of our country making it clear in every way – these children deserves an education that instills respect for life and peace instead of glorifying death and violence…”

    *Sarcastic Metaphor alert

    “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” from “Sound of Music” (1965)

    Or is it just new ground because the President of the United States actually publicly mentioned the elephant in the room EVERYBODY has been complaining about for over 15 years.

    And the press said he might mention something to Abbas — who already flipped him the finger about paying terrorists in prison, just before announcing the PA won’t pay the Hamas electricity bill (they get all their electricty from Israel, incredibly) about it in private.

    Sarcastic Metaphor Alert

    “The Phantom of Liberty (1974) Dinner Scene” (Luis Bunuel)