Tuesday, October 12, 2004

AN EXCHANGE WITH A READER ABOUT THIS BLOG

FROM DAVID GOLDMAN, 10.10.2004: -Has George W. Bush's policy of benign neglect towards Israel done more for Israel than Bill Clinton's engagement policy, or has it just helped to create an increasingly hostile global environment for Israel? (This is not to say that Europe and the Islamic World will ever be fair towards Israel, but America just can't keep telling the whole world to screw off and expect others to respect our leadership. In this environment one result has been an unrestrained Euro-Islamic alliance against Israel.) -Didn't Clinton and Barak essentially propose a generous solution to every major issue except Jerusalem, and didn't Arafat's rejection unmask his unwillingness to accept a two state solution? (I understand that the deal was probably too generous, but it clearly demonstated Palestinian intentions and now no one is seriously considering having the two peoples live together. In effect it smoked them out, and the real argument about the security fence on this side of the Atlantic isn't about its existence but its placement.) -Won't the real pressure on Israel come not from Kerry but from Bush's pal, Tony Blair? (I think that Blair sees his support for this stupid diversionary war in Iraq as some sort of quid pro quo for an E.U.-type peace plan. He will lean hard on the U.S. re: Israel. That seems to be what he was saying at the recent Labour Party conference). The bottom line is that we now live in a world where there is a universal global consensus that the American administration is run by crazy cowboys who pose a threat to stability almost as serious as Islamo-fascism. Others like Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac will fill that vaccuum of leadership and the results will be disastrous for Israel. This doesn't mean caving in to the E.U., but it does mean that a change in the White House is needed. MY RESPONSE TO DAVID GOLDMAN: I think we agree fundamentally: we both want Europe to cease its hostility toward Israel (and its anti-Semitism toward European Jews), and we both want Israel to be at peace. I am not sure how more American engagement, in the sense that Papa Bush and Clinton were engaged, would further these goals. Both were failures, and Clinton's attempts failed so badly that while negotiations were falling through, the Palestinians began a war against Israel. Let's look at the situation now, however. The intifada is over and Israel has won. Arafat is no longer on the White House lawn and the front pages of newspapers but instead remains confined to his compound, impotent. Moreover, Bush's consistent criticism of Arafat has brought about a change in the European discussion of the issue. In fact, European politicians have begun to criticize Arafat, too, and to reconsider their financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. See, for example, this article on the ruling German political party's views: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,1272865,00.html Far from being negligent toward Israel, Bush has voiced strong support for Israeli defense efforts, and his willingness to allow Israeli leadership wider freedom in acting against Palestinian terrorism has resulted in Israel's victory over the intifada. I do not mean to suggest that Bush's stance toward Israel is perfect. Sometimes he has stumbled, and there are points on which I flatly disagree. But on the whole, his policy has led to just what you and I desire: the beginning of a change in the position of Western Europe, and greater peace for Israel. Kerry has said he supports Israel, but his calling the wall a barrier to peace and his proposal to send Carter or Baker to the Middle East to negotiate, reveal his instincts on the matter. Whatever he may say at this point to rally Jews to his campaign, he has already shown that he cannot be trusted to give Israel the kind of support that Bush has given, nor to speak out against Israel's ferocious critics, such as those in Europe.

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