Suppose they gave a peace and nobody came?

This morning’s Boston Globe has a column that said that it was long past time for the United States to once again “be a partner for peace in the Middle East.” The gist of the piece is that the US must push for more negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis, with an eye towards a “real” peace agreement.

I find myself astonished. But then I remember that I’m reading the Boston Globe, and I am disappointed with myself.

As of right now, this pretty much sums up how things stand vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine:

  • The duly elected Palestinian government is dominated by Hamas, an officially-recognized terrorist organization that has killed thousands of innocents, including not a few Americans. As such, it is illegal for the United States to have any negotiations with them.
  • Hamas has for years refused to recognize Israel’s existence, but its legal right to exist. They have moderated their stance slightly, and now say that they recognize its existence — but only in the furtherance of saying that it must be destroyed.
  • Hamas is currently holding a kidnapped Israeli soldier, and recently wanted to exchange proof that he is still alive for hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
  • Hamas is currently living under a “cease fire” with Israel, but it’s a most unusual one — there are still rockets being fired daily into Israel, but those apparently don’t count. A “Palestinian cease fire” seems to be defined as “you don’t shoot back.”

There’s an old cliche’ that says “suppose they gave a war and nobody came.” I tend to think mathematically, so I immediately constructed a matrix to work that one out.

Suppose they gave a war and nobody came: peace.
Suppose they gave a war and everybody came: war.
Suppose they gave a war and only one side came: slaughter.

To my way of thinking, those alternatives are arranged in a descending order of preference. Peace is the best choice, but it is not guaranteed. If one side is intent on a fight, the best alternative is for the other to fight back and try to dissuade the aggressor from winning.

Because we’ve seen far, far too many times what happens when those intent on conquest are met with those who are not interested in fighting back.

Fortunately, the Israelis aren’t overly interested in being slaughtered. They’ve demonstrated time and time again that they are willing to discuss peace, to make genuine concessions, to live beside their neighbors. That’s far more than the Palestinians have ever done — whenever given the chance, they have willingly chosen to fight, to attack, to slaughter.

Two old quotations out of the Middle East come to mind:

“If the Palestinians were to lay down their weapons, there would be no more war. If the Israelis were to lay down their weapons, there would be no more Israel.”

“There will be no peace until the Palestinians love their children more than they hate the Israelis.”

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