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What They Are Saying, Jan. 24, 2008
Will the Lion Die Down With the Lamb? Not a Chance, Mr. President!
Columnist Cal Thomas writes in the Washington Times (www.washingtontimes.com) on Jan. 16 about President Bush's misplaced faith:
"On his recent trip to Israel, President Bush visited several places that reaffirmed his faith, including Bethlehem and the Sea of Galilee. Then exhibiting far greater faith than believing Jesus could walk on water, he asserted that 'peace' could be had between Israel, the Palestinians and her Arab neighbors. One exhibition of faith has some historic roots and witnesses; the other is rooted in fantasy.
"Since 1937, there have been 18 formal attempts by commissions, conferences, resolutions, summits and other gatherings to persuade the Jewish lamb to lie down with the Arab lion. All have failed. This latest attempt by President Bush, like those of presidents before him, will also fail, no matter the level of rhetoric or pressure on Israel to 'do more.'
"The idea is that the Palestinian side, in conjunction with Arab and Muslim states, will stop trying to destroy Israel if a new state is created in the region. From such a state, enhanced by a 'right of return' that would flood Israel with enemies of Zionism and encourage those committed to Israel's destruction that its end is at hand, would come the final days of modern Israel.
"As the president's visit neared, one might have expected the Palestinians, if interested in peace, to at least tone down anti-Israel rants. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the government-controlled television station instead 'intensified its rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel by advocating the "liberation" of Haifa, Tiberias, Acre and Tel Aviv,' cities that do not figure in the debate over Israeli 'occupation' of Palestinian land.
"Amidst all this, President Bush suggested more Israeli concessions to Palestinians might have to be part of a peace agreement, while promising a monitoring process that would police any agreement.
"The fallacy of such a monitoring process can be seen in previous agreements, which required the Palestinian side to cease terror, stop using television to incite violence against Jews, reform textbooks that teach hatred of Jews and Christians, and respect a ceiling in the number of Palestinian police allowed to carry weapons.
"The Palestinian government has failed to comply with a single agreement. Rather than acknowledge they are waist deep in the 'Big Muddy,' the big fools in the Bush administration say to 'push on.'
"There is not a credible statement, action, sermon or policy utterance by anyone in the Arab-Muslim-Palestinian world that gives any hope for a repeal of their expressed goal to destroy Israel and 'liberate' Arab land. Honest enemies will say that includes land 'occupied,' as of 1948, when Israel became a state at the United Nations' behest.
"Instead of a credible plan for countering global jihadists and Palestinian 'liberationists' committed to Israel's (and America's) destruction, the Bush administration continues to practice a faith rooted in self-deception. If, after all of Israel's concessions, its enemies have taken not a single step toward peace, what makes anyone think more concessions will turn a one-way street into a two-lane thoroughfare?
"Even if a deal is concluded, the best that can be expected from the Palestinian side is a temporary lull in the violence followed by creation of a pretext for more violence and demands for new concessions.
"This latest Bush push for peace can only bring more war and less stability for America's 'friend.' "
Commonalities Dictate the Support
Scholar Mitchell Bard writes in the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com) on Jan. 10 about the true reason for U.S. support for Israel:
"Although John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt accuse the 'Israel lobby' of bullying American politicians into a positive relationship with Israel, the truth is that the long-standing U.S.-Israel alliance exists because it is good for America.
"President Bush, like his predecessors, determines U.S. policy toward Israel, but the relationship is far deeper than the ideology of an individual president. What makes the countries' friendship so strong is not just geopolitics but the web of military, economic, academic and personal connections.
"One pillar of the special relationship is mutual strategic interests. U.S. policy shifted when, disregarding State Department objections, President Kennedy sold anti-aircraft missiles to Israel shortly after Egypt obtained long-range bombers from the USSR. President Johnson subsequently provided Israel with tanks and aircraft, balancing these sales with arms transfers to Arab countries. But Johnson's sale of Phantom jets to Israel in 1968 established the United States as Israel's principal arms supplier and ensured Israel's qualitative military edge over its neighbors.
"President Reagan formalized this strategic relationship in a 1981 agreement to 'enhance strategic cooperation to deter all threats from the Soviet Union to the region.' By the end of Reagan's term, the United States had pre-positioned equipment in Israel, held regular joint training exercises, and began co-development of the Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile and other cooperative military endeavors. Israel became a de facto American ally, and the Arab states learned that the United States was not afraid to risk upsetting them.
"Another pillar is shared values. While living in a region dominated by autocracies, Israelis have a commitment to democracy no less passionate than that of Americans. All citizens of Israel -- regardless of race, religion or sex -- are guaranteed equality before the law and full democratic rights. Israel's independent judiciary vigorously upholds these rights.
"Critics want to see an all-powerful lobby as the reason for America's pro-Israel policy, but they have chosen to focus on an ungainly tree amid the forest of flourishing ties between the two nations. The real reasons for the U.S.-Israel relationship are far more complex and beneficial to the United States than Mearsheimer and Walt imagine."
Lesson No. 1: Blood Comes With a Price
Editor-in-chief Martin Peretzwrites on The New Republic online (www.tnr.com) on Jan. 16 about the price Palestinians must pay for attacking Israel:
"The Palestinians of Gaza send rockets nonstop into Israel. Day in, day out. With pretense and without. The fact is that we do not know what percentage of the Gaza population is not rabid [anti-Israel]. Probably not many. So this war of rockets will go on and on and on. In Gaza, there is no war between moderates and fanatics.
"Israel displays remarkable restraint, until it doesn't. Like last week, when it struck back. Then the Palestinians cry foul, and even Mahmoud Abbas screams 'massacre.' Hamas says the killing of 19 in Gaza -- 15 of them Hamas warriors, one of them a son of a Hamas commander -- will prevent the return of Gilad Shalit, whose life it has been toying with for more than a year-and-a-half.
"For more than 1,000 years, Jewish blood was cheap -- very cheap. It is no more. That is one of the meanings of Zionism and of sovereignty.
"Anyone who sheds Jewish blood will pay -- and pay dearly."