Ranting About the Middle East

The events in Israel make you want to alternately scream and cry. For lack of any alternative, let me rant about some of the outrageous notions being bandied about in the press and government about the causes and solutions.

The rush to Mitchell. Lack of imagination, foresight and courage has led the Bush Administration to throw all its energy – that is, the little it has directed to the region – behind the implementation of the Mitchell Plan. Of course, what they really want is Israel to stop building settlements in the vain hope that this will satisfy the Palestinians enough to get them to reach some final agreement. The Bushies, like their predecessors, don’t care about Palestinian compliance with Mitchell or any other agreement; they just want Sharon to start counting the seven days of “calm” the Prime Minister required (and the U.S. agreed to) before implementing Mitchell even as terrorists are murdering Israelis on a daily basis.

Israel’s policy is counterproductive because it prompts revenge attacks. This has become the conventional wisdom simply because the Palestinians vow revenge for every Israeli retaliatory or preemptive action. The notion falsely assumes the Palestinians wouldn’t be attacking Israel anyway. The Palestinians who are blowing themselves up for the glory associated with murdering innocent men, women and children would do so even if Israel withdrew to the 1967 border. These fanatics won’t be satisfied with anything short of the disappearance of Israel. Only ostriches believe otherwise.

Arafat “can’t.” How often do we hear that Yasir Arafat can’t control all the militants in the Palestinian Authority, or that he dare not for fear of provoking a civil war? What other leader is held to such a low standard? Why shouldn’t he be required to control his constituents and to do what is necessary to insure calm? The idea that he can’t is pure nonsense. In the last week Arafat has sentenced five Palestinian “collaborators” to death. He certainly has no difficulty taking care of his enemies, so let him arrest every member of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and, if they’re guilty of terrorism, execute them with the same efficiency.

State’s hypocrisy. Iraq poses little or no threat to the U.S. and yet we didn’t hesitate to bomb Baghdad and kill whomever was in the way in 1991 and now respond to Iraqi anti-aircraft fire at our planes with retaliatory strikes. I don’t want to hear lectures from the State Department decrying Israeli actions to protect its population and respond to Palestinian provocations. The Administration’s major concern now is that the Palestinian-Israeli violence is interfering with efforts to garner support for new Iraqi sanctions. Put bluntly, the sanctions don’t work, so the idea of undermining Israel’s security in the hope of getting the Arabs to go along with our failed Iraqi policy is a serious mistake.

Moral equivalence. Every newspaper story equates Palestinian snipers targeting Israeli children with Palestinian civilians inadvertently killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes. Stories about Palestinian suicide bombers emphasize the fact the terrorist had a wife and kids as though they deserve sympathy. The disproportionate casualty figures are cited as if the conflict was a sporting event and the Palestinians are “winning” because they have more dead. Frankly, that’s a game I want to lose.

Israelis are bloodthirsty. Tragically, much Palestinian blood has been shed; however, not a single Palestinian would have been injured if they had not chosen the path of violence. If their kids were in school or in their homes, they would not be in danger. When innocents are killed by Israeli forces, the Israeli public agonizes. Everyone debates the wisdom of the policy and investigations are launched into the circumstances. When Palestinians murder Israelis, there is only applause. After the bombing in Jerusalem, the New York Times ran pictures of Palestinians dancing in the streets.

If only Israel had better PR. The best PR for Israel, unfortunately, is the actions of Palestinian terrorists. All the millions now being spent for PR won’t have the same impact. At the same time, all those millions might have been tossed in the bonfire when a group of extremist Jews shot up a car full of innocent Palestinians. A war is going on and public opinion is primarily going to be shaped by the events.

It’s good to get this all off my chest. I wish I felt better, but I don’t.