Sometimes President Bush sounds like an idiot. The most recent example is his statement that he still believes the Palestinians and Israelis can reach a peace agreement before the end of his term.
This comes on the heels of an Israeli attack against Gaza that killed more than 100 people, most of them innocent civilians. It was a reprisal attack for a few rockets fired into Israel by some Hamas hotheads. In World War II, when the Germans killed civilians as a reprisal for an attack on their forces, it was called a war crime.
Yet President Bush and the world’s most ineffective secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, can barely force themselves to say, in effect, "Tut, tut, tut. Can’t you folks get along?"
If the Palestinian rockets were slaughtering Israelis, no one could complain. Even an occupying power has a right to defend itself. But these rockets, unguided, more often than not land where people aren’t. According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, only 13 Israelis have been killed by these rockets in the past seven years. Hamas says the rockets are in response to Israeli attacks; the Israelis say the reprisal raid is in response to the rocket attacks.
Such circular action-reactions remind one of the wisecrack that if the world practices the old Hebrew "eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth" philosophy, the world would soon be blind and toothless. Unless the Israelis are willing to do as the Romans did and exterminate every Palestinian man, woman and child, they can’t kill their way to peace. And neither can the Palestinians.
The guilty party in this dance of death is the Bush administration, which absolutely refuses to put even the least pressure on the Israelis. Israel has all the power. The Israelis are to the Palestinians like a 250-pound wrestler assaulting a 4-year-old child. Without pressure from the U.S., the Israeli government will go right on killing Palestinians, taking their land and expanding Israeli settlements. And Palestinians, weak as they are (they have no army, no air force, no navy, no country and no international help because the U.S. blocks all such attempts), will go right on resisting as best they can.
The Israelis are rearing a whole new generation of terrorists. When these Palestinian kids grow to manhood amid the chaos, humiliation, death and poverty the Israelis forced on them, they’re going to be some mean, tough individuals unlikely to be particular about on whom or how they wreak their vengeance. We’re growing our own crop of terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Israelis are short-term pragmatists. Their philosophy is that if someone is too weak to take something, why give it to him? They believe that as long as they can control the U.S. government, tap into its wealth and technology and hide behind its veto at the United Nations, there is no need for them to make any concessions at all. This has certainly worked for them in the short term.
In the long term, however, the Israelis are committing national suicide, just as one of their military intelligence people said. Sooner or later, General Birthrate and his armies will overwhelm them. The only way a small Jewish state can survive in the long run among a sea of Arabs is to get along with its neighbors. Other than the neighbors we bribe Jordan and Egypt all of the neighbors hate Israel.
The United States should stop the $3 billion annual gift to the Israelis and tell them that as of now, the U.S. will no longer protect them from United Nations sanctions or criticism with our veto. Israel is quick to say it is a sovereign and independent country; well, it’s time the U.S. put that to the test.
If there is any part of the world where our policy should be trade and nothing else, it is the Middle East.