The proximity talks have begun. Break out the champagne. After sixteen months, Obama has been so successful with his diplomatic efforts that the two parties no longer need to meet face to face, as they have for nearly two decades. Rick Richman summarizes 91 years of Arab Israeli peace processing. Walter Russell Mead describes peace processing as an industry of sorts:
I guess we needed to wait for Barack Obama, the first man smart enough to find the answer to resolving this conflict, after 91 years of others trying and failing. I am not sure, however, that Obama is that naive or narcissistic, or that unaware of the history of peace processing failure, to really think he has the key to bringing the parties together on a deal.
So something else, I fear, may be going on: the preparation for the wholesale American abandonment of Israel in order to achieve Obama's goal of a Palestinian state in two years. Such a state would, soon upon its creation, continue the real Palestinian struggle -- for the destruction of Israel, but with Israel in a far weaker strategic position to defend itself.
The president asked Abbas this week to do his best to control Palestinian incitement against Israel. This is what goes for evenhandedness in this administration: Treat Israel like a rogue state, or a non-sovereign dependent, while routinely lashing out at the Israelis, and make requests of the Palestinians that have been ignored for decades, and will bring no sanction from America or the other peace processors, for the Palestinians' continued non-cooperation.
Obama buys into the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis -- that Israel has lost its strategic usefulness to America and is in fact a liability in that it hampers the U.S. rapprochement with the Muslim world, which Obama sees as his mission. Creating a rift with Israel, as Obama did over housing in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem, is both symbolic, in terms of messaging the Muslim world, and real, in terms of the formal strategic distancing from Israel. As Barry Rubin points out, After all, we know that if an Israeli construction crew turns over some shovels of dirt for a construction project in east Jerusalem, the United States will scream out protest. But if the PA names squares for terrorists, produces broadcasts delegitimizing Israel, secretly lets terrorists out of jail, and so on, there will not be a peep.
But let's consider what's going on meanwhile in the real world. Palestinian Media Watch reports that on the PA's own television station this week the program "We Are Returning," shows a map in which all of Israel is erased and covered with a Palestinian flag.
The program explains that Israeli Jews should go to places like the Ukraine and Ethiopia: "Please, I ask of you, return to your original homeland, so that I can return to my original homeland. This is my homeland; go back to your homeland!"
This kind of thing goes on in PA-controlled mosques, classrooms, media, and in speeches by PA or Fatah officials on a daily basis. The U.S. government virtually ignores it. There are no programs, articles, classes, sermons, and speeches in which PA officials and employees urge their people to live peacefully side by side with Israel and accept that country's existence permanently.
The sad truth is that the Palestinians will never settle for just the West Bank and Gaza, even with their own capital in a redivided Jerusalem. They are fighting not to reverse the results of the '67 War, or even the results of the '48 War, but the original partition plan of 1947 and, before that, the British Mandate for Palestine, both of which contemplated some land reserved for a Jewish majority state. Such a state has always been unacceptable to the Arab world and the Muslim world. It still is.
Daniel Pipes agrees that whether the Palestinians, Arab states, and the greater Muslim world will ever accept Israel as a Jewish state is the real issue in determining whether the conflict can end peaceably. If the answer is no, then the negotiating process is a colossal waste of time, and doomed to failure.
What has changed is the chill in U.S.-Israel relations and how that is perceived both abroad and in the U.S. It is not by accident that colleges are now seriously considering divesting from Israel, that Arab and Muslim radicals attempt to disrupt every appearance by Israelis (speakers, music groups, film festivals) in a Western venue, that journalists in major European papers and politicians of major political parties in Western nations can accuse Israel of murdering Palestinians so as to harvest their organs.
While Obama obsesses over Jewish apartments in Jerusalem, Hezb'allah and Syria prepare for a very deadly new war with Israel. Both Hezb'allah and Syria are clients of Iran, supplied directly by Iran and North Korea.
Every day seems to bring another unpleasant surprise about the health care bill that was just passed. Turns out spending will be at least $115 billion higher in the first ten years than originally estimated. This is sort of like the $787-billion stimulus package, which now weighs in at $862 billion. The health care bill created a new entitlement that will cost the federal government over $200 billion a year for the ten years beginning in 2014, when fully rolled out. It will be paid for half with new taxes and half with alleged Medicare cuts. But please do not call the Democrats a tax-and-spend party.
Lots of people are describing how brilliant Elena Kagan is, but a few things make you wonder:
Her argument at the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case was not too impressive. Then again, President Obama's attempt to shame the justices for their decision in this case at his State of the Union address was worse -- stupid, disrespectful, bullying, and crude. Of course, Obama hacks Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer seemed happy to shout their cheers in the Justices' ears. Classy men, all of them. Liberal writer Peter Beinart thinks Kagan owes an apology to the military for defending what he calls a stupid policy banning military recruiters from the normal recruiting process on campus. Kagan's argument in this case also did not go over too well at the Supreme Court -- she and the other law schools which challenged the Solomon act lost 8-0. I can, however, find one good reason to approve Kagan. We now have one female Supreme Court judge from the Bronx -- Sotomayor -- and one from Brooklyn -- Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I think Manhattan also deserves one female Supreme Court Justice. Next up: Queens, and then Staten Island.
David Horowitz on Cornel West, an academic imposter.