In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower made commitments in order to get Israel to withdraw from the Sinai. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson failed to implement those commitments and the Six-Day War followed.
In 1970, President Richard Nixon made promises to end the war of attrition between Israel and Egypt. Egypt violated the agreement, and the United States failed to live up to its commitments. The 1973 Yom Kippur War followed, which killed 2,800 Israelis.
In 1996 and again in 1998, President Bill Clinton promised to refrain from pressuring Israel into making further concessions until the Palestinian Authority altered its Charter that calls for the elimination of Israel. The Charter was not altered, but Israel was expected to honor its promises.
In 2000, Clinton committed $800 million in special assistance to induce Israel to withdraw from Southern Lebanon. Israel withdrew, and Hezbollah quickly filled the geographic and military vacuum, increasing terrorist attacks. The promised U.S. assistance never arrived.
Now, President George W. Bush has made a new commitment to Israel. The depth of the problem is revealed in a new study by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, which has been examining what the next generation of Egyptian children are learning about Israel. In Egypt's regular and religious educational system, the books celebrate jihad, or Islamic war, and exalt those who die in the fight against "non-believers." The center says jihad is described in military terms, not as a spiritual endeavor as so many Muslim leaders claim.
"Jihad is encouraged and those who refrain from taking part in it are denounced," says the report. This is in a country that has a formal peace treaty with Israel and whose president, Hosni Mubarak, recently visited with Bush at his Texas ranch and is referred to as a "moderate" and friend of America.
Sharon's pronouncements sound good, and the strategy might work. But the Palestinian track record should warn Sharon not to bet his ranch on it.