Tomorrow’s New York Times editorializes on–surprise–the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Times draws a moral from our victory over Saddam: “If Washington can so swiftly slice through the defenses of Baghdad and crush a tyranny built up over three decades, might it not also be able to break down the depressingly familiar roadblocks to peace between Israel and the Palestinians?”
The Times editorial is titled “Aftermath: Time for Boldness in the Mideast.” But what the Times calls “boldness” is merely the same tired old formula that has failed repeatedly and has brought Israel to the brink of disaster: Israel gives the Palestinians what they pretend to want, sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, and in exchange, the Palestinians promise to give the Israelis what the Israelis really do want: peace. The problem with this formula, as has been demonstrated in a “depressingly familiar” manner since 1948, is that the Palestinians do not want sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza, they want sovereignty over all of Israel, with the Jews now living there dead. And while the Palestinians are always happy to promise peace, they never deliver it for long.
Not being in any imminent danger of being blown up, the Times editorial staff is happy to overlook the Palestinians’ bad habits one more time. The problem, as they see it, is that those pesky Israelis refuse to trust their Palestinian neighbors.
The Times acknowledges that “[l]ong timetables, incremental steps and vague definitions have an unhappy history in the Mideast.” The solution, in the Times’ view, is to cut the Gordian knot by persuading the Israelis to surrender all at once: “Mr. Bush should offer a more sweeping vision…based on an early and straightforward exchange of nearly all the land Israel has occupied in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967 for a guaranteed and comprehensive peace.” Well, sure. It’s guaranteed.
From the Times’ standpoint, the hardest part of achieving this “bold vision” will be strongarming the Israelis into going along with it. Of course, the Times cannot quite ignore the Palestinians’ sad history: “It is not Israel’s fault alone that it has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip for close to 36 years. It has lacked reliable partners for peace. Mr. Bush must now make an effort to produce such partners and change Israeli attitudes as well.” How on God’s green earth President Bush is to go about “producing reliable Palestinian partners for peace,” the Times gives no clue.
But, then, no one is bombing the shopping malls, buses and pizza parlors that the Times editorialists and their families frequent. Yet.
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