Israel, Palestine, and
the Peace Pieties

The peace pieties are the code phrases used to undermine Israel and, ultimately, the West.


Faithful NRO readers are increasingly clear-eyed about what President Obama and his supporters call “the Middle East peace process.” They know this process has a diplomatic language of its own, a propaganda language that uses code phrases to make maximalist demands sound like righteous — or at least reasonable — negotiating positions. I call these phrases “the peace pieties.” Four of them are fundamental to the process, and NRO authors such as Andrew McCarthy, Charles Krauthammer, Mona Charen, and Clifford May have done an outstanding job of translating the first three into plain American English.

Peace piety #1 holds that “Israel must return to its 1967 borders.” President Obama said just that on May 19, 2011, and was clearly surprised by the speed with which a wall of opposition rose up against him. He hadn’t caught up with the fact that this peace piety has become the most widely exposed of the lot. NRO readers and millions of other Americans translated it swiftly and accurately. It means: Make Israel indefensible by giving the Arabs the high ground to the north and the east, leaving the Jewish state with an exposed western plain and a midsection nine miles wide. There would be no natural barrier between tiny Israel and millions of Palestinian Arabs committed to its destruction, backed by 22 Arab states with the same aim, as well as Iran. Calling that an acceptable border is a cruel joke. More and more Americans get it, and they’re not laughing.

Peace piety #2, the insistence that “Jerusalem must be a shared capital,” has long been transparent to Christian Evangelicals, and is increasingly so to millions of other thoughtful Americans, secular as well as religious. It means: Ignore the fact that Jerusalem is the holiest, most historically significant city in the 4,000-year history of the Judaeo-Christian world, the geographical heart of the two great religions that shaped Western civilization, making us who we are and our country the beacon of freedom it is. Ignore the fact that no self-respecting Muslim would —  or should — accept non-Muslim control of any part of Islam’s holiest and most historically significant cities, Mecca and Medina. Ignore the fact that no honorable Muslim would or should passively accept the sight of Islam’s holy shrines elsewhere being willfully defaced or destroyed, or the sight of peaceful Muslims being denied access to them or the right to pray there.

Then, ignore the fact that whenever Arab forces have controlled Jewish and Christian shrines, in Jerusalem and beyond — from the seventh century right through to today — they have repeatedly done exactly that and more, killing Jewish and Christian worshippers in a long series of attacks on “infidels,” in Jerusalem as in Cairo, Baghdad, and every other Middle Eastern city that still has any Jewish or Christian shrines left standing, or any Jews or Christians left alive to try to gain access to them. “Sharing Jerusalem” means ignoring all that and giving half of Jerusalem to the terrorist-embracing, shrine-destroying Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. This is not “sharing.” It is surrendering, and it is neither wise nor honorable. It sends a powerful message of weakness, of a declining Western civilization, ripe for toppling.

Peace piety #3, “the refugees’ right of return,” is less well known. Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain — a true and committed friend of Israel — was momentarily suckered into making quasi-accepting noises about it in response to a question on Fox News on May 22. He corrected himself within hours, after learning what NRO readers and millions of other good Americans have also learned. The “Palestinian right of return” is code for: Destroy Israel by swamping its 6 million Jews with millions of new Arab immigrants, as committed to the destruction of the Jewish state as the millions who are already on Israel’s side of the River Jordan. Again, this is not a formula for any sort of peace between Jews and Arabs. It is a death sentence for the Jewish state.