So the opponents of peace have had their way again, for now.
Chief among them is Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who threw so many obstacles in front of the peace train that it finally derailed, as he had expected all along.
How did he have the guts to insist that the Palestinians swallow his poison pills? These included:
- Forcing the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland.
- Blocking an agreed-upon release of Palestinian prisoners.
- Announcing the construction of 13,000 houses in the West Bank, Palestine's homeland.
Regarding the recognition of Israel's status as a Jewish homeland, why did Israel not make such a demand of Egypt in signing peace in 1979, or with Jordan in 1994?
Why does any Jew or friend of the Jewish people -- in Israel or abroad -- need some other nation or group to offer such recognition? Such issues were long ago settled by the Balfour Declaration and the UN vote to create a Jewish state in Palestine.
Furthermore, the Israel has acted before the whole world as a homeland to Jewish immigrants from Morocco to Yemen to Russia. Does Israel expect such a declaration from those countries, and from India and France and the United States as well?
Certainly not. Israel has behaved as the leading homeland and defender of the Jewish people in the aftermath of the world's most heinous crime, the slaughter of 6 million innocent civilians in World War II concentration camps. Among them were my own grandparents. How can anyone honor the Jewish nature of the state of Israel any more than Israelis who sacrificed and welcomed Jews from around the world?
It was enough for the Palestinians to recognize Israel, work for peace in many local groups and initiatives, set up joint businesses and factories, work together to protect the environment and preserve peace.
But it seems that Netanyahu, dragged kicking and screaming into peace talks by the Obama administration, never wanted peace between two equal sides. He wanted to force the weaker side to accept terms that he knew they could not and should not be asked to do.
So congratulations, Netanyahu. You achieved your goal. And Jews as well as Palestinians will suffer for decades because of what you did. You thought you were a wise guy and could jam up the Palestinians and show them up as stupid, weak and confused.
You also suspended prisoner releases you had agreed to and authorized construction of 13,000 homes on the West Bank -- all poison to the peace talks.
Now the Palestinian Authority has made a unity agreement with the hardline Hamas leadership in Gaza. Instead of welcoming a chance for the two sides to merge and for the friends of peace to win over the hardliners, Netanyahu rejects the whole peace process and cancels the talks entirely.
And when Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day that he recognizes the Nazi slaughter of the Jews as the worst crime of modern times, Netanyahu scoffed that it was only a publicity move to win Western support.
Netanyahu seems to consistently see the enemy behind every rock and behind every word uttered by a Palestinian. That is fine for him. But he should get out of the way of millions of Israelis and Palestinians who don't want to play his game and want to set up a genuine path to peace.
Israel's founding father and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, "did not want to rule the West Bank," said Israel's current president Shimon Peres in his 2011 book Ben-Gurion: A Political Life. "For Ben-Gurion, the main thing was not to rule over another nation. That was his principle. To him, it was against morality and against political wisdom to rule over another nation."
If U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in private that failure to cut a deal for two states with the Palestinians would leave Israel an apartheid state, he was saying no more than what David Ben-Gurion said.
Peace needs the support of people of good will on all sides.
Benjamin Netanyahu is clearly not one of us.