It was on an early April cab ride way back when New York City taxi drivers still spoke English that I learned to truly understand and appreciate the meaning of the term “faulty premise.”
My cabbie had responded with an expletive to a radio broadcast of the annually repeated news report about the indictment of some alleged tax cheat and the ensuing comments of the IRS Commissioner.
“Did you ever hear such b_ _ _ s _ _ _,” exclaimed my driver, referring to the tax agency boss's claim that cheating increased the burdens of honest taxpayers.
My demurrer that the claim seemed credible, instantly transformed the cab driver, who until then had seemed to be a “dese” and “dem” tenement kind of guy, into a sophisticated and articulate debater. “It’s based on a faulty premise,” he snorted. “It assumes there is some finite number of dollars, some limited amount of money that the government assholes will spend.”
“The fact,” he continued, “is that there is no limit to what they'll spend. They will spend every dollar that they can lay their greedy hands on . . . everything that they can collect in taxes and fees as well as everything more that they can beg, borrow, or steal. So even if nobody cheats, they’ll still get everything they can from every one of us. God bless those who find a way, any way to escape their grubby grasping paws.”
(In those days the burdening of future generations was somewhat curtailed by actual efforts to set priorities and limit government spending to what was expected (with unrealistic optimism) to come into its coffers. And just printing greenbacks had not yet come into vogue.)
In any event a similar faulty premise underlies and dooms the so-called “peace process” in the Middle East.
We somehow have been led to pretend that if we can get a party openly intent on murder and his intended victim to talk with one another, they will reach some kind of accord . . . that the intended victim can be induced to give up enough of what he holds to satisfy his would be killer's blood lust, notwithstanding that the latter, after accepting everything offered to him, continually professes openly that he never will be satisfied with anything other than his “negotiating partner’s” death.
That is why we keep going back to history’s longest running farce – the Middle East “Peace Process” in which Israel constantly gives or offers to give to the Palestinians bits and pieces of its country, hoping that at some point the latter will recognize and accept its right to exist. On the other hand, their Palestinian “negotiating partners” are happy repeatedly to (i) accept everything offered to them, and yet (ii) constantly demand more as well as the extinguishment of the State of Israel.
It is long past time to abandon the faulty premise and for – to resort to a current phrase – a fundamental reset in the process.
To restart it on a sound basis, open and public recognition and acceptance of the State of Israel by the Palestinians has to be established as a firm and nonnegotiable starting place, a precondition for any resumption of negotiations. Anything and everything else then can be the subject of subsequent negotiations.