Today's Leader (British for Editorial) analyses Netanyahu's speech, under the subtitle Binyamin Netanyahu has taken one essential step. Now he must take a whole lot more. Set aside the silly proposition that the Israelis must move so that there will be peace, while the demands on the Palestinians are perfunctory and shallow. They're Brits, are the editors of The Economist. What's so completely outlandish about the article is the assumption that Netanyahu has inserted new conditions into the process that will foil the process.
The Germans have a fine word for this, which needs no translation: Quatsch.
Rather than write a long rebuttal, I've done something easier. I've gone back to the book I wrote in 2003, Right to Exist, and have simply lifted its tenth chapter, the one which described what would need to happen for there ever to be peace. Admittedly, I have no official standing, and represent only myself, but the chapter contains descriptions of what everyone was talking about in early 2003. Since the topics were exacly the same then and now, and the positions also (though the Palestinian positions got worse when they elected a Hamas majority in January 2006), well, the Economist contention must be wrong.
Wrong. Not interpreted in a way that aggravates me. Factually wrong. What the Economist has to say is demonstrably false. Not true.
Here's a snippet of the chapter, relating head on to the Economist's untrue description:
In July 2001, 9 months into the Jerusalem Intifada and four months into the Government of Ariel Sharon, a group of some two dozen intellectuals from both
sides convened to build a bridge over the ruins of peace. These were all old friends who have been meeting for many years in hope of finding enough common ground to enable the politicians to pick up the torch. Back when they started, they were unpopular pariahs in their respective communities for daring to reach out to the enemy; but over years of perseverance they had managed to pull ever larger segments of their people behind them, and from eccentrics they had become mainstream. Between them there must have been many thousands of hours of dialogue. Intelligent, educated individuals, rational realists, there was not a hard-line militant among them.
Their idea was simple: to agree on a joint declaration calling on the warring factions to desist from their insanity and return to negotiations. The peaceniks would join hands, and with their moral authority embarrass the politicians back to sanity. The Palestinians were willing to join in stating that there should be two independent states alongside one another, but the Israelis, alerted by the fiascos of Camp David and Taba to a nuance they had previously overlooked, demanded that the statement clearly say that Israel would be a Jewish State and Palestine an Arab one. The Palestinians refused. Jews, they said, are a religion, not a nationality, and neither need nor deserve their own state. They were welcome to live in Israel, but the Palestinian refugees would come back, and perhaps she would cease to be a Jewish State.