The real root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the Arab-Muslim world's refusal to accept the existence of a Jewish state.
While borders, settlements, Jerusalem and refugees are important issues, they can be negotiated. The existence of Israel, a sovereign nation, is not negotiable.
The refusal of Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist groups to accept a Jewish state is based on a core Islamic religious doctrine: Lands once ruled by Muslims but later conquered by non-Muslims (infidels) must be reclaimed and restored to Muslim sovereignty (with Sharia law). This ideology helps explain why Muslims believe it's their right and duty to wage jihad, to reclaim and "liberate" all of present-day Israel.
Although the Jewish state has a 2,000-year-old history in the Land of Israel, the Muslim world labels it "illegitimate" and "occupied" because it was, once, under Muslim rule. "The existence of Israel," according to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, "is an insult to Islam and contrary to Allah's will."
"Armed struggle," insists Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, Hamas leader, is the only way to liberate (eliminate) Palestine." (In 136 C.E. Roman Emperor Adrian renamed Israel and called it "Palestine.") Middle East maps and logos show "Palestine" replacing the entire state of Israel, documenting the Palestinians' rejection of the two-state solution advocated by the U.S., EU, U.N. and even Israel.
Khaled Meshal, Hamas leader, calls the conflict with Israel "a matter of religion and doctrine." By contrast, Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a Muslim scholar, claims there is no "religious" reason that "prohibits Muslims from recognizing Israel as a friendly state."
He cites Koranic references to Allah giving the Promised Land to the Children of Israel as an eternal inheritance. Palazzi blames the Arab/Israel problem on Arab rulers who are "threatened by democracy, modernization, and education in the Arab world." He says they use a "distorted interpretation of Islam" as a political tool, and "unfortunately the majority of uneducated Arabs believe their poisonous propaganda. "
The relentless refusal to accept Israel has harmed both Palestinians and Israelis. After rejecting the U.N.'s partition of British Mandate Palestine, the Arab world initiated (but lost) the 1948 war, which deprived Palestinians of what today could have been a 65-year-old state, alongside Israel. That war created and exploited Palestinian refugees and caused Arab countries to expel thousand-year-old Jewish communities.
Attempting to destroy Israel, Arab leaders have introduced terrorism, suicide killers, intifadas, and hate-inciting mosques and schools. These misguided leaders provoked the 1956, 1967, 1973 and other wars with Israel. They support the thousands of Gaza-launched rockets aimed at Israelis, rejoice at Jewish deaths, and praise Palestinian dead as martyrs.
"I will accept a Palestinian state," Netanyahu told the U.S. Congress in 2011. He added, "Now it's time for President Abbas to say, 'I will accept a Jewish state.' Those six words could change history."
But so far, Mahmoud Abbas has said only, "I will not accept a Jewish state."
June Brott is a resident of Oakland.