If we push the logic of rejection and exclusion to its end, we would probably get a result that pretends that nobody definitely needs anybody nowadays in the Middle East. Neither Israel needs the Arab world recognition, nor the latter needs even the very existence of Israel. That kind of thinking may remain vivacious for an indefinite number of years. For who would feel the need for changing the data and the reality upon which it is based, but fundamentally those who have been burnt by the fire of the ongoing conflict? Which means Israel and the Arabs who are currently either under its hegemony or within reach of its cannons. To be sure, those among the Arabs who are living fairly in Cairo, Riyadh, or Rabat for instance, are certainly not like those who are undergoing the ordeal of the Israeli occupation. As to the Jews, we may also say that those who among them are enjoying a peaceful life in Paris, London, or New York are far from being able to know what it looks like to be always under the threat of a bullet, a bomb, or a suicide operation.
Yet, we notice however that in spite of these facts, some Arabs and Jews who are really far away from the tragic and bloody theatre, are precisely trying to be” more royalists than the king”, since they keep pushing the bids every day higher. What is happening right now in Israel and the Palestinian area is neither new nor amazing, though. Still worse: It is not touching people anymore neither in the Arab world nor outside it. Alas! It is sad to state it, but people got used to these scenes of violence out there to the extent that they almost lost the perception of their awful horror. These scenes daily diffused on the TV sets get debased and become gradually a part of the show, or a kind of distraction for the unfortunate and the powerless populations. People are not moved. They gaze at the violence and the blood on the screens of their TV while eating or drinking, and feel absolutely nothing: no shame, no horror, no fear, no worry, no responsibility, no guilt, no compassion, and no sympathy for anyone of those who are thus fighting! In the Arab world itself, this general dullness cemented by fear, selfishness and hypocrisy, makes all the Arabs unable to react. The only courage admitted today is the rejection of compromises, which is the common attitude of both Arabs and Israelis. As if the compromises é which actually are the very core and the substance of politics and social behavior- are perceived as personal insults to the leaders! For we must say it: many regimes- and subsequently many leaders- would not survive a real peace in the region. What would become of all the Arab dictators for whom the only excuse justifying their longstanding power is the fight against the Zionists, as they pretend? What would become of those who raise the old and overused flag of Arab nationalism to say to their peoples craving for democracy and justice: The enemy is Israel not these rotten and corrupted regimes of yours! Look outside! Israel is ready to attack us. What are you complaining about whereas your Palestinian brothers are being slaughtered every day? Don’t you see you could be safe as long as we hold the armed forces and the police always prepared to react against any attack? And of course, they would react, but never against Israel even when the latter invade an Arab country (Lebanon) and besieges its capital (like in 1982). They would not react even when Israel sends out its warplanes to bomb the Palestinian headquarters at Tunis’ suburb (1985), thousands of miles away from its shores. Neither would they react tomorrow if Sharon decides to reoccupy the whole West Bank and to bring an end by violence to the short-lived Palestinian dream of self-rule and independence. Yet, they would certainly show off their muscles to their own population if it demonstrates in the streets, as it happened several times in the past, and as it would still happen as long as those dictators are plaguing the Arab world.
These are simple facts of our time. We hardly need to recall them, for they remain in the background of the picture. But some people are still lying to themselves and to others. Israelis and Arabs do know that no solution would come out of the violence. How many wars did we try already? Have we reached any reasonable issue acceptable to everybody? Indeed, we know that Israel is able to hit and crush the Palestinians every day of every week of every month of every year! It does. That is a fact. And it does not hesitate to using all kinds of its varied display of weapons, from the simple grenade to the sophisticated missiles. But what for? Did anybody out there ask himself or his Prime Minister whether these means are really going to calm down the Palestinians and to stop their struggle for survival? Do the Israelis accept to be occupied and held in a state of colonized by a foreign power? What would be their attitude then? Here is an example: The Americans are said to be the most fervent supporters of Israel, aren’t they? Let’s imagine something incredible, like a need for the US to be present in Israel itself. Whence the decision to invade Israel! How would the Israelis react? Would they accept that their allies and friends occupy them? And if they don’t, would they fight them by all means, suicide-bombings included, or just spend their time beseeching them to leave? What if they don’t leave?
Maybe the example is a bit grotesque, but I mean to prove something: If you are not able é for nobody is é to bear your own friend, (or even your brother,) when he becomes too greedy and insatiable, how would you reasonably assume that the others would bear your own expansionism without trying to stop it? If you are unable to look at the problem under this light, it means that: either you are insensitive and non-responding to the rules of sociability, and thus your real place is in an asylum for mental diseased; or that you know what is going on and what is exactly your responsibility, and you keep fooling yourself and the others, until at the end you lose everything.
If we acknowledge that these attitudes are currently held by the Israeli government, under varied pretexts (such as fighting terrorism and bringing security, etc), the Arab extremist attitude of rejecting all the plans and all the compromises is no less guilty.
Lately, the Saudi Crown Prince took the initiative of launching a peace plan based on a simple bargain: the Arab general and full recognition of the state of Israel, against the Israeli general and full withdrawal from the lands occupied in 1967. Of course, there have been many other resembling proposals also based on the United Nations’ resolutions, among which even a plan suggested by the current Saudi king Fahd, in 1981. But the merit of Prince Abdullah initiative consists in its extreme simplicity. Otherwise, what is the problem behind all that violence? The Arabs say: occupation. The Israelis say: insecurity. The Saudi Prince say: since we know the problem, we know its solution. Get out from the lands you occupy, and you would be as secure as the Arab states that would subsequently recognize you.
The possible issue of the fifty-four years long Arab-Israeli conflict has never been formulated in such a simple and easy manner. Because Abdullah is a true Bedouin and a man of faith who, in spite of his high rank and the post he occupies, stayed upright and utterly close to his roots, he could have the insight, the words to formulate it, and indeed the power to carry it out if ever it is unanimously adopted by the rest of the Arabs.
But would they? Some Israelis are asking.
And the Arab reply is: How about the man who is first concerned and who is still held in custody by the Israelis in Ramallah? How could anyone assume that the Arabs may decide in their upcoming summit of the future of the Palestinians é not to speak of the whole region- in the absence of their first representative, Yasir Arafat? Moreover, the Israelis did not even restrain themselves after they heard of the Saudi proposal. Do they think the Saudi Crown Prince is one of their servants? Do they think him able to act against the will of the Palestinians and the Arabs? Didn’t he tell Friedman during their interview that the plan was in the drawers of his desk, and that he changed his mind when he saw what Sharon was doing? Wasn’t that clear enough for the Israeli government? Had the Prince to beseech Sharon personally to rein in his army? Wouldn’t that be a bit too much for a man who never showed the least respect for the Arabs and the Muslims? A man who, when choosing to provoke the Muslims praying in the Holy Mosque of Jerusalem, caused deliberately the collapse of the fragile cease-fire and actually triggered the second uprising?