Ehud Olmert and the courage of the New York Times’ convictions

In another example of the power of wishful thinking, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concludes from editorials in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the British Guardian “condemning” Hamas that the world recognizes the absence of a peace partner for Israel and thus that Israel has no choice but to draw its own borders on the West Bank. But talk is cheap at the New York Times, Washington Post, and Guardian, and liberals in the West have a habit of condemning Palestinian terrorists one week and demanding that Isrealis “take risks for peace” the next.

In my view, Olmert is likely to fail as a leader of Israel because he’s worrying about the wrong things. He considers it important “that the diplomatic community, foreign ministries and government ministries around the world absorb the fact that there is no partner here with whom it is possible to talk.” He then seizes on meaningless words by a few editorial writers to convince himself that the West has absorbed this fact. Even then, however, he promises to wait a bit longer before proceeding unilaterally. While he’s waiting, the same editorial writers, and their friends in high places, will be dusting off their “take risks for peace” bromides.

What really matters is whether Israel has a true peace partner, not whether “foreign ministries around the world” think it does. If Israel lacks such a partner, as is surely the case, it must act accordingly regardless of what various foreign ministries and editorial writers believe. To be sure, Israel must also worry about how the Bush administration views things, but only to that limited extent should the opinions of foreigners matter.

It’s a bad sign that Olmert thinks otherwise, and a terrible sign that he’s interested in what liberal editorial writers at the Times, Post, and Guardian are saying.


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