Notwithstanding the earth-shattering upheavals in the Middle East this spring, which illustrate pretty graphically that the region’s real problems have to do with dictatorships and the stifling of human freedom, nothing has changed in the foreign-policy establishment’s view that the answer to all the areas troubles is a Palestinian state, carved from Israel’s scarce land.
Despite the fact that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have, this past week, cemented an alliance which guarantees that the PA cannot ever curb terrorism, and which made it inevitable that Osama bin Laden’s death would be a source of mourning and anti-American rallies in a place whose existence we pay for and sustain, our leaders press on with the reward of an autonomous state. Because the case for an independent Palestinian state has achieved political “inevitability,” no one wants to rethink the assumptions.
“Z Street,” a pro-Israel (unabashedly Zionist) group set up to counter the pernicious lobbying of “J Street,” is holding a conference titled “Rethinking the End Game: Improving Lives in the Middle East.” Lori Lowenthal Marcus, a Z Street founder, notes that “it’s time to put to bed the lie that the only road to peace between Israel and the Arabs is one that leads to a Palestinian State. Frankly, a Palestinian State will be a disaster by every conceivable measure for the Arabs who will have to live under it: they will have far fewer civil and human rights, they will have little to no access to economic progress and they will be deprived of even the rudimentary infrastructure necessary for human progress.” And that is apart from the inevitable continuation of terror directed at Israel and the West. Marcus is a firm believer that economic wellbeing and future prospects augur better for peace than political solutions do.
The conference, which is free, takes place tomorrow, May 4, in the Congressional Auditorium of the Capitol Visitors Center, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Speakers include first-rate area experts, writers, and thinkers, all of whom share an unwillingness to echo conventional wisdom on the politics of the region. They include George Gilder, who will present fascinating economic data making the case that Palestinian political leadership has been a disaster for the men and women under its rule; Khalid Abu Tomeh and Nonie Darwish on the ugly realities of life in the region; and Harold Rhode on Iran’s meddling and goals.
Whatever you think of the politics of statehood, the economics are clear: During the era of “occupation” (1967–1973), Arab per capita income tripled and life expectancy rose from 52 to 73 years. Today, Arabs who live in Israel have the highest per capital income in the Arab world. The only place Arabs do better? The U.S.