Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton addressed the eighth annual U.S. – Islamic World Forum in Washington, DC, which was hosted by the Brookings Institution and the State of Qatar.
In her presentation she observed:
Today, the long Arab winter has begun to thaw. For the first time in decades, there is a real opportunity for lasting change, a real opportunity for people to have their voices heard and their priorities addressed.
The very choice of such imagery, when referring to a part of the world where temperatures soar to over 100 degrees, just goes to show how far the U.S. Administration’s thinking is removed from the realities of the Middle East.
While it is tempting to compare the protesters in Tahrir Square Cairo with the March on Washington in 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr was challenging racial discrimination in a country that prided itself in being a liberal democracy. There is no democracy in Egypt, Syria, Libya and Bahrain and, while the popular uprisings across the Arab world may lead to the fall of a number of despised despots, there is little likelihood that they are harbingers of democracy.
Addressing the Israel/Palestinian conflict, Secretary of State Clinton remarked:
The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months. Neither Israel’s future as a Jewish democratic state nor the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians can be secured without a negotiated two-state solution.
While that may be true, such a solution requires a Palestinian willingness to compromise and accept Israel’s right to exist. An item broadcast by Palestinian Authority TV earlier this year makes one question whether the Palestinians are even ready to recognize the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
It is time that the so-called international community looked at the writing on the wall.
It was the American psychiatrist and academic Thomas Stephen Szazs who wrote: “The naïve forgive and forget. The wise forgive but do not forget.” Israel’s civilian population has been the victim of too much violence and suffering to believe that what we are seeing and hearing with our own eyes and ears can just be swept under the carpet. That is why it is nonsense to even consider countenancing a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood without the key issues being addressed and resolved between the parties.
As Clinton rightly pointed out: “Only the parties themselves can make the hard choices necessary for peace.” That is why an imposed solution, or the establishment of a Palestinian state by U.N. proclamation, are non-starters.