During his recent trip to Israel, President Bush visited several places that re-affirmed his faith, including Bethlehem and the Sea of Galilee. Then exhibiting far greater faith than believing Jesus could walk on water, he asserted that "peace" could be had between Israel, the Palestinians and her Arab neighbors. One exhibition of faith has some historic roots and witnesses; the other is rooted in fantasy.
Since 1937, there have been 18 formal attempts by commissions, conferences, resolutions, summits and other gatherings to persuade the Jewish lamb to lie down with the Arab lion. All have failed. This latest attempt by President Bush, like those of presidents before him, will also fail, no matter the level of rhetoric or pressure on Israel to "do more." As Hillel Halkin writes in the January issue of Commentary magazine, "When time after time a problem cannot be resolved, it is reasonable to suspect that it may be unresolvable, at least in the manner in which it is conceived."
That manner of false conception is that the Palestinian side, in conjunction with Arab and Muslim states, will stop trying to destroy Israel if a new state is created in the region. From such a state, enhanced by a "right of return" that would flood Israel with enemies of Zionism and encourage those committed to Israel's destruction that the end of the Jewish state is at hand would come the final days of Israel's modern existence.
As the president's visit neared, one might have expected the Palestinians, were they interested in peace, to at least tone down anti-Israel rants. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the government-controlled television station instead "intensified its rhetoric calling for the destruction of Israel by advocating the "liberation" of Haifa, Tiberias, Acre and Tel Aviv," cities that do not figure in the debate over Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian land.
Amidst all of this, President Bush suggested more Israeli concessions to the Palestinians might have to be part of a peace agreement (such as dismantling homes on land claimed by Palestinians), while promising a monitoring process that supposedly would police any agreement. The monitors would not be given enforcement powers. The fallacy of such a monitoring process can be seen in previous agreements, which required the Palestinian side to cease terror, stop using television to insight violence against Jews, reform textbooks that teach hatred of Jews and Christians and respect a ceiling in the number of Palestinian police allowed to carry weapons.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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