”But what happens when western democracies ask a democratic nation to sign a western- style treaty with an adversary that values tribe and clan over the nation-state? What happens when one party’s narrative is almost totally based on the negation of the other? While the media look through conventional glasses at the prospects for an Israeli- Palestinian framework agreement and pose certain questions, the view for those truly interested in a lasting peace should be through a more nuanced lens. Such an analysis raises questions that are more difficult.
”Is a lasting Israel-Palestinian peace achievable if only one side accepts the legitimacy of the other’s narrative? To begin to resolve the conflict, American and Israeli negotiators should consider a western-style treaty only with concurrent recognition of the narratives of both parties. Diplomatic maneuvering, no matter how well meaning, can not lead to a lasting peace in this region without addressing the fundamental narratives of the adversaries.
”Palestinian Arabs mark their historical time by memorializing what others perpetrated upon them. The quintessential narrative marked in time is the ‘Nakba,’ the catastrophe of the creation of the State of Israel.
”Delegitimizing Jewish historical connections to the land extends from mosques to school textbooks, from the PA press to the PA leadership.
”...On a recent trip to the Middle East, I interviewed members of the PA, PLO, Hamas, the Jordanian Parliament, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
”They all shared the same talking points about the Jews living in Israel. Uniformly, Israel is considered a colonialist enterprise – illegally imposed, and populated by foreigners with no legitimate right to the land. Almost all believe that Israel continually commits ‘war crimes,’ targets Arab civilians, and oppresses defenseless native Palestinians.
”Violence committed against Jewish civilians is rationalized as the only legitimate avenue available to an oppressed people.
”This troubling narrative is not confined to Hamas, but is part of the DNA of Palestinian Arabs whether they reside in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Judea, or Samaria.
”Compounding the problem is the western belief that all peoples of the world share its universalistic perspective. It is certainly true that Palestinians want to feed their families and prosper, but the West simply cannot comprehend that any people in the 21st century would choose self-defeating options over economic opportunity.
”If choosing a better life means giving up on the goal of erasing Israel from the map, then unfortunately too many would choose ideology over prosperity.”