As anyone who has spent any time observing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can tell you, it’s pretty much Gospel among Israeli government types that “there’s no partner for peace” on the Palestinian side.
Oh, alas and alack (goes the argument), if only we could make peace with the Palestinians! Everyone knows that no one wants peace more than we—but there is no partner! Etc, and so on.
But then along comes American-Israeli neocon Ron Dermer, a man whose writing reportedly influenced George W. Bush; a man who once said that the U.S.-backed Road Map for Peace (signed, then quickly ignored, by Ariel Sharon) undermined Israel’s sovereignty; a man who has had Netanyahu’s ear for years (indeed, a man who was once famously called “Bibi’s brain”)—along comes Ron Dermer and in a meeting with Jewish American leaders last week, says the following:
I don’t believe that the Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad’s departure from the scene is going to be very good for peace. In my view, Fayyad was the first Palestinian leader in a century who cared about the Palestinians. There’s been many Palestinian leaders that cared about the Palestinian cause, but Fayyad is the first to actually care about the Palestinians. And from that point of view—not because he’s a Zionist—from that point of view, I think he was a peace partner, because he wants a better life for them. Any Palestinian leader who wants a better life for the Palestinians would want to have peace with Israel. So he is now departing from the scene; that doesn’t bode well. [emphasis Dermer’s]
There’s a word for this. It’s a Yiddish word, a word that has crossed oceans and land masses and worked its way into the languages of many peoples, and that word is chutzpah.
Dermer’s chutzpah takes a variety of forms, not least that special kind required for an American-Israeli Jew to pass judgment on all Palestinian leaders in the last century and find precisely one with a heart for his or her own people. That’s some ding-dang chutzpah, right there.
One is tempted to ask just how many Palestinian leaders Dermer has met, how much of their work he’s read, how many times he’s polled the Palestinian people about how they, in turn, feel about their leaders. And who is a leader, by Dermer’s lights? Are we talking Haj Amin al-Husseini, Aziz Shehadeh, Hanan Ashrawi, Sari Nusseibeh…?
And yet (with all due respect to Dermer’s disrespect for the people that Israel occupies) the largest, most significant slice of Dermer’s chutzpah pie is the one salted with crocodile tears over Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s resignation.
Or, I don’t know, maybe the metaphorical tears are real. Maybe Ron Dermer is genuinely worried about the resignation of a Palestinian leader who was routinely sabotaged and undermined by the very government that Dermer has advised, supported, and defended. It’s entirely possible that Dermer truly believes that this doesn’t bode well for Israel’s future.
But there is something mind-blowingly disingenuous about a man who has had almost unparalleled influence over Israeli-Palestinian relations suddenly piping up to say that Salam Fayyad “was a peace partner.”
Oh was he, Ron? Was he really now? Did you urge your good friend Bibi to actually do anything to support the Palestinian Prime Minister’s peace partnership? To reward him for it, so that Fayyad would have something to show his people, so that they would want to continue to see him at the helm of their government? Anything? Anything at all? (And please note: All answers that contain the words “settlement freeze” will be disqualified as being equal parts smoke and mirrors).
To this American-Israeli, it seems pretty clear that Salam Fayyad was the one in search of a peace partner all these years, and that neither Bibi, nor his brain, were very much inclined to cooperate.